Sunday, September 9, 2012

For Alexander and his mom...

DJ and I are hangin' out watching "Friends" reruns.  Both of us tend to be night owls lately.  Last night she decided to disprove Curry's Paradox.  Look it up on Google because I am too geometrically-challenged to be able to explain what Curry's Paradox is.  Luckily for me, it involved a picture!  Suffice it to say she was pulling out colored pencils, graph paper and a ruler last night at 11:30 to start disproving the paradox.  Bulldog asked her why;  was it competition or something?  It's difficult for both Bulldog and me to understand why anyone would think it's fun to use not one but two different mathematical formulas to disprove the paradox just for "the fun of it" but we're not going to knock it.  It sure as hell beats video games.

Have I mentioned before that I have no idea where she came from?  Our genes don't indicate that our offspring would have such qualities.  Sarcasm, shortness of stature, ability to spread our toes-these are our genetic gifts.  DJ missed out on pretty much all of those and ended up with freakishly good abilities that require both the right brain and the left brain.

Today we were returning from running some errands and DJ informed me that she gets carsick when the sun gets in her eyes.  I suggested she get her sunglasses out of her purse.  She said, "Oh, here they are."  She turns to show me these goofball kelly green sunglasses with the lenses popped out.  We both start laughing hysterically.  How lucky am I to end up with this lovable goofball of a daughter?  I'm so glad she's DJ-our relationship is only what a mother can have with a daughter.

Don't get me wrong-I treasure my relationships with Romeo and Goodwrench.  They are GREAT people and great sons.  But DJ and I relate the way only two women can.  Sometimes Bulldog just shakes his head at our antics but I don't think he minds being outnumbered too terribly.  She can poke at him like no one else can and he eats it up.  I'll bet he never would have foreseen this when DJ first came out to us.

I heard from a young man whose mom is trying to be supportive of his coming out as her son.  I hope he understands what a good start that is.  That's where we were nearly two and half years ago.  It's night and day coming from where we were to where we are.  Wanting to try, wanting to be supportive is more than half the battle.  So if Alexander's mom is reading-hang in there.  As long as you keep wanting to be there for your son, as long as you're willing to try, to call him by his name and make constant efforts to use the right pronoun, you will get to the point of embracing this young man and loving him for him.  Yes-missing that other child doesn't ever completely leave, but when you look at your son, try to remember that the core of the child has not changed.  And if no one has told you this yet, Alexander's mom, you're a good mom for trying.  You would be shocked at what some people experience at the hands of their parents.  It's heartbreaking.  I'm pulling for you!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Long time, no speak

Insomnia sucks but it has led me back to you fine folks.  I will take this opportunity of sans sleep to give you a little heads-up on the DJ scene.

Speaking of scene-did anyone else know that this- "scene"-is a fashion style?  It's one DJ has embraced wholeheartedly in the last couple of months.  The early part of summer was rough in many respects but it's amazing what changing medications can do especially when the new doctor points out that the old doctor had her on a dosage roughly five times higher than what he would have recommended.  After that switch, we had our old DJ back-pretty much all the time again. 

She's perky, she's goofy, she's composing music like mad and she's "scene".  She went to the salon for a brand new "do" that is stinkin' adorable.  Admittedly, as 8 and 10 inches of hair were falling to the floor of the salon, my heart sank and I actually thought:

We've spent the last two years helping you achieve the feminine look and now you're cutting all your hair off?

I was dead wrong-she's even prettier.  You can see the delicate structure of her face more readily now.  She has a very edgey look that is actually quite flattering.  I think her appearance, her "look" is a form of expression for her. 

She's enrolled in community college to finish out her senior year in high school and is quite happy with the decision.  It's a much free-er atmosphere and no one freaks out if she wears a tank top.  The dress code rules at her former high school are becoming ridiculous. 

The check-ups at the surgeon's are revealing that all procedures were a smashing success.  Science is truly amazing, is all I can say.  DJ was granted "permission" to purchase real bras now.  Until last week, sports bras were all she was permitted until she got to a certain point in the healing process.  So, after school, we hit Kohl's and little Miss Thing came home with three new bras, a cute dress and striped knee socks that had, "I love nerds" printed on them. 

DJ and Sister Chromatid are back in their friendship groove again.  Apple has invited DJ to bring Sister Chromatid to visit England next summer as a graduation gift.  She's promising a weekend in Paris.  The girls are thrilled beyond belief. 

Bulldog and I are finally letting our guard down a bit. DJ's weight and appetite are healthy, her depression has lifted, she's healed up nicely and is getting back to her life again.  We're trying not to look over our shoulders so much-a tough habit to break when you've gotten used to trouble creeping up on you repeatedly.  Romeo and Goodwrench are both doing great too as are Juliet and Gellar.  Time to coast a little bit....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's next?

I had taken a hiatus from blogging.  My heart just wasn't in it.  I was, and am, on some new-fangled kind of journey and blogging about my "transgender" daughter seemed disingenuous.  Why?  (and I hope I do not offend the transgender community when I say this) because just....a girl.

Ok, Ok, I know that might piss people off as if I'm covertly saying there is something to be ashamed of to be a transgendered person.  There isn't-if you have read any of my previous posts, I think I've made that clear enough.  I can't explain the change in me.  Yes, it's partly because of the change in DJ-she has female parts top and bottom now.  Does this make her a girl?  NO-she was already a girl.  So what's different?

I will explore this as I write-who knows how it will come out.

For me, and most definitely for her, there was the fear of her being found to have "male" parts.  We all have our fears and most of them are based on our life experiences.  That is certainly true for me.  At the heart of it all was my concern that if someone, somehow, found that DJ had "male" parts, that they would classify her as a freak and treat her as such.  We know what this world does to people who it believes are freaks....2000 years ago they left you to die.  Today, that might be comparatively merciful considering what torture those who don't fit the mould are subject to.

To me, Transgender equaled a medical diagnosis.  It was an answer to the "Why" of my daughter having "male" parts.  It was rational and could be explained.  Don't get me wrong-I don't think anyone should have to explain themselves in general.  But if one is faced with some sort of anguish due to the misunderstanding of another person, we want to be able to mitigate that, if possible, to save ourselves from pain.  It's natural.  The Transgender word was that, for me.

If we are cautious, and "erase" evidence of DJ's former identity, then perhaps she can live a life without worry of being "found out".  In other words, she can just be a girl.  Not a transgender girl, not a girl who used to be a boy, but just a regular girl who loves hair and makeup, music and art, techno and action adventure movies, physics and ancient alien shows.

DJ is doing well for the most part but the past six months have been anything but normal for her. She has traveled between home and hospitals, and nowhere else, these past six months.  She is hesitant to put her toes into the pool of general society again and who can blame her?  She needs a regular schedule and a regular pattern of getting out among her peers so that she can learn to fit in again.  She'll attend community college in the fall and hopefully will not have to set foot into her previous high school again, except to walk across the stage to get her diploma.  I already have a plan to pack the stands with DJ fans so that when her name is announced, we can drown out any naysayers, if there are any.

This is why I want to leave the "transgender" word behind because it can act as both scaffolding and noose.  We previously needed it for scaffolding, but now it's feeling rather tight around the neck so maybe it's time to cut the knot.  I know that biologically she'll always be transgender, but people with other medical diagnoses don't go around wearing signs that say, "Marfan's syndrome" or "cleft palate". Granted, if you look closely enough at their bodies, and knew what to look for, you might be able to figure out that they have a congenital anomaly, but most people can't tell and why would any of us draw attention to a medical diagnosis that doesn't have to limit us necessarily anyway?  It just makes people treat us differently because of their preconceived notions.

So that leaves me not knowing whether or not to keep blogging, or maybe I should just change the name of the blog....not sure what's next for me.  But at least we have a pretty good plan for what's next for DJ who, by the way, attended her first Zumba class this week.  Has felt dynamite wearing her first bikini a couple of weeks ago, is back to composing music, will likely start ballet class this fall and is finally ok with the plans we've laid out for her to finish her high school education.  It was a long haul getting to this point and we still have work to do.  She is still socially awkward with folks outside of her nuclear family because she has this distorted idea that she is "responsible" for entertaining people and is not good at it.  But she's been out of the social loop for a while now- but I have to believe getting back to it will be like riding a bike.  She's struggling with Sister Chromatid, who continues to make valiant efforts to remain friends, but DJ's social anxiety is putting up a wall.  I hope this doesn't permanently stunt their friendship, but I'm learning that I can't control that and DJ will definitely make other friends in time.

I have  to look to future opportunities the way my nephew, who I'll call Nannyman, does.  Instead of being fearful about losses, I have to consider that they might be the gateway to future opportunities for DJ.  So, when Nannyman quotes Michael Buble by saying (about the future) "I just haven't met you yet" I have to say that THAT is the answer to "What's next?"

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's next for our girl?

With one year of high school remaining, we must decide from where DJ will graduate.  None of us wants to see her return to the school in our small town.    The nearest private school may suffice, but there is still a fear that if word got out about her past, that she will branded once again.  She won't be just a girl, she'll be the "girl who used to be a guy" or the "transgender girl".  Enough already.

We're considering a boarding school that's about 75 miles away and will allow her to come home on the weekends, but we feel committed to having her in a family environment, if at all possible.  Therefore, we are seriously considering having DJ live with her aunt, Apple, over in Europe.  It will mean we will not see her but a handful of times over the course of nearly a year, but more importantly, it will also mean a completely fresh start for our girl.

Bulldog and I talked to her about the choices we can consider and the Apple Plan is looking pretty exciting to her.  We are asking that she give all choices serious thought over this long weekend and choose two schools, so that we can start the balls rolling on Plan A(pple) and Plan B.

My heart is so divided-just thinking of her leaving makes me miss her already, but I know that to let her go will be another gift to help her toward her future as, simply, a young woman.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Transgender child makes the front page of a major newspaper

Dear Readers,

Because I am technologically challenged, I am having difficulty embedding a video recapping a story that the Washington Post, THE major newspaper in the Washington D.C. area, ran on the FRONT page on Sunday with the title below:

Transgender at Five

Click on the link and you will be directed to the narrative from an interview between the author of the article, Petula Dvorak,  and the mother of the young boy about whom the article was written.  Maybe this is the beginning of the turning of the tide.  Let's hope so....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two weeks later

We filmed DJ from the moment we left our house until she got back in the car to go home.  We also took still photos.  On our return home, DJ got to work stringing together the short video segments and the photos, adding music and graphics and showed it to us this afternoon.  It was moving and made me just boo-hoo all over the place-especially at the end where she tacked on a message to Bulldog and me.

Then Bean and Saint came over to see how our girl was doing. Saint gave DJ multiple kisses and brought her a "People" magazine and they both brought her a giant bouquet of flowers. After that, we sat down to a home-cooked meal of spaghetti and meatballs.  We finished the night laughing over "Mythbusters" and then DJ headed off to bed.

Tomorrow marks the first day of dilating four times a day.  She didn't seem nearly as concerned about it when she turned in tonight like she did just a couple of days ago.  It's amazing what a day or two will bring to a person's outlook.  It's amazing what a mere two weeks can do for a person's expectations for the rest of her life.

Home again, home again

It's good to be home.  DJ did great on the ride home thanks to the blow up donut pillow.

The night before we left, we had dinner out at a hip little waterfront restaurant where ducks were congregating.  She was in a great mood-glad to be out and about and ready to move on with her life.

Interestingly, however, she is a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of dilating four times a day.  She thinks it will be difficult to manage in spite of already being used to doing it twice a day.  I tried to explain to her that anything new seems daunting but with repetition and practice, it will be less so fairly quickly. She looked dubious.  Truthfully, I think her age works against her in this regard.  To young people, the prospect of a few months' inconvenience seems like "forever."

The next morning, she picked up her spirometer- a device that encourages deep breathing and measures one's progress.  Initially, she was able to make it to the 1500 mark, while only occasionally hitting the 2200 mark.  That morning, however, she hit the 2200 mark each time she inhaled.

"It's so easy to do this now-just last week I could hardly ever do it and now I can get it to 2200 every time, so easily."

Of course, she didn't get the parallel....

"It will be like this for the dilating, as well.  The more you do it, the less stressful it will be and you'll be able to do other things while you dilate.  It won't seem difficult at all before you know it."

OK-that's a bit misleading: it's not as if she can go for a walk, or play the piano, but she could conceivably  read, text, use the computer, while she waits for the 20 minutes to pass.  And sure enough, the next day she chatted on the phone with me while she waited the obligatory 20 minutes.

"See?  You're multi-tasking already,"  I told her.

She still has to keep an ace bandage wrapped around her chest so she doesn't want to shop for bathing suits yet.  And today, she was a bit blue which is to be expected, according to the surgeon.  DJ started back on her hormones yesterday, so some minor mood swings are to be expected.  Yet, "Beverly Hills Ninja" is certainly making her perk up, heaven help me.

The next big decision is thinking about how to finish up her last year of high school.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  For today, and maybe even this week, we'll just enjoy being home again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Celebrating an awaited event

Well, the milestones keep stacking up for DJ.  As any woman who has given birth, or who has had any kind of surgery south of the border, knows,  that first BM is a dreaded event.  Most often, however, we get all worked up for nothing.

I walked back in our room after getting a cup of coffee and DJ had a big-eyed look on her face.

"What's up Peanut?"

"I don't know, my stomach feels pretty weird."

"Weird how?  Painful weird?"

"Like I've got to go to the bathroom, but I don't think I'll be able to,"  she replied apprehensively.

"Go on and give it a try," I replied.

A few minutes later she exited the bathroom looking simultaneously sheepish and relieved.

"There was no way you were going to have a hard time after the assault we've mounted against slow moving intestines between the juice, the fruit, the nuts, the raisins, and the stool softeners," I practically bragged.

DJ kind of giggled in relief.

She's actually remarkably spry this morning.  She has another "check-up" tomorrow morning and if all goes well, she will be allowed to have a meal at a restaurant.  That will require sitting up in a chair. I sure hope the air filled donut pillow arrives in time.  For anyone considering "bottom" surgery-I strongly recommend it.

DJ is supposed to be wearing button up shirts-and she owns ZERO.  I went to KMart to grab a few inexpensive shirts knowing she would never wear them again.  I tried and tried to find something she might actually approve of.  She turned up her nose at all of them. She just isn't a button-up shirt gal.  If her fashion snobbery is returning, I elect to take that as another good sign that she's on the road to full recovery.  Now, if only she were allowed to lay on her side she would be so happy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We both needed fixing

Mother's Day was a rough day.  DJ had some fairly significant swelling that, frankly, frightened me.  Ordinarily, I'm pretty calm when the $hit hits the fan and it's not as if I freaked out, but I know I gave off waves of concern and fear, which upset DJ.  Then, as I tried to distance myself from feeling terrible about frightening her, Bulldog decided to point out not just once, but twice, that I had frightened her. We called the doctor and at first she seemed to think we had not followed her instructions and she seemed to chastise me.  And when I returned to DJ, I swear she looked at me as if she had lost faith in me.

I was in a complete tailspin.

What happened was fixable.  The last day in the hospital, after capping DJ's catheter, I helped her to the restroom and the section of catheter, which was supposed to be taped to her abdomen, flopped down and she felt a slight tug.  The doctor thinks she may have had some slow bleeding into her tissue over the next day.  She saw DJ yesterday and was able to drain the blood from beneath the surface of the skin which made a world of difference to DJ's comfort and reduced the swelling dramatically.  She also removed the packing and the ace bandage to DJ's chest to look at her new breasts, which also are healing well.

The doctor and the physician's assistant that are treating DJ are great.  Before we saw them that morning, I had called the doctor three additional times on Mother's Day.  I felt embarrassed about interrupting her on her day off and she must have sensed my frazzled state because after the third call, as we were hanging up, I heard her say, "You're a good mom."  She fixed me, too.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pain, pain, go away, come again another day

DJ was a bit restless last night.  She kept feeling like she couldn't get a deep breath.  Admittedly, I'm scared to death of her having a blood clot from being so immobile, but in my gut, she was not presenting as a person with that issue.  I think it's gas.

Poor girl.  Her belly is fairly bloated from it, not that she cares about that.  Nor does she have any compunction about needing to pass the gas, with a proper "excuse me" and a giggle each time, but last night it was irritating her.  I think her innards are preparing to finally act normally again, if you know what I mean.  She was on a liquid diet from last Saturday until Wednesday.  She's been eating solid food for three days, but it's only been the last two days that she has eaten full meals.  My guess is that her intestines are a bit slow moving between being at rest for a number of days and having medications that encouraged them to not do a damn thing for that long, as well.  I have a feeling today is going to be the day that DJ is dreading.

She's pretty tender down there and does not relish sneezing or coughing or anything similar that will increase pressure in her nether regions.  I remember that feeling well-

The day after I gave birth to Goodwrench, I was quite sore.  He was in distress right before being born and so they "snipped" me pretty hurriedly (it totally sucked because the numbing meds had not kicked in at all-they were in a hurry) and stitched me up.  The next morning, I took a shower and as I rinsed my face, I inadvertently swallowed some water the wrong way and coughed forcefully just   one   time.  Then, I attempted to just sort of clear my throat so it went something like this:  COUGH, ahem ahem ahem.  The pressure in my nether regions did NOT feel good so it made me dread my first bowel movement.

I imagine DJ's discomfort can be multiplied considerably, nonetheless I shared with her that I, too, was on stool softeners and those things are aptly named, thank goodness.  No work or pressure was required to have the dreaded first bowel movement.

This morning, she feels as if her skin is tight and pinched where her stitches are.  It sucks, but that is a good sign that she's healing.  On the other hand though, it hurts like hell so I don't think she's interested in hearing about "good signs".  In fact, this is the worst we've seen her.  She hasn't had pain meds since she went to sleep last night over 8 hours ago and now they won't kick in nearly fast enough.  I wish there was something I could do, but it's a waiting game for the meds to kick in.  I don't think anything is wrong but it still makes me feel helpless watching her deal with it.  Yes, I knew it wouldn't be easy some days, but again, that doesn't prepare you for seeing your kid concentrating on getting through the next few minutes while she waits for her pain meds to start working.

It's been about 30 minutes and she's less edgy...I think they're working.  Hang in there kid.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Second stop on the journey

We are settled in at our next stop on this journey.  Unfortunately, between Bulldog having difficulty with the GPS and then the GPS sending him on the circuitous route, DJ ended up sitting in the car for nearly two hours for what should have been a 45 minute drive.  Her eyes were enormous which is her way of showing she is in pain.

They capped her catheter yesterday so now she can relieve herself when necessary through a shortened catheter.  The nurse was instructing me on the care of her incisions which consists primarily of observation at this point, and I must say that the work the surgeon has done is remarkable!!  Only 5 days after her surgery, she is also recognizably "female" south of the border, if you know what I mean.  I am amazed at what modern surgery can accomplish, when one is in the hands of an excellent surgeon, of course.

DJ's mood is a slight bit lower today because she is tired from being physically uncomfortable and dealing with pain.  She rates her pain at a 3 on a scale of 10, so while it is not terribly acute, it is a chronic, low level pain which can certainly wear a person down.  But she slept all night and ate well this morning.

We brought her out on the patio where there is a chaise lounge that reclines perfectly.  It's a beautiful day and she has her i-pod going.  The laptop is just too heavy across her middle right now but our neighbors from Canada, one of whom also is post-op, has a very cool contraption that elevates the laptop to viewing height without putting any pressure on the body.  It's pretty nifty and I wish we had one but DJ doesn't seem too worse for the wear for not having internet capability.

Bulldog scheduled a massage for me tomorrow for Mother's Day.  I am looking forward to it immensely.  I just wish DJ could experience the same physical relief.  But I have to be patient because this is going so much better than I thought it would be at this point in the game.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moving right along

DJ has made great progress today:  she walked around the unit today, ate solid food for the first time since last Friday night, and had her drains removed.

She is feeling a bit antsy today because her energy is returning, she's on very little pain medication and she is finding it increasingly difficult to be still, but she's hanging in there.  She's working her way through the "Harry Potter" movies but still can't do any drawing because the head of her bead is only raised to 15 degrees so she is still essentially flat on her back.

On removing the drains, the physician's assistant also removed some of the tape holding the dressings in place and it's remarkable how good she looks already with very little bruising. Tomorrow they will cap her urinary catheter so that the urine will collect in the urinary bladder like it should and then when she needs to relieve herself,  she will empty the catheter into the toilet.  This process is important to "retrain" the bladder to recognize when it is full.  Then the catheter is removed next week and DJ will have to learn to hover over public restroom toilet seats, if she hasn't already mastered that skill.

Maybe the intricacies and details of this kind are not interesting to my readers-if that is the case, please accept my apologies.  But I think there are some that might be curious about the process if they are considering it themselves.

What has been most bothersome to DJ is that the inside of her nose felt dry and uncomfortable today...that's pretty much been "it" for her complaints.  This is nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be thus far.  Yeah, easy for me to say, I know.  But I thought she would be having a harder time, physically.  Being young and healthy helps, I'm sure.  Not smoking is a MUST.  Not that DJ would be caught dead with a cigarette, but smoking is so hard on the healing process that DJ's surgeon reserves the right to perform nicotine tests to be sure her patients are compliant with this policy.

Tomorrow, in the late afternoon, we check out and head to the accommodations closer to the surgeon's office where DJ will check in twice more before going home.  The hospital staff has been great, but we're looking forward to a less hospital-like environment and DJ's looking forward to being able to be a  bit more upright.

Gay Marriage

DJ is napping so I am on a tirade about the current news:

Can we please stop arguing about the Gay Marriage issue?  Can politicians please stop calling this a "state's rights" issue?  Does anyone else remember another time when barring people from civil rights was called a "state's rights" issue?  Hello-the same argument was used to defend slavery, if memory serves.

The Constitution clearly states that States "may not abridge the rights and privileges" of its citizens.  Why does no one mention this?  Why?  Why? Why?

Having a job is a right, some say a privilege-gay people can't be denied that.  Voting is a right-they can't be denied that.  Owning property is a privilege, they can't be denied that.  HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT? (legally speaking, although it happens all the time.)

And please DO NOT play the religion card.  The "this country was founded by Christian men" argument is lame and full of holes and I caution you to do your homework:

James Madison fought for and was successful at making certain there was verbiage in the Constitution to separate Church and State and why?  Because even back then there were Christian groups who disagreed with each other on what was moral and immoral, on what met with Church teachings or not, on what constituted Christian ideals, or not.  The founders of this country left a CHRISTIAN country because of religious persecution for God's sake!! (no pun intended.) The last thing they wanted was another form of government that was controlled by any one person's, or any one party's, view of what was religiously acceptable.  This is why they separated Church and State and why it remains separate to this day, much to the chagrin of many on the very far right.

Let the churches decide who they will allow to marry in their religion but the states do not have a Constitutional basis for denying liberties or privilege to any of its citizens.  As far as the government is concerned, marriage is a contract between two consenting adults who wish to join their lives, both personal and economic.  This contract allows them to take part in the same rights and privileges that others can enjoy such as tax relief, rights to pass on property or to inherit property, rights to collect life insurance, and rights to own property together.  We allow it for straight people-not everyone is married in a church and this is why we have justices of the peace- for those who want the legal rights of marriage without the religious strings attached.  Why is it different for gay people?  There is a constitutional basis for them to share in the same rights as everyone else so why are we skirting the issue? Why will not someone publicly point this out?  Because our government is being held hostage by those who want to foist their religious views on the rest of us.  If you're active in your church, that is where your strongly held beliefs about marriage can be exercised-you can bar homosexuals from marrying in any number of churches.  I suggest you bring your strongly held beliefs there where you are "safe" from government intervention.

And no, my believing in gay rights is not foisting my religious views on those who don't agree with it.  If you believe that then you also believe that those who dislike African Americans are being "forced" to live with them or accept them, and that those who think women don't belong in the work world are having women's liberation foisted on them.  You can think what you want, you can own a business and bar women and black people from it, but don't expect to get one red cent from any form of government because you can't discriminate and get government funds.

So yes, you have the right to discriminate in your house, and in your business, as long as you don't expect the government in any form (otherwise known as the citizens of this country) to subsidize you in ANY way-no government sponsored loans for your business, no grants, etc.  So go ahead, keep your home as you like it-bar gay people from it, or women, or foreigners-your home is your castle and you don't have to share.  But this country is OUR country damn it all and you may get away with ripping people off from getting their fair share of rights and privileges for now, but you won't get your way forever.  Women will not leave the workforce, African Americans will not ride in the back of the bus, "foreigners" will not stop emigrating here, Gay people will not be shamed into silence.

But there are still plenty of countries in the world that will allow the religion to rule the country and I'm pretty sure they don't allow gays to marry either.  Yes, some of these places are so "pro-marriage" they'll allow one person to have multiple spouses.  Perhaps a person who feels strongly could emigrate there.  Saudi Arabia comes to mind, as does Iraq and Pakistan.  What's that?  You wouldn't want to live there because you would not be able to enjoy the freedoms you have here?  Oh, but it's ok to deny someone else THEIR freedoms?  Sounds like you need your own world-I think there's a religion out there that promises that too, perhaps you should look into it.  I'm pretty sure it's Christian as well.

Day 4 begins

Bulldog has been pulling the night shift with DJ.  I sleep during the night and relieve him during the day.  We usually spend a number of hours together with DJ and then he grabs sleep through the afternoon and returns in the evening.

I walked in this morning and DJ was awake and looking slightly exasperated.  She is tired of being on her back and is feeling fidgety this morning.  We all take that as a positive sign, but that might mean I'll have to be on my very best and patient behavior today.

A woman came by to see DJ yesterday. She had her surgery some 5 or 6 years ago.  She was able to share insight with DJ that I simply do not have. And she was so damn genuine and frank-I loved her.  She, like so many folks who are born in the wrong body, has lost many friends and members of her family in being true to herself.  It's gutwrenching to hear.  And she made DJ feel like a million bucks when she complimented her on how beautiful she is.

I believe today is DJ's last full day in the hospital.  She stood up twice yesterday and is supposed to walk two times today, as well.  If all goes well, then tomorrow she'll be discharged, and we'll head over to the accommodations that are closer to her surgeon's office where we will stay until her surgeon says she's ready to travel home.  

Bulldog's sister out west sent some beautiful flowers yesterday.  This woman is easily the most "hip" of all of Bulldog's siblings and he has seven of them. Don't get me wrong-Bulldog's family is fabulous and each of his siblings has his or her own wonderful quality, but this sister is particularly cool, and all of the clan knows it.  She is recovering from breast cancer and is scheduled for reconstructive surgery to get her new "rack" this summer.  She and DJ can swap notes on the experience.

And today is Goodwrench's birthday.  Yesterday when we spoke, he said he was looking forward to seeing DJ's "transformation" which I thought was particularly wonderful.  Romeo has been seemingly nonplussed assuming DJ will be just fine, and it turns out he was right (knock on wood).  More later after her first walk.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Emotional multi-tasking

I hope The Godfather does not mind my sharing this, but I think it's important.

He has been going through a similar process that Bulldog has experienced.  He called us a week before the surgery to plan to stay with us during DJ's convalescence and then again a few days before we left. During the second call he became quite tearful:

"I feel as if I'm losing someone," he tearfully explained.

I told him how Bulldog had gone through this same experience.  I think The Godfather was feeling guilty about this feeling when quite frankly, he shouldn't.  It is what it is.  Acceptance of one thing almost always means letting go of something else-it's a natural part of life.

I cannot possibly be a happily married woman unless I'm willing to let go of being a happily single woman.  It wasn't easy and I missed that way of life, but I wanted this other way of life more, and so I let go of the latter to have the former.  Maybe I am oversimplifying here, but perhaps it really is that simple.

We adapt to new circumstances all the time and we are able to do that because we learn to let go of the "former" aspects of our lives so we can embrace what is coming next.  We do it with our relationships with people who have passed on, with people who are no longer a good fit in our lives, and with people who are not exactly who we thought they were.  Missing other people does not mean we love those in front of us less.

Missing JD does not mean The Godfather doesn't absolutely adore DJ.  Adoring DJ doesn't mean that those of us who loved JD must stop remembering that person.  We are not "cheating" on DJ when we remember some of JD's antics.  JD, who was doing a remarkable job of being DJ's alter ego, was a great guy even if he wasn't totally "real" but there were aspects of JD's personality that are still an integral part of the person that is DJ.

It's so hard to explain how it happens, but it does.  We don't get to be surrounded by all the people we love during the entirety of our lives.  We all know this.  We have to let some of them go and it's painful.  Learning to love new people can feel disloyal, but it's not.  It's not like we get one bucket o' love to last us our whole lives-love multiplies like rabbits when we're not looking.

You're allowed to feel the loss-it's ok.  But don't let it stop you from loving this fine person that's standing right in front of you.  This is the 21st century-all of us know how to multitask. I almost forgot the most important part of what The Godfather said.  After saying he felt like he was losing someone, he added:

"But I want to support her."

THAT is how we emotionally multitask.

A plea to the parents of a transgender child

Dear Parents,

If your child, whether she or he is a minor or an adult, is considering sexual reassignment surgery, I strongly urge you to support your child.  Let me rephrase and be more accurate:  I implore you to support your child.

If your child has gone through the advised steps of working with professionals and has been living as the gender with which she identifies,  you do not need to fear that this surgery will be a "mistake" that cannot be undone.  And if your child is an adult, this is ultimately her decision for which you cannot be held responsible anyhow.

But if you are misguidedly thinking that this surgery is "elective" and that your child is "choosing" something that is not necessary, you are completely and totally misinformed.  ALL surgery, technically, is elective.  We choose surgery to save our health and our lives and your transgender child is no different.  Your child's emotional and psychological health and possibly his or her actual life may depend on this surgery.  Will you willingly withhold your love and support when your child needs it the most?

Can you possibly put out of your mind that your child's surgery involves removing something and instead focus on what is being restored?  Your child's peace of mind, greater ease and comfort in her or his own body, the ability to live as normally as possible as the gender your child actually is inside-don't you want these things for your child?

It's not so hard-just think of it as any typical surgery.  Leave the room when dressings are inspected, and come back again to help him or her sip water, to help keep your child comfortable, and to hold her hand, or his hand, when she needs to remember that she is not alone.  Are you willing to let your child stay in a hospital room with no one there to let her know she's loved?  Can you honestly sit back and say to yourself, "Well, she brought this on herself", knowing that your child will wake up in a strange room, alone?

There are people who have gone through this process alone.  They have managed to overcome adversity without the support of their loved ones but if you asked them, I am sure they would tell you they wished for something different.

Being a parent has always been and will always be about giving.  It is often a thankless job-or so it seems on the surface.  But the peace of mind I am GETTING by being here with my child as she changes her body to match her identity is something I never counted on.  It was always about giving my daughter support, but the feeling of "rightness" is so pervasive that I feel like I am benefitting as well.

Most organized religions tell us we are to serve each other and that is doubly so when it comes to our children.  "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me" is how one infamous Jewish carpenter put it.  If you cannot put aside your fear of "sin" and "immorality" or your fear of loss, then support your child for that reason alone-because we were instructed to do so.

This gesture, if you can make it for the sake of your child, is its own leap of faith. Take your child's hand, close your eyes and for the sake of your child, please, just do it-leap madly and wildly.  I promise you will both land safely on the other side, together.  After that, you'll figure out the rest of your relationship together, one day at a time.

Dawning of day 3

DJ has a bit of a loose cough this morning which Bulldog and I found a bit disconcerting.  Breathing deeply on that spirometer is hugely important. While a certain amount of mucous and loose coughing is to be expected, especially after being intubated, it's also a breeding ground for bacteria, particularly for those who are not able or allowed to move or sit upright.

Her fever is down, thankfully.  The physician's assistant just came by and said DJ's incisions look great AND (drum roll please) DJ will actually be allowed to stand up today!!!  She also is allowed to do some soft talking but is to avoid whispering which is apparently tougher on the vocal chords.

DJ would be thrilled to know that I am sharing another milestone for her:  she has passed gas.  HURRAY!! Why is this important?  Because it means her bowels are remembering how to work again after being on a liquid diet and being under the influence of narcotics for days.

She is an exceedingly patient patient.  Very little seems to annoy her and she is not at all anxious, which makes much of this process easier for both Bulldog and me.  I don't think either of us would be anywhere near as cooperative patients were we to be in her shoes.  We're thankful to have the resources of time and savings and understanding bosses to be able to fully participate in this process with her.  And without the loving support of family, friends and cyber friends, I'm not sure where we'd be....Thanks folks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 2 is done

DJ was running a fever of 102 later this afternoon.  It's back down to normal with the help of Tylenol.  Her pain is now being managed with Vicodin which is a step down from the morphine she was on yesterday.

Disc Jockey informed DJ of an audio recording meant for relaxation purposes before and after surgery.  DJ is all about finding homeopathic methods to deal with health issues and she has found it enormously helpful. After watching Harry Potter she has now settled down with her relaxation tape and will likely sleep soon.

We continue to record her throughout the day.  Earlier today, she motioned to me to pick up the camera and she wrote this on the dry erase board:

I used to hate my body.  Now I am at peace with it.

Every time I repeat that phrase in my head, I feel more at peace myself. 

Bulldog has left the hospital long enough to get a shower before he pulls the night shift with her.  Neither of us wants to leave her alone yet since she still can't talk and she sometimes loses track of the nurse call button.  While the head of her bed was raised 15 degrees today, she still needs helps with drinking fluids and using the spirometer-the device meant to encourage deep breathing and blunt the likelihood of getting pneumonia.

I think she's allowed to start talking tomorrow and I believe she stands tomorrow too, but no walking.  We want to give that new vagina a chance to stay where it's supposed to stay, after all!

Thanks for the support.  We love hearing from you.

Why I married Bulldog

Bulldog adopted the three children I brought from my first marriage.  From the very first, he loved them without reservation.  He is just that kind of man.

Yet, I was at the edges of child-bearing years and when we didn't conceive the old fashioned way within a year of our marriage, I asked him if he wanted to consider going high tech to have a baby together.  I didn't want him to feel as if he had missed out on some aspects of parenting: the pregnancy, the birth, the diapers, cutting teeth, sleepless nights, and the cute chubby faces that called for "dada" and "mama."

Bulldog came into our lives when Goodwrench was 9, Romeo was 7 and DJ, whom we knew then as JD, was 3.  For years, the kids called Bulldog by his given name and while they referred to him in the third person as their Dad, they did not call him Dad to his face, or to me. That is until DJ came out and she decided that if we could make the switch to calling her DJ, she could make the switch to calling Bulldog "Dad" and her brothers have followed suit, for the most part.

Bulldog never pushed them in this respect, but I know being called "Dad" was something he yearned for, nonetheless.  And it took years of marriage and being a family before he didn't feel like an outsider in the family, a thought which pains me to this day.

Now, we are both beyond wanting or needing an infant that we made together.  We have been building this family for ten years and are completely immersed in it.  I will always wonder what it might have been like to go through the experience of having a baby together with him, but thanks to his perspective, that yearning has lessened considerably in its intensity.

Bulldog and I are sitting on the opposite sides of DJ's hospital bed, facing her in profile, and each other directly.  DJ is snoozing.  Bulldog said this to me just now:

You know how you used to wonder if I was missing out on having a baby?  I was thinking about this last night and I feel like I know what's it like to have a baby now.  I'm here at the hospital and waiting and I'm thinking about bringing her home and taking care of her.  (He continued, with tears in his eyes) I feel like I know what it's like to have a baby.

This is why I married Bulldog.

Judging a book by its cover

Found this in my draft file -I wrote it the day after DJ's gender confirmation surgery but forgot to publish it…we had a lot going on, needless to say. Might be worth a look see for those persons living in the USA and looking for a good surgeon.  I can share details privately if you're interested.  If so, simply comment in the box below and include an email address and we can correspond.

The Author

DJ's surgery took place in a SMALL community hospital in the northeastern United States.  Bulldog and I are hospital snobs, in a way.  Both of our professional lives have encompassed being familiar with the capabilities of hospitals, or the BIG DOGS of hospitals, the Level 1 Trauma Centers.

I used to fly on an air medical helicopter where it was our "norm" to pick up patients from small community hospitals and transport them to the fancy-pants trauma centers that had advanced services 24/7 to include surgeons, CT scan and MCI capability around the clock.  Part of the air medical transport culture is to "look down" on the small community hospitals.  After all, if they were "all that" they wouldn't need larger hospitals with their own helicopters to swoop in and take the patients from the small town hospital to the big- time hospital.

I have been schooled today.  One should never judge: a book by its cover, people on first impressions, or, apparently, hospitals based on their locale and appearance.

To get to this hospital, one travels past the outskirts of a major city and then heads into relative suburbia/small town-ness.  This small town has very few hotels, a Wal-Mart (of course) a few diners and some fast food establishments like Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds.  On pulling into the hospital parking lot the morning of the surgery, I noted that the parking lot was practically deserted with no traffic coming into or leaving the hospital.  The hospital appeared to have been built in the 1950s or 1960s both on the outside and the inside.  The waiting room did not have Wi-fi and I'm pretty sure the chairs were as old as I am because the springs were shot, much like my own springs.

Do not be fooled by impressions:  the surgery that takes place here is cutting edge and the staff has been wonderful.  DJ's surgeon was a surgeon for NASA and is increasingly well known in the USA, if not the world, for her surgical finesse, yet she practices her craft (I would call it "art" actually) in this nondescript hospital.  What a perfect way to fly under the radar, I've decided.  Here, we get the best of both worlds:  the best and most progressive surgical techniques coupled with one of the best attributes of a small town- genuine caring and compassion.

The monitoring and patient care equipment is all current, it's just the facade of the place that is faded.  Has my life with my daughter taught me nothing about judging someone or something by its appearance?

One plucky girl

It's hours until dawn, and I cannot sleep.  Not because anything is wrong, I am simply wide awake.  I woke minutes before DJ's medication pump went off because it needed to be changed out, which is likely a good thing since waking to an alarm might have made me jumpy.  When the medication alarm went off, it did wake DJ and she merely looked at me, as if to say, "What is that?"  She then gave me one of her many "thumbs up" signs to let me know she was ok.

DJ had a tracheal shave and is under doctor's orders that she may not speak for two days.  She also had breast augmentation and neovaginoplasty.  She is to lie flat on her back for the next couple of days, as well.  One of her first communications to us, after her initial non-verbal "thumbs up" was to write a note that said,

"Lying on my back sucks."

The top of her chest and her groin are covered in ice packs, but the room is 77 degrees F, so she is actually quite comfortable.  Her surgeon also directed that she is to wear these cuffs around her lower legs that fill with air periodically to keep the circulation flowing well to her lower extremities. Being immobile for a number of days can lead to deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot, in the lower legs.  DJ reports that they are "comfy".

Her actual first communication was to give me a hand signal for me to videotape her on my first entering her hospital room.  She wants to record this journey, as do I, but I am feeling like the worst kind of paparazzi when filming in the lobby, as she's having blood drawn, in pre-op, where almost no one but her is actually excited to go under the knife and again as she is lying with icepacks covering her chest and groin.

Bulldog was going to pull the first night shift with DJ until he fell asleep with his headset on and didn't hear or see DJ's attempt at communicating.  He and I were each snoozing in a reclining chair in her room and my "mommy radar" woke me to see her hand waving to get our attention.  Bulldog was clueless and I had to keep my disapproval in check especially when it happened again when his back was turned.

"But I didn't see her because my back was turned," was his reply when I explained why I would stay the first night with her.

"You gotta have eyes in the back of your head then, honey."

I'm going to be sexist here:  mom's are more hyper aware.  You know how when a woman will hesitate for a moment before picking up something hugely heavy and in that moment, her husband will brusquely push past and take care of it for her?  This is the wifely equivalent of that scenario.  We've got ESP and 20/20 vision in the eyes in the backs of our heads.

It took a short while to get DJ's pain at something akin to "somewhat comfortable" but that's to be expected and she was never in agony, thank goodness.  Her surgeon came by again last night before heading home-this was after a 14 hour day, which goes to show what kind of doctor and person she is.

Everyone is in pretty good spirits:  Bulldog was making more of his goofball jokes, and DJ wrote another note to me, "make him stop" which she held out with a smirk.  But we'll see how today goes-on the one hand, I'm sure she'll feel even better, which makes me think she'll be a bit frustrated at having to be on her back for another 24 hours.  She'll likely get over it quickly.  That DJ is one plucky girl.

Monday, May 7, 2012

In recovery

DJ came through the surgery like a champ! We will see her within the hour and give a better update later. Thanks for the good wishes and prayers (a.k.a. LOVE) and I will be in touch later today with more info.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Merry Christmas

DJ is such a good sport.  She has been drinking her meals now for two days. Today has been nothing but clear liquids and in recent hours, a drink meant to stimulate her innards so that they expel all their contents very soon.

"I feel some rumbling going on," she said, with a self-conscious giggle.

We reviewed the changes that will be forthcoming and how that will change how she cares for herself.  She's a big girl-she's got this.

We've been doing nothing but watching movies and waiting for the laxatives to do their thing for a couple of hours now.  It's kind of nice to have nothing better to do (although I did just finish up a few hours of work).

DJ says she's a little nervous but not scared.  It's certainly normal to feel scared, but that doesn't mean I WANT her to feel scared, and I'm glad she doesn't, at this point.

"This is like waiting for Christmas", DJ reported to Flying Pig this morning.

"Well, then, Merry Christmas!!", Flying Pig replied.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

No more close calls please

Romeo and Juliet were on their way to our place this afternoon when they very nearly lost the entire front left wheel of the car.  Hopefully, that will be it for any pre-surgery mishaps because both of them were extremely lucky they were not hurt;  they were traveling on a highway at 55 mph when they heard a sound of metal wrenching and Romeo nearly lost control of the car.  He pulled off the highway and found the wheel turned forty five degrees away from the body of the car.  It seems the mechanics who worked on the brakes last month did not replace ANY of the lugnuts-I think the tow and subsequent repair will be on the house.

Since Juliet's parents are very generous and supportive people, they are picking the two of them up and loaning them their car so the two of them can make it here to see DJ before we leave.

DJ started the morning with a relaxing facial-too bad Bulldog and I can't get one too because we need some relaxation!!  We both are wound up pretty tight today making sure everything is taken care of here at home.

Goodwrench and Gellar were here last night to see DJ and all us girls got pedicures.  DJ is not supposed to have nail polish on her fingers so as not to interfere with monitoring her blood oxygen level during surgery, but her toes are not off limits for grooming.  Pampering is the name of the game whenever possible this week.

I started to get a little "strange" earlier today with worrying about things that are out of my control and Bulldog set me straight;  truthfully, I am a bit anxious about the reality of the possible dangers of surgery so I am trying NOT to dwell on that because I can feel myself starting to crack at the seams when I do.

Mimi and Bean, as well as Bean's spouse, who we will call Saint, as she has lived with and loved Bean for over a decade, were here last night, as was Barbie and Sister Chromatid, and other neighbors and friends, to wish DJ well and to help her celebrate her birthday.  She will be saving her gift cards for post-surgery shopping, about which she is excited, to say the least.  A long-awaited bikini is at the top of her list.

We're almost there....

Friday, May 4, 2012

Birthday celebration for our girl

DJ is currently working on her last tutoring lesson, here at home, before we leave, very soon, for her gender confirmation surgery.  She finished her research paper and is presently doing some kind of word play/association with her tutor, a local schoolteacher who works specifically with kids like DJ who have medical issues that keep them home.  We will call this fabulous woman Dynamo because she has that kind of personality.  She has become quite important to DJ this past year, and to us, as well.

I finished up everything I can possibly finish up at work.  Yet, I still feel like I've forgotten something, in spite of countless lists.

Bulldog will be home shortly as he ties up loose ends at work, as well.  We have a notary public coming over this afternoon so we can finish our refinance on our home mortgage before we leave.  Talk about coming in  under the wire....

We will celebrate DJ's 17th birthday today.  Per the birthday girl's request, in lieu of cake, we will be having birthday trifle.  She just isn't ready for cake yet, which is perfectly fine.  We'll have some family and friends over tonight for a wicked game of Pictionary and Bulldog, DJ and I will finally be able to relax in the last days at home before we start our journey, both on the road, and figuratively, toward DJ's future.

Then, for a delayed birthday present, when she's all healed up, we will treat her to a session with a wonderful local photographer to have her portrait, complete with curvier figure, taken.  Happy Birthday Young Woman :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Legacy keepers

We were skyping with Apple and her husband and children the other day.  There is nothing cuter in the whole world than listening to children from the UK talking, especially with the dialect they have where consonants are enunciated crisply.

Anyway,  Apple recounted an interesting story from when DJ was very little.  Back then, of course, we knew her as JD.  JD's dad and I had been separated for six weeks when he committed suicide.  Of course, the entire thing was awful.  But Apple explained that she was talking with JD and asked "him" something to the effect of where JD thought his dad was.  JD answered, in true 3 year verbiage,

"He's with Godzilla;  he'll be ok."

Apple went on to explain how she has revisited that memory countless times and realized that that child's reaction was so utterly female.  That she remembers looking in the face of that child and seeing what she now realizes is that inherent female quality of acceptance and resilience that even young girls will manifest.

And I know what she is talking about.  It's just something I know as the mother of my children, somehow.  Now, I don't ordinarily believe in assigning traits by gender, unless done cautiously and judiciously.  But we all know that there are different energies each gender radiates, regardless of their exterior or interior plumbing.  We can't define it, but we feel it from each other.

Goodwrench and Romeo were little boys who cried occasionally, as all children will.  Goodwrench was a screamer, and Romeo was a quiet crier.  But when DJ cried, there was something so.....soulful about it.  DJ didn't cry for the same reasons Goodwrench or Romeo did.  They "tended" to cry over frustration or anger, or fear.  DJ cried over sadness or disappointment.  I don't know what I'm trying to say....but I knew  she was different from her brothers and I never thought "different/bad" just "different/good" and for as long as any of us can remember, everyone, Bulldog included, said JD was my "favorite".

I love all my children the same, but DJ (formerly known as JD) and I were kindred spirits.  I just didn't know why.  I had so many moments with DJ that were similar in nature to what Apple described that I don't remember having with DJ's brothers.  The moments I shared with them were equally as wonderful, but decidedly different.  For instance, they both wanted to marry me.  (When Goodwrench was about 3, he performed a little wedding ceremony for he and I. Romeo argued with his dad that I was "his".) DJ never did.

I still remember my 8 months pregnant self, weeping on finding out that the sonogram revealed the parts of a "boy."  I was so SURE she was a girl.  I truly believed that God didn't think I was fit to raise a girl.  (I was young and still brainwashed....)  I yearned for a daughter-truly.  But I loved all my children regardless of their parts, so I put the yearning aside and reveled in the three kids I had.

I still can't believe how lucky I am to have a daughter-and not just any daughter.  I'm so lucky that DJ is  my daughter.  What she has done for this family, how she has changed it for the better, just by being her authentic self, cannot be adequately explained, but I'll try.

Both Bulldog and Goodwrench are decidedly more tender around her and perhaps because of her.  Romeo continues to pal around with her, when they are together, the way he always has which is equally as wonderful.  I cannot even begin to describe how she has changed me.  Read the book "The Red Tent" and hear how Dinah describes her mother and the nature of their bond and it will describe my feelings more accurately.

In this world, where male conquest is what is recorded in the history books, female legacy is left to the keeping of the daughters.  I see my future through DJ-does that make sense?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ants in her pants

Disc Jockey found the coolest "tool" to help DJ let us know how she's doing when she's having a hard day.

We've gone round and round on this issue because Miss Stiff Upper Lip refuses to let us know if she's ok when she's clearly acting not ok.  We understand that everybody has "bad" or "off" days and all we ask is that she let us know if it's a regular "off" day, or if something has her so upset she feels the urge to purge (I do not like the fact that the phrase rhymes because that makes purging sound like a light hearted activity, and it's not) or if she feels like she can't guarantee her safety.

We've discussed using a chart with facial expressions drawn on it, encouraging her to paint scenes that can illustrate her feelings and she typically agrees to the plan and does not follow through.

Today, however, on our visit to see Disc Jockey, she tossed a bunch of what appeared to be various sized beanbags in DJ's lap.  They were tiny stuffed pillows with a facial expression stitched on one side and a description stitched on the other.  They were goofy, they were silly, they tickled DJ pink.

"So, which of these would describe how you're feeling today?"  Disc Jockey asked.

DJ chose two:

Excited and Sleepy.

"I'm excited that the surgery is coming up in "x" days and I don't know why, but I'm sleepy," and she kind of giggled.

Way to hit the ball out of the park Disc Jockey!!

If you live near, or can access, a Fresh Foods Supermarket, Disc Jockey found the feelings pillows there.  I think they would be universally appealing to small children, big kids and adults.  I want to get Bulldog his own feelings pillows, in fact!

Otherwise, DJ is getting antsy.  She actually started packing a little bit today.  And she wrote half of her research paper. But right now, she's taking a bath, which is her other form of therapy.  She just wants to get this show on the road!!  She needs a warm cup of tea and a decent night's sleep to get her another day closer.  

EEOC protects TGs

Transgender Forum-an online informational link posted this today:

There’s big news from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that transgendered people are covered under Title VII which means employers can’t discriminate against TGs when they’re hiring.

This is HUGE!!  If we look back at other groups that have been discriminated against in the USA (land of  the free?-there are all kinds of ways to define "free" or "not free"; we as a country can afford to grow a bit in this area.)  we see that "acceptance" often started with "forcing" employers to be fair in hiring practices.  When more women, and African Americans, and Transgender people, and anyone else who does not encompass the "white christian male" qualities that seem to be preferred, are incorporated into the workforce, greater exposure to "different" kinds of people occurs.  Then, when we work side by side with those people we used to think of as "different", we realize that they really aren't different when it comes to what really matters because good people all value the same qualities regardless of their background, identity, orientation, culture, religion, gender, or skin color:  character, loyalty, tenacity,  intelligence, morality, commitment to high ideals, to family and to loved ones.

I can only imagine that it must feel like progress moves at a snail's pace-I know that is true for me being a woman in a "traditional" man's workplace.  But it is a small step forward which is hugely important.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Feeling a teensy bit overwhelmed

By eleven o'clock this morning, I had my suitcase 95% packed for next week.  I have roughly 75% of my chores taken care of related to my absence from work during DJ's recuperation out of state.  Bulldog is managing our finances.  We are planning for DJ's birthday this week-two days before we leave for DJ's gender confirmation surgery.

Meanwhile, Romeo needs us to cosign for his student loan and apartment lease which complicates the refinance of our mortgage that Bulldog is trying to finish up.  DJ is supposed to be working on her research paper so that she can stay somewhat current with her English class.  Goodwrench is plugging along taking care of himself entirely-which is a huge relief.

We are also supposed to be logging every meal that DJ eats.  That has completely fallen by the wayside.  We all pay close attention to what she eats and how often she eats. We are all very familiar with portions of each food group that must be represented, but we simply cannot seem to remember to keep the log.  I also have a little over an hour to complete forms that the school system requires to allow DJ to continue with being tutored at home for the remainder of the school year.  Of course, the school system wants to pull the plug on the funds to allow that to happen-that freaking figures.  They were supportive of DJ's hospitalization for her eating disorder, but do not seem to consider her upcoming surgery a true "medical" issue that warrants her missing school.  I'm sure someone, in his/her ignorance, considers this "elective" not curative surgery.

I would love to battle the school system right now and point out that we have followed, to the letter, the guidelines of the WPATH organization, which the American Medical Association endorses.  How the local school system can decide that this is not a medical issue is beyond my understanding.  But, I currently feel too compromised to fight that battle right this moment. And I know Bulldog is too.  We will likely pay the teacher out of our pocket to keep DJ current with her studies.  All we can do is manage what is most important right now.

For instance, Bean was stating yesterday, pretty emphatically I might add, how frightened she is about DJ returning to her public school next year.  In fact, she flat out told me I should "be the parent" and refuse to let her.  I completely agree, but that will mean scoping out other possibilities for schooling, and having the conversation with DJ to let her know why we do not want to allow her to return to her public school-both of which are beyond our current abilities.  We can only focus on what next week holds for us.

I've never experienced something like this before that seems so involved that many of my other faculties are unavailable for other pursuits.  Bulldog feels the same way.  I mentioned this conversation to him and he replied, "I can't even think about that right now. That's next school year.  We'll worry about that after the surgery."

No wonder we have to keep nagging DJ to work on that research paper.  She MUST be feeling like this multiplied by, oh, I don't know-a zillion maybe?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Keep calm and carry on

This final countdown is so difficult.  I try to remember if it's difficult for me, how HARD it must be for DJ.  But, in true self-centered fashion, I come right back to how stressed I feel.  I'm such a lech!

DJ seems to be, for all intents and purposes, "nesting."  This is a word that I'm not sure translates to other cultures;  however, in light of the fact that it is likely a universal feminine trait, I am certain women of other countries can relate.  We usually see this quality in pregnant mothers right before birth of the baby is due.  We clean, we tidy, we arrange, all in preparation for the life changing event that is about to occur.

DJ, to a certain degree, has been nesting. The girl is, otherwise, a perpetual mess maker.  Her room is constantly in a state of disaster.  It truly looks as if a tornado came through it.  And her bathroom is ridiculous.  Yesterday, however, for some strange reason, she started cleaning.  Usually we have to make her do it.  For her to take the initiative is a bit unusual. Let me state it more accurately:  for her to take the initiative is highly irregular!!

On other fronts, she had her first sleepover with her best friend, Sister Chromatid recently and it was like "old times."  This is the first time in 4 months that she has been in the company of someone other than Bulldog or me for more than an hour or two, not including staff at the hospital.  She was giddy and silly and laughed so hard she spit, according to Barbie, Sister Chromatid's mom.

The next morning, I took both girls with me to a fundraiser with a "pirate" theme.  DJ looked adorable in her subtly alluring pirate get up but I could see her retreat into her shell as she came in contact with more and more strangers, especially when it was time to eat her breakfast.  She just wasn't up to the task that morning and felt embarrassed and disappointed in herself at not being up to the task.  We told her that all of us bite off more than we can chew some days and oftentimes, it's best to just back off and try again another day.  Bulldog picked her up, brought her home, she took her therapeutic bath and hung out with Mimi the rest of the day.

She's been off her hormones for five days and the mood changes have been minimal.  But DJ has never been one to have wild alterations in her mood anyway.  She's just varying degrees of stoic no matter what.  If I didn't know better, I would swear she is British.  And to any of you in the UK who are reading this, I mean that as a compliment in a "steady heads will prevail" kind of way.

On the surgery front, the surgeon is in receipt of the letters from the therapist and psychologist, so I can breathe a sigh of relief.  The surgeon's office has had to reassure me a number of times that everything is moving along properly. What do you do for people who soothe your neediness?  Are flowers appropriate?  Or does the fact that you've written a very large check suffice?  I don't know....

Bulldog touched base with the psychologist yesterday by phone.

He said to me, "There is one thing she wants us to do as soon as the surgery is over."  My heart sank, because I am constantly expecting SOMETHING to derail our plans somehow (I'm such a "negative nancy" lately).

"What's that?"  I replied.

"As soon as DJ comes out of surgery, she wants us to call her and let her know how DJ is."

I almost cried.

Once the surgery is done then, maybe, and only with their permission, can we share the names of all these incredible professionals who have made it their mission in life to help transgender folks achieve the lives they want and need. But until then, I just want to keep everything on the down low.  Fly under the radar, so to speak.  Which makes me regret that I shared some of my blog entries on Facebook last year....sigh.  The more I learn, the more I learn how much I have to learn.

Many thanks to some of my blog readers (friends) who have contacted me by my gmail email address.  I sincerely hope we can meet someday.

That's all for now. Be back in the next few days if I have not experienced some sort of meltdown while DJ keeps that stiff upper lip.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shopping for enemas

We are in the phase of preparing for the actual surgery.  There is a shopping list that must be obtained and so DJ and I addressed this yesterday in Target and Walmart.

Here are some of the more exciting items on the list:

Magnesium citrate (a laxative)
Fleet enema (same purpose, but more fast acting)
Sanitary napkins
Anti-biotic ointment
Vitamin K

Damn it-nary a fun thing on the list!!!  OK, not entirely true since we will be picking up some of DJ's favorite movies for her to view, as well, and did find a cute "Tinkerbell" PJ set, which we had to get two of so we could bring one to Sister Chromatid, who is a big Tinkerbell fan.  We certainly will consider books but the first few days post-op, it is doubtful that she will be able to focus on words through her drug-induced haze.

We passed by the bathing suit section and I suggested we window shop, since she wants to wait till after the surgery to actually buy a bikini.  She was visibly excited at the thought of not having to drape her midsection.  I am so excited for her.

She was making all kinds of cute, smart @$$ remarks all day and was obviously in fine form eventhough all we purchased was about $200 worth of medical supplies and the aforementioned PJs.  We got home and packed the medical supplies in their own suitcase and even that was interesting to her.

Well, of course it is. This is all preparation for the final step in her physical transition.

However, today also marks the first day without her hormones, so she may experience what her doctors are referring to as a "menopause" complete with hot flashes and mood swings.  That's ok, she and I can experience that ride together, as I am in the beginning stages of the same process.  Poor Bulldog....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Aw crap, I gotta apologize

OMG-I think I may be suffering from schizophrenia.  One minute, I feel just fine, the next I'm super sensitive and blowing something out of proportion.  Or I'm confused because I feel like I have a right to be upset or put out when Bulldog does something insensitive, and then I get all discombobulated when I remember that he's feeling uber stressed right now too.  Then, I feel bad for getting upset and instead think about how terrible he must be feeling for having upset me.

Except that I can't be really sure of that because, in typical man fashion, he has retreated to his office and is saying nothing.  I hear his computer keys clicking away. I would love to entertain the fantasy that he is writing me a note of apology but that would just be getting my hopes up for  nothing.  I have been married to this man for over ten years and have loved him for nearing 13.  I know what he is likely, or in this case, not likely to do.

I woke up this morning feeling very sensitive.  Over coffee, when he made some joke, I informed him of this in, truly, the nicest way.  Not in a "stay out of my way" or a "you've been warned" manner, but in a "please understand I'm feeling a bit fragile" manner.  Could he not remember this before he criticized me, especially after I had gotten all dressed up for a date night that we've had only once previously in the last three months?  I was in no mood to have dinner with him after that and told him to take me home.  He lost even more points, poor man, when he made no other attempt to make up, other than a quick face-saving "I'm sorry" as he pulled up to the front of the restaurant to let me out while he parked, right before I insisted he take me home.

Yes, this is what I'm doing on a Saturday night when I could have been having dinner with my husband-I am writing to you fine folks.  No offense, but I'd rather be sipping a pinot grigio and waiting for my salmon.

We got home and I immediately changed out of my black dress and heels, put on a tank top and sweat  pants (yeah, right, that will punish him) and ate a dinner of two boiled eggs during which time I told him how he had now dropped the ball repeatedly in my eyes because:

1)  he criticized me

2)  he didn't offer an appropriate apology

3)  he didn't try to convince me to stay

4)  he forgot that I needed him to handle me gently today

and finally, (yes, there is an end to my bitching)

5)  he spoiled the night entirely

OMG-can DJ's surgery possibly get here any faster so I can dispense with my theatrics?

I proceed to walk to our room where I find some chore or other to occupy my time and I'm trying to hold onto my self-righteous indignation, when an annoyingly mature thought pops into my head:

You know, Bulldog is feeling pretty stressed himself.  You could consider that....

Damn it all to hell.  Now I can't even be properly mad at him anymore because I have realized my part in this little drama.  And I can't possibly go put on that little black dress again because I would feel like a complete ass.  The night is what it is.  I have to let it go.  This evening is definitely collateral damage in what is clearly a bigger battle ahead. 

Why share my ridiculousness with you all?  In spite of our combined stupidity tonight, I think overall Bulldog and I are doing a fairly decent job. So, if you, as parents, are supporting your child as he or she is transitioning, and sometimes drop the ball in how you handle the stress,consider that there are some fairly normal folks residing somewhere in the USA who are acting a little bit like overgrown toddlers from time to time because they, too, are not perfect;  transition of any kind is not easy for anyone involved, whether it's the transition that happens when you give birth to a baby girl, or  the transition where the person you knew previously as your son figuratively gives birth to herself, as a grown up girl.  In fact, in both cases it can be downright painful.  But just when you start to think it's all about you.....remember, others are in this boat too.  You're not the only one struggling.  OK-lesson learned.  Excuse me now while I go apologize to Bulldog.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thanks for sharing

I have just heard from the most incredible woman who is a DJ supporter.  She contacted my email account to share some of her experiences post-surgery and to send love and encouragement to DJ.

This is incredibly good stuff.

I am reminded again and again how information is power.  And not the negative power that one wields to control others, but rather the positive kind that allows one to have more control over her own life and her own destiny.  Both DJ's and my own.

Ostensibly, I started this blog, I thought, for DJ, or for others in her shoes, or for other mothers in my shoes. But really, I think I did it for me because writing it nourishes me and then hearing from others  nourishes me even more.

"E" from somewhere in the USA shared this:

The first week will be the toughest but what most people have no clue about is how much courage it takes for kids like DJ to come forward and then with the help of a great family take this nightmare to its final cure because quite simply after this DJ will just be another young girl and then a woman and nothing else. She already has immense courage so facing the recovery down should be something she can handle.

Then she ended with:

When you get her home do not let her mope around after the first week or so home. Get her friends over. Get her doing something that makes her feel like just a normal teenage girl. To us that is very important.

Give DJ my love and tell her this is actually the easy part. The hard part was getting here and she has done that.

We are also fortunate enough to be in contact with "A" from the other side of the world who offered this:

I know we've never met and I don't want to sound like a creep but I honestly wish I could be there to help. To look after DJ if you needed to be at work, to take some of the pressure off in any way I could. Sadly all I can do is send my thoughts and best wishes your way.

Please know that anything I CAN do I will. 

Years ago, I had this incredible experience in a post office, which I have, obviously, not forgotten. I was standing at a counter with a woman in her 50's and a gentlemen likely in his 60's.  The woman was wearing this lovely perfume that smelled like actual roses.  I commented on how wonderful her perfume smelled and she delightfully thanked me and left the counter to continue her business with the post office employees.  At this point, I heard this deep resonant voice say, "Do you have any idea how you may have just affected the course of her day?"  I looked up and the older gentleman appeared as if he had come from Eastern Europe 50 years prior because of his manner of dressing and his beard.  I don't remember my response to him but I do remember thinking, "Do you have any idea how you have just affected the course of my day?"

This is what sharing information does-it can change the course of our days and our lives for the better.  I'm going to keep sharing and I hope you will too-if not with me, then with others whose lives will be better for it.  Thanks for the sharing thus far.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Not being superwoman is ok

It's nearing nine o'clock in the morning and I've cried twice already today.  WTF?!

I slept in till a bit after seven thirty this morning and attempted to call a girlfriend to meet for coffee and when that didn't work out, I decided it was just as well, and sat down to do some work from home.  I grabbed a pad of paper and flashed to a memory of my father's mother helping me with homework nearly 40 years ago and it made me cry.

Do you ever start crying and have no idea why?  Maybe I'm just neurotic, but I have to know WHY.  I began to search my thoughts and feelings to figure it out.  It was like a recipe:  there was a few parts regret-

"Why didn't I spend more time with her when she was alive?"

A few more parts of seeing how she must have loved me (which I hadn't really thought about and is probably fodder for another blog, another day) because she left the fun of the family gathering downstairs to come find me, alone, at Christmastime, doing my homework, upstairs.

And many parts gratitude at having this memory of her, and of a moment that she and I shared, that was still so vivid and important to me so many decades later.  Some part of me was certain that she was thinking of me while I remembered her and that made me feel loved....which made me boo-hoo.

Then Bulldog phoned me from work and I began to tell him about how a conversation he and I had had the evening before got me upset.  But I felt so unreasonably upset that I didn't pursue it because I knew I was being unreasonable and I didn't want to subject him to it at ten in the evening.  And in telling him about it, I started to cry again-not because of WHAT I had found upsetting the night before but because of the fact that I actually was upset by it.  In my mind, it felt like I had taken a huge step backward.  Like I had regressed.

OMG-this is why I love writing this blog.  When I write, it forces my brain to be a bit more orderly and then I make more sense to me.  Of course I'm regressing-this is normal human behavior when one is stressed. I literally just taught this concept in the last few weeks.  This is a case of "Teacher, teach thyself," to paraphrase a phrase.

DJ is 3 weeks from her surgery.  This weighs heavily on all of our minds.  DJ has professed to not wanting to address anything in the next few weeks because she feels so consumed by it.  Bulldog and I are acting in the exact opposite manner:  we are trying to address everything in the next few weeks so that we will be prepared for....well....anything that could conceivably become a problem:  work, the pets, transportation, caring for DJ, getting there, getting home.

As Bulldog and I chatted on the phone this morning, he was trying to reassure me that my weepiness was to be expected because we are all so stressed.  This surgery is a big deal.  I have never before put my life on hold for an entire two weeks for anything.  I have never had a child go through a major surgery before.  I have never before made such a huge decision on behalf of someone else in the face of potential, if not actual, disapproval, before.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg because I will not even allow myself to think of what it's going to be like seeing DJ in those first few hours or days after her surgery when she will be bruised, swollen and in pain.  I will deal with that when it happens.

But before then, as I experience this stress and worry, (and if anyone tries to tell me not to worry, please don't.  I'm DJ's mother.  She is having a type of major surgery that is practically unheard of for someone her age. Plus, I'm just hard-wired to worry, in spite of my best efforts.) I feel as if I have very few people with whom I can share this.  My family is supportive but two members have expressed concern about this being the right time for DJ to have this surgery.  Bean, I think, is just plain scared about something going wrong, but I don't think she has an opinion about whether it's the "right" time or not.

And to many other folks, a "sex change operation" is too freaky to really talk about.  Maybe it's just me, but I get that feeling so I don't broach the particulars with anyone really, except Sister Chromatid's mom, whom I'll call Barbie because she has a face and figure similar to that renowned doll.  I think many people are ok with a person who has made an outward transition, but in the end, cutting off a you-know-what seems a little strange to them.

And DJ is very young.  I know of one person younger than she is to have gone through this surgery. Perhaps there are more, but we haven't heard of them.  The surgeon and other members of Team DJ are supportive, but I'm picking up a vibe that they are a teensy bit edgy about this because DJ is young compared to most people who have gender confirmation surgery. And in the end, who is making the decision on her behalf?  Bulldog and I.

It's one thing for me to elect to go under the knife to have my body be consistent with how I feel inside.  I have actually done that once.  If something were to go wrong, I made the decision and I would have had to live with it.  But in this case, Bulldog and I are making the decision legally, morally and ethically, and if something goes wrong, DJ will have to live with it.  That is a monkey on my back of mammoth proportions.

What could go wrong?  OK-anything can go wrong when you're having major surgery.  But add to that,  my worry of the stress of recovering from surgery making her depressed.  What if she starts cutting again or stops eating again?  Bulldog and I are speaking for DJ when we press forward because we think the good will outweigh the bad.  We believe that making her wait will make her issues worse and that by having the surgery sooner, even in light of her recent issues with anorexia, cutting, etc., that she will fare better in the end.  But what if we're wrong?

Not only will we have the sorrow of knowing our misjudgement is causing our daughter more issues, we will likely have to deal with the (albeit unspoken) censure of many of our loved ones. Maybe many of you can make decisions and not care about what others think.  I admire you for it and wish for that quality in myself.  I work diligently to that end all the time in my life, but I am still not there despite my best efforts.  I care too much about what people think of me.

So, I'm regressing.  That's me in a nutshell today.  Well, it's true for DJ too.  It's not as if she is throwing tantrums or wetting her bed regressing, just that she is not wanting to address the responsibilities of a 17 year old right now.  I can accept her regressing.  I just need to accept my regressing.  Yeah, because last time I looked I didn't see a giant  red "S" on my shirt.