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.