… for the most part. It was spoiled somewhat at the end, but I’m trying not to dwell on that part.
So today, my Sainted Human Credit Card (aka Supportive Mother) and I got up at 6.30, caught our three trains (overground, underground, overground in that order) and finally our bus (just one of those; five stops) to arrive at King’s Oak Hospital almost an hour early. The journey was too good to be true, really; we just missed the torrential rain when getting our first train, there were no delays or confusions or anything at any point. And we even managed to navigate from the bus stop correctly the first time round. Which is quite an achievement for me.
And (yes, there’s even an “and”) I got in half an hour early because the person before me hadn’t turned up. Ha. And I wasn’t even that panicked speaking to the receptionist. Me. I wasn’t panicked. Awkward, sure. Quiet, obviously. But panicked? Nope. Don’t know where the hell it went… but I’m certainly not complaining.
The only downside was caused by surprise; I hadn’t expected to need to say anything, so when I realised (later than I should have), my voice came out rather… squeakier than I’d have liked. But I suppose we can’t have it all…
After the inevitable form-filling, awkward signing (did I mention that I’d only settled on my signature yesterday evening? Well, I had) and attempts to look intelligent and mature in front of the Posh, Rich People That Probably Weren’t Actually Any More Posh Or Rich Than We Were by intently studying a newspaper, complete with dramatic shaking to straighten the pages, I was called in.
The Actual Stuff
We’d barely sat down when the interrogation began. The very first question was ambiguous – or at least, for my literal Aspie brain it bloody well was. Intimate, doctor-y questions went through my entire medical history, and that was fine-ish, although I had to resist repeated urges to respond in my stupidly literal way (as opposed to just answering the damn questions like a sane person, of course).
As in, when I was asked whether I was walking and talking at “normal” times, I wanted to say that I couldn’t remember that far back, and even if I could, how would a Tiny-Year-Old know how “normal” they were anyway?
(When I repeated this to my mum on the way home, she said I actually did everything earlier than everyone else, and then, in a very serious voice, “you told him that you could read – competently – much earlier than everyone else, right?” Apparently that makes a difference to her, but no, I didn’t. He didn’t ask specifically about reading. Oh well.)
We went through my family history again; illnesses, queer identifying relatives (none to speak of), operations, heart disease specifically. I can never remember these things. Sigh.
One funny moment was when he announced the next topic… like this: “Relationships. Your mother. What does she do?” I had to ask him to clarify, in the hope that I had misunderstood the syntax, and therefore wouldn’t have to admit to my potentially-prudish discomfort at speculating over my mother’s sexual habits. Thankfully, I had. He meant occupation. Very relieved sigh… nervous laughter… and then we continued.
We went through school, my gender (dysphoric) history, my mental health, self harm, suicide attempts, and in every case discussed how much my gender identity had played a part.
Sidenote for ranting: I continue to hate the way medical professionals judge severity – of anything – mental illness, suicide and self harm in particular; not because my self harm was less severe than anyone else’s (it wasn’t), but because I’d never have gone to hospital, no matter how much I may have needed to, because I wasn’t just depressed and that’s the whole point. Chaotic, crowded hospitals with stupidly long waits and doctors who regard self harmers as either masochists or morons or generally deserving of pain, and who therefore refuse to waste good anaesthetics on us. Pardon my French, but fuck that for a game of soldiers. Or something along those lines. Actually, I think that anyone who judges anyone else’s mental illness – or indeed the forms that it takes – is beyond contemptible and needs shooting as soon as possible. Because I’m a tolerant and peaceful person. Obviously. (Objectors will also be shot, please note.)
Oops. That was a rather more block-like paragraph than was intended. Sorry.
We discussed the Asperger’s diagnosis, and the (resulting?) social anxiety; he urged me to go to my GP for therapy because apparently the Child Services cut off at 19 and it’s much harder to get into Adult Services.
Sadly, I’d already outstayed my welcome at CAMHS at 18 and got booted off the program whether I liked it or not, so I fear that’s no longer an option where I am. And I’d been referred to CMHT following my uncharacteristic tantrum at the GPs, but – surprisingly enough – my social anxiety prevented me from going because it was all unfamiliar and chaotic and aaaargh. That possibility didn’t seem to occur to them, though, because I received several messages on the home phone requesting me to “call them back”. That worked well. I still have uni counselling services available though, should I need them.
We went through the name change (or lack thereof); and I said I’d got it in the post, but my not-a-people-person-ness meant that I’d yet to see a non-parental human being to witness me signing it. I mentioned that I carry it around with me in hope, and he offered to sign it, which was good. Now I don’t need to chase people around with a sharpened Deed Poll to double up as both the purpose of the chasing and the weapon to threaten with.
The Idiotically Named “Social Transition” discussion followed. While I’m out as trans and have been since September, the fact that I’ve been using a female name and gender on my uni paperwork (which I’d already explained to Dr Lorimer in my first appointment) as well as everywhere else legally, then that posed a problem.
Timing was really the cause of it all. I should probably rant about that another time, but I might just stick it under a cut at the end. Here’s an asterisk* if it’s more comforting.
So I explained all over again, and managed to contain my (normally very thinly-veiled) contempt for the process of transition over here, whether done privately or otherwise, ie. you have to be able to prove that you can live as your “chosen” gender without any assistance from hormones or specialists or anyone… before they’ll allow you to obtain said assistance. It’s so illogical it hurts my brain sometimes. While I understand the reasons why they consider it necessary, I also think that for many, it’s an impossible task, and often leaves you going round in circles and twisting and turning and driving yourself crazy… but I digress. I explained again, and he seemed sort-of satisfied, so we moved on.
He explained what I needed to do in order to get my gender markers changed legally and things, so it was productive in some ways; it was just irritating as well.
I can’t get the markers changed without a letter from Dr Lorimer stating that I’m seriously and genuinely and wholly and completely intending to live in a male role permanently and foreverly and stuffly… but The Professionals often like (and in some cases demand) to see evidence of such things before you see them, in order to be able to take you seriously in the bloody first place. See the circling? Sigh. And… rant over.
Aaaand… I think that was really all the talking that went on.
Then he looked at my blood test results (which he likes to keep; I already had copies, so all was well, but I’d advise keeping copies of everything anyway), confirmed that everything was normal (ha ha), and we went on to blood pressure, weight and height. I had to lie back on the padded couchy bed thing and roll up my sleeve.
Potential trigger warning coming up: self harm, and body-related numbers.
At this point, the self harm became a focal point. There was an almost-healed scar on my forearm, which he proceeded to question and prod and poke and things. I’d already explained that my last relapse was near the beginning of this holiday, and the one before that was in February. I’m a pretty rubbish liar (as far as I can tell), so while I understand the need to check, it still irritates me that I ever have to repeat and/or justify myself, especially with Things Like This.
He twirled my arm around a few times, presumably to get a better look at my scars, then he asked to see the other arm, to check my “skin quality” – whatever that is – and then the blood pressure cuff was fitted. The monitor was one of those manual pump things, so I found it entertaining to watch the needle on the dial bouncing around, before I was told that once again, I was “normal”.
That word will never cease to surprise, confuse and simultaneously half-please-half-insult me.
Then weight, height and weight again (he forgot the number while recording the height measurement). Height was 158 cm, and weight was 45.3 kg. We do inches, pounds ‘n’ ounces at home, so I have no idea what that means; I’m only grateful that I didn’t have to take my clothes off (only shoes needed removing). There are more scars, lower down (no, not there), that are worse and healing also, so I’d rather not have them scrutinised as well.
When I got my shoes back on, The Idiotically Named “Social Transition” came up again and he signed my Deed Poll. He went through the types of T available (I opted for injections; he thought they were better a option than gel anyway, but there we go), and when I should expect to see each change, which I already knew and is easily researched, but still.
He explained how male puberty is different from female puberty (essentially, “it takes longer” was the point), and how it’s necessary to start on lower doses and work up because that’s what happens in a normal male puberty… and so on.
Theeeen… he went off to photocopy my Deed Poll while I found my Sainted Human Credit Card… with her chequebook (oh be quiet; you know what I meant in the first place – stop being so pedantic – jeez) and brought her in, so that she could misspell his name… and deliberately withhold the cheque until he wrote out the prescription. Incidentally, he seemed to be waiting for the cheque before he started prescribing, so it all took longer than it should have. Ahem.
Finally, he explained more about what he’s precribing me (testosterone enanthate) and how everything works, who I need to see and when and generally All That Stuff.
Then it was time for the Final Cheque-Prescription Exchange, one last “Do you have any questions?” and we shook hands, looed and left. The journey back was even easier and better-timed than the journey there (apart from all the timetables at Victoria Station mysteriously failing and essentially causing chaos), and I barely even noticed the sensory chaos in MacDonalds on Victoria Street in my elated haze.
However, as all good things must come to an end… well, they did. Within ten minutes of arriving home, my dad had been himself in such high doses (see where my mind is right now?) to destroy my optimism. So I’ve typed a lot to get my head working well again.
Et voila. I’m alive, I’m prescribed, and all is well.
(Apologies in advance for any spelling/WordPress-Italic-And-Spaces-Deleting; this post inevitably turned out longer than I’d planned, so please feel free to point them out. I’d be much happier knowing they’re corrected. Cheers…)
* Actually, I’m too damn tired to add in any more rants right now. I’ll have to edit it in later. Keep checking back though; I promise it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat throughout… and yes, I’m shamelessly stats-boosting now. I need sleep.