Morning thoughts

Sometimes, like this morning, I wake up early and I can hear the rain bouncing off the roof, windows or porch. It is still mostly dark outside, the wind rustles through the trees. I get up, fix myself a cup of coffee and sit down petting the cat, when all of a sudden, I am missing visiting my parents early in the morning.

Sitting with my parents in the morning was a very regular occurrence. It was something we did all the time growing up (if they weren’t hungover and unable to get up which happened less often as they grew older). I even did it fairly often as an adult, I would drive over by six in the morning or so, sometimes with the raspberry filled powdered donuts you get from Hostess or one of the other imitations.

I would get there early, knock on the door and they would yell at me to come in. No matter where they lived the living room was always similar. A bevy of table lamps scattered in the room. A couch my mom would sit on and a chair my dad would use. A coffee table in between us all. Usually the drapes were thrown open and either the morning light would be poking in, or like this morning it would still be dark and grey with rain slapping the windows.

Typical look, notice all the lamps… so many lamps. Circa 2013 or so.

I would sit down on the couch near my mom. You could tell the air had the smell of secondhand smoke, but it was early morning, so it wasn’t filled with smoke itself. Also, the air was usually fresher smelling then other smokers’ houses, my parents kept a plethora of plants in the house, sometimes the ceiling would be covered in vines like they were living under a forest canopy, they also almost always had a window cranked open.

My mom would get me a cup of coffee, always with slightly too much sugar (no matter how often I told her I didn’t need that much) and we would start talking. This even happened when I was 10-12. My parents drank instant coffee and my mom would fix me up instant coffee in a plastic drink cup using hot tap water. I was always destined to be an instant coffee drinker, I guess.

Every once in awhile they would get a picture of me instead, sometime in 2004.

The living room would be brightly lit while the TV played Good Morning America when I was younger, and as I got older and the decades started going by it became just the news. The channel would occasionally be changed in the background as we all sat there, listening to the birds outside.

We would just talk about everything. I might have had screaming fights with my parents when they were drunk, but never in the morning. The morning was safe, the get together was sober. Conversations in the morning were reassuring no matter what happened the night before, affection was always exchanged (hugs and kisses) and everyone would just talk about everything. This was always the best time to bring up new or sensitive topics and things would just be mellow.

It was the only time I talked about certain things that have happened and they would just listen. Sometimes if it was just my dad (if my mom was sleeping, which happened a small percentage of the time) I would talk about things that I have never uttered to another person, not even my hubby. It felt like it was a time I could be honest about everything I had been through or was bothered by. Don’t get me wrong, my hubby has always listened and been accepting. I just can’t get over the anxiety that he might one day decide he couldn’t accept. It is stupid because I know he would be ok with me no matter what, but the anxiety is always there about that.

Another picture of my dad in 1994, you can see the hubby in pre-transition in the foreground… or at least part of his head and shoulders. He would come by in the morning with me as well sometimes.

I think talking in the morning was partially a learned response, a coping mechanism for things that happened in the darkest of night. I had an opposite experience growing up in the late-night hours before everyone went to bed (the darkest part of the night when everyone would be drunk). When I was a kid, I grew up in a mass of broken Vietnam Vets who had all done horrible things both in Vietnam and since then. They were my family, I loved them, and no matter what society wants to say, they were good people. However, most of them were emotionally broken and they didn’t understand proper boundaries between an adult and their bad experiences and putting that on a child (my dad had the best understanding out of all the men, but even he wasn’t good at it).

Fairly regularly one of them would confess to me in the late hours things they had done and been through. This was after the evening drunkenness had hit and people were coming down. They treated me almost as if I was a priest at their confessional. I have learned from my therapist that I stood in as someone who could help them carry their baggage by acting in that role, but it also gave me baggage and guilt for things that I have never done or even witnessed. I think I would have made a good sin eater in the middle ages.

This meant that mornings with my parents were almost the polar opposite. There were no secrets I had to keep. My parents never dropped any emotional bombs during this time. It was a time I could tell my own secrets back instead. I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t bring these troubled thoughts up at other times, or with other people, but mornings were safe and they were always supportive (even if they weren’t the night before).

Sometimes family friends, would join us, like Jimbo here. See more table lamps. Circa 2010 or so.

So I woke up this morning, all my table lamps are on and I am sitting here listening to the rain, with the strongest wish that I could sit with my parents this morning and have a cup of coffee with them. I knew the last year and a half of their lives that the time was running out, so I prepared and did it as often as I could. That doesn’t change the feelings though when they are gone and all of a sudden you just miss having a cup of coffee in the morning with them. No matter what preparation you do, it doesn’t change how the feelings hit you.

Sometimes getting older sucks.

Medical Update

The last few weeks have been busy. Packed with trips down to Phoenix for my face, work fires and some health things that came up. I realize most people think this is too personal, but if I don’t blog about something, I tend to not write about it or remember it fully. So here is my health update.

My therapy has been going well and we have been working on the trauma and CPTSD. During this time my therapist brought up that he would like me to pursue ADHD with my primary care doctor and see if something could be done about that.

The ADHD idea wasn’t really a surprise to me. When I worked for a doctors office back in the mid 90s I didn’t have medical, but the doctors would sometimes take a quick look at you. Ironic isn’t it that a medical office won’t provide medical, that is why I appreciate the Affordable Care Act, when I wasn’t getting medical working in a doctors office, and my spouse wasn’t getting it working as a nurse really shows how fucked capitalism is.

The doctor back then looked at me and said he thought I had adult ADHD. He also said as an adult nothing can be done and I would just need to handle it. That was also because I didn’t have insurance, but that is a whole other story. So for 23 years I ignored the ADHD and just caffeinated myself. So this idea wasn’t new, but I agreed to talk with the doctor and it satisfied my therapist.

Meanwhile I have had a couple of other ailments, including the repeated daily vomiting that has stuck with me for years (with no feeling sick). They scoped me once before and found a hernia, but nothing else. Also in January I had gotten super sick (sicker then I had ever been). Both the hubby and I were so sick we both went to urgent care (we couldn’t breath, I wonder if we had caught COVID before the USA acknowledged it arrived, after all we live in the Seattle area where it first appeared).

During my visit to urgent care I noticed I had a lump in the bottom of my throat. Of course urgent care was horrible, they barely looked at me and dismissed that lump. Unfortunately not long after this the full pandemic hit and we couldn’t get in to the doctor and our second visit to urgent care they once again waved it away (in fact they wouldn’t even touch it).

So last week I went to my doctor for the first time in about a year. My doctor is fantastic, willing to research things and willing to admit when he isn’t sure but he will do that research. He looked me over and confirmed what he think is ADHD for me and prescribed me meds. He also found that my throat had a mass the size of a golf ball on my thyroid. He is pretty sure it isn’t a malignant tumor, just a mass that should be able to be aspirated or removed, so he ordered me an ultrasound I go to next week. He then also examined my abdomen and set me up with a fluoroscopy.

So I went home with meds for ADHD, an appointment for a fluoroscopy and an appointment for an ultrasound. It is the first time in over a year I felt the medical community listened to me (except my HRT doc, he is awesome).

So a week later and I have addressed the ADHD with regular medication… AND IT FUCKING WORKS. I took the first pill and was worried I was going to bounce off the wall (it is like Ritalin, an upper), but instead I almost fell asleep an hour later. It has had no upper effect on me (which reinforced my memories that it took a hell of a lot of uppers to do anything for me when I was young).

I have been able to concentrate a lot better and for the first time in my memory as an adult I get lost in projects I am working on and would finish some of my projects including learn how to design sequences in Apple Motion 5 for videos, and I finished repainting and setting up my butsudan.

Not once did I look at social media when I am working on something, and I also noticed it actually helped my anxiety. In addition, barring last nights bad sleep, I have been averaging 5-6 hours of sleep a night (which is great because 3-4 was my normal and it was killing me). I suspect they may need to up it a level since there are still some issues (I started at lowest dose), but even at this dosage it is a game changer.

This last Tuesday I went in for my fluoroscopy. I assumed it was just like the barium swallow I did a couple years ago, but it was far more in depth. They had me swallow multiple cups of different liquid, while I sat, stood and laid down. They had me scanned once in a machine that moved me around. They then had me get x-rays multiple times over several different increments of time.

Jerry the Tech, and the doctor were both fantastic. Neither one of them referred to me with the wrong pronouns and they were both intent on my health. I really appreciated that. There was another new tech who thought I was a guy until I told him I was transitioning (I obviously have boobs, makeup and I don’t think I look as masculine as I did so I suspect he had an issue with me). I did learn from him that he left his last job as a tech because there were “too many young women and full of drama”. I was a bit stunned that he didn’t realize that he was probably the problem… but I digress.

While I was waiting for x-rays, they seated an older lady who hid away from me. Then I coughed a bit (the liquids they gave me had crystals that dried up my throat). When Jerry came back the old lady freaked out that I might have pneumonia. We both explained I was given a drink that dries my throat out and that I wasn’t sick. She still threw a fit, so Jerry in a supreme act of patience walked her into a different area. He apologized to me later, but I told him that he had nothing to apologize for.

Is it bad that it actually made me happy that the old lady only referred to me as a “young lady” and in fact only seemed freaked by my coughing. I couldn’t tell if she didn’t clock me or if she was cool with transgender people. Either way I will take that as a win.

Well I got out of the scanning after about 3.5 hours. The doc said he saw nothing in his initial review but couldn’t be definitive until he sat down with it. So I have a lot of hope that at least there isn’t a mass or something in my abdomen blocking my esophagus or stomach. That was the fear my original doctor had on why I was throwing up so much for years. Still waiting on report, but I have good hopes.

The thyroid mass does concern me, but the doctor and hubby both have felt it and it doesn’t have the obvious tell tale feeling of a malignant tumor. I am fairly sure no matter what happens I will be fine, but just in case I checked on the status of both my life insurance and they are good to go just in case. I will talk about that appointment next week I am sure.

There you have it, my immediate physical health condition as we speak. Being successfully treated for my ADHD, still unknown on stomach but unlikely anything like a mass, and my throat is still in the air, but unlikely malignant.

On the way home I got brave and swung by the park I normally go to for lunch at work. While I was there I played some music loudly and the crows and seagulls returned. I got to feed my birds for the first time in 8 months!!! That made my day.

Honestly I feel fairly healthy and cheered up.

White Collar Jobs

DISCLAIMER: My comments towards white-collar work and the worst I refer to here (such as the bitching about minimum wage) are not from my current job. My current job does have frustrations, but in general, office politics isn’t part of it because I am out auditing. Most of these references are from my time with the Department of Defense auditing defense contractors. That being said I still don’t like white-collar jobs.

I hate them… there I said it loud again that I absolutely hate the environment, culture, and most of the people involved in white-collar cubicle jobs.

This came up this morning when I was pulling the dishes out of the machine. I could smell the same smell I would get when working as a dishwasher/prep cook. The smell of well-cooked food was still in the air. The hubby was a sous-chef for a four-star restaurant back before we worked in offices and he had cooked a great pork loin meal for us. He is why I am spoiled when I eat out. This combined with the smell of a finished dishwasher, detergent, and still warm dishes brought back working in a restaurant.

Here is hubby as a sous-chef… actually this is pre-hubby when he was still wifey.

Growing up, no one I knew had a white-collar job. Family and friends were customer service, kitchen staff, labor workers, or bikers. I never got a frame of reference for what working in an office meant or how people acted, except for what television showed. Even the first eight years of my working career were food/customer service type jobs (more than 35 of them). I didn’t say I was good at staying at jobs, just that I had never been around white-collar jobs.

Me in my Subway shirt in 1992, don’t get me wrong I hated that job, but I preferred that environment over white-collar. oh and yes this is me as hubby, in a pre-wifey condition.

When I got to white-collar jobs (working in the healthcare/medical office field) I was unprepared for how office life was, and this wasn’t even full cubicle since the medical office is sort of a halfway point between customer service and a cubicle job. So there was some familiarity in it, even though it was more toxic.

In a lot of ways, white-collar jobs are easier work but really are soul-crushingly shallow in the actual value you bring and shallow in the people working there. This ends up being ultimately more stressful for me. Even though these kinds of jobs are way easier than anything at a restaurant or retail, the environment is far more toxic.

Don’t get me wrong, working in the white-collar world means I get paid enough to pay my student loans, medical to cover our health concerns, and we stay warm and dry not having to work our bodies into the dirt doing jobs that don’t get paid enough for what you sacrifice for them. That is the ONLY reason I work in white-collar. Once we are out of debt, and if medical coverage either becomes single-payer or having a job isn’t required to have coverage, then I am out.

I have found over the last 20+ years of working full-on white-collar that I  trust my coworkers less. We have nothing in common, and the drama is not worth it. Growing up I was used to being able to trust most of the people I work with, at least enough for them to get their job done and to unify against management in our bitching about the job. I also miss being able to talk about things I like, joke around with people with similar backgrounds. People that understand the references to having grown up with Top Ramen and mac and cheese.

The one thing I do miss the most is working around people who give real smiles or other emotions while at work. In my experience with white-collar jobs, you can’t trust the emotion you see on a person, especially the smiling. White-collar jobs do not have a lot of real smiles, mostly they more resemble viperish and misleading smiles, harboring contempt and drama (ok I have had some bad experiences haha).

The jobs themselves in cubicle land are easier than any retail/food position, even though accountants and other cubicle workers claim minimum wage jobs are only for high schoolers. I have never felt good sitting at a desk and doing repetitive work, and even worse when staring at the clock as I watch my life drain away for things that don’t impact anyone directly. At least when I worked in food, whatever I did was eaten by the customer so it was direct, or when I worked doing janitorial or something else the end result was a clean place other people could use. Now I research, do reports and conduct a lot of financial analysis only to have it thrown into a file and no one looks at it. On the off chance someone does look at it, they ignore it and do what they want anyway, even when my work warns them not to.

That is partially why I have stuck with auditing. Out of all the accounting jobs I have had exposure too, it is the one most like a service industry job. I have to go out and talk with and interview people. I drive around to other places constantly and the job is always moving and changing. While the form of an audit is repetitive in what you are doing, the vast differences between each entity I review make it a new job.

Hmm… maybe this post is conflating two issues, service industry jobs, and my mental health issues that make it hard for me to do something repetitively.

This doesn’t even count the ridiculous expectations that a lot of white-collar job workers have about their actual value compared to lower-paid workers. These coworkers often think that people working service industry, labor or other low end paying work don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. The conversation/argument I was having with them was the living wage minimum wage of $15 an hour and that their jobs aren’t tough.

Meanwhile, during these arguments I had with them, I watch these same office workers spend hours trying to put up a Seahawk flag (while getting paid $45 an hour) and ignoring their actual work. They didn’t like it when I pointed out they were bitching about someone working a much harder job for $15 while they fucked around putting a flag up for multiple hours. They never brought up the minimum wage argument to me again after that.

I do hope if we ever get out of this debt/medical coverage issue, that I will be able to get out of the white-collar world. I am really hoping I can do it so maybe the last few years I am able to work physically it won’t be shuffling papers and dealing with office politics.

Well, my rant ran out of speed and I will leave it there. Trust me there will be more rants though, this is just the start.

 

Cold and damp memories

I woke up terrified this morning. It wasn’t the result of dreams of monsters or high threat situations. I wasn’t suffering from the occasional existential dread I get of getting older and losing family and friends. Instead I was lying in a dark room. I could hear the rain sound from the white noise YouTube channel mixed with the cold air of the air conditioner. The faint light from the tv gave the impression of street lights off in the distance (the YouTube channel video is black, but the ambient tv light was still there). It was around 1:30 or so and laid there until almost 3am. I am sure I drifted in and out but I wasn’t able to go back to sleep. So here I am up and moving.

Like I said, the fear and anxiety wasn’t monster based, or bad dreams (at least I don’t think so), but was the distinct feeling, memory or some combination of the two that was a weird flashback to when I was homeless as a teenager. It was the same feeling I had when my family lived in the car, and under sheets of plastic under a state park bench and hadn’t lived reliably in a solid foundation and four walls and a roof for about a year.

Not exaggerating when I said we lived under sheet of plastic visqueen stretched over park benches.
People always think I am exaggerating.

When we were homeless I would always wake up hours before dawn and lay there in the dark. It was Washington State in the mid/late 1980s and it didn’t seem as dry back then as it does now. I remember it always raining a little at night. It didn’t matter if I woke up in the car in a parking lot near a store, in a rest stop along I-5, or even under a State Park bench at one of the many state parks we lived out of. There was always the faint patter of rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes it was just an occasional sound.

I only felt safe sleeping during the day when we were homeless. Honestly I still feel that way. That is me on the left.

When I would wake up, I could always hear my siblings and parents breathing, snoring and moving around. That always made me feel safer, as I laid there in the dark. I think it is probably why nowadays I am uncomfortable sleeping by myself. Never liked it, not when I was 15 and homeless with my family, 19 and living with my first group of friends, or now with my husband after almost 28 years of marriage.

I would lay there sometimes for hours worried about my family. Watching them breath, listening to every sound outside the sleeping area (whether it was a park or a car). Sometimes I would catch my dad doing the exact same thing, laying they for hours as we both let my mom and my siblings sleep. Always worried someone would come and try to hurt them* (* Side note, that isn’t an exaggeration either, the threat of someone showing up to hurt my family was very real and something I will probably talk about later). The sound of rain outside was a combination of the normal relaxation people feel, wound around the anxiety that the rain was masking the sound of someone walking up on us. It doesn’t make sense but the two feelings are usually intertwined for me with rain.

When I was waking up this morning, I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a rare exception that the sound of rain didn’t reassure me. Instead as I turned and rolled around I had this worry that my blanket was going to get damp. I also couldn’t quite get warm no matter how I moved or curled up. I had that same feeling of not being able to get rid of the chill of being homeless (although this time it was the air conditioner not wind from an oncoming storm).  I had totally forgotten about that feeling for quite awhile now.

The tent was an upgrade but it was still cold and damp (and we didn’t have it too long before back to car/plastic)

It reminded me a lot of when I was a teenager.  Back in the 1980s when we were homeless, except for a very few hot sweltering days of summer, I always had a chill. It didn’t matter if daytime temperatures would get into the 60s or 70s, you can’t get rid of that bit of cold on the edges of everything. It just stays in your clothes, in your sleeping bags (or in our case some blankets that we had kept). No matter what you did it was there. It was even worse if it rained because everything had that dampness as well.

I suspect that is why there has always been a fight my parents had with keeping the photo albums dry and the mold from eating away at the pictures we had. Even now 30+ years later when I took possession of the photos and I have removed all the pictures and separated them, properly storing them, but some just continue to mildew no matter what I do. The cold and dampness has just seeped into the photo stock.

Even cleaned up and stored right I still fight with the mildew

I am sure part of my issue probably involves my brother who is currently living in a shelter and my worry for him. A large part of it is definitely therapy and maybe I actually feel safe enough to process emotions and memories I should have handled 33 years ago, and part of it is probably just a bad night.

Whatever the reason I am sitting here fully dressed in pajamas, t-shirt, bra and a small blanket, with all fans off and air conditioner stopped and I still can’t seem to get fully warm or get rid of the damp feeling. I will probably go try and shower and see if that helps.

Maybe my next post will be positive 😉

A Clear Memory – UHF Antenna (1985)

I woke up this morning with an incredibly clear memory from my childhood. Something I hadn’t thought about in decades, but for whatever reason it came up now. Probably because we are starting to approach fall and it triggered something (Fall/winter always has the most memories pop up and the most nightmares).

Back in 1985 at a ripe old age of 13/14 (I had a birthday at this apartment) we lived for part of the year on Lombard and 32nd Street in Everett. It was in a converted mansion and we lived up in the attic apartment. A large 3 bedroom apartment with a cool turret for one of the bedrooms (not mine), that had a servants entrance under the bathtub (I will tell that story later).

This is me at the time, within a couple of months of this picture.

I believe it must have been April or May of 1985 and we had only been there for awhile when we got up on a Saturday morning. My siblings and I were out in the living room and I was messing with the TV. We hadn’t had reliable tv in a long time (and I don’t think at this time we had EVER had cable, it was always rabbit ears… not just because I am old, but because we were poor. Cable was common for most of my friends, but we hadn’t had it.

We couldn’t afford a car, this is us walking home. Myself with head in my hands, my dad, mom and little brother. My sister was taking the picture.

So that meant our choices were very small. We got Channels 4, 5, 7, and 13. However my dad had gotten us one of those weird round rabbit ears for UHF. We didn’t even have the rods, it was just a piece of metal that was circular that you directly attached to the back of the tv (not even as good as the picture below, just the round bit with no base or antennae).

Just that round central wire, no base even. One of those cheap $.79 ones.

It was exciting because for the first time we got the “cool” cartoons that morning like Thunder Cats and some of the other UHF cartoons (on channel 22 baby). I remember looking out of the front window (we could see the string of Cascade Mountains) and the light had that sharp quality in the early morning when it was still sort of cold. I guess this could have been in September, but I don’t think I was going to Everett High School, I believe it was still North Middle School so it would put it spring of 1985, not fall. For some reason though, that quality of light and the sharpness is still with me (oh it might have been fall because I think it was about the same time that fall was coming and I would watch the spider webs with dew on them, sorry weird side tangent there).

A picture from one of the three panes of glass in that window. You could see from Mt. Baker to Mt. Ranier when it was a clear day.

I looked over and saw my mom helping my dad into the living room. They had been drinking the night before (same old same old for us) and we were asleep before they got home (I was the baby sitter since my sister was only 9 and my brother 4). I noticed my dad was hurting pretty bad and I ran over to check on him.

My mom had pulled his shirt off and his back was covered in boot mark  type bruises, a lot of them. My dad explained he had gotten in a fight with a guy, the guy had multiple friends and like my father always was, he wouldn’t back down and took on them all. My mom later said she thinks at least one of the other guys he fought with went to the hospital, but it resulted in my dad and a boot party.

I remember sitting on the living room couch with its darker patterned stuff cushions. I looked over at my brother and sister and made sure they were ok. I then remember going into the kitchen and pouring water into a bowl so I could help clean his back up. I vaguely remember my mom not really wanting to do it and my dad was too hurt to fix himself so I did it, but that is sort of a vague memory so it may not be 100% accurate on that point.

Here is the couch from two apartments before. I believe it was the same couch (and that was the neighborhood stray Reprobate who came in and sat with us).

Just the memory of connecting the antenna to the tv before all of this and seeing the first episode of Thunder Cats I watched (and honestly I found I didn’t particularly like it) just seemed a weird memory to crystalize for me today. Although a ton of other memories of that apartment kind of washed up as I write this. Some good, some not good at all. Maybe I can put some time down to write more memories up. Its important to me to record what I can, as time slowly erases or at least buries them.

There is my memory for the day. I should do this more often and fill more pages up.

365 Project – July 2020

July 2020, I went with “Hard Fragility” I like the song better. We got a new kitty named Tally the One-Eyed Pirate and went and saw my parents grave.

All rights belong to freemusicarchive.org: https://freemusicarchive.org/Terms_of_Use

Song: Hard Fragility

Creator: Bisou Page: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Bisou/Musical_spaceshift/Bisou_-_Musical_Spaceship_-_02_Hard_Fragility

licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal License.

Anxiety and Insomnia

I have always suffered from insomnia. Not the “I can’t go to sleep” variety, but the kind that after a few hours I wake up and I can’t go back to sleep no matter what. I have had this since at least the age of 10 that I remember, and I know my parents always talked about me getting up too early since at least 5.

For decades I just thought that is the way I was. 3-6 hours of sleep was my normal range, with 4-5 being the most common. I knew logically that wasn’t normal and I have had doctors tell me its not healthy or safe. I have been counseled on sleep hygiene, but the unfortunate fact is most elements of sleep hygiene just set off my CPTSD and night terrors.

I can’t sleep in a quiet dark room. I wake up within a short time with nightmares, anxiety attacks etc. I can sometimes get by with a fan running, but that is only sometimes and eventually it stops working. So we end up having the TV play in the background, and then in the last few years ran Youtube videos. That does help, but sometimes I still go to bed fairly let trying to stay up, and be up by midnight (those are really bad nights).

This was all normal for me as a child as well. The only difference was there was no TV in my bedroom, no lights on and I ended up waking up around 1ish and not sleeping until 4-5am and then only for an hour before getting up. I stayed in my room because I would get in trouble for getting up too early.

It dawned on me though this morning at 1am as I laid in bed that my dad must have known something was up with me even as a child. He would on a regular basis sneak into my room and have me come with him to the kitchen and he would fry up a bologna sandwich and we would watch some tv or a movie on the VCR. I have incredibly fond memories and I suspect it might be one of many reasons the two of us were close.

It also dawned on me this morning that my dad did this very little with my siblings. They didn’t have any sleep problems and would sleep through the whole night. So the vast vast majority of the time he would just come get me. I remember he used to always watch me with worried eyes. It dawns on me now that my dad had the exact same sleeping problem.

The only way he would sleep all the way through was the judicious use of drugs and alcohol due to insomnia, anxiety, trauma, PTSD and flashbacks. It makes sense that he probably recognized I was having problems and did what he could to help. It was always in my worst sleep phases that he would come in and do that. Funny enough when he did that, I would go back to bed and sleep in. Probably the only time in my childhood I would sleep fully.

Either way, I had never realized how regularly he did it, and the fact that I was suffering insomnia and anxiety as a child. There was definitely childhood trauma and PTSD, but I don’t know if there was a genetic component as well, or maybe something learned by watching my father as a very young child. I wonder how much of it was inherited from him (genetic or learned).

I guess this post is mostly about my realization of how far back my insomnia and anxiety go. I can combat the sleep on a semi-regular basis by self medicating, but the prescriptions they have given me don’t work, and the sleep hygiene routine does the exact opposite and freaks me out even more (my therapist actually warned me away from most of the practices as CPTSD and Trauma symptoms are accentuated by a lot of those processes).

I do wish I could work a job again that I could sleep 3-4 hours at night, then 2-3 hours in the afternoon. I did do that for a few months when I was 100% telework for the state. I just worked my hours around that. However right now I am stuck working normally accepted business hours which don’t fit into my needs and I will just try and push my way through. After all, its been 48 years and it hasn’t killed me right?

Surgery

I have been really quiet for the last five plus weeks since surgery. Mostly because it has been a real emotional rollercoaster, and also because I wanted to see how it turned out before I posted about it. The very brief TL;DR of it, IT WAS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS, even though there might have been some crying along the way (or more than “some”) I feel it was all worth it.

Here is the Too Long Didn’t Read Comparision before surgery and after.

The day of surgery was actually really good. We ended up getting up early, prepping and heading in. The traffic was extremely light and we got there in record time. I will admit that I was a bit more nervous about this then I was the first surgery. The first surgery I didn’t care how well they did in Scottsdale, it would be better than where I was at. This I was a bit more worried, not only that something might go wrong and I will have to take a step back, but that it won’t have any effect at all.

Once I got into the surgeon’s clinic they sat me down and Dr. Mangubat went through and marked my face and chest. I am always amazed at the sculpting ability of good surgeons. I look at those lines and it means nothing, but they can create works of art (just like people who draw out patterns). Changing something from two dimensional lines to a three dimensional form is pretty fantastic. Also, Dr. Mangubat and his assistant were awesome. I wish I could remember his assistant’s name, he was also a very skilled surgeon learning the trade from Dr. Mangubat. Dr. Mangubat himself was incredibly kind, jovial and reassuring.

To be perfectly honest I know they rolled me into the surgical suite, I remember the nurse talking with me and giving me an IV and the next thing I remember is waking up in my bed at home. What I do know from talking to the husband is that surgery lasted about 6 hours, about half the time of my surgery with Dr. Ley. He got me into the car and drove me home.

I do know from him as he tells me even now how hard I was to get up the stairs. I might weigh a 100lbs less, I still am 6’2″ to his 5’6″ and I outweigh him by 40 lbs. The stairs were evidently an issue. I am told I stopped in the middle of the stairs and wouldn’t move. Hubby had to yell at me to get going (and it sounds in the same manner my dad would when he needed us to do something).. Thank you hubby for getting me in to the house and into bed.

The next few days were sort of a blur. I remember lying in bed, the hubby feeding me and giving me pain meds and then the hubby playing video games while he laid beside me. By Monday though I was feel really good about myself. I was really liking how it was looking and things were good.

We went to the follow up appointment where they took off my main head wrap and looked over the incisions (there were a lot). The docs all seemed happy, I was happy and life was good. They gave me a wrap to put around my head and neck to help the skin heal tight.

Meanwhile my boobs were healing excellently. I had to wear a weird little maternity bra, but they were huge and somehow the doc fit 800cc implants in through my armpit, so no scarring under the boobs.

Within a day and a half though, the skin around my incisions started having a skin reaction. Much like when I have an allergic reaction to bacitracin or other antibiotics. It started getting bad and we called the doctor back. They immediately the next day had me come in to look at it. No one was sure what I was reacting to. It could be the wrap around my face, it could be the staples in my head or it could just be a normal infection.

Whatever it was, Dr. Mangubat put me on anti-fungal, an antibiotic and an antiviral. The worry was the infection would reek havoc with my healing and skin. I am glad I saw him immediately. He actually commented that it was unusual that a patient be so proactive. I blamed my hubby being a nurse, my own experience in a doctors office, but honestly it was also my anxiety. Probably mostly my anxiety that propelled me.

I will admit I was also having weird panic attacks. I felt like I couldn’t breath at night with everything wrapped around my head. I was short tempered and I did have an emotional/anxiety breakdown. To be honest nothing was ever that bad, but the rebound from surgery and just all the stress had caught up with me. Also, I do not do well with opioids. They aren’t the most effective to begin with and they wreck me emotionally, every single time.

I had one night with a complete breakdown and I was a jerk to Wolsey and lost my shit, panicking that I had somehow fucked my face up and all the work the surgeons had done. I am grateful that he loves me so much. Also things started healing up, although the breathing panic attacks still happened at night. However I was looking way better.

Later that week after things had calmed down I talked to my therapist (they specialize in LGBTQ, Trauma and Trans stuff) and they mentioned it isn’t uncommon. Both my dysphoria and evidently inability to breath at night. The dysphoria is kicked off as a delayed sort of thing. It isn’t any regret on my part, but rather just processing (and not even close to the processing I will probably be doing over the years). The other part was the breathing. Evidently it is not uncommon for trans women to be uncomfortable trying to breath laying down. The fact I have 38H sized breasts with 1600cc’s worth of silicon on my chest is a new sensation and is just my body getting used to things feeling different. Evidently trans guys go through the opposite sometimes, they feel light chested.

That did make me feel better, and it definitely made me realize I wasn’t the only person going through this.

However within a few days, with the help of all the meds, my face started healing up. My breasts were already in good shape healing wise and I had no problems sleeping after the first couple of weeks. By the time my one month had arrived I was in pretty good shape and now 7 weeks out the scars are starting to fade out. I am so happy with what happened. I can’t thank Dr. Mangubat and his associate enough, but I most especially can’t thank my husband enough. He helped me get the surgery, he took care of me, and I hope he understands how much I truly love him.

I even took some photos of me several weeks after the fact just to see what I looked like.

That is it, things are great and I attached all the pictures above plus several extra as a gallery below.

FULL GALLERY WITH EXTRA PICS

Encounter at the Park

I really do mean to post more about all the little incidents, microagressions and triumphs I have on a day to day basis, but for some reason it is hard. So here I am trying to renew that.

I think I am going to need to change the park I visit on lunch for a couple of months. Not that I don’t like the park, but I think I probably feel safer giving it a break. I decided yesterday to go to it during lunch. I needed to step away from the dumpster fire of an audit I was doing so I drove down and parked.

There I listened to my music with a vague hope that the birds would be there. Sadly no birds at all, and the park was fairly full. I stayed in my car, with mask ready in case I wanted to walk around. I noticed how many people in the actual park (out of their cars) had no mask and I decided discretion is the better part of valor and I didn’t need to risk myself.

I decided to do black and white yesterday. Seemed more fitting, even if it was sunny and dry.

So I sat there for awhile listening to loud music when I noticed a park bench full of guys laughing and talking, probably 10+ years younger than me. I didn’t get the impression they were laughing at me, but they did keep looking over. Eventually one guy waved me over and I just watched him for a little while. Eventually they yelled over I should join them.

I shook my head and mouthed something along the lines of “No thanks” (I remembered yesterday the exact words, but evidently sleeping made the specific sentences disappear). They turned and gave me a little bit of a hard time. I think I was passing close enough and they hadn’t caught I was transgender yet.

They did it again and something annoyed me by it. Probably the realization that this is what women go through every day their lives. The expectation that it is ok for guys to bother a woman and that she owes them her time. I shook my head again and turned up my music. I think at this point it was that I was listening to White Zombie (specifically “More Human than Human”). I think this was a surprise because they had heard my earlier music that was more techno/nightcore like.

A few minutes later this one guy kept on it. Every few minutes he would yell over to me. At some point I am sure this became a game with them, but it didn’t truly bother me. I am not sure what he said when the voice of “John Bradley” came out (my father was incredibly witty, and antagonistic when pushed and so when an instinct comes over to do something that is completely socially unacceptable, and I do unapologetically, we call it pulling a John, or a “John Trap” or something like that, RIP dad).

This is me just a couple minutes before the encounter. I suspect they saw my 38H boobs when I got out of my car and dumped garbage (boobs not pictured here).

I just leaned out and yelled back in my very masculine voice (no attempt at feminizing and I have a pretty deep voice) something along the lines that “if anyone wants their dick sucked, they would have to suck mine in return”. I swear it was actually more witty than that, but the meaning was clear and I can’t remember my exact words. With that I just turned the music up louder and it was Marilyn Manson.

The whole table just froze. I am sure it was a combination of my deep male voice and the reference to my dick. A couple of the guys at the table burst out into laughter that was obviously directed at the guy at the table that had been harassing me. That guy just looked shocked and within a couple of minutes the whole group got up and left.

They didn’t threaten me, although a couple of them looked unhappy (and the one guy looked pissed). I decided after a few minutes that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to yell at a group of guys and mock them that I was trans. I wasn’t scared of them at all, but there was the realization that no matter how tough I thought I was, there was still multiple guys there and I was transgender and mocking them.

So I drove out of the small park and down a couple miles towards my place. I found a cool little park on the beach further down and spent the rest of my lunch there. I like the original park and I will eventually go back, but I probably am going to avoid it for the rest of the summer. I didn’t recognize those guys and they definitely don’t go down there during the winter, but probably best if I don’t come across them if possible. I will remember to take pictures of the new park (no trees, and its kind of cramped but its was less cramped then Thea’s Park).

Here it is, another little micro aggression, this time I think it was based on them thinking I was cisgender female. That part made me happy, it was a little validating. Then it wasn’t validating and I found it annoying.