Anxiety, Unemployment and Job Interviews

I have been quiet the last couple of weeks due to an overabundance of anxiety, projects and money stress. Overall it has been going ok, and only some of my stuff is transition related so I will cover that in a future post.

As we all know, I was laid off 25 minutes after I put in my request for time off for FFS related to my transitioning. It was unexpected although not necessarily unwelcomed. I hated that job anyways, the management I worked with (as part of management) had favorites, targeted specific employees they didn’t like and overall, I disapproved of how they did it. So, my being cut out was fine, especially if it made me eligible for unemployment. Sort of a win-win.

Five weeks later they still were not approving my unemployment (sadly I worked for the people that handle unemployment, so it was a bit awkward signing up for it) and that has caused a massive amount of stress financially.

We can totally get by on what my hubby makes, even if it is super tight budget wise. He is working his ass off, but it crushes me every time I see him having to do what he does, and he does it willingly to help support me and my transition. That is why it was so important I get unemployment so I can take that burden off and smooth our wait for my surgery in April.

Last week I got asked to come in for an interview at the job I had before last. I left that job because of some pretty transphobic coworkers (they didn’t know I was transgender) and so I made a soft exit and went on to what was a cursed job. Now they wanted to interview me again so while I dislike the idea of working there again, I know the job and it pays fairly good, better than my hell job.

I went in to the first interview, part of me really hoping they wouldn’t want me back just so I could actually have some time to be a stress ball about transitioning and surgery. I was clear on the massive amount of time I was going to be requesting off this year due to four surgeries (at least, not counting any revisions or fixes needed). They seemed mildly ok with it.

I got home and the next day I find I am approved for unemployment. Massive amount of pressure taken off both the hubby and I for at least six months. It isn’t a lot of money and it means we will not be paying any of the large debt we are incurring for my face, but it would keep us going.

Not more than three hours later I get an invite to the second interview for that job, a job I don’t want but pays too much for me to justify not taking it. So now there is a little frustration that I got the unemployment but that will probably be going away by the beginning of February IF they hire me (that is still not even close to a definite yet).

So now I have this cognitive dissonance. I am getting unemployment and am happy, but stressed it isn’t more money. I may get a job that pays about double my unemployment but will hate and here I sit spinning my wheels stressed about all of it.

Stress like a rat on a wheel, circling round and round.

I find if I express this it sometimes helps, which is why you get to all read about it. There are some transition things happening that add greatly to this, but like I said those will be their own post.

So here I am stressing out that I might have a better paying job, or that I am not making enough on unemployment. You would think between the two choices I would find myself happy, but I am not. Such is the life of a girl.

FFS Surgery Consult

Back on December 4, 2018 the hubby and I went down to Phoenix to see Dr. Ley for a Facial Feminization Surgery Consult. We have been through this type of thing two other times. The first for hubby’s top surgery then for his metoidioplasty, that last was with Dr. Ley and Meltzer so we were familiar with how it would go.

She was polite, and a good surgeon with the hubby. Her bedside manner was a bit abrupt (as it was also during his surgery as well). That being said we knew we would at least get a straight estimate. We had gone to a local Seattle doctor and he had quoted more then $60,000 for procedures that didn’t include as much bone work as I wanted (he is more of a specialist in soft FFS, such as muscles, not so much on the bone).

We went in having already done that 15 minute consult last August and assumed 20k minimum. After the quote from the Seattle doc I was expecting more like 50+k because Dr. Ley had mentioned doing a lot more invasive stuff, I was prepared to not be able to get enough credit to get it all.

We arrived and got the facial/cranial x-rays which was a lot easier than expected. The people at that dental office that did the x-rays evidently do it for a lot of transgender patients and they were completely professional and friendly enough.

Then we arrived at the appointment and only had to wait a little while, it was nice compared to last time.

Once we went back the first thing we noticed was that Dr. Ley was incredibly friendly with us. She was open and warmed up the room verbally before going into the questions. She had no problem interacting with me physically, touching my face and giving me a very intense look over and comparing what she saw, to what the x-rays showed.

The first thing I noticed is she said unless I absolutely wanted it, she wouldn’t recommend a rhinoplasty (nose job). She showed me the x-rays and evidently my nose is already at a feminine angle (angling up slightly). She was clear that for a face to be seen as feminine has a very broad spectrum and my nose was already comfortably in that place. This was a relief as my experience at other consults pushed a nose job. It meant she wasn’t in this just for money.

She went over the rest of me and it came out mostly like I expected. She is going to try and lower my hairline slightly. She was honest, she doesn’t think it will go more than half an inch (maybe a little bit more if she can push it). I have a good hairline, but contrary to what other docs say, she was clear it would help, but wouldn’t be as far forward as some try to quote.

The next part was raising my brows. She can do that easily at least half an inch, that will also help with the lower hairline because between the two my forehead will be at least an inch less than it is now.

Also dealing with my forehead is she will be doing some work on my brow ridge, basically sanding it down to be less masculine, while basically filling and shaping the forehead so it doesn’t just become flat. Her experience as a facial/cranial plastic surgeon with infants reassured me she has the skills.

In addition she will be adjust the orbital area of my eyes (I believe this is the facial cranialplasty level 3, intense but it should open my eyes up a lot. It will make them look bigger, and give me more real estate to use makeup on above my eye. She thinks this will also be a big help with feminizing my face.

We got down to my cheeks and recommended cheek implants. I wasn’t so sure on this, we hadn’t considered it but she was right. My 100lb+ of weight loss has gotten rid of any cheeks, they have sunken in a bit and implants wouldn’t go away, they would give a feminine cast. I talked with hubby and we decided that is good. So it is now going to be more surgery then expected so the cost went up.

Then she went to my jaw and surprisingly enough she recommended that she doesn’t shave it down. The angle is good, it isn’t super masculine or thick and unless I really wanted it she would leave it alone. I was surprised, and happy that once again she recommended against a procedure she could charge a lot of money for.

Then we got to my lips, I wanted a lip implant to lift my lip from its typically flat masculine look to a feminine look. She said that is easy and while she was there she could reduce the space between my lip and my nose giving it even more feminine look. The hours added on to the rest of the surgery (including chin below) was too much for one day so she recommended I do that as a second trip down. That would be an ‘in office’ procedure and I could go home the next day. We agreed, I am getting it, but probably not until three months after rest of surgery.

Finally we got down to my chin, and she fully agreed that it needs to be reduced (thinned/shaved down). She goes in through the mouth for that part so it won’t leave a scar on my neck. She was skeptical of plastic surgeons who would go up and under the neck, leaving a big scar since you didn’t need to do that. This is nice, considering when they due the brow ridge they will have to pull the skin back from my skull and do the bone work underneath, at least it won’t be pulling skin off my full face, just my upper half… ya that is a gross image.

The final result, about $39,000 quote. It is a good chunk more than I originally thought, but still more than $20,000 less than Seattle with more of the procedures I want. Here is the breakdown:

Procedure                                       Fee    
FSCP w/ Brow Burring (6.5 hours)
Genioplasty (2 hours)
Malar Aug with Implants (1.5 hours)
Lip Lift w/implants 7025 (in office)
2 Nights Hospital                                     
$19,878.00
8,319.00
6,038.00
3,500.00
1,248.00                                    
Total $38,983.00 (still 20k less than Seattle)

I am very fortunate, we cannot afford to pay this but my credit is good enough to cover this with Care Credit and regular Visa. It means we are deferring student loans as we can, and we are going to be “going to school” broke but we can make the payments if necessary.

I am even more fortunate that my husband loves me enough to do this. When I saw the bill, even at 20k less than the other doc my initial response was to not do it. I didn’t want to tank his finances. He made it very clear he wants this for me, it is something that is going to help me in the future. I don’t care about passing in theory, but it will be easier to get the level of jobs I have the education for if I am not stuck in the middle according to society. So we are going to do it. Surgery is April 26, 2019 and the lip portion will be probably by August of 2019 depending on how my face will heal.

I will have a lot of future posts about this going into a lot more detail of the procedures and what we are going to do. I just wanted to get this out there as the basic what happened and how much. I will post examples of the procedures later as well.

Fired!

I was going to write all about my consult itself, but it turns out something more exciting happened. I got fired after submitting my FMLA paperwork for my transition surgery.

To be honest, it is more of a laid off situation, I am currently in a probationary period and within the first six months they can let you go no matter the reason (and they never have to tell you why). I assume this means I will be able to collect unemployment, the problem being is my job during the “unemployment year” was with the department of defense and there is a slew of hoops I have to jump through.

I have never received any disciplinary comments, never had any issues that I know of. I even asked my boss last Thursday how things were and she was fine. She even talked to me on Tuesday, the day before I was “separated” and was all chatty with me on chat while I was in Phoenix.

I went into work yesterday morning, and while I dislike my job I was putting 100% into it. I sent an email in explaining I am going to need to file for FMLA, that I am getting the surgeries and will need LWOP. Within 25 minutes HR had called me in and issued me a letter saying I was being separated. 

All it quoted was the Union CBA that outlines the authority they have to release me, they don’t need cause and they don’t need to say why. The letter is dated the same day as my email too so that means they ran down to the director immediately and had her sign it.

Now, I am waiting on my unemployment decision (the hard part is I worked for the agency who handles unemployment, so this is awkward) before I make any final decisions on what to do. I may just walk away if I get my unemployment and look for a better job, or I may pursue this.

ok, there is something funny about this.

While the union agreement does cover their butts and allow them to do this, there is no way that my FMLA request for transgender services wasn’t involved since I have had no personnel issues. With that information it is actually against state law to lay out retribution for my FMLA request (and in WA state transgender care is covered under FMLA, or at least the state’s expansion of it).

That however will wait until I hear back. For now I will be anxious, begin my job searches and try and get unemployment. All the while arranging for my surgery in April. It just means more debt… However, the alternative is worse.

Consult Trip to Phoenix (event)

We did it, we finally went down to Phoenix to see Dr. Ley for my FFS surgery. I will go into it’s own post on everything she is going to do, this rather is to just give a brief rundown of the trip itself.

We got to the airport later in the day. This is the first time we haven’t had pre-check in four years. Our first flights no longer working for the DoD. We were fortunate, the lines were really fast and not much wait… however then came the body scans.

The hubby went through without a problem. I stepped through and was scanned by the MRI machine. The hubby said he saw the light go off around my groin area. They immediately pulled me to the side and as he was about to pat me down I stopped him and warned him I am transgender and that I have boobs if he runs his hands up my chest.

That boy froze so hard. He looked like he was going to faint. He then touched me on the hip, on the side and walked off saying I was good. Absolutely no looking in the region that set off the alarm as well. So the hubby kept making fun of my groin after that until we got onto the plane.

The plane trip was easy, we just flew for a little over two hours, bored. The service both down and back sucked though. One passthrough with water and then both times the stewards disappeared into their little shack and we didn’t see them at all.

We landed, got our car and found our hotel room. Hubby wrestled with the air conditioner after we had some Red Robin then we went to bed and slept like crap. Waking up the next morning we went and got my jaw/face/head x-rays and went to the consult.

On the way back from the consult we had a great lunch at the “Old Mission” a really good, if a bit expensive mexican food place (upscale). The tacos were fantastic and the guacamole was decent, but a bit too expensive.

We then got to the airport and once again I got pulled by TSA, my groin lit up their MRI machine. I have no piercings down there, nothing in my pocket. This time I decided to not say anything about being trans and they guy did a pretty thorough background… EXCEPT HE NEVER CHECKED MY GROIN. He even swabbed me, but not my groin. I could see my groin lit up like a Christmas tree on the machine, but evidently he was scared enough of my dick that he didn’t go near it.

They then pulled my bag and my bag also had set off the scanners, this time it was the trail mix in it… Good job TSA, way to protect our borders… from my terrorist trail mix.

We then got there and waited SIX HOURS!!!! We had to turn the car in so we were stuck. We had only been away from the airport itself 14 hours total… There we sat (and hubby slept) until the plane came. We flew home, but that wasn’t all, we spent almost an hour on the tarmac in Seattle waiting because an Alaska Air plane had problems and couldn’t leave the gate.

Overall, I loved being with my husband, I loved getting my FFS consult, but the trip itself was too exhausting with no real stories to tell… other than my groin is disliked by the MRI machine. Hopefully details of my FFS consult after I have slept some.

 

Mental Health

I have always had mental health issues. These have included such things as diagnosed depression, diagnosed severe PTSD, I can be manic and I wonder if I am bipolar like my father (never been tested for this). I have known something is off mentally for my whole life, and to be honest that is partially why I never confronted being transgender. I was worried that it was all wrapped up and my being trans was a sign of mental health problems, not of who I truly was. I can say categorically now that isn’t true. Transitioning has saved my life, and I don’t think I am being hyperbolic. The only unfortunate thing is that it comes with some unexpected side effects.

I couldn’t tell you how much of my mental health is genetic/chemical and how much is how I grew up and what I saw. Either way, it isn’t anyone’s fault. The portions I was born with isn’t anyone’s fault, and my parents tried as much as they could (with their large mental health issues) so I cannot blame them for my upbringing. No matter what though, the mental health issues are there.

I am not sure if it’s the fact that I have to relook at every aspect in my life and change to be who I need to be as I grow into the woman I am, or maybe it’s just the estrogen helping me change how I think. Either way it doesn’t matter, it is just happening. This means I have bad days and good days. I think that is better than before when I had “nothing” days.

“Nothing days” were normal for me. Most everything was by rote and sort of blended together for me.I didn’t hate anything, and while I loved some things greatly, I always felt fake, a liar and undeserving. This meant I buried all my feelings and just went about my day. I would wake up not wishing I was dead, but ok with that happening because then at least my hubby would get a cash payout and he could live debt free. The only times I seemed to snap out of it was sometimes gaming, and usually when a crisis hit.

The changes over the last six months now mean I have a lot of thoughts and feelings from childhood on up to a few months ago that are pushing on me, and I can’t shove them back in the box. That makes me panic sometimes, I have relied on the box for close to fifty years and I don’t have a tool kit to deal with emotions.

This new set of emotions both up and down results in more days that I want to just hide in bed, and some days where life is great and I feel awesome. However, I almost never have a “nothing day”. I think I would rather have real emotions then to just wish maybe things would go away and the hubby might get some money. So I know this is better, even if I have to deal with things.

I was going to write a lot more, but weirdly enough it took a lot out of me just to write those short paragraphs. I suspect this will be a slow unpacking, so this is only part 1 of many.

Why am I cold?

Before I started transition I was continuously warm, as in I needed to have the windows open in winter when it was 17 degrees Fahrenheit out.  I was like this at the age of 17 and skinny, and at the same at the age of 45 and fat.

Fast forward four and a half months on testosterone blockers and estrogen I have lost 75+ pounds. It is 90 degrees outside, but we do have the air conditioner running inside. Keeping the apartment a nice even 65 degrees or so.

Yesterday I got home from work and was running around cooking the husband dinner. I was bare foot when I found that the linelouem floors were too cold and I had to put on slippers… what the hell is that about? I wore slippers for the next two hours. First time I have worn these slippers that I bought 2 years ago.

I have never been too cold. That above example is only one example of what is happening lately. I find myself turning on the car’s heat in the morning, while I do quickly turn it off, there were years I never touched the heater in this very same car.

In fact, the air conditioner and I sometimes end up having a war. I sometimes end up turning off the air conditioner when I get up in the morning or when I get home from work because it is too chilly. This is unheard of for me, even the hubby is astonished sometimes. In fact he gave me a hard time about putting slippers on yesterday, and I have to admit it was kind of funny.

I honestly can’t tell if its because of the weight loss, my age or the new hormones. My logical self doesn’t think it can be either. I can’t think of a single reason why my weight shift would do that when I didn’t have that problem when I was younger (unless it is a metabolism thing), and I still am not sure how estrogen or lack of testosterone would change how I feel hot and cold. Also let us not forget we are in the peak of summer here in the Pacific Northwest mid 80s and higher.

Maybe it is all in my head and I have something going on believing that it would have this effect. I don’t think so because I get goosebumps, but then again if it is psychosomatic I wouldn’t know would I? Either way it doesn’t really change for me. I have just been weirded out by being cold. This is a new sensation, although I prefer that over being too warm.

Just thought I would share the weird changes lately.

Gender Odyssey Convention and Traveling

Friday, the day after we met up with Dr. Meltzer and Dr. Ley, we headed into the one panel I was interested in. It dealt with surgery options for Facial Feminization Surgery, Breast Augmentation and Body Contouring. I realized I would probably know most of the stuff they would say, but I wanted to double check.

The commute into Seattle from Tacoma wasn’t the worst, but I slept poorly from my anxiety of meeting the docs the day before. I am really excited to do this, but it does make me anxious to think about them cutting open my brow and front of my sinus, cutting it into pieces and rearranging it, along with grinding my brow and jaw down and moving my scalp forward.

The hotel we saw the docs at

We arrived at the convention and I will admit I was intimidated. I am very fortunate to know some very awesome trans people, but I had never been around that many. That brought up a whole slew of anxiety that maybe I will talk about later, but this isn’t the time.

When we got there, just a few minutes before the panel, we found our case manager Raeylean… she is fantastic. I had brought her a flower to thank her, and she seemed overjoyed. She is incredibly huggy as a person and we got to talk for a little bit until it was time to go in to the panel.

The panel itself was very informative actually. Some of what I thought was no longer the case for surgical techniques, and even more importantly I found out that before coming to Meltzer’s office, Dr. Ley had been a pediatric craniologist who specialist in working on the skulls of small children… I have a huge head so that means I should be easy for her. Way more reassured I am going to be ok. The panel was worth it just for that.

We left and visited a little more with R, then headed out to pick up our friend straybits. He is as close as any family and we have been friends for decades. He just got back from Southeast Asia/India for the last year and will be going back for a few months. He was heading back up to Bellingham, so we told him we would take him up.

 

Hubby and straybits

On the drive up we got caught up on everything and just enjoyed being with around each other. It was a nice drive with me, hubby and straybits. We got some food in Everett and 3 hours later were in Bellingham. During this time I came out to him and he just gave me a hug. I am not sure what I was worried about.

Straybits and myself

In Bellingham we dropped him off. We are really hoping we can see him before he leaves again, but if we don’t we know we will always be there with each other.

straybits

We then got to go see my brother. He is doing really well, sober and thinking straight. He seems to be accepting my transition and was very positive. We stayed with him for awhile before we moved on.

By now it was about 7pm, but we wanted to stop by my parents grave (both of them are together) and pay our respects. That only took a few minutes, but I realized we need to clean it up when we come back up in a few weeks.

Hubby at mom and dad’s grave.

We then drove the 120 miles home and went to bed. It was a really good day, but a really exhausting day. We are still recovering now, a week later from the trip. It was worth it to see family and get reassurances about my surgery.

Facebook and stuff

I am still a little anxious using this as a personal blog, not that I have a problem coming out and showing my life here, but that somehow I am doing something wrong by just being me here. I suspect that has more to do with my issues with myself having to be worked on.

The one thing that is true, you can’t hide from yourself. I am accepting and growing into who I should be, but that means there is a lot of crap I am going to have to deal with that I buried for the last 47 years… oh shit I just realized that its my birthday too. It’s funny how this is all coming up at the same time.

I am going to have to fully come out on facebook. I don’t actually like using it, but a lot of my friends are married to Facebook and won’t try other things, so if I want to maintain social contact I have to stay.

The reason I say I have to come out on Facebook fairly soon is someone who doesn’t know just sent a friends request. I am sure that means she does know, she is smart and she knows us. That means however that my profile must be popping up for other people. So I might as well just be obvious and come out, giving others the option to ask to friend me, or if they want to walk away quietly they can.

This is a little earlier then I planned, but to be honest I don’t think I had a specific deadline so it doesn’t hurt anything either. Things are starting to roll forward, and the hormones are not going to be stopped anyways so let’s just do this!

Oh and I probably will roll my pre-transition stuff over here as I go. You won’t see it pop up in your feed as I am keeping the original dates, but it will start showing up in the archives.

Seattle Gender Odyssey, the Night Before

I went to my first Gender Odyssey convention and it was emotionally draining. Not that anything went poorly, but the emotional baggage around everything is so huge and it definitely took a lot of spoons.

The event started Thursday night. I got to a hotel to visit with my husband’s GRS surgeons to look at me. Just the week before waiting for the short 15 minute consult I was amped, Thursday got bad, especially at work, so by the time we arrived at 6:30 at night I was just jumpy.

The surgeon’s office has always been good surgeons, there was some bedside manner and after care issues, but I definitely recommend them for their skills. That is why I am going to them.

So they had me come into a hotel room where both surgeons are, along with three staff members. One of the surgeons is getting close to retirement I believe, thus finishing the training and getting ready to pass the practice to the second surgeon. Both are incredibly good though.

They sat me down and I told them what I want. I want FFS, especially hairline, brow, eyes and chin/jaw if possible. They listened for a couple of minutes and then leaned forward and started looking my face over in depth, including the requisite touching my face.

They said my hair is in real good condition. I knew that logically but it was a huge weight off my shoulders hearing a professional say that (yes the husband has always said it was good, but sometimes husbands do that to make you feel better).

They then thought the moving up my brow, with some cranioplasty would definitely give me a more feminine hairline, along with opening my eyes up. That along with the chin/jaw work and with the lip implant they suggested (and they are right, my upper lip is flat as any boy) I think I have a really good chance at this.

I left the meeting feeling both good for myself, and worried of course. What happened if something went wrong, how would I proceed. What if hubby saw me as too feminine and couldn’t handle it. What if I cost us too much money. All of these were thoughts, but were not true, not in the least.

So we went home and got some sleep before going to our single panel we were going on Friday. The day was worth it, but already costly emotionally and mentally. We knew the next day would be worse, as not much sleep to be had along with severe family obligations/pressure. I will cover the Friday in a different post with lots of details.

Physical Update

I figured I would give a physical Update. Since this has started I have now lost 70+ pounds. I weight about 230lbs and it dropped from 300+ at the start since end of March 2018. I usually round down which is why I say 65lbs lost with all the fluctuations.

I have dropped from a Casual Male/DXL 46 inch waist (found it is closer to 48+ since they seem to vanity size) to between a 38 and 40 (40s are becoming too big now). I fit in my tiny husband’s baggy cargo pants now (its a 38). I don’t think I have fit that small since I was 24 or so. I can now fit into shirts and pants at Target, without looking like a sausage. First time in a decade. The weight is still coming off so I am still hopeful for the 180-200lb range. I am thinking maybe by Christmas if I am lucky.

The hormones and t-blockers are going well. They upped me to 300mg of Spirolactane and it seems things are working better. Breast growth has started. Not really noticeable unless you know what to look for, but I can feel it. I hear a lot of complaints about pain, but they just ache occasionally. 

I did find out some great news. My insurance changed since it is now through my husband and his job with the state. They will reimburse after six months for electrolysis (I have done it three times now for my face, the laser hair removal part). It means the remaining three times for laser, and the actual electrolysis that follows might be affordable.

Also found out after 1 year (for me I think its April 6 2019) they will cover an orchiotomy and breast augmentation. Definitely the orchie will happen, the breast augmentation will depend on if I am far enough along or if I need the effects of the orchie to help me progress.

The hubby and I have talked about FFS and that is definitely something I want. See if they can pull my scalp forward, some cheek/jaw work and maybe open up my eyes a bit. I don’t think I need a nose job I think, but maybe some lippo under my chin as well. The insurance said its possible it will be allowed next year, but I am not counting on it. As soon as we get hubby’s car paid off I think I am just going to pay it to get it done.

Other than that, I have been super healthy. My depression is at an all time low. I am excited for last three months to just do things, enough so that hubby I am sure is tired by now. Also my hair is getting longer, I am going to get a trim since I have dead ends, but it is longer then it has been since I was 17 and that makes me excited.

Overall my physical and mental condition is great. I will report in on that in another month or two unless something happens.

Stay tuned for more posts though! I have a whole list coming.