Today will be the first of probably several posts about my trip for FFS down to Scottsdale. This post will be a general wrap up of flight down. Other posts will be about specific events, dates or things but will not include the surgery related aspects. The surgery will be handled separately so people can avoid the details if they want.
The morning of 4/24 started out pretty good. We were both wide awake and head out of the apartment, driven by our good friend Torie (thank you!). The trip to the airport was pretty quiet, I was nervous (and I assume the hubby was as well), and Torie was exhausted from coming to get us.
Once at the airport though I got the have my first experience of the week that would turn out to be frustrating, and honestly not that surprising. We were waiting at the gate for Delta when I had to run to the restroom. I am dressing femininely now but I still didn’t feel without the surgery that I wanted to cross the bathroom border yet.
I got into the bathroom and did my business. As I am trying to clean up, make sure my mascara is on right (eyeliner issues) and I saw in the mirror a shorter guy, muscled and glaring at me. He stepped right up behind me, maybe three feet between us and watched. I finished looking at myself, turned to him at my entire 6’2″ and asked, “Do we have a problem?”.
First, I know I don’t pass, so at no point did he think I was a girl. However, he did seem to assume I am fairly meek, and to be honest I am a lot more meek now and risk averse then ever. The hormone issues later this trip kind of show why.
He stepped back from for a second and took me in. My only advantage is height, but also probably the lack of caffeine… I hadn’t had any at that point and some of my friends can vouch that it doesn’t go well without it. I can be aggressive and they tell me a little crazy looking. He raised his hands, “no man, no problem” and continued back into the toilet area.
Unfortunately that put me in a more self-conscious mood and less angry mood. I spent the time in the airport feeling uncomfortable with myself, looking in my phone constantly at my image (using the camera). The hubby was great though, he made sure to double check how I looked for the twenty thousand times I asked, he reassured me, told me he loved me, and was pissed at the guy in the bathroom for me (by this time I was more embarrassed and less pissed).
We got on our plane and was met by the best possible incident I would have this trip and a nice thing in general.
The hubby insisted we fly first class for the surgery. He would rather pay the money for me not to be squished in coach on my return trip with head surgery. It would turn out to be an excellent choice and worth the little extra debt it cost.
We got on the flight and things were smooth, the stewardess was fantastic and during the coarse of the flight. She brought us some sort of biscuit sandwich breakfast with yogurt and fruit. I found I liked the fruit a lot better than everything else (my cravings and tastes have changed so much in the last year).
Somehow during the flight the stewardess and I talked and she asked about our trip to Phoenix/Scottsdale and we told her about my surgery. She was incredibly sweet before, but she was even more kind. Right before we landed she had put together a little care package out of first class foodstuffs for my recovery. While I couldn’t eat it, it was something the hubby could and her concern was outstanding. It totally made up for any issues that day.
Once we got to the Alamo Car Rental agency and picked up our car we were trying to decide what to do. Originally we were going to go to the Odysea Aquarium then check in, but we were already tired from the flight and had to go shopping for food for the week so instead we opted out.
We went to the hotel room and checked in, we then went to the Frye’s Signature grocery store and picked up the food we would eat for a week (we don’t like to eat out multiple times a day, and I wouldn’t be able to with the diet I had to go on with clear liquids and soft foods).
We got back to the hotel and pulled out our Apple TV. I had decided I was tired of being stuck on whatever crappy channels the hotel had and we brought it down thinking to just login to the network and plug it in. It turns out it is a little harder to do that, we had to deal with an idiot as we called the hotel’s internet people and asked them to add our Apple TV’s mac address to their network, which they did and it was 9 days of watching our own shows, only a super tiny tv screen sadly.
We then decided to eat some Mexican food from an area that should know how to make it and we were not disappointed. I knew that I only had 24 hours of eating normal before restrictions so I enjoyed some nice enchiladas and a quiet moment with my hubby. We ended up going to Habanero’s Mexican Grill and it was fantastic!
We then went back to the hotel and decided to call it a day and start watching Marvel movies. The hope was to finish them all and go see Endgame before we left.
That was it, our first day of travel down for the trip, not even any surgical info in there. Below is a general set of pictures
Type: Ghost Town/Abandoned location
Location: Liberty, Washington
Date: September 9, 2017
We ended up driving through Liberty, WA on our way home from Leavenworth and stopped. I had read it was a ghost town, and there are some remnants of buildings.
However, it looks like a lot of the buildings I had seen pictures of online were removed, or at least not visible. There is a community people live at just up the road and I walked as far up as that community, I didn’t want to interrupt them.
So my first so called abandoned/ghost town. It is a good start on this project of abandoned places. Going back and looking at these photos I think I have learned a lot on what to do next time.
Oh and the pictures are of me about 20 months or so before transition started :).
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.
Where: Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo
Links: Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (PDZA) https://www.pdza.org/
Date: November 10, 2018.
We have really been wanting to go see the zoo since we moved here in July, but with my jobs switching around and just the stress of transition we haven’t gotten out. Finally we decided to go anyways.
The zoo was sadly smaller than anticipated, but I loved the jellyfish and Dari the tiger the most. However, pretty much everything came over to check us out. According to the worker, Musk Ox had never gotten that close or walked towards people that she saw before.
The arctic foxes were cool enough, but their area was full of plastic garbage. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely sure they were there for a purpose, to entertain them. I also realize that they don’t have the budget of the Woodland Park Zoo. That being said it still was uncomfortable to watch (same with penguins).
The jellyfish photos came out better than I expected. The rest of my fish pictures sucked (and got tossed), except for the “disapproving fish”. I need to learn better techniques and get additional equipment for aquarium photos.
Dari the tiger however was my favorite. She is a gorgeous animal and was intently interested in a toddler and then me… is that saying something about me? If I wasn’t color blind I would have played with the color levels to get the picture even better, but that is the last thing anyone needs me to do.
I don’t think we will visit in the short term again. If we get money up (I am now going to be unemployed) I want to hit the other sites around first. Still, we had a great time and some of the animals were awesome.
(video clips below that)
Lately I have had a deluge of things happening, the biggest thing was my first Facial Feminization Surgery consult. It was with a well known/renowned Seattle surgeon and it went fairly well.
The first pro is I think he knows what he is doing. He has the typical smarmy “I know it all” that almost all surgeons have, but he comes across trying to be friendly. His office is gorgeous when you walk in, very high class, and he is very well known for soft work (muscles, fat, hair, etc). He talked about some of the facial bone stuff I need, and agreed to do stuff for me. He would do it in 2 surgeries to minimize how much it hurts.
Unlike the quick review I got by Ley, the local doctor focused more on my fat placement and face lift use as opposed to bone work (Ley wants to do a jaw shave, and more in depth brow work). I know it can be done multiple ways so that didn’t bother me.
The first con is his price. I got a partial consult back in May from Dr. Ley/Meltzer and it was super quick. The “quick” assessment was about $20k in a single surgery (plus 9 days recovering down there). This Dr’s price was almost three times that, close to $60k. That is about what I owe on my student loans. I think this doc is a little more money orientated, no shame in that, but the first thing he did was try and sell me on a nose job, whereas Ley/Meltzer both dismissed the idea of a nose job as a waste and mine was great.
I figured it was going to be more expensive because of locality costs and the fact that this local doctor likes to show off the famous people he works on. I assumed closer to 30k… but the almost 60k was a shock. There was no cut deal for combining several procedures together (Dr. Ley/Meltzer’s was a lot cheaper because they were already there working on me and the other procedures were just “time on the table”). He quoted me the same total price as if I did each procedure separately.
That slowed my roll immediately and right now I am not sure if I would do it. He does great work, however he is not quite the bone experience that Dr. Ley is (she was a cranial/facial reconstruction expert for children before doing this) and she was very informed about my bone structure. The local doctor mistook my forehead for muscle not bone (Ley knew it on sight) plus I have heard he doesn’t do much bone work, and he really pushed a lot of soft tissue/face lift instead.
However, I do need to say he does excellent breast implants. He also stated he could do them with my insurance coverage. He had me try on some implant prosthesis and I found it looks like 650cc boobs is great, but not overly huge on my chest.
I may very well go to him for my breast augmentation when my year has passed and insurance will pay. However, not so sure about the FFS. I am still withholding judgment until I see Dr. Ley/Meltzer for a complete/in-depth consult on December 3rd. They are wonderful surgeons and unless they stick me with another 60k bill I suspect they will be the winner. However, we will have to see.
Camp Horizon is located in Birch Bay Washington (the site of an old Air Force Station) that provides recreational facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. I was fortunate enough for two, one week sessions, to be an assistant counselor. It is something that has stayed with me for my life, or at least the last 30 years since I did it (1988). I ended up going up to Birch Bay in summer of 2017, and while I was there I decided to go back to the camp and take some photos. In addition I do have a couple of photos from that time.
Funny enough, I had lived in Birch Bay in the fall/winter of 1987 at the age of 15/16 and I never knew this place existed. Then we moved to Bellingham that spring. There I attended Bellingham High School. When I was at the high school, I somehow got in contact with a nice young man named Russ Nelson. He was the stage/videographer for the high school. To this day I can’t remember how he got me interested, but he talked about Camp Horizon and I should volunteer as an assistant counselor.
This was a new thing for me. I had just gotten done being homeless for a year+ and then living in Birch Bay (once again I didn’t know this place existed). I thought this wouldn’t be bad to start with on my resume. I believe it paid $50 for the first week and if I went the second week it went up to $75 (although I could be off a bit). So I agreed to it. Russ was kind enough to drive me to the camp (which was about 30 miles from my home).
I got to the camp, met several other assistant counselors (and a couple of college aged counselors) and began my short lived career as a camp counselor. We were there for five days each session I believe and our days consisted of bunking in the dorms, getting up, running classes, movies, gym activities, and most importantly just being there for the campers.
It was the first time I worked with people more disadvantaged than me and I loved it completely. I will be honest though, it probably helped that I had regular meals, recreational activities and no drunk parents (they were in a bad place at this time). To this day I still remember Dayleen (I am sure I did not spell that right). A young girl who was deaf, with some developmental disabilities and I believe cerebral palsy. It is because of her that I learned my numbers and letters in American Sign Language, along with the way to say “Cookie Monster” and a couple of other phrases.
My three strongest memories were waking up and hearing “I wanna dance with someone” by Whitney Houston, going downstairs and meeting up with Dayleen. I don’t remember exactly what we were working on, I just remember her being so excited about us playing and her signing “Lucky” or some variation of it when she saw me. Sadly I had a picture of her but once we started moving a lot as an older teen, it disappeared in one of our many homeless moments.
My second strongest memory was wrapping up my first session and feeling incredibly sad that it was over. It was followed up with getting home and my parents were on a run. There was loud arguments, loud music and much drinking by several people. I just remember wishing I was still at camp.
My third memory was Melody (I think her name was Melody, not Meloney, but I could be wrong). She was one of my many unrequited loves. I was very quiet as a teenager at this time, and I never figured out how to ask her out, or do pretty much anything. However, my favorite memory with her was laying under a tree, next to her and talking for a long time (probably longer than I should have since I was after all a counselor).
The two sessions went by very quickly and before I knew it I went home and collected my check for the two weeks. I believe I bought my parents an anniversary present and my brother a birthday present with it, never spent a dime on myself (I think the remaining went to house bills). I never was able to go back the following year. This was because by that time I was working full time and supporting my family.
Fast forward to summer of 2017 and we went up to Birch bay and stopped by the camp. Surprisingly there were people readying the camp for this summer and we talked with them. They are up to 6 or 7 weeks a year of sessions and they have been constantly updating the place. They were kind enough to let me take some pictures. So below is our gallery and it includes photos from my adventure and last weekend. I know we had other photos, if I find them I will add them.
Well today we went up to Bellingham to do a few things.
- Drop off some tupperware with my brother’s family.
- We went up to get pictures of all of Wolsey’s old places he lived at.
- Went up to place a wreath on my parents grave for the holidays, along with stringing some lights.
I do have to say though, the travel up to Bellingham and back was unprecedentedly smooth. It is a 112+ mile trip each way and we were up within 2.5 hours after stopping three times for bathroom attempts… Hubby couldn’t find a stall to use… and only 2 hours coming home with us doing shopping at Target for the cat. There are a lot of pictures of places the hubby has lived, and like the photos I took of where I lived I will have in depth postings about those places and why they are important.
First we stopped by my brother’s place, we saw his kids and their mother and hung out for a little while. Wolsey dropped off some of his jewelry from pre-transition to Kristen our niece while I gave Tupperware to Monica. Hopefully they will find uses for all of those. Fortunately the family seems to be doing pretty well. We got some ideas for the kids for Christmas and it was nice to just see my brother sober.
Then we were off to see Wolsey’s childhood places he had lived at. We went over through the Alderwood/Birchwood area and hit up a few places. Things went well on this leg of the journey except for an old man coming out of one of the houses we went by and we had to take stealth pictures of it, so as not to alarm him.
We then went up to Toad Lake area and saw the first home his parents built. It is also near where his grandparents lived, so we swung by there. The house is obviously still owned by his sister, and we saw a white SUV in the driveway which means his mother was probably there as well, so we were in ultra-stealth mode to avoid contact.
Although I really wanted to take him up to the door, and when Debbie and Toni answered (Debbie is mom, Toni sister) I would be excited, give Debbie a hug saying I found Clark’s long lost son (Clark is Wolsey’s dad) and pull Wolsey in front of me. I can only imagine the reaction, and yes it isn’t a fully positive thing that I would love to see the confusion and then the apoplectic shock.
After we snuck away, we then went down to the Gladstone/James street homes. These are some of the places where he lived as a gutter punk and where I watched him do a photo shoot with a flower and nothing else. I thought he was so beautiful (and he was still my best friend then, although this was pre-transition for him). I do find it a bit humorous though, the whole time I had a crush on him, he wanted to be with me and would have dropped anyone he was with to see if it would work between us.
Then we went to the Blue Dolphin and had a very nice lunch, however we forgot to hit his parents home (last place in Bellingham he lived at that I didn’t) because of the food induced dementia. It is ok though, it was already stressful enough at his sister’s/grandparent’s house so it was a good idea for a break.
We also had swung by my parents’ grave. We noted that the wind chimes were gone. It has been super stormy lately so it could very well have been blown off. Also, the cemetery often has teenagers that prowl it, they might have grabbed it. Either way it doesn’t bother me at all. If it was the wind, it was totally expected and it probably made some cool sounds as it blew away, and if it was teenagers/college kids I hope they are enjoying the tinkling sound it makes.
Either way we will replace it next time we go up. We knew the stuff we place on the grave isn’t permanent.We also noticed no one had been to their grave since we went last time. The remains of decayed flowers we had planted were still there. We cleaned it up, and the ever inventive Wolsey found some stuff to wipe it down with. I figure next time I will bring a small cleaning kit just in case.
Even with all this, Wolsey was kind enough to set up the new solar powered christmas lights along the shepherds crook and we set up a wreath. My parents always loved Xmas (well at least my mom, and my dad did anything my mom asked of him).
I noticed “Angel Eyes” a statue of an angel as part of a family grave about 50 feet down from where they are was there and a bit worn looking. Angel Eyes is sort of a cemetery icon, and as teenagers we would run up to her at night and dear each other to sleep on the “death bed” beside her. I had remembered earlier this week I had scanned a photo of Angel Eyes from 1994 so I present to you the passing of 23 years (1994 to 2017). It is amazing how time slips by. I think I might have to do a photo session with the graveyard itself, it is still the most beautiful one I have seen ever.
The only thing that really bothered me and still bothers me is that it was obvious no one had visited their grave. I suspect I am the only one that visits, which is ok in the end. Wolsey pointed out we were the only ones that tried to take care of them when they were alive, somehow it seems fitting it is only us now. Even though I understand that, it still makes me angry, especially with my sister who has done nothing, not offered to help with anything and was the source of a lot of real grief when both parents passed (that is part of the upcoming continuing posts of my parents passing, still so angry I can’t write it).
So there it was, a fairly easy going trip up to Bellingham and then back home.
On February 11, 2017 my husband Wolsey, my friend Dunk and myself went to the Museum of Pop Culture, it used to be known as the Experience Music Project Museum (EMP) (see the site at https://www.mopop.org/).
I found the trip fun overall, I love hanging with my hubby and friends. We only went and saw the Sci-Fi museum portion of the MoPop. I personally am not interested in music, so we didn’t touch that portion at all. While we were there we took pictures of some of the items. They had a Star Trek exhibit, which like the Battlestar Galactica exhibit we explored years ago, was overhyped and sort of a disappointment to me.
I think it isn’t that it doesn’t represent good things, but rather I live with someone who can make costumes by hand and almost all of the costumes they used for the shows/movies/etc were not up to the hubby’s skills. Now a point of order, they don’t have to be, because the filming won’t catch the problems. You only see the disappointing stuff in person (well and on HD now).
So here are my pictures and video:
Well the final day of the surgery came and went. It started out hopeful, the hubby woke up feeling pretty good, the swelling was down, our hopes were up and life was good.
The checkout went smooth, took a final couple of pictures and then we went to Dr. Meltzer’s for our final appointment with him and Dr. Ley. It went very well, both doctors thought the hubby was looking very good for the time in healing he had. It was about now that being up and moving for the first time in almost a week, he was feeling sort of rough.
Once he was given the full approval by both doctors we headed to what would be the trial for the day, our flight home. We arrived almost three hours early just in case. In that time we encountered the following issues that started by dropping the car off at Alamo. It seemed to take forever, then it was a long ass walk for the husband over to the bus, then to the terminal. Especially with his need to utilize the restroom frequently due to spasms from the surgery, and his first time walking in a week it was so rough for him, I felt really bad.
Once we arrived at security things just went downhill from there. We got pulled over for TSA inspection. We forgot in the journey to the empty his water bottle, and of course the couple in front of us threw a fit and because of that fit, they got hauled to the side and inspected by the officers. The TSA agent behind the scanner then seemed to pick out the next three groups in retaliation, which included us and two people in wheel chairs. All of us got scanned, and thats where the TSA agent found our water bottle and we had to throw it away. It wasn’t a big deal, but we lost a nice $14 water bottle because of that dick.
We then arrived at the gate and waited almost two hours, to find out our flight got moved to a different gate. When they landed they couldn’t board because they had to wait for maintenance to refill an O2 canister for a medkit. AN HOUR LATER they announced we would be almost 90 minutes late boarding. I don’t blame the pilot/crew, they were arguing with maintenance over getting it done quick enough, but damn it sucked.
Once we got on to the plane (over 90 minutes late) we settled into a super hot plane that had been sitting on the tarmac in 107 degree heat. Evidently the battery used to power the AC when the plane was powered down was missing, so there was no AC when we got on board. Poor hubby was suffering really bad, all of this, plus the exertion had hit him hard, also his pain meds had worn off.
We flew back to Seattle, with W and I watching Cuthroat Island on his iPad. It was a great distraction, and nice to bond with the hubby even when everyone else was around us. We landed after having a semi-decent cold dinner.
Once we landed, we immediately found a cab available (Lyft had too long of a wait, and I won’t give a dime to Uber). The cab took us home, but it also didn’t have AC on and we almost died in that car from heat stroke (ok, that may be hyperbole, but you will never get me to admit it).
Once we got home, we had to spend about 30 minutes with the cat, he thought we had abandoned him. He hadn’t gone without both of us for that long ever. However, he was quick to fall back in love with us. While W bonded with the cat, I went and got us some Panda Express, because dear god I am not cooking when it was almost 8pm and we were exhausted.
We ended up the night in our bed for the first time in 9 days. It was glorious, although the trip itself was definitely worth it as well. Also, the hubby and the cat spent some important time together.