aidenonymous: (gender)
I had my second consult with Dr. Fischer today and wanted to post something quick, even though I've got a couple drafts of actual content floating around that I should finish.  The good news is that I'm still borderline for peri, but now a slightly better candidate than I was last year, so we are going ahead with the surgery!  I was scared because my chest is kinda inflamed right now due to the whole cycles not stopping thing.  Dr. Fischer was very confident about it, which helped put me at ease.  She said there was really no benefit to building a bunch of chest muscle now, although I'll still try to get to the gym some time soon.  My pecs are already well-defined enough that she didn't think I'd have any problems with nipple position, which is kind of hard to control with peri.

I got all the pre-op instructions and clarified some details.  After I explained my history of a bleeding disorder, they're not going to force me to stop T but did recommend I discontinue it for the week before surgery.  Normally they'd recommend stopping for two weeks before and at least a week after, and going to a half dose four weeks before (ha, joke's on them, I'm on the lowest metered dose and couldn't halve it if I tried).  They were happy I warned them that my medical clearance would have that on it before they saw a red flag like that.

The bad news is that they billed my insurance for the out-of-network rate even though we went through a ton of trouble to get it counted as in-network because my insurance company is tiny and doesn't have anyone who does FTM top surgery in their network.  So they quoted me three times what they should have for my contribution, which is about $1000 more than I can actually pay right now/  I have until mid-June to pay it, so that's enough time to save up some more if necessary, but I'm still hoping I'll be able to convince my insurance company to cough up the rest given the paperwork we painstakingly completed.  My partner's still out of work but will probably have a job by July, so I'm hoping I'll have secondary insurance to help with whatever's left over.

I hung out with three friends from college afterwards.  Two did not know about my transition, and one of them figured it out and was cool about it.  But those two obviously weren't people I'm especially close to, so the stakes were low.  I have a big meeting with my thesis advisor tomorrow about my qualifying exam and the status of my work (which was going really well until a few weeks ago when things kinda fell apart), so I should go to sleep.  I mostly wanted to squee about how this is actually happening!

T Update

Apr. 7th, 2015 04:18 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
This long-overdue update pertains to July 2014 through January 2015, during which time I was on 1.25 g Androgel 1.62% daily.  I stopped taking T for a few weeks starting at the end of January and restarted on my previous dose of 1.25 g Androgel 1% daily in mid-February.
details under the cut )
aidenonymous: (gender)
Today, for the first time since the summer, I felt like I was actually approaching some sense of being "post-transition."  I had a pretty average day at work, aside from the part where I forgot my phone at home and actually chatted with my officemates during lunch time and after a talk we all attended.  I got this strong feeling like I belonged there, something I usually can't feel because I get hung up on how awkward it is that all my colleagues seem to know I'm trans (if they even acknowledge me as male at all).  While I do feel a little guilty that this sense of being normal was facilitated by the fact that I work in an overwhelmingly male-dominated field and literally did not interact with even one woman all day, I kinda just want to bask in the feeling of being one of the guys again, instead of the outsider I've felt like since I came out.
aidenonymous: (gender)
I booked my top surgery today.  I was pretty calm when I called, but I got the ol' stomach full of butterflies afterwards.  (Actually, I'd never felt the sensation that term describes before today, nor do I entirely recall the emotion associated with it.)  They're letting me reserve July 7 and are going to try to get my insurance to front the money so I don't have to.  It's nice that even if I do have to pay up front they're not going to make me wait to get in the queue just because of that.  Last Friday when I called, they said I wouldn't need another consult, but today they wanted to schedule one just to be safe, since I'm not going to go through with top surgery if they no longer recommend me for peri.  Realistically, I think I'd do it even if I knew I'd need a revision, but I kinda just want to hear that the recommendation hasn't changed.  So I have another consult on April 20.  It'll be a good excuse to visit friends near Baltimore anyway.  They started giving me all this info about when to show up on the day of surgery (8AM) and when to get surgical clearance from my primary care doctor (June 16-19), but then I reminded them they could give me that info in April in person.

I have a lot of other stuff I want to write about, but I'm a little short on time and should sleep instead.  I swear I'm going to catch up on this thing soon.  I'm finally finding video games less compelling and can see a world beyond this obsession just around the bend.

T Update

Oct. 21st, 2014 07:58 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
It occurred to me that it's been 12 weeks since I upped my dose because I burned through my second bottle of 1.62% gel.  I have one more in my stockpile and don't know what happens when that runs out.

details )

Results

Oct. 6th, 2014 10:53 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
tl;dr It appears as though I'm still having cycles because I have too much estrogen for a female. My T's pretty much where I want it (although I can't seem to use it properly), but I've also got up to twice as much estrogen as I ought to have even without any T in the mix.  I don't really know what to do about this, and my doctor didn't really address it.

test results )


doctor's commentary )
Also, ergh, I really need to make some phone calls this week to schedule top surgery if I want it to happen this winter.  I don't know why I'm dragging my feet on this!
aidenonymous: (gender)
I've had a roller coaster of a week and really didn't want to write this, but I'm hoping I'll feel better getting it out.  tl;dr I've once again blown an opportunity to have gender not be a big deal in every aspect of my life and am not happy about it.

cut for abusively negative self-talk )

I did a lot more self-care today though.  I cooked two (vegan) meals for myself with enough leftovers to get halfway through next week without spending too much money and eating things I said I wouldn't.  And I got a new binder that's a lot more comfortable for long days and looks like an undershirt so I don't need an extra layer under my grown-up clothes in the heat.  I'm going to go to work tomorrow because I know being a badass at science will make me feel better about myself.

EDIT: update )

T Update

Sep. 9th, 2014 12:37 am
aidenonymous: (gender)
I haven't done one of these in a while, three weeks apparently, which makes me some 15-16 months total on T and six weeks on the higher dose.  Well, sort of, because I've been going back and forth a bunch with the lower dose.  When I have feelings about my chest, I tend to give myself a dose of 1% gel; when I have feelings about passing, I tend to give myself a dose of 1.62% gel.  I've been about 20/80 on this for the past three weeks.

Change is subtle (also NSFW). )
aidenonymous: (gender)
I've been having pretty bad chest dysphoria since starting my new job, and I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and do something about it, even though I'm hoping to get top surgery some time from mid-December to mid-January.  Since I'm probably going to be able to get top surgery at a hefty discount due to good health insurance, I should be able to affort to give away all my binders when I don't have breasts anymore.

The nature of the dysphoria is making this challenging.  I feel like I have to bind harder than I should because I'm androgynous but trying to be seen as male at work where people don't necessarily know I was ever anything else, so I need to make first impressions that are unambiguously male.  I'm not having breathing problems or pain so bad that I can't work, but I've been known to hurt myself with binding so need to be careful not to do that.  I'm having dysphoria when I unbind at home due to my chesticles having less volume but the same amount of skin.  I'm worried they'll deflate to the point that I will no longer qualify for peri with Dr. Fischer, which upsets me quite a bit.

I did some experimenting in front of the mirror, and in an oxford shirt, I can get away with the Extra Comfort Sports Bra in size M, although I have a problem with things not staying put because it's so big on me, and the feeling of uniboob is sickening.  I do get pain in my ribs if I wear the size S ones for too long, plus I still need to re-adjust with one of them because the material is so slippery.  EDIT: I do wonder if I'll grow into the M if I actually start working out again, or if a new one would be okay because mine's old and stretched out.

Even though I'm disinclined to try another bra hook closure binder, these look promising both because of their price and because they have elastic on the non-hook side that I think will make it less harsh on my body.  Plus, colors are fun.  q-:  I'm not crazy about the binding material basically just being a strapless band-type thing attached to the inside of a tank top though because I'm afraid I'll bulge out the top.  I'm not sure whether I'd need a size M or L either.

[livejournal.com profile] cobwebsinwhite suggested this, and it looks like it might be just what I need.  I have no way to measure myself right now but think I'm about 32" around, yet I'm still inclined to get the "youth" size from their other storefront because of a couple reviews saying they run big.  I like that it could look like a regular white undershirt under a lightweight dress shirt, too.  This seems comparable except twice the price.

Part of me wants to keep getting sportsters, and I need to remind myself that they really aren't any safer in terms of my criteria.  I'm really tempted to get another one of these even though I have to re-adjust a few times a day to keep the chesticles from getting too close to each other.  If I do it, I need to move quickly because they're no longer in production and there aren't many left.  I'm also considering this one, especially because the reviews compare it to other Underworks binders.  (Side note: I hate that the model in the photo is wearing a padded bra though (you can see it from the back) and isn't the guy in all the other photos on their F2M storefront.)

T Update

Aug. 19th, 2014 02:15 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
I'm sort of rebooting updates since upping my dose from 1.25 g AndroGel 1% daily to 1.25 g AndroGel 1.62% daily.  I should have made one last week but was preparing to move and got sidetracked.  Without further ado:

Thar be TMI behind this cut! )

T Update

Aug. 5th, 2014 08:00 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
It's been about 15 months since I started T, so I've got about 14 months' worth of T in me so far.  I stopped updating a couple months ago because I had nothing to report besides more hairs on my inner thighs, a little extra upper body muscle, and longer vellous hairs on my chin.

A week ago, I increased my dose from 12.5 mg daily to 20.25 mg daily.  It became clear about six months ago that my dose was simply too low to shut down my ovaries , which I could deal with aside from the cyclic mood swings I developed on T that I never had before; I was otherwise very happy with the lower dose.  Finally, with some encouragement from [livejournal.com profile] freakygems, I decided that had gone on long enough and I was ready to try something different.  My endo did not think switching to injections of an equivalent dose would make a difference and wanted me to simply double my original dose of one 1.25 g pump of AndroGel 1% by increasing to two pumps instead.  I was hesitant because I was so satisfied with the rate of changes on the lower dose and wanted to increase by as little as possible, knowing it might not actually solve the problem but would reduce the risk of accelerating physical changes.  I'd looked up that my insurance would cover AndroGel 1.62%, which also has metered doses of 1.25 g, so I could up my dose by 62% rather than 100%.  I persuaded my doctor to give me the script -- she was resistant because the difference between 20.25 mg and 25 mg seemed really silly to her.  When I went to fill it, I even got a call from the pharmacy with them suggesting I just get another box of AndroGel 1% with the directions adjusted to the doubled dose,

I waited a long time to actually fill the prescription.  In the mean time, I did try doubling my previous dose as initially directed, but each time I suffered from headaches and went back to my old dose.  When I tried the higher concentration gel, I didn't have any problems.  After gathering some clues from the prescribing information, I concluded that the new formula may be absorbed more gradually than the old one, and I hypothesize that this caused the headaches, as opposed to there being some coincidental threshold between 20.25 mg and 25 mg that my body is magically sensitive to.  However I have no way to know and am not a doctor or anything remotely close to one.  In any case, the biggest difference I noticed with the new gel is that it dries faster than the lower concentration.

So, I've been using one 1.25 g pump of AndroGel 1.62% daily for a week now.  For the record, this is still a low dose, less than half what my endo usually starts trans men on, which is what she calls "low dose" for those who request it.

I have to admit I can't really tell the difference.  I think my voice is dropping again, but based on a week of recordings, it's totally inconclusive.  I've been a little manic, both in mood/behavior and with regards to insomnia, but it's not as significant as when I was going from no T up to 12.5 mg.  I've also been having a really hard time staying hydrated, and the weather has actually been less dry and hot, so I'm pretty sure that is the T.  I cut out soda and beer to make it easier to stay hydrated, but I was only drinking about 6 ounces of one or the other on a given day, so it hasn't made much of a difference.  The only other changes I've noticed is that my acne is worse on my shoulders and jaw line, but that could be cyclic anyway; I won't be able to draw a conclusion on whether this experiment was successful for another couple weeks.  Another thing I've noticed is being even more calm/mellow/slow to anger than before, something I noticed when I first started T and was not expecting to change further. 

Ketchup

Aug. 4th, 2014 01:38 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
I haven't been posting much, but things haven't been as boring as they were a couple weeks ago.  I upped my dose of T to 20.25 mg daily and am pretty happy with it.  I'm going to start posting T updates again this week to document new changes.

The most important news of the week is that I did not get a kidney infection. TMI )

Anyway, I missed all my important meetings last week and need to catch up.  I feel terribly about it and need to enforce some kind of normal sleep schedule so I do enough work.  But, I'm also hella distracted by concerns about moving.  I am successfully selling off lots of stuff I don't want to take with me to NYC, but there's still so much more.  How did I end up with all this ill-fitting clothing in the first place?!  I used some of that money to buy myself some grown up clothes on the internet but chose the wrong sizes, so I need to play the returns game.  I thought there was a decent chance of that happening, but it's still a hassle.
aidenonymous: (gender)
about T )

In other news, I have very little to report indeed.  I went to therapy yesterday and didn't have much to discuss, most of it about me trying to reinvent my image when transferring (eep) in a couple weeks because things with my mother actually went fine.  Passing as a teenage boy isn't going to be enough if I want colleagues I'll be meeting for the first time who know I'm in my mid-twenties to perceive me as male, plus I've been kind of wanting to dress my age for a while now.  Academics (in my field especially) dress incredibly informally, but I'm pretty much at the extreme end of that, and I think it would do me good to have more confidence in my appearance.  It's not really going anywhere, but I feel like it should.
aidenonymous: (gender)
So after I wrote that last post, I had a mild headache on and off for 24 hours.  Today, I reached the end of a bottle of 1% gel and rather than opening another decided to use the 1.62%, except that it was at my house and I was at my partner's place.  I figured, hey, there's not a big difference between 20.25 mg and 25 mg, I'll just use a whole packet rather than go over there in the rain.  It's been less than an hour, and I have a headache already.  I'm not very impressed with myself right now.
aidenonymous: (gender)
That's me alright.
I made a decision today. )

I also picked up my inhaler from the pharmacy today.  My endo sent the script electronically because albuterol isn't a controlled substance, and I didn't see until today that I'm supposed to use it four times a day.  My previous inhalers were either for emergency use only or twice a day, so either this is a different concentration or my asthma is way worse than it was before.  Also, I used it and didn't feel immediate relief.  I'm still coughing up mucus all damn day and apparently making a wheezing sound when I do it.  I'm going to try to make an appointment with my GP just in case my endo was wrong about the congestion, since that's a problem I'm more familiar with.  I guess I have trouble believing that the feeling of not having enough air in my lungs is caused by constricted airways rather than fluid build-up just because that's happened more to me over the past four years.

I chickened out on picking up my prescription for T.  I have about a month's worth of 1% gel left in the pump, plus over a month's worth in packets.  When I got to the pharmacy, I asked if I had refills on the 1% pump and they said yes and started filling the prescription.  My insurance apparently thinks one box with two pumps is a 60 day supply (when it's actually a 120 day supply), so they won't let me fill the prescription for the higher dose until late August, after I move.  I should be excited about starting the higher dose, but I'm actually really nervous.  I feel like I have a good thing going here and don't want to fuck it up by increasing the dose.  I can fill one and then have the other mailed to me in NYC but haven't yet decided which to fill first.  I've had enough difficult decisions for one day so will deal with this one tomorrow.

Oh, also, I told my Ph.D. advisor-to-be that I'm transferring and he's happy for me!  He didn't even ask me to terminate my contract.  I feel badly about spending his start-up-money when he's not getting a Ph.D. student out of it, but he didn't take up my offer, and I could really use the cash right now.  He had some advice about who I should work with, and I'm glad that it was advice I was already taking.  He actually wanted me to get started with someone there right away, so that's what I'm going to try to do!  I was actually drafting an e-mail for faculty at the new place before I heard back from my advisor, so that's a good sign that I'm not totally incompetent, right?  Okay, actually going to sleep now.
aidenonymous: (gender)
I had an endo appointment today.  I finally spoke up about this cyclic mood swings nonsense.  I'm ashamed that I can't just rely on stoicism to get through it, and I wish there were another way to solve the problem because I otherwise like the pace of changes on my current dose.  My endo thinks switching to shots with an equivalent dose won't make a difference.  She said that with compounded cream, the minimum dose necessary to stop periods is twice what I'm currently getting from gel.  She wanted to just have me double my current dose of 12.5 mg, which is what she prescribed when we met for the first time, but I talked her into switching me to AndroGel 1.62%, whose smallest metered dose is 20.25 mg, a tad lower.  The fact that I can negotiate my prescriptions with my endo is really cool, BTW.  She questioned my info about the effective dose being different for the new concentration, so we simultaneously looked it up on our phones.  It was pretty funny.

In any case, I hope this is worth it.  My insurance covers any AndroGel, so at least it'll be worth it in terms of cost.  I don't feel like I really need any more changes, but I'm not willing to add female hormones to my body if they come with a risk of breast growth.  I can deal with more masculinization (wouldn't complain about it in most regards), just don't want to get changes fast enough that I feel dissociated from my body.  I wonder if I should have advocated more strongly for shots, because then I'd have more of an ability to fine tune my dose instead of taking whatever Abbvie offers me.  Gel is pretty fantastically easy though, and this is still lower than what my endo calls a "low dose" for trans guys, so maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing.  I think I have enough AndroGel 1% to last until I move, so I'm going to wait a bit to start on the new stuff, at least until I figure out what I'm doing about top surgery.  I think my endo would be okay switching me to shots if I called and asked, but then I'd have to learn how to do it on my own when things are pretty crazy anyway.

This appointment had some other notable moments.  My blood pressure was totally normal.  It was a relief because at Dr. Johnson's office, my blood pressure was actually high.  The only other time I've ever had high blood pressure was when I was having an asthma attack in a hospital.  So now I know for sure that the culprit was indeed car sickness and I am not in earnest developing high blood pressure.

My endo was really concerned about my lungs though.  It was an early morning appointment, and I had a productive cough from when I woke up until a couple hours after the appointment.  It's been like that for over a week.  I told her I thought it was from binding too much at PTHC, since I've otherwise been cutting down substantially by working from home whenever possible and obviously not being very social outside the house otherwise.  She took a listen and kept coming back to the lower part of my right lung.  She asked if I was binding and tried putting the stethoscope under my binder in the back because it sounded "muffled."  I wasn't even binding very hard, just wearing a sportster.  Anyway, after asking me to breathe ten different ways, she concluded that my chest is not truly congested, but she can hear my asthma.  It wasn't really on my mind because I use my inhaler once or twice a year just for emergencies, usually triggered by cigarette smoke.  She expressed approval over the news that I'm in the process of making top surgery happen but didn't tell me I absolutely needed to do it, something that would have been preferable because it would take the decision out of my hands.

To lighten the mood, I'll end with the fact that my endo said my voice was definitely deeper than it was the last time we met (in February?).  [livejournal.com profile] alifjiim also said my voice was deeper than he expected when he visited last week.  (I have a couple half-written posts about PTHC and meeting super-cool internet people a couple weeks ago, swear I'll finish those up sometime soon.)  I also met a few people at PTHC who said my voice was deeper than they would have thought given my low dose.  I don't remember if [livejournal.com profile] theirearlystuff said anything about it though.  Did I ever mention that my father is a contra-alto?  My voice might be the deepest of all living males in my family, and it's a bit lower than my cis male partner's voice.  I'm pretty satisfied with that.  (-:
aidenonymous: (gender)
Some interesting facts have come to light that definitely influence my top surgery plans.

The plan I'll be getting through school after I transfer won't be announced until 30 June.  Though the current version covers 90% the costs in-network and 60% the costs out-of-network, I don't know their process for designating in/out-of-network providers and the plan is subject to change in the next school year.  Essentially, until the benefits are announced, I can't count on any coverage for top surgery.  That mysterious plan will take effect 21 August.

The plan I currently have through school covers 100% of the costs of top surgery with a surgeon of my choice but ends on 9 August.  I thought this meant I really had to schedule surgery before 21 July or thenabouts.  Since I'd otherwise be uninsured from 9 August until 21 August and possibly still be at a higher risk of complications, I inquired about continuing coverage with my current plan so I won't be uninsured for the two weeks in between.  I just found out I can continue coverage until 9 September with the same benefits for $384.  So, I'll definitely be doing that because being uninsured for any amount of time is beyond my risk tolerance.  As a bonus, it would buy me a little more time to decide.  I could potentially schedule surgery as late as 15 August without having to take time off from my new job.

My partner's insurance begins 1 October, and it won't cost him a cent for me to be enrolled.  Since it looks like neither his plan nor the one I'll be getting through school in the fall prohibits secondary insurance, I can be doubly insured through him.  He finally heard back from HR, and they said his plan is administrated (administered?) in California even though it's the plan for out of state employees.  That means the transition-related treatment exclusion they had is now forbidden, so top surgery would be covered to the same level as any other medically necessary surgery.  The current version of his plan would cover 100% of in-network costs and 70% of out-of-network costs, but the details may change in the new plan that won't be announced until 1 September, and I still don't know how the in/out-of-network designation is made.

So, it looks like I have some more options.  My hard deadline for guaranteed 100% coverage is now a month later than I thought, and I'll be able to decide after the plan for my new school is announced.  Woohoo!  I owe the universe some serious gratitude right now.
aidenonymous: (gender)
For reference, months eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one. It's taken a bit more than a year, but I've officially gotten a year's worth of T changes.  I'd like to write a year-in-review post but don't have time now, so this one will just be about what's happened in the last month, sorry.  And it's especially short at that because I'm too busy to write more.  /-:

cut out of habit )

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