Ok…I am going to say it right here and I am going to own it. I am jealous. That’s right…I am jealous. Who or what am I jealous of, you ask? The couple of people I have shared this emotion with first thought I was jealous of genetic women. That’s not the case at all. I’m not saying there aren’t times where I don’t get frustrated that I wasn’t born female. I sometimes watch genetic woman go about their business in the hopes that when I am done developing, I might be as attractive. I am not, however, jealous of genetic women. Who I am jealous of is others who have transitioned and had their transitions go smoothly.
Now, I know this is process. I know transitioning requires patience. I know it won’t all happen overnight. I have accepted that. I understand that. While I do wish things would “happen” quicker, I know they won’t. It’s hard at times but I really have accepted and understand that. I consider that one of the blessings of transitioning at an older age. What I am so frustrated about right now, and frustrated to the point of tears, is my body not seeming to want to absorb the estrogen.
I shared in a previous post how we were struggling to get my estrogen levels where they should be. When I posted that, the most recent blood work I shared was that my estrogen was at 74, I think. The hard part there…my estrogen is supposed to be somewhere between 150 & 200 at this point. Anyway…that result came after having switched from oral estrogen to transdermal patches. My estrogen had finally risen from the 50’s to at least the mid-70’s. My doctor and I, reasonably so, felt confident that wearing two transdermal patches would get my estrogen levels up somewhere in the 130-150 range. Not ideal but my doctor and I decided we would be perfectly happy to have my levels there as we figured out what to do next.
Since upping my patches to two per week, I have had my own struggles there. There is just no good place on the body to wear these patches without problems…or at least that has been the case for me. It is recommended they be worn on either the abdomen or the butt due to the estrogen being absorbed better where you have a lil more cushion (guys…you behave after reading that comment). I have tried both areas and honestly, I have been at my wits end. One or both of the following happens over the course of a week. One, the patches ultimately get stuck to my clothing and when I change clothes or move around a lot, they peel off of my skin as soon as that one corner or edge gets stuck to my clothing. I can usually catch this and stop the problem from getting too bad and reapply, but on a couple of occasions, I have had to put a whole new patch on because the original patch got ruined. The other problem is my skin is getting irritated at the site. It itches all the time. I want so badly to switch over to injections but insurance is refusing to pay for injections without giving the patches an honest try first. Well…I have tried the patches and I think I am going to fight with my insurance company on this soon. Anywho…
So yesterday, Friday, I went to have my blood drawn for the sixth time in five months. My doctor and I were extremely optimistic that my levels would be significantly higher. He was so confident about this that he hasn’t even bothered to check my testosterone the past couple of months. I went to the lab before driving to clinic, let them stick me again, and then drove the hour and a half to clinic just knowing my numbers would be higher and it was going to be a great way to end the week after everything else that had happened.
When it was time for me to leave clinic, I decided to log into the patient portal and check my results. My jaw went through the floor. On two patches per week, my estrogen had dropped. And it didn’t just drop. It plummeted. My estrogen came back at 34. This is the lowest it has ever been. It is lower than what my estrogen was the day I received my first prescription. None of my lab results in my life had ever been this low.
I admit it. I lost it. I began bawling in my office. Thank goodness no one else was at clinic. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t even see I was crying so badly. All I could think was, “What THE FUCK is going on with my body?” and “How THE FUCK did my levels drop after doubling my dose?” It took me a good half hour before I could even think about getting into the car to make the hour drive home.
I didn’t get a chance to talk with my doctor after seeing the results and honestly, I wish he had called me. I had spent a lot of time on the phone with his nurse the previous couple of days already because I am fighting with my insurance provider since they are denying to cover my refill for my patches. They are saying my refill is too early and the dosage my doctor is prescribing as dangerous for a genetic female (I will discuss the problems with the entire medical system being set up on a binary gender system and how it impacts transitioning individuals in very negative ways on another day). Forget about the fact the dosage is on the low end of the acceptable values for a transitioning individual. So here I was, an hour drive home to just think about how 1. for some unknown reason my estrogen level decided to bottom out after finally making progress, 2. I don’t even know if I am going to have patches to wear on Monday when its time to replace the patches I am wearing now due to insurance being a pain in the ass and 3. while we figured my liver was blocking the absorption of the estrogen from pills (normal occurrence), I am unable to find any reason in the literature as to why my body is not absorbing the estrogen from the patches.
So back to my jealousy. I have gotten to a point where I am not talking to those I know who have transitioned. And honestly, I can’t talk with most of my local friends anymore. I can’t talk with my friends who have transitioned because their hormone levels were fine throughout their transition. Sure, things had to be tweaked slightly here and there but none of them encountered anything close to what I am experiencing and sadly, the response I get from most of them is either, “Well, I don’t know what the problem is unless you’re doing something wrong,” or they literally just blow me off. As for my other local friends who I have reached out to for emotional support, let’s just say I have had more than one tell me I just need to quit being bitchy, get over it and be grateful for the progress I have made. Some can’t grasp the science behind transitioning (i.e.: they still think, despite what I have told them, that HRT will change my voice…which it won’t). At this point, its been pretty much my sister and two local friends who have been willing to listen and help me process what is going on. But with crazy schedules, its often hard to get in contact with them. Thankfully, I have made some of the most amazing friendships in Second Life…though I acknowledge feeling incredibly guilty because some of them always end up being the ones I turn to and I know it must be exhausting for them to hear this every three to four weeks.
This isn’t to say I haven’t had some some development. And this is the other piece that just makes no sense. I have breasts, an A cup but they are breasts, and they seem to be growing and lord knows they hurt like hell every day. I can’t wear men’s pants anymore unless they are big for me due to the hip and butt development. I recently noticed my lips getting more plump (or at least I think I did). My skin is softer and my body hair is growing significantly slower and has become thinner. But then too…aside from the breasts and pants situation…I now worry that some of what I see is in my head and not real. I just don’t know anymore. I don’t know what is real or what is my imagination anymore. I mean, after seeing the lab results, I started obsessing thinking my skin suddenly less soft. I don’t even known how to perceive my own body right now.
I have gone through this every month for the past six months and to be honest, I am emotionally exhausted from this roller coaster of expecting my levels to improve. I am exhausting after over six hours of phone calls between my pharmacy, my doctor’s office and my insurance company this week. I am exhausted from battling a health care system that tries to deny me coverage for tests and prescriptions because all of the billing and “standard dosages” are based on binary gender. I am tired of having to explain to my insurance company that my insurance plan does cover my care for transitioning. I am tired of worrying about whether or not I will have my next prescription refill as my doctor and I try to find a dosage that will work properly. I am tired of getting my hopes up that things will improve to only find out they haven’t.
So I admit it…I am jealous of those I know who have not had these struggles. I am angry they had the easy path while my doctor and I fight to figure out what is going on with me. I acknowledge those feelings. I own it. I admit I am guilty of jealousy towards others right now.
In my own defense though…until I have some answers as to what is going on with my body, I just don’t know what to do, think or feel…