Sunday, 30 December 2012

Home Alone

Christmas is over for another year and we're on the brink of a New Year. As 2012 leaves us and 2013 fast approaches its been a year where a lot has happened.
Back in January I transitioned and that has had one of the most interesting effects which has influenced where I will be spending the New Year.

Christmas was nice and we eventually managed to get away to my parents on the 27th. It was a much longer journey than expected because of an accident on the motorway that slowed us down considerably. Even allowing for a few stops that we had to make it took nearly 4 hours to complete what normally takes about 2 hours.

The few days we spent with my parents were really nice, its a shame that my sister and her family couldn't make it but they had all been ill and so it was better for them to stay home.

Today we left my parents and I dropped my family off at my sister-in-laws. I didn't stop long as I've now discovered that my brother-in-law apparently doesn't want me to stay there, even if I dress androgynous and forgo the make-up.

For that reason I left my family there, to make their way back home by train on Wednesday, and I returned home. I'll be spending New Year's Eve and New Year's Day on my own this year. The first time in over 15 years, and the first time ever without my son. I'm sure that its not going to be the last time that I don't spend time with him at this time of year.

I'm not overly worried as I can get some training in and also study for the examination I'm sitting at the beginning of February.

It might not be how I'd hope to spend New Year but then I knew that things wouldn't be the same at this time of year even before I transitioned. Still it will be nice to have a bit of time to chill and do what I want to do for a few days.

2013 Goals

As its nearly the New Year I thought I'd go over everything that I had planned on achieving during this year and the next few and give myself a set of goals that I want to achieve during 2013.  They cover sport, burlesque, work, home life and transitioning.
All of these will require a bit of effort on my part, none of them are just going to happen. I've not given any dates for when things are going to be achieved, even though some of them like the Outlaw do have dates associated with them.
It will be interesting to see how many of them I've achieved by this time next year, hopefully there will even  be pictures for some of them :-)

Sport

Complete Outlaw Triathlon
Complete Outlaw Half
Complete DIY Olympic Triathlon

Burlesque

Perform True Love burlesque routine
Perform Moon River burlesque routine
Perform Messin' with Fire burlesque routine
Develop Knock 1 2 3 burlesque routine
Get corset from Mags
Make-up lesson with Inma
Train to teach burlesque

Work

Pass ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst exam
Develop C# programming ability

Home

Finish decorating small bedroom
Tidy garden
Empty attic of things we don't need

Transition

Get referred back to Laurels in December
Complete speech therapy
Start laser hair removal
Electrolysis on breasts and chest area

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, hope you get everything that you want today.

We've opened our presents and my son almost filled the living room floor with his when he spread them out so we could take a picture of them all.

I got the present that I wanted, apart from the cycling gear, which was a small camera that I can keep in my handbag for those moments when I find those awesome picture moments.

Santa did come early as I received a letter yesterday from the funding review panel at my local primary care trust to let me know that they have approved my application for funding for several sessions of laser hair removal. Looking forward to using that present in the New Year. Laser hair removal, the gift that keeps on giving and giving short sharp pains :-)

Got to talk to the in-laws on Skype later so haven't got myself changed and put my make-up on yet. Will do that after we've spoken to them and before I get into cooking Christmas lunch.

As I'm not sure if I'll be home for New Year or at my parents I'll wish everyone a Happy New Year. Many 2013 bring you lots of joy and happiness and may you achieve everything that you want.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Poking the nose in

Earlier this week someone we knew about 3 years ago and fell out with came back into our lives.
V became friends with my other half when they were working at one of the local schools together. Her son was a couple of years younger than my son and her husband worked for one of the biggest companies in the area.

We got one pretty well together, until one of our friends got taken seriously ill and V started getting very friendly with her with the result that my other half and our friend fell out. Fortunately they made up before she passed away.

V then had problems with her marriage and after splitting from her husband moved in with a new partner.

For the last 3 years we've not seen or heard from her. Then she shows up on our doorstep while I was at work.

V knows about me as she saw me one lunchtime towards the end of last year in the town centre. It was after I'd been growing my hair out for a while. When she then bumped into another of hour friends she asked about me and was told.

This week she turns up at our place because she was in the area and had some time to spare. My other half and her had a cup of tea and a chat. During the chat V turned around and suggested to my other half that when she was ready to find herself a guy that V knew of someone. She apparently even showed a picture of the guy in question. My other half sent V a text the following day to say she wasn't interested and that we were planning on staying together.

When I was told I immediately wondered why she was sticking her nose into our business and making assumptions about our relationship.

Now I know what V is like and to be honest doing something like this is what I would expect from her but it is overstepping the mark somewhat.

I mentioned what had happened to some friends in work and the best reaction I had was from one of the guys who said to me that perhaps I should ask V to introduce me to her friend. Hmm, nope, if I want a man or even a woman I'll find my own thank you very much. Not that I have any need to do that as I have someone special in my life already.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Year in Provence - part 2

The end of my week in Southampton went pretty well.
I learned a lot during the course, some of which I'll be able to use now that I'm back in work.
The examination is booked for the 1st February and so I'll have to go up to London for that. It will give me the chance to catch up with someone I know that has moved up there.
The hotel I stayed at was great and I had no problems there.

The journey home from Southampton took a couple of hours and took me down through the New Forest via Dorchester.
The weather wasn't very nice with rain pretty much all the way home. At one point I was stuck in a traffic jam due to 5 cars going into the back of each other in the outside lane.

Arriving home, the family had gone to my in-laws in the Cotswolds as it was mother-in-laws birthday. She'd come down to stay overnight and had then taken them back up which left me with our car.

Saturday was a sort of chilled day. I was going out for a drink in the evening and had decided that I was going to wear a dress to the pub. working my way through my wardrobe I realised that I actually didn't have anything that was suitable to wear. Everything was either too dressy for the pub or something I would either wear leggings, trousers or thick tights with. So after conferring with a friend I headed into town and to the local Laura Ashley shop.

Now Laura Ashley has always struck me as being a bit on the floral side of fashion. I know that isn't the case in reality but still, I wasn't sure that I'd find anything that would be me. Still they had a sale on so it was worth a look.

Into the shop I went and over to wear some of the sale stock was, particularly the dresses. A bit of a rummage and I had found 3 possibilities. I sent a text to my friend and described them. She came back with two that she liked. I still wasn't convinced.
Just then one of the women that used to work in our personnel department walked past with who must have been her daughter and granddaughter. I was tempted to say hello and then ask her advice but couldn't bring myself to do so.
Still trying to make a decision I was surprised when one of our personnel managers also appeared. Now I get on with H so I said hello and roped her into helping me decided. We narrowed my choices down to two before she wandered off. I still wasn't convinced at this point, one of the dresses was definitely a yes, the other I wasn't so sure about as it had a pleated skirt and I wanted the dress to be able to wear it both when I went somewhere but also to work. In the end I put the dress with the pleated skirt back and went for the black dress with a pink floral pattern. Just as I was heading towards the changing rooms I noticed another rack with some dresses and tops on it. A quick rummage and I found a grey tunic top that I could wear to work, providing I got some camisoles to wear underneath it as it is a bit low cut.
Before I went to the changing rooms I had a quick look to see if I could find a black cardigan or something similar to wear with the dress. I found just the thing in a long sleeved cardigan/jacket.
Well everything fitted and I was soon heading back home with my purchases.

The afternoon was spent enjoying a nice soak in the bath while reading a book and then getting ready to go out.

Just as I was about to put my make-up on I got a call from my son asking me how to sort out a problem with his gran's computer. Fifteen minutes of trying to work out what to do over the phone, another 5 minutes of chatting to my family and I was free to finish my make-up.

The pub was really nice. It wasn't a local one as it was in a nearby town. When I got there the first pub was a chain pub that caters to families and was really busy. Not the place I wanted to go to on a Saturday night. The second pub we went to was more back street and although it was quieter I decided I might stand out and didn't want to risk any problems. The final pub was again a family pub but this time there was somewhere to sit for a quiet drink.
The evening was quite pleasant, I noticed a couple of women looking in my direction as they made their way to and from the toilets.
At one point I was a bit shocked to see some people that we know from Yeovil. The husband is a builder and has done some work at our home, one of the daughters is at school with my son. They didn't see me and I didn't go to say hello as it would have been awkward.

Sunday was a relaxed start to the day and then it was off to collect my family at our usual handover point halfway between our home and my  in-laws place. We had a bite to eat and then returned home.

It was a busy week but nice.
It also showed that either I'm passing well enough or that people really aren't worried.

Roll on 2013 and whatever that will bring.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A Year In Provence

Or more accurately a week in Southampton.

I'm spending the week on a training course in Southampton. Its the first time I've spent this amount of time away from home since I transitioned. Its also the first opportunity I've had to be myself where people don't know me as anyone but Jenna and to see how they react.

I've got limited Internet access so I'm going to post as I can. This is part 1.

Southampton 2nd to 7th December 2012

Sunday

What a journey it was to get down here. To start with the hire car is one of those that has a key that you put into a slot on the dashboard. Once its inserted then you can press down on the clutch while pushing the key right into the slot in order to start the engine. The car doesn't have a traditional handbrake, instead you press down on the brake while pushing a switch on the console near the gear-stick. Its not too bad once you get the hang of it, and aren't panicking because the car has stalled or something like that.
The actual journey was OK until I reached Southampton. At that point things started to go adrift because the satnav told me that I'd arrived at my destination while I was still on the M27. Exiting the motorway at the next exit and heading into Southampton before stopping to reset the satnav so it would find the hotel was called for which even then lead to a roundabout trip as I managed to miss the exit on a roundabout and found myself back on the motorway.
The hotel is some distance from the venue where I'll be doing my ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst course. Hopefully I'll be able to find the place without too much trouble tomorrow.
At the moment its just before 10 o'clock, its raining again. I've not been out of my room since I got here. Tomorrow I'll be eating in the restuarant so I'll probably have a couple of drink in the bar as well.
I've got quite a bit of reading to catch up this week, in addition to any homework we get from the course. Reading wont be the only thing that I do though as I've brought a couple of my fans with me. I've already spent aa bit of time this evening working out the timings for my True Love routine and have gone through that a couple of times. Its not a complicated routine, neither is it very long (about 3 minutes 15 seconds in fact) so by the end of the week I should have it in a state that I can start jazzing it up and making it more of a performance.
Anyway, its 10 o'clock now and time to get ready for bed.

Monday

First day of the course done.
Last night I didn't sleep all that well. I usually don't when I'm staying in a hotel, the bed usually takes a few days to get used to as well as all the different noises. I was eventually awake by about 5:30 this morning but sat in bed reading my bible, something I haven't done for a while.
Just after 6 I started getting myself ready for the day, by just after 7 I was ready to face the outside world and heading for breakfast. I kept things simple this morning and didn't eat a lot, come cereal and a small fried breakfast.
Just after 8 I set off for the course venue in Ocean Village. It took me a while as the traffic was quite hectic initially but thinned out as I got closer to my destination. On arrival I was a bit worried as I didn't have much change for car parking and all of the car parks in the area were pay and display. I parked the hire car in the nearest car park and popped into the reception of the Innovation Centre to see if they could tell me the best place to park. Fortunately they have their own parking spaces to the rear of the building so I was able to leave the car there.
The course was interesting, there are only four of us plus the course tutor. He looked familiar and it wasn't until I got back to the hotel and checked the notes for another course that I did a while back that I realised that he was the one who had done that course.
The one thing that I'm definitely going to remember the course for is hazelnut coffee. The drinks machine uses pouches containing the drink that you want, there is a few things to choose from but I've settled on the hazelnut coffee option. I've drunk so much of it that I can still taste it even after a couple of glasses of wine. I think I might be getting addicted to it.
The trip back to the hotel was equally hectic but I didn manage to get into the hotel without having to do a roundabout journey this time.
A bit of revision and the obligatory phone call to the family and it was time for dinner.
The restaurant was heaving, I had to wait about 15 minutes before I got a table even though I had booked. The waiter that seated me was really nice and kept updating me on what was going on and checked to see if I'd ordered my meal and how long it would be.
I'd chosen to have duck breast with potato Anna. The duck tasted lovely, there could have been a bit more food though. Next time I'll know to order a side dish!
Some people do like to complain and the chap that was seated before me, after he had been served his meal and had pointed out to the waiter that there was some mushrooms missing, said "this place is like Fawlty Towers." It wasn't that bad!
Today has been a good day. I've not had any issues with people. The staff are well trained, I had a smile from one of the waitresses in response to a smile I gave her. My waiter addressed me as Ms. On the way to dinner I rode up in the lift with an older gentleman who stepped aside to allow me into the lift and then when he got out in front of me apologised saying that he should have let me out first.
I'd say that today was a passing day.

Tuesday

Second day of the course. The restaurant was a bit busier yesterday morning. Had some fruit to start but it felt very unladylike trying to cut through chunks of pineapple, apple and melon with a spoon with people around. Don't think I'll go for that option again. Will probably go back to cereal or skip that and have a couple of pastries after my full English. Missed my favourite of button mushrooms though as they didn't have any out when I went to get mine.
Drive to Ocean Village was as busy as on Monday but I did arrive early, in fact I was first to arrive, the other girl on the course was second.
The receptionist greeted me when I arrived. She's very friendly and very smartly dressed. I like her.
The course went well as we got through all of the material easily which allowed us to get back to our hotels to do some revision on our own. I worked through some examples and then left it at that as I wanted to have an early dinner so I could have a bath and watch some television.
On the way back to the hotel I popped into the Asda Hypermarket at Eastleigh. I'd forgotten just how big they could be. I wandered around as quickly as I could picking up a notepad, some Pringles, chocolate digestives, a bottle of Pinot Grigio (hotel drinks are extortionate, over 6 pounds for a small glass of wine, 9 pounds for a larger one, the bottle from Asda was only 5 pounds) and a bottle of what I thought was Jim Beam bourbon which turned out to be a black cherry bourbon drink. Very nice, very drinkable and after one very large glass will be going in my case to take home.
I noticed last night that I've been forgetting to slap on my hormone gels. So made doubly sure that I'd remember to do it before I went to bed and when I got up in the morning.
Dinner was a lot quieter than Monday evening. The restaurant wasn't as busy at 7 when I went down. Service was great. Food was even better. I went for belly of pork with black pudding and potatoes followed up by vanilla and strawberry crème brulee with a shortbread biscuit and Chantilly cream.
While I'd been eating a nice looking American had been sat at the table next to me. As I was eating my dessert he asked if it was good, to which I put my hand on my tummy and replied yes. His dinner arrived at that point and as I'd finished mine I left him to it and we didn't chat any more. If I was more confident with my voice and appearance it would have been nice to chat some more.
I am meeting lots of different people, not just staff here but also other guests and I'm not getting any negative reactions so I'm happy.
After dinner I enjoyed a relaxing bath, finished my Jim Beam and had a couple of small glasses of wine in my room while reading my books, Coming Up Next by one of my favourite television presenters Penny Smith. I've had the book for a while and haven't got round to reading it. Now that I've started I can't put it down and will have finished it before too long. Oh well, will have to get her next book.

Wednesday

Finally finished my book this morning. Nothing to read now.
I've missed a couple of the programmes that we normally watch this week. Although I've got a TV in my room the things that I'd usually watch with the rest of the family like Grimm and Elementary are on satellite channels and not Freeview.
The course went well today. It was about a couple of testing techniques and once you understood what was involved they weren't too bad.
I chatted to the receptionist at the innovation centre when I got there this morning. Both of us have daughters. Her oldest is between Rhys' age how old Kayleigh would have been this year. It was a nice chat as both being parents we had things in common.
Weather today has been chilly, not as cold as yesterday when the car was iced over, so glad that I brought de-icer with me.
Two more days to go before the course is over and I head back home. Will be nice to have all the things that I take for granted when at home available to me. Even if is my last weekend before I have to start training for the Outlaw next year!
Spoke with the family using Skype earlier. So much easier than simply using the phone and better than Windows Live Messenger. Everyone was OK. 


More to come at the end of the week, or tomorrow if I manage to write up a post before I lose my Internet access.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Life Circle 2012: Where am I at?

As the year is drawing to a close, and its wet, windy and horrible outside I thought that I'd have a look back at some of the things that I'd planned as part of the Life Circle and see where I've got with my goals.

6 months
Its nearly 11 months since I began my RLE. As far as my 6 month goals were concerned I haven't performed in any burlesque shows. I did help out at a theatre show by being a hostess pre-show. It was fun but I'd have enjoyed it more if at least one of the other Pink Kitten girls had been there with me.
The Valentine's show didn't happen as far as I was concerned due to car problems. I couldn't make the Easter or Halloween shows due to being away and not having a car. I'll not be making the Christmas show either as I don't have a routine ready to perform.
Mags moved to London earlier this year and I've not been in touch with her for a while, I need to sort out getting the corset for my costume and eventually sort out the skirt for it. I'd like to get that for when I get around to performing my Messin' with Fire routine after I've developed it.

I've not sorted out the training to allow me to teach Burlesque yet, it seems that other things get in the way of that. It will happen though when I get the money together and have the time to go through the training. I'll try and sort it out next year at some point as I'm sure that there are several people that I would be interested in it.

As far as work is concerned I eventually wore a skirt and have done so on a number of occasions since. I tend to wear trousers more now that the weather has turned somewhat.


1 year
I've entered the Outlaw triathlon for next year. Training starts on December 10th. My training is mapped out all the way through to next July.
Going to the gym has continued to be a bit hit and miss but I'm hoping that I can rectify that because my son has membership at the leisure centre which covers his life saving lessons but also gym sessions. At the moment unless I take him he wont get there.
I managed to get back into running because I trained and completed the Bristol Half Marathon. Even though the training didn't get off to a good start it settled down enough that I finished in a personal best time.
I've not performed at any burlesque shows this year but I'm planning to remedy that in 2013 by performing a silk fan routine to Moon River at the Valentine's show. With luck I'll perform the other routines I plan on working on at the other shows throughout the year.
The hormones are working nicely. Emotionally I'm a lot more stabled that I was at the beginning of the year. I'm also experiencing noticeable results in the breast growth department. In fact my mum commented the other day when I was at my parent's, and not wearing breast forms and bra but a figure hugging roll-neck top, that I would need breast reconstruction when she saw how my right breast had developed in comparison to the left one which is the one I had removed to deal with the gynaecomastia I suffered from when I was a teenager.


2 years
On track to achieve my goal of having completed the Outlaw Triathlon. Will also be aiming to have completed a couple of aquathlons, a DIY olympic distance triathlon and the Outlaw Half triathlon by summer 2013.

5 years
As far as being post-op is concerned I'll be looking to have had my surgery by the end of 2014. It should be possible for me to be referred for a second opinion at the end of 2013. If that went as it should then in theory I could be having surgery 6 months later, smack bang in the middle of my son's GCSEs. That would be too much pressure to put on him and so I'll be looking to delay things just enough to see to it that surgery happens after he's completed his exams.
By the time I've finished working on the ideas I have for burlesque routines I'll have 5 routines that I can perform and if I stretch out debuting them then I'll have at least another 4 shows to perform in ahead of me. Hopefully it wont be one show a year.
Fitness will still be important as I'm planning to do a number of endurance events in the next 5 years. The Outlaw triathlon is the first. After that I plan on doing a long distance cycle ride, the Dart 10K swim and if everything goes to plan the Marathon Des Sables when I hit my 50th birthday.

For some of the more specific goals that I set myself.

Developing C# Programming ability
I've not done anything with this for most of this year. I've simply not had the time.
On the job front things have settled down. The redundancy process was completed and although I pulled out after submitting my voluntary redundancy application initially, when the VR window was reopened I applied again, unfortunately on that occasion I was turned down.
I did, however, have two job interviews. The first I got turned down due to not showing that I had the aptitude for a test managerial role, which was something I wasn't expecting to be interviewed for.
The second interview went a lot better with the company turning me down but stating that I knew my stuff and that if a suitable job came up then they would be in touch to ask me to attend an interview. That did actually happen but it was after I'd been turned down for VR and it simply wasn't financially viable to take another job.
Developing my C# skills is still something that I need to do.


Get fit
Definitely keeping my fitness levels up. I achieved my aims with the Bristol Half Marathon and have noticed an improvement in my swimming with my 400m time dropping by half a minute on one occasion.

Decorate small bedroom
The small bedroom has had the wall paper stripped, the built in cupboard has been removed and the wall filled with copious amounts of polyfilla. All that needs to be done to it now is to sand down the woodwork and polyfilla to give a smooth wall and ceiling, paint the ceiling, door and woodwork, and wallpaper.
At the moment though the room is full of boxes with bits and pieces that came out of some units that we got rid of in our living room. Its also got one of my road bikes attached to a turbo trainer that I intend to use over the winter when the weather is to bad to get out and cycle.
Looks like decorating the bedroom will take some time yet to complete.

Tidy garage and garden
Having sorted out the garden the weather has been such recently that we've let it go. The grass needs cutting and a lot of stuff that came out of the garage when we handed the keys back to the local council after we got rid of our old car needs to be taken to the dump. As soon as I've got enough time to load up the car and take it to the dump then I'll be getting rid of it. Not sure when that will be but it will definitely be before the end of the year.

Lots of progress in some areas, mainly the ones that I have control over and really want to work on. Not so much progress in the areas that I don't want to work on or where I've not had any control over the situation.
Even so I'm happy with where I've got to this year. Next year will be another interesting one with hopefully as many things, if not more, achieved as this year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Right where are we

Its been 10 months since I transitioned and the year has gone better than I could have imagined. I'm more settled into living as a woman now than I was in January. I still have some issues when it comes to my voice but when you have a guy address you as "love" when the alarms go off as you are leaving the local supermarket and he comes over to check your shopping trolley then you know that you've passed muster.

Since we bought our new car I've managed to get to Bristol for a Pink Kitten Advanced Lab session which was great fun. It was so good seeing everyone again.

I've also been to the first of four vintage hair styling classes that Pink Kitten are running. I'm sure that the burns on my thumb and forehead from the very hot curling wand and hair tongs will fade in time. The first class saw us learning to do finger waves. This week is victory rolls and the week after will be a 50s style. Sadly it looks like I'm going to miss the last week which was the 60s and the Beehive.

I've now got four songs that I'm going to be working to put fan dance routines too over the coming months. The songs are Moon River (silk fans), Messin' with Fire (small marabou fans), True Love (large fans) and Knock 1 2 3 (large fans and maybe some other bits to fill out the five minutes of the song). First up will be Moon River in time for Valentine's next year.

I'm still waiting to hear if the funding for my laser hair removal has been approved. I should hear sometime this week I hope.

Today I had my first speech therapy since last February. My new speech therapist is really nice and I spent an hour chatting with her. She suggested that I record myself reading a passage in order to have something to listen to and see how my voice changes as we work on it. She's also suggested I think of a woman who I would like to sound like, presumably so that I have an example to work from. Sounds like a great reason to watch some of my favourite actresses on DVD and television.

My training for the Outlaw triathlon and my first ever Ironman distance event begins shortly. I've been doing bits of training since I completed the Bristol Half Marathon. I've noticed that my swimming has improved hopefully that will continue to happen between now and next July. Just goes to show what a bit of structure to your training can do.

Last month I made it to my first pre-op support group meeting at The Laurels. It was an interesting evening. I'm not sure when I'll go to another one, probably in the New Year now. I'll definitely be going though as I met some really nice people there.

With a bit of luck I'll be in Southampton between the 3rd and 7th December on my first training course as Jenna. It will also be my first time staying at a hotel for a few days. I'm looking forward to it, not just because the course is something I've been trying to do for nearly 2 years but because it will give me a few days to myself so that I can do things that I've not had the chance to do, burlesque practice for one. I'll be travelling to and from Southampton by train because my other half wants the car so that she can go to her Mum's on the 7th because it is her Mum's birthday that week.

Although I've not formally been asked to not go with them, my other half has talked about me not going because my brother-in-law, it seems, doesn't want to see me as Jenna. That's his decision and it means that I will spend the least amount of time I can at his home, when we go there for New Year I'll spend a day or two there before going to my sister's and staying with them for NewYear before coming back home on the 1st January. At least I'll get to see my nieces quite a bit over the festive season.

For the record though as its my mother-in-law's 70th birthday I would have reverted to my old self for the weekend and dressed androgynously, with hair slicked back and no make-up.

I have one more appointment with Sara at The Laurels in December and then one further appointment with her and Dr Dean in the New Year and then I don't need to go back to see them until the end of 2013 when I'll have completed my two years RLE and will be in the position to work towards surgery. I should be able to simply get myself referred back to the clinic at that point and not have to jump through hoops to get there.

All in all, things have been good over the last couple of months and the rest of the year seems to be similar. Roll on 2013 and the completion of my first year of RLE.



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The man in my life

Now that we have a car again going to burlesque classes is once again something that I can do.
Yesterday was the first time in months that I went to the Advanced Lab at Pink Kitten. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet some new people.
However, that was just the end of a great day and a fabulous trip to Bristol.

One of the main reasons that I went to Bristol was to pop into Evans Cycles in Broadmead. They stock Louis Garneau cycling clothing and I'm in the process of ordering a LG monaco, effectively a cycling/triathlon top, to wear when I'm doing triathlons next year. My only problem is that I needed to double check the size before I part with my pennies.

So up to Bristol I went, allowing enough time for me to make my way to Evans Cycles, find one of the tops and try it on as well as possibly some cycling shorts and then head over to Pink Kitten's new studio.

When I eventually found the shop it wasn't very busy but looked like a great place to get bikes and cycling gear. I had a browse around the clothing section before deciding that I wasn't going to find what I wanted on my own and going and finding one of the staff that wasn't dealing with a customer.

I explained what I was looking for and he took me over to where I'd already been looking. As I tried to explain what I was looking for he showed me to the LG tops and pointed out the cycling jerseys. As we chatted he asked me what exactly it was that he was looking for. I realised that he thought that I was buying the top for a boyfriend, partner or husband.

Well what could I do, I had to go along with it and said he was doing triathlons next year and wanted some tops and shorts that were suitable for long distances. The chap showed me where I could find everything that was suitable and then left me to browse.

After that conversation there was no way that I could ask if I could try on a top to get an idea of fit and so I picked a cycling jersey in the size I was planning on getting and also a pair of cycling shorts (they had a sale on because they are swapping over to winter gear) and took those to the till to pay. The same chap served me and was friendly and efficient.

Now either he was being extremely respectful, they've had transgendered individuals go in before or he really didn't realise that I was transgendered and thought I was female. I'm not under any illusions but whatever reason it certainly boosted my self-esteem and left me feeling really happy about my experience and perfectly happy to go there again when I need anything for cycling and I'm in Bristol.

And the top, well the large is a little bit roomy which means I can fit another layer underneath it if I need to when its particularly cold. It also has a bit of room for me to grow into as I develop up top so its something that I'll get plenty of wear out of.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Take no prisoners

All my life I've been very wary of confrontation. I don't like it and try to avoid it whenever I can.
In part its because I've always been a bit shy. I find social events difficult, especially if there are people around that I don't know.
Over the years I've gotten better with things because I've needed to for work. Even so I tend to contribute to things only when I have to but when I do it tends to be thought out and worthwhile.
All of this means that I tend to be quite passive when it comes to a lot of situations and will take the path that leads to me having an easy life.

I've also got a little bit of a temper that I do my utmost to keep under control and not show. When I was a teenager my Dad was winding me up on one occasion at home and I snapped, picked up a chair and was about to hitting him with it. The only thing that stopped me was my Mum shouting at me to put it down. My Mum can be scary when she wants and it got through to me. Strangely that was the last time I recall my Dad winding me up so much.

This week though saw what is a big change in attitude for me. I've noticed it happening recently but it came home to me fully on Friday.

Two weeks ago we bought a new cooker. We'd opted for a dual fuel type. Gas hob, electric cooker. We'd run through a set of questions in the shop related to where we were going to have the cooker installed and had answered them to the best of our knowledge. When the cooker arrived the fitters refused to install it until we'd had some electrical work done.
We got an electrician in, he did what we asked and I rang up to arrange for the fitters to return.
Last Wednesday they arrived.
The electrical work hadn't been done as they needed it so they again refused to fit the cooker. By now I was no happy so we went back to the store we'd bought the cooker from. The manager told us that the fact that we didn't have a suitable electrical supply for to fit the cooker he couldn't refund our money but was willing to refund it onto one of the store's gift cards. I thought this pointless and we discussed exchanging the dual fuel cooker for a gas only one. We have a gas cooker already so it should be a simple job to take out the old one and install the new one.
On Friday the fitters turned up with the new cooker, took one look at where it was to go and refused to fit it. Apparently we have some electrical sockets that are positioned in such a way that due to building regulations, particularly electrical ones, mean that the cooker couldn't be installed.
When my other half rang me to tell me this I was livid, it was all I could do to keep my temper. When the phone was handed to one of the fitters to explain the problem I simply told him to take the cooker that had been left on the last visit, which they were to collect, and the new one they were supposed to fit as we no longer wanted them and I'd be going to the store to get my money back.
At lunchtime I went back to the store and confronted the manager. I think that he must have realised that I was angry because after we'd discussed the reasons why the fitters had not installed the cooker, and this time I'd put the blame back on the previous fitters for not telling us that the electrical sockets were in the wrong place the twice they'd been, he didn't insist on refunded my money on a gift card but refunded the money straight back to my bank account.
It might have helped that I'd contacted the citizen's advice bureau and gas safety register to check my rights but it couldn't have hurt that I was there on my own and was displaying an obvious don't mess with me attitude.
There might have also been a bit of a "I really don't want this person to create a scene" attitude on his part.

I know that my confidence has been growing for a while. Perhaps this week is the culmination of that process.

As a friend said about me a while back. I'm strong and sassy and I'm definitely here to stay so watch out world.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cooking up a storm

The last week we've been watching Celebrity MasterChef on television each evening. Its been great watching various celebrities trying their best to produce well presented and tasty meals under incredible pressure.
When Cheryl Baker went out I was a bit disappointed as I wanted to see her get through to the final and even win, sadly it wasn't to be though. On a side note I'm going to be cheering for Johnny Ball to win on Strictly Come Dancing this year. For a 74 year old I think he's very dapper and suave, I bet he gives some of the younger male contestants a run for their money in the sex appeal stakes.

Anyway back to MasterChef, or at least the version that seems to have developed this weekend at home.

On Thursday my son came home from school to announce that this Wednesday he has to cook something that will impress his catering teacher at school during the lesson. With only two hours to prepare, cook and present it whatever he does has to be quick. With that in mind we've scoured the cookery books and come up with a number of different ideas that we've been trying this weekend and will finish up doing tomorrow night.

Last night was Potato, Chicken and Banana cakes - not a big success. First off we had to swap the chicken mince for turkey mince as both Asda and Tesco don't do chicken mince. The cakes themselves needed something more to help bind them together as they were still quite wet and didn't hold their consistency as well as they should have done. Still they were tasty and I managed to eat them. Probably not as tasty as the chips that my son ended up having after he decided he really couldn't eat the potato cakes. They were very similar to the potato and sausage dish that my other half made earlier in the week.

This afternoon was Victoria Sandwich with a strawberry jam and cream filling, topped with blue icing and white chocolate buttons. After we spent a long time on the phone discussing with my father-in-law whether or not the food processor he'd given us because he no longer wanted it had come with a whisk attachment or not we ended up whisking the mixture using an electric whisk that I've had almost since I first left home 20 plus years ago. In fact the whisk and a serrated chef's knife that I bought when I first started work are the first utensils I ever bought and I still have them and they work pretty well.
Unfortunately my son didn't sieve the flour and so the resultant cake mixture had quite an interesting texture. We also didn't have the right size cake tins and so had to go with some slightly larger ones. The resulting cakes didn't rise as much as they should have done but once he'd filled it with strawberry jam, cream and then put blue icing and white chocolate buttons on top it didn't look to bad. Certainly tasted OK with 3 clean plates when we tried some.

Tonight is Potato and 3 Cheese soufflé. This is the favourite for Wednesday. Its going to all depend on how it turns out tonight and if its a success then we'll have to hope that it works on Wednesday and doesn't collapse. I know that soufflés aren't the easiest of things to make. If it does work and he manages to get it cooked OK on Wednesday then I'm sure that his teacher will be impressed.

Tomorrow is going to be Pork fillet with Pineapple coulis and potato and herb gnocchi. This will be plan B if the soufflé doesn't work. The pork fillet only needs to be wrapped in foil and put in the oven. The pineapple coulis we'll have to prepare beforehand as he's not sure if the school have blenders and food processors. I'm sure that they have but he'll need to be prepared just in case. The potato and herb gnocchi should be simple enough to make and as long as he doesn't overcook them then a half dozen of them should add nicely to the dish and will certainly impress the teacher.

I've also just been given a recipe for carrot cake by a friend. Will be trying that at some point myself to see what its like. After that its going to be getting the ingredients together to make another of the Christmas cakes I made a few weeks ago, it was the lightest, moistest one I've made in a long while. 

Can't link to a decent video of the song from Ice Age 2 but here's the lyrics, just picture the vultures singing.

Food Glorious Food
We're anxious to try it
Three banquets a day
Our favourite diet
Just picture a mammoth steak
Fried, roasted or stewed
Oh, Food Wonderful Food
Marvellous Food
Glorious Food
Food Glorious Food
Poached possum served flambé
Broth made from a sloth
Or sabre tooth soufflé
Why should we be fated to
Do nothing but brood
On food, magical food
Wonderful food
Marvellous food
Food Glorious Food
Flesh picked off the dead ones
Rank, rotten or chewed
Soon we'll be the fed ones
Just thinking of putrid meat
Puts us in a mood
For food, glorious food
Marvellous food
Fabulous food
Beautiful food
Magical food
Glorious food

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

And the greatest of these is love


I've never hidden the fact that my faith is something that is really important to me. I started going to church when I was in my teens when we had to attend church parade once a month in the scouts. Eventually after going a few times I started going every week because one of the scout leaders and one of the other scouts were regulars at the church. I spent the next 4 years going to church every week, went to youth club, joined the choir and even got confirmed.

Just before I started at university there was a problem at one of the local cemeteries which resulted in my grandparent's exhumed and the fact that my Gran's coffin has been smashed in order for my Grandfather's to be put into the grave on top of it. His coffin was only about a foot or so beneath the surface, below both their coffins there was another one. We'd been told it was a new, empty plot but it wasn't. My grandparent's grave wasn't the only one that there were problems with.

Our vicar was also a local councillor and he ended up backing the town council over events which resulted in us stopping going to church.

It took me a long time to start going to church again, in fact it was only after my son was diagnosed with Leukaemia that I went back. However, I've always prayed and talked to God even when I wasn't going to church.

Well this year has proven interesting with regard to church. My faith has wavered big time, I've been struggling with it ever since I decided to transition, but I seem to have turned a corner.

Last Christmas I bought a book on Archangels by Doreen Virtue. I read through it and then a few months ago came across her Archangel and Angel oracle cards.

During the time I wasn't going to church I dabbled with things like Tarot cards, I've always had an interest in the paranormal. As a Christian I know that Tarot cards are not a good idea and I stopped using them a while back. Now the Archangel and Angel cards might be frowned upon by some Christians but they are helping me to rebuild my faith because I'm spending more time recently praying, especially while using them but also at other times to.

Last weekend saw a major mind shift for me though. For a while I've been disappointed with the fact that I was asked to go to a different service to everyone else that I know at church. When I stopped going to that service I found that not many people kept in touch with me to see how I was doing. For most people that wasn't a problem but there were a lot of people that I thought of as friends that didn't take the time to check on me. Last weekend we bumped into some friends from church while in town. We'd been out to various places with my son and I was dressed in jeans, tee-shirt and leather jacket with no make-up and hair pulled back. Its how I dress if I'm out with him and there's a chance that we would meet some of his friends that aren't aware of my transition.

We chatted with our friends for a while and when we came away I said to my other half that I my conversation had felt awkward.

It got me thinking though. I'd already broached the subject of going to the morning services with my son. His response was that he didn't mind. Since I'm planning to start training for the Outlaw in December going to church might have had to be part of my rest/family day instead of the Saturday that I'd planned it to be. The more I thought about things though the more I came to the conclusion that going to the morning service isn't going to happen. When I'm ready to start going back to church, and its probably going to be when my son's Sunday night youth group restarts soon, I'm going to start going back to the Sunday evening services. I was made to feel welcome there, my transitioning didn't seem to worry anyone.

Having made that decision I then thought about starting to read my bible again. The only problem is that although we've got lots of bibles in the house, the two that I used most regularly I gave to my other half and son. Of the rest, well they belong to my old self. If I'm going to start reading a bible again then it had to be one that I've bought for me as I am now.

Yesterday I popped into our local Christian bookshop and started browsing through the bibles. The assistant was really friendly and helpful. We chatted about what I wanted and when I was looking for a daily devotional she made sure to point out that there were several more in front of the till, in addition to where I was looking.

I'd planned on getting a New International Version bible but after looking at several I found myself drawn to one of the New Living Translation bibles. Its a purple-pink colour and has 1 Corinthians 13:13 on the cover.

Which finally brings me to the title of this post.

"Three things will last forever - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love."

When I read 1 Corinthians 13 I always find myself thinking of Nicholas Parsons reading that passage out in the Doctor Who story The Curse of Fenric. Its a great passage in the bible.

This morning I sat down and read it before I got started doing anything else. It was when I got to that line that I finally got an insight which runs contrary to the verse but make sense to me.

As I read it I found myself thinking faith and hope wont last forever, only love will. Once the events of Revelation have taken part and God's Kingdom has come then there wont be a need for faith and hope. We'll know God so why will we need to have faith. The same goes for hope. Love though, well that's different because we'll experience God's love for us first-hand, we'll also have got rid of all the stuff that interferes with us loving ourselves and each other.

So of the three, love is the greatest and it is the one that will endure forever. In this horrible world where people are killing each other, treating each other badly because they want to get ahead of people I'm going to try and practice a bit more love for my fellow man and see where it takes me.


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Clear Out

Last Monday we got rid of our car for scrap. We've had it for about 4 years and bought it just before my son had his bone marrow transplant as we needed something reliable anhe d our old car just wasn't that.
The Skoda was a great car. An estate, so it had plenty of room when we needed it. On top of that it had roof bars so we were able to attach cycle bars to the top of the car which allowed us to take a couple of bikes to my sister-in-laws or even off to triathlons. We've driven to Bala and Nottingham with bikes attached to the top of the car.
Sadly this year the car began to have lots of problems. We've had to replace the regulators on both front windows and several other repairs were needed.
When we were told that the catalytic converter was breaking up and then the car simply wouldn't start it was time to get rid of it. Another £1000 in repairs just isn't economical.
So last Monday she went off to the scrap yard.

At the moment we're going to try and manage without a car, which means either walking (good for fitness), bus (can't believe how expensive that is), train (need to do that to get to Exeter) or taxi.
Food shopping is done online through Tesco direct for home delivery. It actually works out cheaper for us to do that and get it delivered on the right day because a taxi to our house is actually more expensive than the delivery charge if we get the right time slot.

With the car gone though we decided that we didn't need to carry on renting the garage from the council. I'd not really realised just how much they were charging us for the privilege of putting the car away at night. We're certainly not paying for them to do anything because in all the years that we've rented it we've had them come out to do a repair on the door once.

Today we spent over an hour emptying and then sweeping out the garage. We ended up with about 10 bags of rubbish and a lot of other bits that will be stored because we want to keep them or have yet to sort through and get rid of them.

It was interesting what came out of there, cassette tapes, gallons of anti-freeze and screenwash, empty containers of the same and oil. An empty gas cylinder, a car battery and lots and lots of other things that we've not used for 2 years or more. Some of the things were actually emptied out of the old car so have been in there for over 4 years. We really should have had a clear out before now. Perhaps this will be the first in a series of clear-outs. Who knows where they will end!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

From Yeovil to Nottingham

I've decided that I'm going to separate all of my sports related posts off into a blog of their own so that I can document my training for The Outlaw triathlon next year, and maybe even the other endurance events that I've got planned for the years ahead.
It also means that I can keep all my gender stuff here, at least as far as it doesn't relate to my sport.

You can find the new blog here.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hi Handsome. My name is Rose

I've had a viral infection for the last couple of weeks and so after seeing my GP last Monday I stayed off work most of last week. I went back in on Friday.
Checking my emails I found one from my son, it was a chain email entitled "Hi handsome, my name is Rose".
If you've not seen it, it is written from the viewpoint of a college student who meets and becomes friends with an 87 year old called Rose who has gone to college to fulfill her dream of getting a college education. A week after graduating she dies peacefully.
The last two paragraphs of the story are

"REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make a Living by what we get. We make a Life by what we give.
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."

I found myself thinking about this as I was writing a journal entry. For those of you that have followed my posts for a while its fairly obvious that I'm a Christian and have a relationship with God. That relationship has had its ups and downs for a long time. Its been pretty rough over the last year or so, more so this year but I'm rebuilding that relationship slowly, in my own way.

As I was thinking about the story of Rose that I'd received from my son I found myself writing the following.


"God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."

No matter how I look at things in my life everything that has happened can be split into "I did something that brought me to this place" or "God did something to bring me to this place." At least I can split it that way.

I could say everyhing that has happened in my life has been due to decisions that I've made.
My marriage - deciding to find someone special, deciding to meet my other hal, deciding to propose to her, deciding not to split from her when I moved to Somerset, all of that has lead me to where I am in my marriage.
My son's illness, well that comes from the decision to have a child. If we'd not made that decision we'd not have had the child we love with all our hearts but also we wouldn't have spent all the time we have in hospital. We also wouldn't have met the people we have done, raised money for charity or had the experiences we've had.

On the flipside I could say everthing that has happened being due to God bringing me to it.

God brought my other half and I together, God brought Rhys into our lives and also brought his Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia into our lives.
A lot of people whould struggle to accept such a horrible situation, some marriages and relationships can't survive it. We know of some relationships that have struggled, we also know of at least one marriage that ended as a result of a diagnosis of cancer.

If I accept that God brought us to that situation then I also have to accept that he brought us through it. Why though? For what benefit?

I honestly don't know but what I do know is that we have had so many experiences as a result.

Over the years we've met so many families that we never would have, so many children. Lots have recovered from their illnesses but some haven't and have passed away. Its these ones that have a more lasting effect on us. The memories of a smiling teenage face with a nasal tube taped toit, the life an energy of a young girl, the image will stay with me for a long time.
The tears that flowed while I was out running after hearing the news that a 3 year old that we'd known briefly in hospital had dies after coming out of a coma long enough to receive her Christmas presents.
A dad pushing his son in a wheelchair in order to receive his conditioning treatment while we were undergoing the same in preparation for my son's bone marrow transplant. My son had a much easier time with his conditioning.
Running the Great Western Run, doing the London Marathon, swimming 3000 metres in open water at Dorney Lake, each of these are experiences that I most likely would never have had.

Its true when the say that we live on in people's memories. Even though we might not realise it we and our families will touch people's lives and make an impression that they may carry with them for a long, long time.

I think that I can say, in my heart, that God did bring me to the things that he has done. He always has, even now as I transition I know that even though I have made the decisions, God brought me to the point of making them. Like with my son's illness God brought us through it for a reason, he will bring me and my family through transition one way or another.

Each day I grow older, I can't stop that. What I can do though is to make each of those days one that counts by doing something that is worthwhile, whether its something that will have an immediate effect, or whether its something that will take a lot longer to bare fruit. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Giving something back

On the 30th September I'm taking part in the Bristol Half Marathon. To that end I am unashamedly going to plug the fund-raising page that I've set up.

The page is at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JennaPowell

I'm raising money for two charities.

The first is CLIC Sargent, which has given my family and I so much support since my son was diagnosed in the summer of 2000 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. The Sargent social worker was so much help as we adjusted to the situation we found ourselves in. CLIC supported us through rooms at CLIC House and later Sam's House, and also through one of the community nurses that they fund at our local hospital.

The other charity is The Wallace & Gromit Grand Appeal, more specifically Jack Banks Star Tribute Fund.
Jack was a young lad, just a bit younger than my son who we got to know when we were in Bristol for my son's bone marrow transplant. Although Rhys got through his transplant Jack passed away during the July.
Rob and Paula, Jack's parents have been raising money in Jack's name. Their current aim is to provide a new playroom and outdoor area for the youngsters who are on the Oncology and BMT wards. The money that I'll raise will go towards helping achieve this.

To get a flavour of what is involved with a bone marrow transplant you can find the blog that we wrote here and pictures here.

Thanks

Pin drop

Its been a quiet week as there's not been anyone around at home. I've quite enjoyed it. No queue for the bathroom in the morning so I have plenty of time to do my make-up. Able to get up when I want, in time to get to work of course. Stay up as late as I want because I wont be disturbing anyone when I go to bed at gone midnight.
Its also been really quiet.
I've been eating at lunchtime in work so the evenings have been having a snack. Tonight was the first time that I've actually cooked something, welshcakes. Yum. I thought I'd try making the dough in our breadmaker but sadly it didn't turn out very well. Back to the mixing the dough by hand and all 17 are mine. Mwahahahaha!
Of course I'll have to make another batch on Sunday for when the family come back home.
I might even make a Christmas pudding, we used to make our own but haven't done that for a little while. Who knows I might even have a go at making an early Christmas cake. Just to make sure that I perfect it in time for the festive season of course.

I had planned on doing lots this week but failed somewhat. Burlesque, voice, some studying to enhance my skills and career prospects. Instead I've just come home and relaxed. Its been bliss, so much quiet me time. Next week that will all change as the family want my attention but I don't mind. I love it when they are here and we do things together.

My training for the Bristol Half Marathon has started again. I gave up on my original training plan as I'd missed so many sessions that I'd have needed to start over in order to get anywhere with it. With 9 weeks to go that just isn't feasible. I've downloaded a 10 week training plan and turned it into a 9 week one by ignoring the first week. I have four runs to do each week. My plan is to run on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is the long run, the others are shorter runs that work on speed and recovery. So far this week I've done two of the runs, the next one is on Saturday and I plan on doing a bike ride before it so it will be a bit like a mini triathlon. If I can fit them in I'll cycle to the pool a couple of mornings, swim for half an hour and then cycle home in time to get ready for work.

I've now swapped from hormone patches to gel. Its a lot easier as all I have to do is apply the gel and let it dry before getting dressed or going to bed. It also means that I can shower and swim without worrying that the patch will come off. It will be interesting to see how things work out with the gel compared to the patches. Hopefully things will continue to develop as they have been.

Speaking of developing, and going back to running, yes I know I'm meandering a bit. On Monday evening when I went out for my run, I had been running for a couple of minutes when I glanced down and noticed that where I've experience some development in the breast area due to the hormones it was a little bit noticeable. There was even a slight jiggle. Tuesday morning when I went out I decided that I'd take steps to make sure that things were a bit more discrete. Some time back I bought a sports bra, its not very big but then neither am I. Tuesday morning I put that on and wore it under my top. It helped. With that in mind I'm getting a crop top affair on Saturday so that I've at least got something to wear while the other is in the wash.

The other interesting thing that happened this week was last Saturday. I've been having a burlesque costume made. Saturday I went for a fitting and to discuss the costume as M, who is making it, is moving away soon. It was lovely seeing her and we had a nice chat. The skirt part of the costume we'll discuss at some point once she's settled. The corset part we were able to check the fit of. Thank goodness we did as somehow between her taking the initial measurements and checking the fit against a template she'd produced, I've seemed to have gotten smaller around the waist area. It could be the hormones, it could be exercising. Whatever it is I've shrunk by enough that M is going to have to remove 2 inches from the corset when she makes the final article. Wow!

Well, its time to go and make a cup of tea and have a couple of welshcakes before bed.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Jessica - Living with a child with feeding issue

Honest this is my last post for the weekend.

I know that a few people have come across my blog through my posts for the Writing Workshop and Life Circle. Some of those are Mum's with their own blogs.

My sister has just launched her own blog where she is detailing her experiences with getting my niece to eat and all of the problems that they are having with her health. If anyone would like to pop along and have a read, if you have any thoughts or even might know of anyone that is going through what sounds like a similar experience do comment and let her know.

The twins are three and a half years old. Both were born prematurely. Jess, who is the eldest, has had a lot of problems with her health. The current issue, and the reason for the blog, is that she does not eat well, in fact she has to be fed fluids through a tube that has been inserted through her abdomen into her stomach.

Every 3 weeks Jess goes downhill and enters a state where she vomits. Trying to get an explanation from doctors has been a real battle and we still don't know the reason why she is reacting like this. We do know that there are some conditions out there that show similar symptoms but trying to get a definitive diagnosis is not proving to be easy. If any of the Mum's out there do know of anything via blogs that they follow then I'm sure that my sister would love to know of them.


Jess' blog can be found here.

Time to Relax

Having got rid of the family, one to Ireland and the other to her sister's, I've had a few days to myself.

Friday evening was spent in the company of my lovely friend K. She came round, bring a bottle of white wine, for a meal and a bit of a catch up.
Dinner was Sea Bass fried in butter, diced potatoes cooked in the air fryer and a salad (peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and spring onions coated with balsamic vinegar), followed by an almond tarta topped with Toblerone pieces. Yummy. The white wine I'd picked up went down well too, K's wine got saved for Saturday evening.

It was nice to simply chill with K, I even managed to dress up somewhat with a blue summer dress I've had in the wardrobe for a little while but not had the chance to wear.

After K had gone I sat down on the settee, flicked through the channels on the Sky box and found Hellboy 2, which I proceeded to watch for half an hour before falling asleep and waking up at close to midnight. Bed definitely beckoned at that point.

Saturday was another relaxed day. Up, washed and dressed, make-up on and out the door by quarter to nine to head to Mere to get my hair done, coloured and trimmed. It was lovely seeing Lou again, its been too long. For the first time in a while we were able to have a proper catch up on what has been happening. I'm so glad to have got to know her, I really don't know what I'd have done without her to talk to and her fantastic skills as a hairdresser.

A couple of hours pampering, a hug from Lou and it was back home again.

A quick bite to eat and a phone call to a charity shop and I was back out again.

One of the girls in work helps out at a local charity shop. She and another girl popped there a few weeks ago and the other girl came away with some really nice bits and pieces. I'd considered popping in myself so when I bumped into the one that helps out last Friday I mentioned that I'd been told that she works in there and that I'd thought of popping in at some point. She told me that she was working yesterday so I rang to find out if she was in and then toddled along.

We had a great time, they had some really nice clothes. The two of use went through the racks and found some tops, skirts and dresses in my size that we both thought might look good on me. I wanted something that I could wear during the summer for work. Most of my clothes were bought to wear from January and although some of them are cool enough to wear now, some of the skirts are probably a little bit too much for walking to work in warm weather.

Into the dressing room to try on the various bits and pieces with a quick check of each with my colleague to see what she thought and I'd whittled everything down to a couple of tops, a dress, cardigan and some skirts.

While I was in the changing room I could hear my colleague talking to one of the other helpers as she put one of the skirts I'd chosen on the counter and was sorting out a carrier bag. The other helper said something along the lines of is this bag to put his things in. My colleague replied "yes, this is to put her things in", I was so pleased to hear her saying that as it shows how much the people that I work with have accepted me and in some cases will even put people right when they get it wrong.

Although she had to disappear before I'd finished paying she told me that I had to wear one of the outfits to work on Monday. One of the skirt and top combinations I think is called for.

Saturday evening was again relaxed, too relaxed even as I decided to try out some meditation techniques from book I've been reading. Lying back on the settee I settled into a steady breathing pattern and then began to work through the visualisation exercise described. I got quite a way through it before everything seemed to slow down and although I didn't fall asleep I must have slipped into a deeply relaxed state because it was suddenly half an hour or so later.

Rousing myself I made some dinner, the remnants of the salad from Friday and a swordfish steak. The bottle of white wine that K had brought round accompanied the meal and then I settled down to enjoy Indian Jones and the Last Crusade on television.

Before dinner I popped onto the Runners World website to have a quick look at the forums and see if there was anything interesting. I noticed a thread about the Outlaw 2013. Having a quick read I discovered that pre-registration has opened. Nipping onto the One Step Beyond website I filled in the pre-registration form and sent it off to them. I've not entered yet but I'm that little bit closer to it. The Outlaw is on the 7th July next year and so my 30 week training schedule for it officially starts on the 10th December. I've noticed that a couple of people are going to be using a similar schedule to myself which aims to ensure that you get round at least. Two people are estimating finishing times of 16 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Looks like it could get really crowded on the line at that point.

One thing I did do when I filled in the form was to indicate my transsexual status and to ask whether it would cause a problem. It shouldn't as British Triathlon indicate that as long as I'm not competing in events for prizes or age group places then there is no reason I can't race as a female. As the Outlaw is a mass start with everyone going at the same time I'm not in the situation I might be with other events where males and females start separately. Also by the time next July comes around I'll have been on hormones for over a year and I'll probably find that I've not got much of an advantage over any other female, the hormones make you lose some muscle strength, and I will certainly be at a disadvantage to most of the males that would be at the same level as myself. At the end of the day though in an event like this I'm not competing against anyone else, just myself.

Sunday is proving to be just as relaxed a day. I really should have gone out for a run this morning but I've not. I've got to mow the back lawn, which I'm going to do just as soon as I've finished here and got dressed, Yes, today is a pyjama and coffee day. I've got to drive up to Sutton Scotney this afternoon in order to pick up my other half after she's been to see her dad with her sister, brother-in-law and niece. Unfortunately it does mean that I have to go in boy mode because even though my sister-in-law and niece have met me since I transitioned my brother-in-law hasn't as he wasn't ready for that experience at Easter and even thought it was supposed to have been discussed, and the services at Sutton Scotney being neutral ground and it being a simple put the suitcase in our car from theirs, and a five minute hello goodbye thing, I doubt that the matter was raised by my other half. At some point he's going to have to meet me as Jenna, the sad thing is that its most likely to end up not being on neutral ground. At this rate its likely to be New Year when it happens or rather doesn't happen as I'm very unlikely to decided to stay at their place if there is the chance that things are going to be difficult and that I'm going to be asked to present as my male self. If there is even the remotest chance of that happening then I'll drop the family off and then either come home or go and stay with my parents over the holidays and leave everyone to it.

Right, time to get sorted before the day has completely gone.

Annual Ireland trip

On Thursday my son went off on his annual trip to Barretstown in Ireland. This is the fourth time he's been there.
Barretstown provide youngsters that have or have had life threatening illnesses with the chance to spend time with others like themselves doing activities that they might not normally do, horse-riding, canoeing, climbing and abseiling, while being looked after by trained medical staff as well as volunteer helpers.

As we had to do last year and the one before it was up to Heathrow to meet up with the two young women that would be chaperoning him and the other young lad that were going this year during the trip to and from Barretstown.

Normally we have to be there for 9:30am and so we're leaving home at the crack of dawn for two and a half to three hour drive to London.

This year was different in that the flight was at 4pm and we had to meet up at half past one. It was also different because this year we didn't have the use of our own car and so had to hire one. Initially I'd been planning to use AVIS as that is who we use at work and we have a discount with them. Instead I took the advice of a friend and went with Enterprise.

Just after 5pm Wednesday evening I received a call from the car hire people to inform me that the car they were going to supply me with wasn't going to be available, they did have a transit van that I could have if I was happy to drive that. Having no option but to take the van because there was no way that we'd be able to organise a car at such short notice and going to London via the train would cost nearly one hundred and twenty pounds. Fortunately I've driven both transit vans and mini-buses in the past so I wasn't overly worried about driving the van.

Thursday morning arrived, everyone was up, washed, fed and ready. One of the guys from Enterprise turned up to give me a lift to the office so I could fill out all the paperwork. He was driving a transit van. A very large transit van. I asked if that was what I was getting and he said that he didn't think so.

We had a nice chat as we drove there and if he realised there was something different about me he wasn't phased by it.

At the office I completed the paperwork and the rather nice and helpful girl that seemed to be running the place that morning explained that the car we were supposed to having hadn't been returned on time and all their other vehicles were booked out. There would be a car available the following day and she would arrange for us to swap the van for a car then.

We went out to the van and it was indeed the one that I'd been collected in, a very tall, long-base transit van, the size of a small bus or as I referred to it throughout the day - a tank.

The two bags that we put into the back of the van were completely lost in there!

The trip to London was pretty uneventful. We stopped at Fleet Services so that we could grab a quick bite to eat rather than trying to find food at Heathrow. Having decided to park somewhere that I would be able to use up two spaces, while manoeuvring my way into the space a guy in a 4x4 decided to go into the space in front of me. I was so gob-smacked, there I was in something that easily dwarfed his vehicle, there were spaces around us that he could have gone into but he pulls into the one in front of mine so that the back 3 feet of the van are sticking out the back of the parking space. I know I should have said something but I didn't want the hassle, I'm too easy going for my own good sometimes.

After eating we headed for Heathrow, arriving with plenty of time to meet up with the chaperones which was good because now we found ourselves with a real problem.

The parking around the terminals is not designed for transit vans. In order to get into the car parks you need to be in a vehicle that is not taller than 8 feet, our van was far taller than that. Our first attempt at parking ended with us just managing to drive through the drop off point with its own height restrictions. A trip around various parts of Heathrow to try and find parking ended up with us back at the drop off point. With no way of leaving the van unattended for long enough for me to take the family into the terminal and try and find the chaperones I had to help them to get my son's suitcase up some steps and then get back into the van and leave them to it while I tried to find somewhere to park up and wait until the chaperones and my son had gone through to departures. In the end I found myself enjoying the scenery on the M25 as I headed south towards Gatwick before turning around and making my way back to Heathrow and picking up my other half from outside the terminal, fortunately going into the area that the buses and police vans use.

It was disappointing to not see my son off, although I wasn't going to be doing that properly because we didn't want to risk the other lad saying something and my son getting any hassles while away.

After leaving Heathrow the rest of our trip was pretty uneventful. I drove my other half to her sister's place in the Cotswolds where she was staying for a few days and then headed for home.

Arriving back home I found myself faced with lots of cars with parents collecting their children from school trips. A 5 minute detour before returning home and everyone had gone. Unfortunately finding somewhere to park the van proved difficult and so I had to leave it parked on the main road, we live on a side road that leads to the school entrance. I was hoping that if I waited until the rest of the school trips had returned that there might be a large enough space. An hour later and there was indeed a space for me to park the van.

Friday was swapping the van day!

Up early, washed, dressed, make-up on and out to the van. Its at this point that my choice of a knee length dress looked a bit silly. Climbing up into the van I definitely felt a bit unladylike.

A few days before I'd seen one of the girls from work wearing a short skirt and getting into a 4x4. I'd commented to the receptionist that it probably wasn't the best thing to be wearing. Now I found myself in the same boat. Well, we learn by our mistakes.

At work I parked the van safely out of everyone's way and waited for Enterprise to contact me about swapping the car.

About mid-morning I received a phone call to let me know that the car I was having would be back with them at midday. A quick clean and it would be with me.

1pm the car arrived, the van was returned and I was in possession of a lovely red Ford Fiesta. A quick trip out to pick up some groceries, including a rather nice, male checkout operator who referred to me as sweetheart, boy did I feel good to be addressed like that, and I was back at work.

Sitting at my desk about half an hour later and my phone rang. By now I recognise the number for Enterprise. Thinking that there might be a problem with the van that I'd returned I answered the phone with a bit of trepidation. Nope no problem with the van, there's a problem with the car I have, its the wrong one. They have the right one and need to come swap it.

5pm and the same guy from Enterprise turns up with my 3rd car in two days. It seems that after a car has been hired out for a certain period it has to be moved on and they are no longer allowed to hire it out. The red Fiesta had reached that point and had been taken off the system, the replacement Fiesta actually had more miles on it and he freely admitted that the situation was a bit stupid. Cars swapped and everything is finally the way it should have been Thursday morning.

We've got to go back up to Heathrow on Thursday to pick up my son and so we've hired a car for that trip. At the moment we have a 20% discount on the car hire but I'm going to be asking for more than that when I return the car on Monday because of the fiasco on Friday. I'm just hoping that come Wednesday night I don't get a phone call to say "Ms Powell, we're afraid that the car we were going to give you isn't available, would you mind taking the transit van." If they do then I will be incredibly miffed as we'll be in the same position with parking as last Thursday but as I'm going to be meeting up with a friend on Saturday to have a fitting for my leather burlesque costume, yes its still a work in progress, driving to Bristol in a van is a definite no no.

I'll let you know how it all goes.


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

I've been working on the railroad

Another day with a couple of firsts.
Yesterday was my latest appointment at The Laurels with an appointment at 10 with Dr Dean and another one with Sara at 10:30. My only problem was that with our current car situation I was going to have to make my way to Exeter by public transport, more specifically the train.
With my first appointment at 10 and the train arriving at Exeter at 9:40 I didn't want to risk being late for my appointment with Dr Dean. In the end he was late so it didn't matter.

Taxi was booked on Monday to pick me up sometime between 6:30 and 6:40 yesterday morning.

For some reason Monday night I didn't sleep very well and so was up at 5 and getting myself ready. With quarter of an hour before the taxi was due I was all ready to go. Out the door at 6:30 but no taxi. Waited and waited, saw a few neighbours coming home and going to work. 6:40 arrived and still no taxi.

We have to places where taxis can pick up so I wandered to the other area and bumped into another neighbour coming home from work. A quick chat with her and as I mentioned that I was waiting for a taxi she said that there was one waiting.

First trip in a taxi since I transitioned. Sat up front with the driver and other than when I got in and got out it was a quiet trip.

At the train station I bought my ticket and settled down to wait for the train. Seconds later I was back up. I needed to use the ladies. Fortunately the station was reasonably quiet and I was able to nip to the toilet and use the facilities without any problems.
I've use the toilets at Yeovil Junction when traveling both pre-transition and now post and I have to say that I think that us women get the short straw. Ok, there's a nice big mirror to check your appearance but there is only one cubical in the ladies, I'm sure that the gents has more than that.

Yeovil Junction has a steam museum and while I was waiting there was an engine that must have just been fired up. For any train-spotters it was Tangmere and it looked much nicer than any modern train.

The trip to Exeter was uneventful, apart from my repeatedly needing to use the toilet. Nerves? By the time that my carriage began to fill we were nearly half way into the trip.

Nobody paid me any attention, conductor was friendly and polite.

One of the other reasons that I'd gone earlier was that I'd arranged to meet up with someone I've known for a little while. We've not seen each other in ages but I recognised him immediately at the station entrance. We had a lovely coffee and a chat, it was so good to see him again.

My appointments at the Laurels went smoothly, once Dr Dean arrived. I updated both him and Sara about what is happening in my life. Dr Dean couldn't find a copy of my latest blood results, I'd had them done and in future I'm going to have to pop into the surgery and pick up a copy of the results myself before I go to the Laurels, my GPs seem to be forgetting to send a copy through even though I remind them each time. Dr Dean rang them while I  was with him, all counts are OK so the hormones are having the desired effect. There is one change happening though which is that I'm going to be switching from the patches to Sandreena gel. I've been having a bit of skin irritation where I apply the patches, mild reaction to the adhesive on the patches I think. Gel will be a lot easier though as I wont have to worry about patches coming off while showering, swimming and such.

After the Laurels I wandered around Exeter, slowly making my way back to the train station. I popped into a couple of shops, picked up some more foundation from Debenhams and looked to see if I could find some tops and skirts in the sales. There were a few things I liked but they weren't really suitable for wearing to work over the summer. Think it will be a trip to Matalan this weekend.

The trip back from Exeter on the train was again uneventful. The carriage was a bit fuller but I still managed to have a set of seats to myself.

Back in Yeovil I decided to catch the bus from the train station into town rather than take a taxi. Yet another first as I've not used the bus for ages, even pre-transition.

The last part of my journey was the walk home. Of course by this time it was 3pm and as I made my way home I found myself thinking that I should have either come home earlier or later as I had to contend with all of the children heading home from school. Hundreds of teenagers heading in the opposite direction to me. Not one incident until I got to a couple of hundred yards from home.

 As I was just about to turn onto the lane leading to our house, and the local comprehensive school entrance, a group of four teenage boys and a girl came round the corner. As we walked past each I caught the girl looking at me and then heard a laugh escape her. Now I didn't bother looking back but she obviously read me and must have found it so amusing that she couldn't keep from laughing. Am I worried? Not really, I'd have liked to turn around and ask her what gave me away but life's too short for that.

All in all it was a lovely day, even the weather decided to smile on me.

I thought I'd include a train related song but found something I enjoyed much more from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Friday, 13 July 2012

6 Months

Whoop whoop.
Its over 6 months since I transitioned.
I never really thought that I'd reach this point.
Roll on the next 6 months and January 9th 2013 when it will have been a year.


Bristol Half Marathon - Update

The last few weeks have been a bit rough on the training front.
The weather that we've had hasn't helped.
The car breaking down in style has meant that I've not been able to get out to Ham Hill where I'd planned on doing a lot of my track repeats work. Its also meant that I've been having to walk to and from work which eats into my day and the time available to train.
Work has also been a bit hectic so I've not been able to get out for early morning training sessions or evening sessions as I've needed to get work completed.

Last weekend, however, I managed to start to turn that around and went out for a 6 mile training run on the Sunday morning, following that up with a bike ride to the gym with the rest of the family in the afternoon (a bout one and half miles), 50 minutes in the gym and then a 45 minute, very gentle three and a half mile ride back home.

The impressive thing about the afternoon was that my son managed to do all of that, something that at one point he would never have been able to do. Cycling to the gym would have been a real struggle at one point. In fact walking more than a couple of hundred yards would have been impossible. Several years ago we went to London to see a show and he spent the entire time we were wandering around London sitting in a wheelchair being pushed. Considering he had a bone marrow transplant in 2008 he's doing really well to  be able to do that much exercise.

Last weekend I realised that I wouldn't be able to play catch up with the training and so was going to have to rewind my training to a point consistent with a 6 mile long run. With 12 weeks to go I should be able to reach a level that would allow me to put in a good performance on race day.

One week later and work has again got in the way and as I write this I'm sitting on the bed having spent the day at home with a sore throat, on the verge of a runny nose, feeling hot and tired and achy. Its the first time that I've been ill this year, the first time since I started to transition. It was bound to happen but its frustrating that just as I was getting motivated to run again this happens. Well next week is another week.

For those interested this is what my training to date looks like, green is a session that I completed on the day, amber/yellow is a session that was completed but on a different day, red are missed sessions. As you can see things are not going brilliantly.



On a plus note I've made some progress towards taking part in the Outlaw long distance triathlon next year. I've got myself a mentor to provide me with training tips and help with my motivation. Its someone from a running forum that I use, who I met briefly when I took part in the Bala Middle distance triathlon a few years ago and who has completed Ironman triathlons and so know what they are talking about. We've talked on the phone and she's made some suggestions already. I look forward to working with her to crossing that finishing line in 12 months time.

Several years ago while training for the London Marathon I was listening to my MP3 player and this track came on. I was having an almost perfect run and this just seemed the perfect track.

 

Queen - We are the Champions