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