Saturday, 19 December 2015

Sleep

Some time back I started to do the writing prompts at Laura's Writer's Journey Roadmap. This year I've not been very good at keeping up with the weekly prompts. I plan to change that in the New Year.
Although I've missed submitting them to the Laura's site I've made a record of all of the prompts so that I can work through those that I've missed. For the ones that I have missed I'm going to post them here, if anyone would like to comment then please feel free.
Last week's prompt was entitled prompt and this is what I wrote.

Sleep
“All I know is that while I’m asleep, I’m never afraid, and I have no hopes, no struggles, no glories — and bless the man who invented sleep, a cloak over all human thought, food that drives away hunger, water that banishes thirst, fire that heats up cold, chill that moderates passion, and, finally, universal currency with which all things can be bought, weight and balance that brings the shepherd and the king, the fool and the wise, to the same level.”
–from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervates, published on 1605

 Tell me about your relationship with sleep. 

Sleep. Eight hours of lovely uninterrupted slumber.
Yeah! Really!
The last time I had that much sleep I was probably a baby.
I can’t remember when sleep and I fell out of love with each other. I have a feeling that it may have been when I was a teenager.
Way back then, as my memory reminds me, I had a period of insomnia that lasted three days. Every night I would go to bed and find myself denied entry to the realms of slumber. For three nights I would lie awake until everyone else was asleep and then turn on my bedroom light and read.
And read.
And read.
Yawn.
Until dawn had passed and I heard my parents stirring.
While they got their day started I would lie in bed for a while and then get up.
Three days before I got any sleep.
In the years since then I’ve managed to get a couple of hours’ solid sleep every night and then the rest of it is spent drifting in and out of sleep tossing and turning trying to get back to sleep or getting up to have a drink and do something to pass the time before I feel ready to go and try to get back to sleep.
Don’t get me wrong though, as much as it would be nice to have a full night’s sleep, my relationship with sleep has its upside. When I wake up in the middle of the night there’s a good chance that I will remember my dreams. Good ones or bad ones I get to remember them, and there have been some wonderful dreams.
Like the time I sacrificed myself by blowing up a planet in order to allow its inhabitants to escape an alien horde that wanted to destroy them, or the time I saved people from lava flowing across the landscape.
Even the nightmares aren’t too bad because over the years I’ve learned how to take control of a nightmare or if I’ve woken up how to drop back into that same nightmare but this time with me being in control and directing what happens. In my nightmares the monsters quickly learn to run away.
So a full night’s sleep may not be something that I’ve been blessed with but for what I miss out on there I make up for in other ways.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Rant

Apologies for this, just have to get it off my chest.

As anyone that has read this blog for a while will know we've had a lot to deal with over the years with my son's Leukaemia, bone marrow transplant and tumour surgeries.

In all that time I've done everything I can to make sure that my family have a roof over their heads and all the support they need. Some of that has meant that I have had to be at home in order that I can work while they are staying in Bristol for treatment, and while that is happening travel to and from Bristol (a 80 plus mile round trip, at least twice a week, with weekend trip being done either because they can come home for a couple of days or to allow my partner to go off to her Mum's for a few days break.

Even during the recent surgeries I did my best to make sure that she could get a few days at home, which allowed her a bit of normality by going to work. I even made my way in the rain to meet her so that she could come back up and not have to drive through fairly empty city streets first thing on a Sunday morning.

So after all that what does she go and do. Post something on Facebook which is the result of missing her Dad, my Mum and also her Aunt.

Now I wouldn't mind but when she turns around and says that her Aunt was her rock then after everything I've done; not just while our son was ill but before he was even born; if it wasn't for us getting together then there is a distinct chance that she would either be living in her Mum's spare room, in a bedsit somewhere or, like she was when we met, in a friends spare bedroom; then I feel like I've been kicked in the teeth.

In the discussion we've just had about it she said she didn't mention me because she didn't know how to refer to me. For goodness sakes, the majority of our friends know I'm trans and that I've transitioned. Some of them don't care about that. Some of them, I personally think, have been arses about it.

I suppose some of this is me expecting too much. After four years I sort of expected that she would have come to some sort of terms with how our relationship is but it appears not.

Grrrr!!! Life is so frustrating at times.

Rant over. Thank you for reading.




Monday, 9 November 2015

A Hard Day

Today has been a hard one. Suprisingly hard in fact and all from the silliest of things, an email.

Of course it wasn't an ordinary email. This was an important one as it was a response to me applying for a newbie slot at a burlesque show. Although the original email turned me down, subsequent ones did say that I was welcome to try again and that the promoter looked forward to seeing me perform, but when I was ready to perform a solo on stage, but at the moment based on the video I sent I'm not at that point. If I work on it then I should be able to send another video in a few months time.

None of that was really comforting though. I found myself fighting back tears as I got ready for work, the smile I put on for my family, and throughout the day as I worked at my desk and talked to colleagues, was one that I am very familiar with. Its the one that I used to wear day in day out before I transitioned, part of the mask I used to wear to hide the real me away while letting others see what they expected to see. The mask that I thought I had finally put away for good.

Its funny really how such a trivial thing can have such a big impact on a person. That email made me start thinking about a lot of stuff.

I've loved doing burlesque as anyone whose read this blog, and the stuff I've been posting at Mira's, and watching my performance videos will know. Although doing the show with the troupe the other weekend was great fun, and performing at a birthday party the weekend before last, with a couple of the girls, was just as much fun, watching back my performance from the show, seeing how I looked; and hating the fact that there was a masculine face, his face, which even the make-up couldn't hide, atop my body.

Being so picky over my performance that I found fault with everything I did. My timing was out at some many points that even though I knew the routine by heart I still found myself out of step with the rest of the troupe. I had a couple of nice comments from people, one even asked if I planned to go solo because its so much easier not beign part of a troupe when you perform. The cynic in me sits here wondering if she so all of my mistakes and this was her way of telling me I'd be better off performing solo.

All day I've been wondering whether I should pack up all my burlesque things and drop them off at the studio so that the other girls can make better use of them. I still haven't made my mind up, although I've not admitted that to our troupe's leader and choreographer.

I thought that after everything I've done in the last year that I'd have been ready to perform on stage, especially after doing a couple of group performances now. I was so wrong and honestly don't know where I am with burlesque. It would be so easy to just give up, to accept that this is a dream that was never going to become real.

As the day went on everything else began to unravel. So many things seem pointless. The temptation has been to just withdraw from things, to delete or deactivate my accounts on various websites; Reddit, Facebook, UK Angels, Pink Essence, all the places that I frequent. To quietly disappear from the online world.

Where would that leave me though? Well I'd still have my running and triathlons. I accepted that I was ever going to be any good at those. As long as I can get across the finish line then that's good enough for me. I might long to find myself standing at the water's edge in Kona, waiting to take part in the World Championships but that is never going to happen.

I know what I'm feeling is likely to be part of the emotional rollercoaster that we go through post-op, that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

Today has been a long hard one.

It hasn't helped that in 11 days time its the first anniversary of Mum's death. This evening I found myself wishing that she was still alive; that she was still around to look after Dad and make sure that he was alright. I found myself wishing that, instead of Mum getting ill and dying last year, it had been me that has died.

So from a simple email turning me down for a place in a show I came to the conclusion that I'm not special, I'm not talented, I'm not here for any purpose of significance; and if the universe has any sense of what people really need then 12 months ago I would have been dying because of terminal cancer and Mum would have been the one who was going to be around to look after people and do more worthwhile things than I ever will.

So with misty eyes, I'll say goodnight and thanks for reading my meanderings.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Mira update - Hoots n Hooters

Last weekend I did my first burlesque performance outside of a student showcase. I've posted over at Mira's blog about it.

This evening I'm performing with Burleskin again at a birthday party, 3 routines this time because I'm not confident about the fourth one.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Back in the Saddle

There's a new post over at my triathlon blog. Its been over two months since I ran last and it felt like it.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Going to the Palace

I've a new post over at my triathlon blog. I seem to have this overwhelming desire to do some racing next year for some reason.

Monday, 7 September 2015

New burlesque post amongst other things

I've added a new post over at Mira's blog. It includes a video of me performing my True Love routine but with a slightly more adult approach to it. Hence I've changed the blog to have an adult content rating.

In other news I've been signed off work for one more month and will be returning to work on the 1st October, a Thursday so a short week for me :-) Its entirely possible that Occupational Health will make me do a staged return to work after 5 months sick leave. Its going to be a bit frustrating but if that's the case I'll have to put up with it.

We are heading back up to Bristol in 11 days so that Rhys can have the surgery to remove his meningioma. The 17th will be a long day for everyone but him. 10 hours of surgery and he gets to sleep through it. Tracey and I will have to find lots to keep us occupied. I think a lot of wandering around shopping centres and malls plus maybe a movie will be called for.

Recently I also commented on an article about transgender athletes, in particular triathletes. As a result there is the possibility that I'll be chatting with the author of the article at some point in the future and our discussion may form part of an article that she will be writing in the future.

On Sunday, for the first time in over a year I went to church. It was the first Sunday in the month and so the service was held at a local community centre. It was nice catching up with people and I plan on going more regularly when we return from our trip to Bristol.

Saturday evening I went out with the girls to a local burlesque show. We had a real hoot. As we'd gone for the VIP option our table was right next to the stage, which was great as the hosts as well as the show's promoter knew that we were also burlesque performers. The performers were fabulous and all of their acts superb fun. I even ended up holding the mic for one of the hosts while she was putting on some gloves to take part in an impromptu burlesque lesson. This drew attention to me, especially as the longer she took to put on the gloves the lower her head got as every time she lowered her head I tried to move the mic lower as well. Eventually this prompted a comment from her. Something along the lines of "I'm going to end up on the floor if you keep lowering that thing". :-)

Our little group stood out slightly from everyone else as we'd gone for a theme of pencil skirt, white blouse, underbust corset and flower in the hair. I opted to attach my flower, which ended up being a flower shaped bow for attaching to presents, to a pair of goggles for a Steampunk effect.

By the end of the evening my feet were killing me because being laced into a corset meant I couldn't reach my feet to take off my stilettos. Something to note for next time :-)

The post show disco was a lot of fun, especially when they started playing the Timewarp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I'm a sucker for that song and quickly found myself up on the stage with two other people, a guy and one of the other girls from out group. A few people noticed us and some really "nice" member of our group decided that they would take pictures. Hmm!!



Saturday was fun and highlighted just out much I've changed as a person in the last 4 years. Prior to transition I would never have dreamed of getting up on a stage like that and dancing in front of people, even if most of them had their backs to us. I'd have most likely been sat down trying to avoid dancing. Now I don't mind getting up on the dance floor, providing the music is right. It much more fun doing things like that because its easier for women to get up on the dance floor and dance together. Guys tend to have to get up and be dancing with a girl, or a group of girls, and sometimes that's not easy to do.


Friday, 21 August 2015

Twirly Whirly

Last night I did my first ever tassel twirling workshop. It was awesome fun. I've added a post over at Mira's blog with all the details, although no video I'm afraid so you'll have to use your imaginations.

It definitely looks like I'm going to be performing in front of people 3 times over the next couple of months. So looking forward to doing what I've wanted to do for ages.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Wow!!

The last 8 hours have been rather interesting.
Rhys received his provisional driving license, its a temporary one for 3 years because of his health issues, DVLA will review the situation then. So with that in mind I've broken my decision to have an alcohol free August and had my wife pick up some wine and whisky, the latter being to celebrate Rhys finally getting a license after months of waiting.

After a large whisky and two glasses of red wine I think the alcohol hit me in a way I wasn't expecting. I found myself feeling a bit annoyed and down because stuff hadn't been done and we have my in-laws visiting tomorrow.

Strangely the thing that really hit hard was when Rhys jokingly made a comment that assumed I had a boyfriend.

I've made joking comments to my wife at times about having boyfriends but they've not been serious. However, over the last few days, she and I had been talking about our relationship, partly because of some stuff family stuff that's been going on but also because of my wanting to get a Gender Recognition Certificate and then a new birth certificate.

Rhys' comment stung a bit because I know that if I really, really wanted to then I could have a boyfriend.

I know that where I am post surgery my emotions are going to be up and down at times but I didn't expect it to get triggered like this.

The next few days are definitely going to be interesting as I deal with in-laws and fluctuating emotions if they don't settle down.


Splitting things off

I've decided that I'm going to split my burlesque and sports posts off from this blog so that I can share those with the wider world go stealth as far as my burlesque and sports, plus I'll be able to share some of those posts with family and friends without having to worry about them reading anything that I've written here which I don't want them to read; unless of course they decide to go to the lengths of searching out anything else I've written which is something I can't see them doing.

So with that in mind the new blogs are:

Tri-ing To Go Further which currently has a couple of posts about my race plans for next year.

Mira D'Glass which has my burlesque CV and details of my repertoire but no posts at the moment.

In due course there will be some posts there and hopefully links to videos and pictures because it's looking like although I missed out on Home Farm Festival this year I'm still going to get the chance to perform as the troupe have been asked to perform a show in Taunton in October, at someone's boyfriend's birthday party at the end of October; the venue being literally around the corner from where I live; and at one of the troupe's wedding in September; something which could be very, very entertaining.

I'm planning on putting either a link to any posts on the other blogs here, or including the entire post, or even a mixture of both, haven't quite decided yet.

Thanks for following my writing and my journey, your support has been really important to me as it would have been a harder journey otherwise.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Your thoughts

For some reason I've been struggling with what I've been posting recently. Admittedly there's been a lot of focus on surgery and recovering from it. Since that's a big part of what the blog is about then it would be silly to have avoided the subject.

No, the actual subjects I've been fine with. What I've not been happy with is my style of writing. I've been thinking that its getting more and more like I'm keeping a diary.

I enjoy writing, I enjoy blogging. I'm just not sure that people are enjoying what I'm writing and the way I'm presenting it.

At the end of the day this blog has always been about my journey since I started actually heading towards transition. Its covered the bits and pieces that undertaking a journey like this entails. At times it has included family events because even though being transgender and seeking gender reassignment is a very personal thing it impacts on so many others; family, friends, colleagues and many others. At other times it's covered my burlesque and sports endeavors because to some extent they have also been effected by my being transgender.

So now I need to decide where to go from here.

Do I keep going with this blog and include all of the things I have been? I've gotten to the end of surgical side of my journey. In about a year's time, if that, I'll be discharged from the Laurels and that part of my life will be behind me. All the surgical stuff, all the therapy, done and dusted. I wont really have much more to say about it.

Do I start some new blogs and keep the burlesque, the sports and transgender separate? If I go down that route then I'll probably start a new blog where I write about transgender themes but leave this blog here for anyone who is starting out on the same journey as I've been on.

Whichever way I go I'll certainly carry on blogging. Its just that it might be in a more focused way than at present.

So I'd like you thoughts on the matter. What is it about the blog that you like? Is there something that you'd like to see? Are there things that you'd like not to see? Have I written something that you've really liked or really hated? Please share your thoughts so I can take my writing and blogging forward in a way that people will enjoy reading.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Making a Splash

As a transsexual one of the things that has been an issue for me since transition has been swimming. I know its not uncommon issues because I've seen a number of discussions about how to go swimming turn up on the online forums that I'm signed up.

The moment I transitioned I had to think carefully about how I was going to manage to go swimming, especially as I was still training for triathlons at the time.

So what to wear.

Continuing to wear men's swim trunks and going bare-chested would have been possible right up until my breasts began to develop from hormones. Who would know? Without make-up, my hair in a ponytail, flat-chested, wearing swim trunks and with my features; no way would I be mistaken for anything but a man. But it wouldn't have felt right. Besides what if I bumped into someone I knew while swimming, how would they react to seeing me in just a pair of trunks when the rest of the time they see me as a woman.

No, to carry on swimming would mean covering up my top half.

There are several ways to achieve that.

First would be to wear a women's one piece swimsuit. The problem with doing that was that I'd most likely get stared at because I'd still appear like a guy and it would probably result in complaints from the other pool users.

The second option would be to wear a tee-shirt and trunks. A bit more acceptable. The issue with this would be that it would slow me down while swimming and when your training for the swim legs of triathlons then you don't need the additional drag.

The final option, other than to stop swimming altogether, would be to wear something that covered the top half, didn't create a lot of drag and could be worn by men or women. As a triathlete the solution was therefore really simple, a tri-suit.

Tri-suits are designed to be worn for swimming either underneath a wetsuit or on their own depending on whether it is a pool-based or open water race and also the water temperature. They are also designed to be worn during the bike and run legs, enabling a competitor to switch between disciplines without having to worry about changing gear. As a triathlete I have several, of which two are men's and one is a woman's.

A tri-suit also has the advantage of being quite form fitting and so even as my breasts developed they weren't very noticeable.

Eventually though I stopped going swimming because I was more focused on my running. No need to worry about what to wear when doing that, especially as you can wear make-up when running, which you can't when your swimming.

Now that I'm post-op I have to face the swimming challenge once again; especially if I want to start doing triathlons again next year. Once again I have the dilemma of what to wear.

My local leisure center are now doing a pool only membership which I've recently signed up to. I don't need to be doing all the other gym work. I can run and cycle outdoors and any other cross-training I want to do can be done without the need for complicated exercise equipment.

So back to the pool and what to wear.

The tri-suit still works, although now that I've had surgery I have a few bumps in places I didn't used to and a few missing from where they were. The new curves are going to get noticed, especially when I'm not wearing make-up, and even more so if I'm having a bad day and look more masculine than usual.

Having spoken with the duty manager when I set up my new membership the other option is to wear a bathing suit with a tee-shirt over the top. As before this will cause drag which wont help when I'm training but it will allow me to wear a bathing suit but not to be self-conscious about it.

Finally there is the option to just wear a bathing suit and let people react however they will. The duty manager didn't have a problem with it so its definitely something that has to happen at some point.

So where are we now?

I wore the tri-suit for my first time back in the pool. It was a weekday morning and I just wanted to get used to being back in the water without being self-conscious. My first swim went off almost without any problems.

Have way through the session my hand brushed against my front as I was doing front crawl, I'd been doing a mix of breast stroke and front crawl as I knew I'd not be ready for just doing front crawl. As my hand caught my body I felt the zip on my tri-suit, it had come undone and the only thing that was keeping the puppies in place was the built in breast support. A bit of fumbling as I swam and the zip was done up again. Eek!

My second swim was again wearing the tri-suit but this time because it was a Sunday morning and the swim school runs in parallel with the public swim session. With so many children and their parents around I didn't want to have anyone staring, making comments or complaining to the management. Again it was nice to be back in the pool and was as much fun as I remember the Sunday morning sessions being, while navigating around all the other swimmers in a lane free pool.

Eventually I knew I'd have to avoid putting it off and go swimming wearing the one piece bathing suit and that finally happened this week.

Monday morning I got up early, got myself sorted and then headed to the pool for 7am and the early morning swim session. No chance of lots of youngsters having swimming lessons at that time and no parents hanging around waiting for them. Still lots of adults to notice me and possibly make comments.

Removing my outerwear in the cubicle leaving me in just my swimsuit I was nervous. No make-up is not my best look. Bags into a locker and double checking that I could open it again; I've got caught out before when the locker wouldn't open and I had to get one of the staff to come and use a metal rod to bang on the lock to jar it free.

Swim hat on as I looked in one of the mirrors and then it was out poolside and into the water as quickly as I could. Goggles on and off I went.

31 minutes later, according to my swim watch, and I finished my 40 laps. I took a moment to catch my breath and then pulled myself out of the water in as dignified a manner as I could then headed back to the locker to get my things.

No stares, no comments, and as far as I'm aware no complaints. 

Almost a total success. Almost.

At times I think I have some mild and highly specific OCD.

When I go somewhere like the hairdressers I'll check, and double check and triple check and... well I do it a lot of times, that I have the money to pay in my purse.

When I go swimming I check and recheck that I've got my swimming costume on and that my bag has everything I need in it.

This week I did all that and still forgot two things. When I was getting changed after my swim I went to dig out my bra and knickers from my bag and... they weren't there. I distinctly remember putting them on the couch next to my bag when I'd been getting ready to leave the house but I'd not actually put them in my bag. Going bra-less under my tee-shirt was something I could live with. Going commando under my shorts, not something I looked forward to but I'd have to live with it, at least there was no danger that anyone would know. Its not like I was wearing a skirt on a windy day and would be running the risk that the wind would cause my skirt to billow up revealing my secret. At least it taught me that checking and rechecking my bag is not a bad thing.

I still feel a bit nervous about swimming in the one piece. I've gotten over that first hurdle now, feeling totally comfortable wearing a swimsuit to the pool will come with time. I just need to put in that time. Sunday morning swims are still going to involve tri-suits for the time being. Getting to the point of feeling comfortable enough wearing one when there are going to be lots of parents poolside as I get out is going to take a while, and if I'm honest will be something that will take me a while to achieve.

It would be nice if we had a transgender only swim session at our local pool. I don't know what the demand for it would be. There are a few transgender men and women in the area I live, how many of them would be interested in something like that I don't know. It would certainly be a less stressful way for people to overcome that first hurdle, especially for trans women, of swimming in a bathing costume.


So now its over to you. Do you go swimming? If you do, what do you wear? If you don't go swimming but you do like to swim what's holding you back? Is it the thought of what do you wear? Please share your thoughts, and maybe any tips that you have for others in the comments.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Post operation check-up



This week I had my post-op check-up. This should be my last trip to Brighton to see Mr Thomas. Although if any issues do arise then I can return as an outpatient.

With all the issues I’ve had I wasn’t sure what the outcome of the trip would be. Would I need to go back in at some point for further surgery, would Mr Thomas be able to figure out what the “hole” issue was?

Although I’d been hoping to see Mr Yelland as well no appointment had been made and when I rang in the morning none were available. Arrangements had been made for Liz, the specialist nurse, to examine my breasts and report back but when I went in for my appointment she wasn’t around. If I feel I need Mr Yelland to inspect his handiwork then I can make an appointment, I haven’t decide if I will or not yet.

If you want the simpler description of the trip to Brighton jump down the page to the short version.

The Long Version of the Trip There
My appointment was at 7:30 in the evening. Originally we’d planned a few days away staying in Portsmouth as my wife, son and I felt we were due a break. With my son in hospital recovering from surgery I had to cancel our hotel booking and make the trip on my own. It was going to be a long day.
I set off from Brighton just after 3:30pm, with a quick stop to fill up with petrol the SatNav told me that I would arrive at 6:40; plenty of time before my appointment.

HA!

Leaving the petrol station I immediately went wrong by getting in the wrong lane and ended up heading off into the depths of Bristol.

Noticing a sign for Bath and Chippenham I decided that I’d head in that direction and get onto the M4 a bit further along the route.

Not being familiar with that route I waited until the SatNav gave up telling me to turn around or head down roads that would take me back the way I’d come. Eventually I decided that it was taking me in the direction I wanted to go and so began following its instructions.

HA!

Before long I found myself back at the M32 motorway and about to join the M4 at the point I would have originally joined it.

Finally on the M4 I settled in for the miles and miles of motorway ahead of me.

Over an hour later the SatNav pointed me in the direction of a junction and I wondered which way it was taking me. Quickly I realised it was taking me towards the one place I’d hoped to avoid. London and the M25.

By the time I left the M4 my arrival time was just after 7pm, not a huge issue as it still left me 30 minutes until my appointment; then I hit Bracknell and my journey really began to slow down as I hit roadworks and lane closures and lots of slow moving traffic.

Leaving Bracknell behind I’d not lost a huge amount of time but I began to wonder just how much time I’d have to play with.

The M3 wasn’t really that busy but once again the odd bit of roadworks slowed me down. Eventually I reached that great and wonderful piece of road engineering called the M25 motorway that surrounds London. Heading towards Gatwick and the junction that would take me towards Brighton I soon had the delight of the variable speed limit system. With each mile I travelled my arrival time got later and later. By the time I’d left the M25 and was finally heading towards Brighton I was due to arrive at 7:20, not much time to spare.

The final part of the journey to Brighton went without incident and I finally arrived at the Nuffield with just under 10 minutes to spare. I had to wait while the receptionist dealt with another patient but finally I found myself sitting down to wait for Mr Thomas, who I passed as he collected another patient from the waiting area.

And so to my actual appointment.

The Short Version of the Trip There
Left Bristol just after 3:30pm, arrived Brighton 7:20pm for a 7:30 appointment. Took the scenic route to the M4 motorway, roadworks at Bracknell and on the M3, fun time driving around the M25 and then a much nicer drive from London to Brighton.

The Appointment
I’ve had a couple of examinations over the last few weeks including the one where I inserted a tiny speculum myself. This time all I had to do was lie on the couch with my legs apart and, with a nurse acting as chaperone, let Mr Thomas get on with it.

Glancing over at the metal table to my right I noted a number of sticks with swabs at the end, looking like some form of medical drumstick or medical match stick. I hoped that nobody would be beating a rhythm on me or lighting my fire.

Next to these had been placed a plastic bag which I knew held the speculum. Beside this were a number of tubes of Optilube, ready to make inserting the speculum easier.

I was handed a mirror so that I could see what Mr Thomas was doing. He inspected my neo-vagina and declared that he was happy with what he could see, noting the vaginal entrance and urethra as he had a look.

Then he turned to the table and picked up the speculum and took it out of its packet. I’m sure that I must have gone pale underneath my foundation at the sight of it.

It was ginormous, huge, massive, a skyscraper, the Empire State building. No way was that going to get inside me. I’d be split in two. There would just be a pile of innards sprawled over the couch. 

They’d be scooping me up in a bag.

As he reached between my legs I tried to relax while bracing myself for the shock of what was about to happen. Shock it was.

My eyes must have popped out of my head as he inserted the speculum inside me. I gasped at the sensation.

Then I grunted as the speculum went in further and pressure enough to crush the hull of a nuclear submarine was applied to my nether regions.

Words cannot express that moment. No, honestly, I was completely unable to speak. Although I’m not sure what I would have said even if I could.

Eventually the pressure eased. Mr Thomas noted that I had some granulation tissue but other than that everything looked fine.

“We can treat the granulation” he said, before turning to ask the nurse for some silver nitrate sticks. A brief search was required as there were none out at that point.

“This might sting a bit” I was informed before he began to treat the granulation. In fact it didn’t sting, at least not at that point. On the driver home I found myself experiencing a few twinges, which I’ve not had for quite a few weeks now.

Mr Thomas left me to get dressed and I had a brief chat with the nurse before I re-joined him in the other room.

When I’d first gone in to see him Mr Thomas had signed and then handed me the letters and records I would need when sending off for my Gender Recognition Certificate. It’s surprising that something that will make such a big change to your life contains so little detail. Confirmation that you’ve had irrevocable surgery and a hand written record of the procedure that was performed. About half a dozen pieces of paper.

Now as we again sat together he asked me how many times I was dilating and how much depth I was achieving.

In answer to the first question I explained about Rhys being in hospital and that although I’d reduced to twice a day I was sometimes only managing once a day.

“They are only guidelines, don’t get stressed by them” he told me, something that Liz had told me weeks before.

In response to the second question all I could do was give an indication of how much of the dilator I could get in. Mr Thomas proceeded to instruct me on a different way to insert my dilator, enter at a 30 degree angle until I feel resistance and then drop the dilator down and push upwards; tracing a semi-circular path as I put it in.

When creating my neo-vagina Mr Thomas had given me 5 inches of depth. The speculum that he had used had achieved 4 inches and so I should be able to get deeper than that with the stents I was informed. Hmm, only time will tell, and on my first attempt after getting home I measure that the stent had gone in about 4 inches.

The Journey Home
With my appointment at an end I made my way back to my car and with my stomach rumbling I started the journey home to Yeovil where I was going to stop overnight and check for post and that there were no problems with the house.

The journey back was a lot simpler as there was a lot less traffic. At Fleet motorway services on the M3 I stopped in order to get something to eat. Sat in the car with my goodies I enjoyed a portion of Harry Ramsden’s fishbites and chips. A welcome treat.

Around 11:30 I finally got home and after chilling out briefly with a drink I made my way to bed to end a tiring, but long awaited day.