As I've just posted something over at UK Angels I thought I'd add something similar here. A before transition picture and a more recent one. I'm usually behind the camera when it comes to older pictures so the picking are quite slim when it comes to digital ones.
Eden Project 2004
Family photoshoot 2014
When I look at the one from 2004 I get reminded of Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG1.
Last year when my son was dealing with the tumour he was given the chance to apply to Rays of Sunshine to have a wish granted. He decided that he wanted to go and see a snooker match and so the application was filled out and sent off.
A short while later we were contacted and told that they his wish was being granted and that he would be going to see the World Snooker Chamionships at the Crucible in Sheffield. He would get to go to at least two sessions, including one of the quarter finals.
Next week we'll be heading off to Sheffield to watch a round 2 session Monday evening and a quarter final session Tuesday morning.
Its a long trip to Sheffield from South West England but we'll be stopping off and visiting family over the weekend.
It should be a lot of fun and we may even be caught by the television cameras.
Last weekend saw me head to Wales with my family for the culmination of almost four months of training, 46 training runs including 3 races (Yeovil Half, Easter Bunny and Sunday's marathon) and over 225 miles (more than I've done within the first four months of a year ever as far as I can remember).
Saturday was a long day and saw us start off by heading in completely the opposite direction to the one we needed to go in order that my son could compete in the team competition for his ten pin bowling club. The drive to Weymouth did look like it was going to be a bit tight but ended up with us having almost 10 minutes to spare when we got arrived.
Waiting around for him to finishing playing I ended up sitting at a table enjoying a coffee. As I did one of the coaches from his club came over and parked her baby son in his pram next to me and asked if I would be OK keeping an eye on him while he was asleep. Of course I had no problem doing that and it did remind me when my own son was that age and we'd take him out somewhere.
If I have any regrets about being a trans female its that I'll never get to experience being pregnant and giving birth to my own baby. Even if medical science made it possible I'm getting to that age where I'd be too old now.
Eventually though it was time to leave and start our trek to Wales, but first we decided that we'd pop back via home so that we could grab some lunch. A good idea really as we'd have had to stop somewhere anyway, so why not at home.
The trip to Llanelli was pretty uneventful. We made a slight detour to visit some of my wife's family before arriving at our hotel early evening.
The chap that was on reception was very helpful and explained how to get to where the race start would be located as it turned out I wasn't the only person racing.
Dinner was in the pub next to the hotel and I made sure that I'd eaten plenty so that I'd be topped up for the following day. With all the races I've done over the years the one thing I've learned is that when it comes to food on a race weekend eating when you can is a priority. Missing out on an evening meal the night before one London marathon means that I eat what I can the day before an event. Far too many race day morning experiences mean I have back-up plans to make sure I have something to top up my energy levels.
Back at the room, race kit was put out ready, a quick shower was had and then it was time for bed for a restless night.
Sunday morning dawned and I began my race day ritual. The usual morning business of washing and putting on make-up (yes I really do race wearing foundation, eye-shadow, blush, lipstick and even mascara) was completed before race gear was donned. Then began the other race day ritual of going to and from the bathroom until the restaurant opened and I was able to pop in and have some fruit juice, coffee and a bowl of fresh fruit.
Looking around at the handful of other people eating it was obvious that they were there for the race.
After breakfast I finished getting ready before heading out to find the start, something that ended up being rather quick as I bumped into another runner who confirmed that it was a very short walk away. Returning to the restaurant where my family were now having their breakfast I grabbed one more coffee. One of the waitresses came up to me as I was doing this and told me that she'd put some paper bags next to the muffins and croissants for the runners to take some with them as none were eating a lot that morning. Such a lovely gesture.
Finally it was time to head out to the start. As I was making my way I heard someone calling my name and turned to see two friends who were also running that day crossing a field behind me. We chatted and took some pictures while we waited for everybody to enter the start area.
There are two races that day, the marathon and a half marathon. The marathon is a two lap, figure of 8 route race, with the half marathon being one lap of the route. The entire route is traffic free with a couple of roads at one end of the route being closed off but the rest of it being on paths with some lovely coastal views.
At 9am we all headed off and I found myself running with one of my friends. The weather was amazing, blue skies, warm but with a cooling breeze. The perfect day for a race. Very quickly I realised that I wouldn't need my running jacket so this was shed and tied around my race, somewhere it would stay until I eventually saw my family at the 21 mile mark and was able to throw it to them.
About a mile into the race I told my running companion that I was going to slow my pace and let him carry on, he was aiming for a four and a half hour time and I knew I'd have to have an exceptional race to achieve a time like that. From my experiences in training I'd be lucky to finish in under 5 hours.
Slowing, I soon settled into a comfortable pace. The course is pretty much flat, slightly undulating with only two places that require any real effort to climb, one if a bridge and the other is a very small hill near the start. Water stations were located at reasonable distances around the course and with it being a nice day were very much needed. Some form of sports drink would have been appreciated but I had packed a running pouch with some sweets to keep me going and provide a tiny energy boost.
Mile after mile went by, each mile I hit the lap button on my Garmin and was happy to see that I was staying under a 11 minutes per mile pace which would see me finishing close to the 5 hour mark if I could keep it going. I knew that the last few miles would be a challenge as I'd never got beyond 22 or 23 miles in a marathon without having to stop and use a run/walk strategy to get to the finish.
At 16 miles I looked at my time and found I'd been running for 2 hours 50 minutes. Some quick calculations in my head and I had a new race goal, to get to the toilets at the 21 mile mark within an hour, something that could be achieved even if my pace dropped to 12 minutes per mile. I'd decided I'd stop and use the toilets before heading on for the last 5 miles.
Mile by mile I got closer to that point. As the toilets came into view so did my family. Forsaking the toilets I swung across to my family and tossed my running jacket at my son before heading off on the last 5 miles.
By now I was struggling, my pace was slowing and as had been happening for a lot of the race I was having to dodge pedestrians and cyclists, the only drawback to an event which is run on areas that are completely open to the public. The support shown by people whether there for people running or just out for the day was fabulous. For an event with barely 500 people split over two races the support was as good as any bigger race I've done and the banter between runners and spectators was fabulous.
Heading back towards the finish I passed my friend who was doing the marathon. His legs had been causing him problems, not surprising as he'd done another marathon the previous weekend. As I asked how he was doing his reply was one that made me smile. He was doing OK, he'd just stopped to have an ice-cream before carrying on. There's not many marathons that you can say you are able to stop and do that at.
At twenty five and a half miles I glanced at my time and realised that there was a possibility if I could find just a little bit more pace that I could equal, or even beat, my personal best marathon time.
By this point I was running on shear will power. I'd long passed the point in my previous marathons where I'd stopped and started to walk, and I was still running. I had reached the point as I approached 21 miles where I was determined that I would keep running and not stop and walk, each mile I'd completed from there I'd kept forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other and not to give in.
26 miles grew ever closer and then the small hill before the finish appeared. I had found enough energy to run a little bit quicker but the hill sapped my energy and I knew that it was going to be really close. Still I kept trying.
Over the hill and down the other side. 26 miles passed by and the last several hundred yards were before me. I knew I was outside my PB but I kept going, kept trying to finish as quickly as I could. Passing my family one last time I entered the finishing straight to cheers and claps from people still waiting around.
Over the tannoy I could hear the person ahead of me being congratulated as they finished. Then I heard my name as I finally reached the finish and slowed to a halt, catching my breath before walking on to receive my medal, a wooly hat and a bag containing a carton of apple juice, a packet of crisps and a bar of chocolate. Grasping my goodies I made my way around to my family and sat down to start refueling.
As we sat there I watched as those people behind me one by one finished. I clapped each one that I saw. Finally in the distance my friend appeared and made his way towards the finish.
The determination of the people finishing after me was something to watch. In a bigger marathon they would hardly have been noticed but in an event with this small a field each and every one of them stood out, their determination to finish shining like beacons. Each one a hero or heroine.
Before the race I told my family that it would be my last marathon but one, and that one would be the last leg of the Outlaw Triathlon which is still on my list of things to do. Sat there at the end of the race I found myself thinking that I would have to make a real effort to try and stop myself from entering it next year. Something that I have so far managed to resist doing. Not very difficult to do really when your legs ache so much that you can hardly walk up and down stairs.
Maybe I'll manage to resist, who knows, will have to see, what time and a lack of aches brings.
I was told Monday evening that I'm not going to get bingo wings. Why? Well my new feather fans finally arrived and I took them to class.
My old red fans were quite light and a reasonable size, the staves were made from wood, so although not strong were good enough for practicing and for performing but I knew that in the long run I'd need something better. Hence the new fans.
The new fans are white with acrylic staves. They are slightly heavier and larger. In fact they are so large that its possible to hide some people behind them completely, and that's just using one fan, if I use both fans then I can hide just about all of me apart from my feet.
They are heavier though so using them began to cause my hands, wrists and forearms to ache. Their definitely something that I'm going to have to get used to and certainly will have to think twice about doing the Bim Bam routine that we've been learning with them, not just because of the size but also because of they don't move as fast through the air as smaller fans.
They are perfect for my True Love routine which I'll be aiming to perform for the rest of the troupe at the beginning of May.
It does seem that I'm moving more towards my burlesque specialising more in fan routines than anything else. I now have:-
One pair white swan feather fans
One pair red feather fans (in need of repair/rebuilding)
Two pairs long silk fans (one of which is lurking in the house)
One pair marabou hand fans
One pair plastic Chinese hand fans
Two (not a pair) metal stave Tai Chi fans
One wooden stave Tai Chi fan
And there is probably one more set of fans that I'll get getting at some point, just for use with Bim Bam, which it really growing on me and I would love to perform with one of the other girls.
I'm having fits of the giggles this morning. Not from watching, listening or reading anything funny. Unless staring at my family's smirking faces counts.
Now that I'm not on estrogen for the next couple of months I've opted to have a Zoladex implant in order to tide me over and reduce the impact of falling estrogen and increasing levels of testosterone. This morning I had the injection.
In the past I've had blood tests, donated blood and had allergy injections. Even so I never felt comfortable with them. When my son was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was a toddler I had to get used to watching him have needles and cannula put in.
This morning was different. Needles in my arms are one thing but this wasn't going to be there. This injection was to be in my stomach.
Arriving slightly late I sat waiting for the nurse, not the one I normally see but one I don't think I'd met before. She was really pleasant and had read the letter from Brighton so knew what she was doing, understood what surgery I will be having and even asked if I had sorted out for my MRSA swabs and blood tests.
To do the injection she asked me to lie on the bed and, after swabbing the area, told me that it was going to hurt a bit. It did, more than the simple scratch when having a blood test but not too bad.
The giggles started as I was driving home, the sensation of having something in your stomach is a strange one. It doesn't hurt but there are little twinges when I'm sitting in certain positions or when I put my hand or arm on my stomach.
Of course my family are enjoying this, every time I have a twinge. I don't blame them, I'd be doing the same if I was them.
I'm sure that in a day or two I wont notice that its there and will enjoy the fact that I don't end up suffering any side effects from the lack of estrogen.
Yesterday was the third anniversary of my starting on hormones.
On Saturday Facebook decided it was going to show me pictures that were taken on the 4th April and the one that came up was of the hormone patches I started out with. Reading the comments I saw the one from me that said I would be starting the patches on the 5th April.
Wow, three years since I started the patches and last Tuesday (31st March) I stopped using the hormone gel, I'm on now, temporarily in the run up to surgery.
Looking forward to getting back on the hormones in a couple of months time, even if putting on the gel is a bit more of a pain in the mornings, something I'm certainly not missing doing at the moment.
When I got home on Thursday I found a letter from Brighton confirming my breast surgery with Mr Yelland.
The letter then went on to say that Mr Yelland should have asked me to perform a rice test, he didn't. In light of that I've had the delight of Googling the rice test to see exactly what has to be done. It doesn't need a lot to perform the test so having dug out the kitchen scales, a measuring jug, some tights that I didn't mind cutting up I was almost set. All I needed was the rice.
Well not being one to get too little of something that I might need I walked to our local Asda, I have a new toy so the walk helped me to reach my 10,000 step target for the day but that is the subject for another post.
Returning home with 3 kilograms of rice I quickly realised that I might have overdone it, especially when I ended up using less that 1kg. As much as I might like to have a reasonable size bust, breasts that weighed one and a half kilograms each would be a bit too much!!
Back home and it was time to perform the test. Out came the scissors and the feet of the tights were soon cut off.
Depending on where you find details of the test I found that the amount of rice that was suggested per cup size varied slightly. Picking the test here I got started and this is where things got messy. Its amazing just how easy it is to spill rice all over the place, table, floor it ended up everywhere. Fortunately most of it ended up in the jug. Having poured what I reckoned was enough rice for a C cup I emptied this into the remains of one of the tights (yes I used the foot so it didn't end up pouring straight through the hole in the legs of the top bit, that would have just been adding insult to injury if I'd done that).
Pouring out another lot of rice I this time aimed for what would be a B cup because I already have growth on one side so didn't need as much. Into the other foot went this rice and I ended up with what looked like rice filled implants.
For the first time in over two years I then had to dig out one of the bras that I wore when I first transitioned.
Rice filled bundles into the bra cups and on with a couple of tops to see the effect.
Result, one happy girl. Now I've just got to wear them to do the things I normally do and see how I managed with the weight. So far I can say that its actually OK. In fact considering that they are made out of tights and rice the are actually quite comfortable. I've so far watched television with them, cooked dinner and had a mock fight with my son. I'll probably carry on wearing them for the rest of the bank holiday weekend and include at least one if not both of the runs I have planned for this weekend in that so I have a good idea of what it will feel like to run with them.
Tuesday I'll email Mr Yelland's secretary and tell her the weights and volumes that I've used for the test, then in just over a month's time I'll have the delightfully gorgeous and charming Mr Yelland giving me real implants.
We're into April at last and I'm now 6 weeks away from surgery.
March 31st saw me apply my last 3 satchets of Sandrena hormone gel for the next 8 to 10 weeks. I've been using the hormones for 3 years so it will be interesting to see how I cope, at least for the next week because I've arranged with my GP to have a Zoladex implant to tide me over the next month. Zoladex should stop my testosterone levels from climbing and help me to keep the calmness that I've had since shortly after starting on the hormones.
I'm hoping that the Zoladex will ensure that any negative effects of coming off the Sandrena will be minimised. I've enjoyed feeling fairly stable emotionally over the last 3 years, I certainly don't want to go back to being all over the place for the next 6 weeks.
Things have been interesting over the last month or so. I'm not going to go into details at the moment because the time isn't right but hopefully some point down the line I will be able to share some of it.
Sunday saw me complete what I believe is my longest run ever while training for a marathon. I'm pretty sure that I have only ever managed to achieve 16 miles in a single run before, Sunday saw me cover 18 miles, admittedly with a slight break between the first 13 miles and the last 5. Less than an hour break so it still counts towards a single run because the recovery time was negligible.
The first 13 miles were at our local half marathon. Weather conditions were far from ideal. It was very windy, hefty gusts from time to time, and it poured down about 5 minutes before the start. I'd planned on jogging over to the start and then jogging back but in the end decided to take my car so that I could sit in it until the last possible minute and stay reasonably warm.
Before the start I paid the obligatory trip to the toilets. Normally there are portaloos scattered around the venue, on Sunday none, however, all of the normal toilets at the football ground where the start is located were open.
Finding one of the quieter ones I had to join the queue of one other lady. This was actually a first because to date I've never had to queue, go in, find an empty cubicle, do what needs to be done and then leave (after washing hands of course). On Sunday both cubicles were occupied so it was wait my turn. The other lady glanced at me briefly but no other attention.
Finishing my turn another woman came in as I was washing my hands. As she stood looking at what appeared to be two occupied cubicles I gestured at the one I'd just vacated and said it was empty, a quick thanks and she went in.
With about half an hour to the race start I decided to go and hunt down a friend who I'd agreed to run with. I found her with her running club. As she needed to use the toilets I accompanied her to the nearest and waited outside for her.
While I was stood there a guy went past with a camera followed shortly by two other men. As I was stood waiting one of the guys came up and said "excuse me love, could you take a picture of us". Taking the offered phone I framed them in the screen and managed after a couple of presses to take a picture of him and his friends. Chalk one up to the decision to wear a pink running jacket.
At 9am the race started and my friend and I joined the 1061 other people making their way around the town and surrounding countryside. Starting at the back we were soon caught up with the guy that was acting as sweeper, not for long though as we eventually left him and the other back markers behind.
As we made our way around I was greeted with lots of encouraging comments from marshals ans spectators. Every single comment making it clear the person offering it saw two girls running. Ok, in my case the foundation, eyeshadow, blusher, lipstick and earrings helped. In my friends case the fact that she is a cis-female was obvious.
My finish time was just under an hour slower than my PB, and about 20 minutes slower than I would have been aiming for if I'd not been running with my friend. Still the point of running it with her was to make sure she had some company and got to the finish without any mishaps, and also to get me through 13 of my planned miles while ensuring that I didn't get bored and had enough energy to complete the remain 5 miles to hit the upper of my planned mileage.
With that 18 miles out of the way all of my remaining runs are a lot shorter and will feel a lot easier. This coming weekend is a mixed bag with an 8 miles run, a couple of shorter runs and then a 10K race on Easter Monday, my birthday. That one is going to be the most interesting run for a while as it will be the first road race that I've done which I also did pre-transition and pre-hormones. It will be interesting to see how my time compares to my previous time.
I'm hoping that I'll post a bit more regularly over the next few weeks. Not all will be about the upcoming surgery, some of it will be running related, some dance. Everything seems to be coming together at the moment.
To quote my electrologist "the timing is just right, we've got where we needed to be".