Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Blogging Will Be Light

Because I'll be in flight. I leave for the airport in just over an hour.

Farewell to the city of Chonburi, and the Nurses/Attendants/Councellors/Friends, the Angels of the Suporn Clinic.

I'll be back.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

In a Universe Next Door ... #2

It could never happen here.
Burger also suggested that O’Donald’s symptoms of Heart Disease were not severe enough to make surgery a medical necessity. She pointed to a letter written by O’Donald explaining that she had put off open-heart surgery for two years until her son graduated from high school.

“In fact you were able to choose the timing of your surgery,” Hamilton told O’Donald. “You could wait two years until your child went to college to continue with your surgery.”

Burger argued that because O’Donald was able to come out as a heart patient on the job after acquiring a wheelchair, she did not meet the requirements of the cardiac diagnosis of being significantly impaired.

“Isn’t this inconsistent with someone who is significantly impaired?” she asked Ellaborn.

The Heart Foundation's Lioney followed up that question with Sanborn, asking if O’Donnabhain’s continued employment meant that she was no longer impaired. Sanborn said it did not.

“She was able to both simultaneously be unable to run and do her job,” said Sanborn.

Burger also called into question the credentials and reliability of the therapists. In particular she singled out Lanten, asking him to disclose whether or not he himself had a heart attack in the past. The Heart Foundation objected, claiming that the only reason to ask the question was to prejudice the court against the witness, but Burger said the question was important to show potential bias. Judge Storm permitted Burger to ask the question, and Lanten disclosed that he had had surgery for cardiac disease.

On the second day of the trial Mikalchus continued the tactic of questioning O’Donald’s Myocardial Infarct diagnosis, this time through his cross-examination of Green. He asked Green if people seeking treatment for Myocardoal Infarct might instead have Cardiaphillia, a concept promoted by controversial heart therapist Roy Whitehart that suggests some Heart Patients may be are sexually aroused by the thought of being in a wheelchair. Green said he did not subscribe to Whitehart’s theories, which have been widely rejected by the cardiac patient community.

Magonacus also posited that O’Donald’s therapists misdiagnosed her and that she may suffer from Influenza, a debilitating disorder which can lead to feelings of weakness.

Green countered by saying, “People who have Influenza don’t want their chests cracked open … It’s very important to them.”

The trial is expected to run through the end of this week. After that the trial will resume later next month to allow one more witness to testify.
Ridiculous, Right? Tax Accountants questioning the evaluation of medics who specialise in the area, even arguing that the disease itself is imaginary, and doesn't exist.

Well, in this Universe....
Hamilton also suggested that O’Donnabhain’s symptoms of GID were not severe enough to make surgery a medical necessity. She pointed to a letter written by O’Donnabhain explaining that she had put off sex-reassignment surgery for two years until her son graduated from high school.

“In fact you were able to choose the timing of your changes,” Hamilton told O’Donnabhain. “You could wait two years until your child went to college to continue with your changes.”

Hamilton argued that because O’Donnabhain was able to come out on the job after taking hormones and presenting as female, she did not meet the requirements of the GID diagnosis of being significantly impaired.

“Isn’t this inconsistent with someone who is significantly impaired?” she asked Ellaborn.

GLAD’s Loewy followed up that question with Ellaborn, asking if O’Donnabhain’s continued employment meant that she was no longer impaired. Ellaborn said it did not.

“She was able to both simultaneously think about her gender disphoria and do her job,” said Ellaborn.

Hamilton also called into question the credentials and reliability of the therapists. In particular she singled out Coleman, asking him to disclose whether or not he himself is transgender. GLAD objected, claiming that the only reason to ask the question was to prejudice the court against the witness, but Hamilton said the question was important to show potential bias. Judge Gale permitted Hamilton to ask the question, and Coleman disclosed that he was an FTM.

On the second day of the trial Mikalchus continued the tactic of questioning O’Donnabhain’s GID diagnosis, this time through his cross-examination of Brown. He asked Brown if people seeking treatment for GID might instead have autogynephilia, a concept promoted by controversial sexologist Ray Blanchard that suggests some transwomen may be men who are aroused by the thought of having a vagina. Brown said he did not subscribe to Blanchard’s theories, which have been widely rejected by the transgender community.

Mikalchus also posited that O’Donnabhain’s therapists misdiagnosed her and that she may suffer from transvestic fetishism, a disorder in which men are sexually aroused by dressing in women’s clothes.

Brown countered by saying, “People who are transvestic fetishists don’t want their penises cut off … It’s very important to them.”

The trial is expected to run through the end of this week. After that the trial will resume later next month to allow one more witness to testify.


Some more about the man whose theories the IRS finds so convincing:
Dr. Ray Blanchard resigned from the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) in protest to the ethics investigation of his protégé, J. Michael Bailey. Blanchard, a psychiatrist, member of a eugenics think tank, and vocal proponent of repathologizing homosexuality as a mental illness, still runs Toronto’s Clarke Institute as a maximum security processing facility, using the same procedures, locked rooms and shared space areas for pedophiles, rapists, homosexuals, and transsexuals.
Bailey admitted later that there were bits of his book that he just made up.

From Andrea James' BBL Clearinghouse:
In November 2004, Northwestern University reported that Bailey resigned as Psychology Department Chair and that Northwestern was taking secret unspecified action against Bailey based on their findings. In February 2006, the online version Bailey's book was quietly removed from the National Academies Press website.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Retribution

From a mailing list I'm on.
I am sorry to say that the Department of Foreign Affairs has made
changes to the legislation in Australia regarding TS girls being able
to get an interim passport with their female gender on it.

Previously girls in Oz used to be able to get an interim female
passport, provided that they could show proof that they had
transitioned, and were travelling overseas for the purpose of SRS.

Now they will have to travel passports with 'male' on them, until
after the surgery, when they can then apply to change their birth
certificate. This is such a backward step and is going to cause a lot
of distress and increase the danger of travel for T girls.
Especially in the current climate of suspicion and paranoia around
terrorist threat.

Just thought everyone should know.

And from another:
I was the Girl M...... was talking about, who turned up to the
Passport Office to be confronted with this distressing new reality.
It seems this change had been snuck in under the radar. I was so
shocked. It made their request of me bringing a letter from my
presiding doctor, stating I was going for Reassignment surgery, a
complete waste of time. This is really a SAFETY Issue. I rang up to
complain & the people higher up in the passport office had not even
heard of this change. All I can say, is that we haven't heard the end
of this backward stupid & dangerous amendment.

Another shock I had was the man dealing with my application kept
calling me "sir". I was dressed in a bright fuscia business skirt
suit. There was no doubt I was presenting as a professional, well
dressed Female. He said "sir" three times before I twigged. I
corrected him by saying.."Ma'am"

He looked at me in the eye & replied "sorry sir, it says on this
form (My new altered birth certificate) that you are Male......Sir"
I scowled back "As a common courtesy, Call me Ma'am".

Of course, I also put in a complaint against him. It was the first
time I had ever been vilified by anyone in over two years of living
full time & here I was getting it from a government department. As a
co-worker said when I told him the story... "Why am I not surprised"

And another:
Hi Zoe and everyone,

Yes, some moves are afoot at present through SAGE to address this.
Tracie is going to ask some internationally recognised people to make some representations and argue the case.

The legislation that was snuck through, is a cynical and reprehensible attempt by the current conservative government to repeal an important right as an underhanded and ill-thought out 'quickie" response to the upcoming challenge being mounted by M....... and myself, to the decision of DFAT to deny a full female passport to myself after SRS, for the reason of an existing legal 'heterosexual' marriage.

Our case is strong, and they are peeved, but there is no excuse for this totally unnessary repeal of an existing right. It flies in the face of the UN guidelines for fair treatmant of gender-variant people and places us in clear danger when forced to travel with inappropriate documentation.

This case will be familiar to those with long memories, it is almost 2 years since we went to Phuket and applied to have my documentation amended.
The hearing is on 12th September. We'll let you know how it goes.....

This is petty. It always was a possibility that we'd face if we made a fuss though. That rights existing for decades, rights actually enshrined in legislation, could effectively be withdrawn by bureaucratic or ministerial fiat to punish us for being uppity, and not knowing our place. Now unless the Australian Passport Regulations 2005 (as amended to July 18 2007) have been changed by Parliament, it's also against the law. But that doesn't seem to matter to them, as I've found out in the past.

If it wasn't for the fact that the ALP has been even less supportive, offering pious platitudes while the rusted-on Catholic Socialists quietly block any attempt at helping TS and other IS people, I'd change my vote.

As it is, I'm considering my options. I think I'll apply for a passport again.... write a few letters to newspapers... see if I can get the public informed of what has happened. Make a fuss. But not today. I'm too angry to act with full rationality, and this one is too important to act on without cool, calculating intelligence.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Chinese Temple, Thailand




Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Sunday, 22 July 2007

This Week's Battles

Over at Star Gazette and TownHall.com.

Moving the mountain one spoonful at a time. Or in this case, two of them.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Hate

From comment #176 at AOL News comments :


mobstaman 03:40:37 AM Jul 18 2007

Your creator gave you your gender so live with it. If you think you would be better off as the opposite sex then don't expect to write off your medical expenses. This is OPTIONAL surgury. You are an ugly old woman anyway. I wouldn't complain if you wrote off your assisted suicide.

This is the most difficult thing for me to get my head around in this whole business. The fact that there are normal, sane people in the world, quite a number of them, who want to see me dead, not for what I've done, but for what I am. And they want me to kill myself so that their tender consciences aren't troubled by the Auschwitz thing.

Hmmm... there's no emoticon for showing me blowing them a Raspberry. Pity.

I have to say that, though in objective terms I couldn't object to being called a Freak, for biologically I am.... I feel sorry for them.

Friday, 20 July 2007

38 Years Ago

"The Eagle Has Landed"



I don't think it will be as long as 38 years before we return. I wouldn't bet that the words spoken at the next landing won't be in Mandarin though.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Christian Charity

From the Family Research Council:
A man who now goes by the name of Rhiannon O'Donnabhain is making some outrageous claims--on both his taxes and his identity. In a case scheduled to go before the U.S. Tax Court next week, O'Donnabhain is suing the IRS because they denied his 2001 attempt to write off $25,000 in medical expenses for a sex-change operation. He was initially refunded $5,000, but a subsequent IRS audit demanded he pay back the refund. The IRS has previously ruled that costs related to gender-reassignment surgery are not deductible expenses because that the procedure falls into the realm of unnecessary cosmetic surgery. Attorneys for O'Donnabhain argue that since some in the medical community now classify gender-reassignment surgery as a legitimate treatment for gender identity disorder, the deduction should stand. O'Donnabhain told the reporters, "If I were to give the money back, it would be saying it's OK for you to do this to me." Well, the truth is that it is not OK for American taxpayers to help foot the bill for a sex-change operation. Americans who undergo surgery for life-threatening conditions should be given a tax break to help lighten the load, but treatments based on the latest alternative lifestyle should be filed away.

"Latest Alternative Lifestyle". Ah Me. We have so much work to do, educating people in the medical situation. Sometimes I think we're back in the middle ages, with those born with harelips condemned as the "spawn of satan".

And sometimes people prefer to ignore the evidence, and substitute their own superstitions, not backed by any biblical scholarship, simply because, well, their whole worldview depends on them retaining their bigotry.

I confess I lack Christian Charity. There have been times when I have wished that the people concerned had had a terrible emasculating auto accident, then were refused surgery to re-attach their severed members on the grounds that it was "elective" and "cosmetic". Poetic Justice, yes, but unkind and without mercy. Those of us with similar congenital problems - Intersex or Transsex - should be the last to wish such a terrible fate on anyone.

I can't help it though. Wilful, smug ignorance and deliberate cruelty to the vulnerable makes me incandescent with righteous anger. Too much like those I'm against, who are equally certain that they are in the Right.

Ah me. Whoever said Humans were all sinners was right. Only the amount varies, and the degree to which we struggle against our own worse natures.

More from the Associated Press here, and see also a previous post on the subject.

This isn't an isolated instance of the persecution we face. From The American Daily :
We have to be pro-active, replacing immoral and inhumane values with virtues that protect Life and promote a healthy society.

Getting behind this effort to stop public funding of Sex Change Operations is as good a place to start as any.


From TownHall.com, a conservative and generally sensible site:
No fewer than two dozen congressmen are giving Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson until the close of business Feb. 28 to explain why the IRS granted a tax deduction for a sex change operation.

"(A)s members of the United States House of Representatives, we view this as an outrage and believe it sets a precedent that both the IRS and the American taxpayer at large will not be comfortable with," the congressmen wrote to the IRS chief.

It was widely reported in December that the IRS had granted a tax deduction to Rhiannon O'Donnabhain, who claimed her operation was medically necessary because of a diagnosed condition called "gender dysphoria."

The congressmen go so far as to reprint for Mr. Everson a portion of a mental health manual stating that the "psychological" condition that afflicts the woman does not warrant a sex change operation. In addition, the lawmakers point out, the IRS decision to allow the deduction smacks in the face of the law-abiding tax examiner who labeled the woman's surgery "cosmetic."

"Putting this burden on the American taxpayer is unacceptable," the congressmen concluded.
The manual on question isn't mentioned, but given the fact that that conclusion is directly contrary to mainstream psychiatric opinion, and has been for 30 years, I doubt its validity. There also exist obsolete manuals that pathologise the propensity of slaves to run away. They called it Depatemania. Perhaps a holdover from the former Vatican advisor on sexual matters, Prof Paul McHugh?

I'll quote from the Standards of Care put out by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the only specialist professional health organisation in the area:
Sex Reassignment is Effective and Medically Indicated in Severe GID. In persons diagnosed with transsexualism or profound GID, sex reassignment surgery, along with hormone therapy and real life experience, is a treatment that has proven to be effective. Such a therapeutic regimen, when prescribed or recommended by qualified practitioners, is medically indicated and medically necessary. Sex reassignment is not "experimental," "investigational," "elective," "cosmetic," or optional in any meaningful sense. It constitutes very effective and appropriate treatment for transsexualism or profound GID.
Despite this clear, unequivocal, and emphasised statement, we still have the problem of Religious medics ignoring the data, and substituting what they think is Right (as opposed to factually correct). And ignorant politicians listen to them.

I hate being an activist. It seems I have to be though.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

I passed my Medical Exam

Without going into gory details, the first post-operative examination showed that the surgery was a complete success.

Of the 4 areas of concern, two had healed or were healing, and needed no treatment. The one area that was easy to get to, two lesions, were surgically removed, as they were never going to heal no matter what was done to them.

The 4th area was as difficult to get to as possible, and justified the general anaesthetic alone. Not as bad as we feared, worse than we hoped, but surgical cauterisation should have fixed it, the area was quite small. Just very tricky to get to.

I've had some loss - so instead of being 150% of what most surgeons could achieve, given a normal anatomy, I'm down to 140%. Average instead of slightly above average for the surgeon in question, and far better than anything I could have got from anyone else. Vastly better than I'd expected, and still well beyond my wildest dreams.

I'm happy. No more pain, no more blood... it feels good for the first time in 4 months.

There is the possibility of getting further surgery in a year's time - the surgeon offers that, to give a perfect rather than merely good aesthetic result - but I think I'd be pushing my luck. What I want to do now is lose the 20kg(!!!!) of extra weight I've gained through being unable to exercise.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Another Addictive Game

Bloxorz. And for those who just want to be amused by an entertaining and imaginative flash show, try Animator vs Animated.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

I Think therefore I Am, I think



I've been nominated by Calamity Jane for a Thinking Blogger award. Gosh.

Jane's just as Geeky as I am, though in a lower-key way, and has been afflicted with far more than her fair share of medical woes. Despite that, her blog is enthusiastically, even infectiously spirited, and always worth a read. I find her inspirational.

I'll just quote her on her other nominations, and you'll see what I mean:

Glamourpuss - What can I say about Chez Glamour? It does what it says on the tin. Puss writes about her life as the glamourous-pole-dance-instructor-about-town, her highly entertaining memoirs are delivered in a razor sharp, distinctly cerebral fashion.

Goth - No-one could accuse our lad of posting any old tat on his blog. It's definitely a blog for thinkers, why I often sit and think, 'Goth, what the hell are you smoking?' :-)

DQ - Between you and me, I think DQ thinks too much sometimes but then again she is a drama queen and she's had an unsettling few months. Que sera sera honey - everything will all work out for the best.

Claire - Claire's 3 Beautiful Things concept is a lovely thing to behold, no rants, no tears, just serenity. It takes some thought in this day and age to carry that off and she does it err, beautifully.
Go over to her post and follow the links to those sites.

Now for my own.

Entirely Madd - Matt is into Better Living Through Chemistry - bonding energies and so on rather than recreational stuff - but also blogs about entertaining Geekiness such as, well, this.

Lloyd's "It looks different from here" - "Irregular postings on science, politics, science fiction, games, comics, history and whatever takes my fancy.". Exactly.

Rocket Jones - it's about Rockets, obviously. Also Cooking, Politics, Movie Reviews, the world's most expensive Calamari...

ImpactEDNurse - the blog of a nurse condemned to work in Canberra's Emergency Department.

Ninme - "frequent ranting, infrequent brilliance, and consistently passionate catblogging." What else is there to say?

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Don't Do It Unless You Have To

From the UK Daily Mirror:
Paula Vendyback is a post-op transsexual who was born a boy called Paul. Here Paula, 40, from Leicester, tells how changing gender has meant sacrificing a lot more than the obvious...

'FOR as long as I can remember I knew I was different. Even in school, I didn't fit in. On paper I seemed like any other kid. I loved sport and was on the football team.
Not me, my feelings ranged from indifference to loathing. It was something I had to do, and the cameraderie was good, the inter-personal relationships, depending on one another. I think the one moment I truly enjoyed Rugby was when I tackled one beg, beefy guy on the other team. He'd been playing dirty, monstering the smaller boys on my team. It felt good to land on top of him and make sure he didn't do that any more.
But inside I was a mess. I can't explain it, I just didn't feel like I should be a boy.
I knew I wasn't one. I wasn't sure what I was though. I looked like a boy, dressed like a boy, thought like other girls. But I enjoyed a lot of activities girls in the UK in the 60's weren't supposed to. They were supposed to grow up to be dancers, mothers, nurses, not Rocket Scientists or Astronauts.
I remember from a young age seeing women in the street and wishing I could be one of them. When I was 13, I even started to sneak back home in lunch breaks and try on my sister's underwear. I loved the
feel of the fabric, it was so much softer than men's clothes.
Not me. It would have been like putting lipstick on a pig, for one thing. At age 13, I found out that boys and girls were born different. Before then, I just naturally assumed I'd been put in the wrong group by accident, and that the mistake would be corrected in due course.
In the end the urge to speak to someone about it became overwhelming and I finally confessed to my boss that I liked to wear women's clothes. He was understanding and even said he knew people who liked to do the same thing but he said he didn't want other staff to know.

As it turned out, I didn't have a choice. Gossip spread, my clients found out and one by one they stopped booking me. Before I knew it, I no longer had a job and my life started to spiral downwards. I went from successful to suddenly being unemployed and living in a bedsit barely bigger than a cupboard.
Par for the course, I'm afraid. I was incredibly lucky, and I know it.
In the end I turned to a psychologist for help and she diagnosed me as a transsexual. I can't explain the relief of finally having someone who understood what I was going through - but it was to be the start of further problems. I decided to undergo an operation to change my sex. I was so desperate to be a woman and thought this would finally solve my problems.
BIG mistake. Sure, it solves the biggest, most terrible problem of having a mis-matched body. But it brings more problems than it solves, it's certainly no cure-all. It doesn't "make you a woman" anyway, you had better be one beforehand or it's a terrible mistake.
I didn't have £8,000 to go private so I agreed to have it done on the NHS, which had a four-year waiting list. In the meantime I had to live as a woman. That meant dressing as a woman every time I went
out, and working as a woman.

The transition began. I had electrolysis every two months to get rid of my facial hair and was given oestrogen tablets.
Ah electro. Imagine a bee sting. 40,000 times, over a few years...
By now I had a job at a care agency so I went shopping for clothes to wear to work. I'm 6ft 2in so it was difficult to find things at first. In the end I opted for long floral skirts and women's T-shirts. I remember shop assistants looked at me oddly and sniggered as they put the clothes through the tills. But that was nothing compared to other people's disapproval.

My eldest brother, Craig, was so ashamed of seeing me in a skirt he stopped contact with me. Even at Christmas, he will send cards to the entire family except me.

When neighbours found out, some reacted badly. Someone put a brick through the back window of my car, some kids put a flaming piece of paper through my letterbox to try to set the house alight (luckily all it did was burn a hole in the hallway carpet) and one man even forced his way into my flat and threatened me with a gun - the police arrived just in time and arrested him.

I became frightened to go out at night. Every time I left the house local kids would shout "cross-dresser" at me. Life became very lonely.
Ah, but you see, this was all for her own good, in theory. In order to see whether the patient has enough mental stamina to cope in the new social role, they are first put through 1,2 or even 4 years of this, often without hormones or other treatment to make them appear normal.

It also makes sure that the doctors have few patients coming back with regrets of course. Those who think it would be "fun" to be of the opposite sex get weeded out by this deliberate torture. As do most of those whose bodily appearance is such that they will never look just like a stereotypical housewife or young woman. What she should have done is suicided you see, rather than continue on this trail of tears. That way the treatment would not be a failure.
Many people think transsexuals are gay, but the majority of us are actually asexual and have no desire for sex. All we want is an acceptance of who we really are inside, and to be able to live in peace.

Relationships, however, were the least of my worries as I waited for the operation. I knew it was a big decision - I'd even heard of one transsexual who died on the operating table - but I was determined to go through with it. I felt so frustrated that I was ready to sacrifice everything to become a woman. I wanted it all to be over.

The night before the operation in November 2002, I couldn't sleep, I was just imagining how it would all feel afterwards and I could hardly wait for them to begin.
Yes, the operation is not without risks. Not many die on the table, but it happens. More get Compartment Syndrome, and lose the muscles on their legs. Some heal enough to walk again. Then there's the risk of fistula, and worse, of having to have a colostomy bag all your life. My complications were minor in comparison.

I can't explain the driving need to have my body corrected, after all, I'd gotten most of what I wanted just by the natural change, assisted by hormones. Probably just greedy, but at the end, it was no longer a "nice to have", it was an elemental compulsion. The more I had, the more I wanted.
My mum came with me to the hospital but she didn't want me to do it.
She was worried about the risks and began to cry as we walked in. It was horrible but there was nothing she could do to change my mind.

I remember as I was being wheeled in, thinking: "This is it, there's no going back now." That's my last memory of being physically male.
My memories are of thinking "Is this really the right thing to do?". I thought about it, then decided that really, there was no other option. I could never have been normally male, I was sterile, it was horribly uncomfortable. I was giving up nothing, and possibly gaining more than I ever dreamt of. Content and at peace, emotionally exhausted and glad that nothing could stop it now, I fell asleep even before they put me under.
When I woke up in the recovery room I immediately screamed. The pain was agonising. It was at that moment I thought: "What have I done?"

They put me on a morphine drip, but I was still so uncomfortable. I had thick padding on, like a nappy, and had to go to the toilet through a tube leading to a bag at my bedside.
Been there, done that. Maybe it's because I've had lots of painful surgery in my life that the pain was so insignificant I didn't notice any. No need for morphine, anyway. But a part of it is that the surgeon I saw was so good.
I spent 10 days in this room, alone with just a TV to keep me company. I lost half a stone because I wasn't able to eat and could only feed on a drip.
2 days afterwards, I'd eaten so much fruit (you do NOT want constipation under these circumstances, it's not just agonising, but can cause damage) that I had to use a bedpan. My surgeon insists on 5 days in bed, no getting up. But you get released from hospital on day 8.
The skin from my scrotal sac had been used to create a vagina and the tip of my penis was left in place. When I finally dared to look, I was horrified. The whole area was purple with bits of skin dropping off. Even my doctor said he had never seen anything quite like it.
Did I mention that I'm not impressed by any of the UK surgeons? Bellringer on a good day is OK, as I'm sure many other UK surgeons are. But I've heard worse, and seen pictures of worse. That's why I chose Dr Suporn in Thailand.

Interesting that the vagina was formed from the scrotum, I thought none of the UK surgeons did that particular procedure, only the more routine penile inversion. It's trucky, and even now only a handful of Thai surgeons use it. It produces the best results, but is more difficult to perform successfully.
After being discharged, I got an infection that made things even more painful. I spent weeks after the operation in real pain. Just walking was agonising, and I couldn't sit down for at least three weeks.

It's now five years since the surgery and I am still suffering. Sometimes the stabbing pain wakes me in the middle of the night, but more often than not, it greets me as I wake up in the morning, a constant reminder of what I've done to my body.
See previous remarks re UK surgeons, competence thereof. I hope she can save enough to get some revision surgery done. Dr Suporn is the most expensive of the Thai surgeons, but any revision procedure is free. He doesn't have to do many of those.
The hormone tablets I have to take on a daily basis leave me with
frequent and intense migraines and sporadic mood swings. I've lost five stone due to the pain and developed anorexia as a result of the stress. I now weigh just nine stone.
Sounds as if she needs a better Endocrinologist. But on the NHS, I guess she has no choice. Meanwhile, I'm trying to lose weight!
I am attracted to women but have no real hope of finding one who would understand, especially now I've had the surgery. I can confidently say having this operation has ruined my life, but I've been told there is no chance I can have a reversal.
The odds aren't good, but I think she'd be surprised. There are many lesbian women out there who are far more thoughtful and understanding than she knows. But, as I said, the odds aren't good. Less than 50/50. But really, it's the only game in town. I'm sorry she has regrets, but I think she'd be even more unhappy with the status quo. She just had too high expectations, that's all.
After all the years of waiting, all the counselling and all the risks I've taken, I'd sincerely love to say that it's been worth it. But it hasn't.

I don't feel any more a woman than I did before.
Of course not! Neither do I! I was a woman before, and am no more and no less of a woman after! There is no such thing as a "sex change" operation, just one that partially corrects a brain-body mismatch. I think perhaps surgery was the wrong thing for this person, or maybe it was just the execution that was ... I won't say "botched", but I will say "suboptimal" with an "unfortunate result". (Surgeon-speak for "botched").
In fact, I just feel like a man with no penis. I can't bear to look at myself in the mirror naked. I've removed all the big mirrors from my house and only
have a small one in the bathroom for when I brush my teeth.

When I go out I still get called "sir" or "mate". To everyone else, I'm still the man I was.
Having seen her... if only she had $50,000, and could go to an FFS (Facial Feminisation Surgery) specialist. She has a facial structure that would really benefit. It would give her confidence, and relieve her misery. I'm sure it would totally rebuild her shattered life. I think her problem is not that the surgery was wrong or her, but that it has left her looking less than feminine, and that can be both depressing and personally dangerous.

Meanwhile I'm here in Chonburi, looking at all the beautiful women who have had this surgery, and eating my heart out with envy. Never mind, I look adequate, and thus should count my blessings.

I'd like to think the Mirror paid her enough for her story so she can have surgery, anyway.

The Morning After the Night Before

Well, I survived. :)

Seriously, it wasn't that bad. What was supposed to be a 30 minute procedure turned into almost 2 hours, but otherwise things went off better than could have been expected. I was put under at 1745 (I looked at the clock as they were giving me the drug) and was semiconscious and in the recovery room at 1945.

Unlike all other times I've been under a general, it wasn't just a matter of "going under...waking up" with no awareness of any gap in between, in this one I had vivid dreams, more real than reality. It was only when I vaguely heard my name being spoken from far away that I realised it was time to don my body again, and return to the Real World. That was still in the operating theatre.

It took a while. It felt peculiar to once again have the bother of having arms and legs, but I knew that as the drug wore off, my brain and body couldn't help but re-connect once more, all I had to do was let it happen.

At 2030 I was walked to my hotel room - and by 2130 I was up and about, still a little unsteady on my pins, but able to grab some delectable sate (I hadn't eaten in 24 hours), and some orange juice from the local supermarket.

Today will be a day of rest, just vegging. The exercise I did yesterday sped up my metbolism to break down the anaesthetic into by-products, now I will rest and let my liver dispose of those. One of the 50 ways to love your liver.

I'm a little sore, but far less so than I have been in the last 4 months. A little blood, but again, nothing near as bad as it was before. Nor quite 100% yet, but heading that way.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Gates Of Jerusalem


Well, one of them anyway. (click to enlarge)
And some Israeli Police on horses that look as if they should have been descended from those of Richard Coeur de Lyon, but are most likely descended from the "Walers" of the Australian Light Horse that charged at Beersheba. As it was Shabat, the Police were actually Druze, one of the many ethnic groups in a very multicultural Israel.(click to enlarge the picture)

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Doctorate Blues

From an e-mail yesterday from my Doctoral Supervisor:
FYI, the AutoCRC are going to wind down the "Software Complexity" project. However, they will continue to fund your scholarships provided we can either switch you to another project (highly unlikely given the project list) or we put our heads together to propose a different software project that is of benefit for the wider CRC membership. So, if you have any ideas that you'd like to put forward then please feel free to do so.
Life continues to be interesting. But I certainly picked the right time to suspend study or a few months, it will give me time to re-plan the re-start.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Good News From Thailand

I took a risk, travelling to Israel with my medical condition. I didn't think it would worsen it, but there was always a chance that I'd over-do things. The day I arrived in Tel Aviv, things were pretty dire.

But... things started to improve. So much so, that it's now better than it has been for months. I didn't have any Chicken Soup, but I did have lots of Kosher Cooking. Maybe that's it.

A recent medical exam showed the external stuff is still not good, and requires surgical reconstruction under General Anaesthetic. But the bit that was of most concern, the "difficult to get at" bit, is now no longer the size of 2 eggs, but 2 peas. A simple cauterisation should suffice.

So instead of a complex multi-hour procedure, a relatively simple one doable in half an hour or an hour is all I need. Once again, I've lucked out.

Whew!

Saturday, 7 July 2007

...to Chonburi

Here I an, ensconced in the Mercure Hotel, Chonburi, after a gruelling flight.

I've already acquired some Twinings English Breakfast Teabags, chocolate, and other essential ingredients that make life worthwhile.

The Kosher tea in Israel was the one downside in the whole experience, and getting milk to have with it was quite an exercise. Israel has some of the best Coffee in the world, or so I'm told, but for a confirmed Tea Drinker, it's a desert.

I'm not alone here - there's a couple from the US Virgin Islands that I've been in contact with for a year or two, and they're here as well. I've just been showing Theresa the local supermarkets, ice cream parlours, and if she needs some comfort food from home, the local KFC and Mackers too.

I really need to lose weight - the medical problems I've been having mean that even walking more than a kilometre or two was a major effort, and I'll be so glad to have things fixed up at last! The problems have meant that I haven't been getting any exercise, so my already less than girlish figure has ballooned out.

That didn't stop me from getting some of my favourite food here though, immediately after I arrived. There's a stall that sells sate sticks, 2 bites per stick, for 3 baht each. 90 baht, a little over $3.50 Australian, gets you 30 sticks, with a bagful of peanut sauce and another of salad. As I'd only eaten two lots of airline food in the previous 36 hours, I splurged. Then a nice, relaxing bubble-bath with a Steven King Novel. And today, after a healthy breakfast of all the salad I could eat with chilli dressing, showing Theresa around, just as Mardie (another long-distance friend of mine) showed the ropes to me in November.

Now for another long, relaxing soak, letting my cares float away after what was a very productive but very gruelling time in Israel. Despite the medical problems, and being away from those I love, Life's pretty good at the moment, and I intend making the most of it!

Friday, 6 July 2007

From Ben Gurion

Not the man, he's been dead for some years, and my laptop doesn't have an integral Ouija Board. Though I'm sure someone will make a plug-in some day.

No, this post is from Ben Gurion Airport, where I'm about to depart from Israel in the general direction of Australia. But "general direction" is right, I'm actually going to Thailand for a while before returning home, for a major body tune-up under General Anaesthetic.

It's been a hectic few days. My emergency replacement Mastercard arrived at the hotel a scant few hours before I checked out to go to the airport. And I had the peculiar sensation of looking at some code I wrote a Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away. Well, in Bremen, Germany, 15 years ago, in a previous Incarnation.

I always used to put my name as "A.E.Brain". No first name.

Now "Alan" is my favourite name for a guy (though I have a certain sneaking fondness for Andrew too). Had I been a guy, I would have worn it with pride. But somehow, something inside me preferred to just put down my initials, and had done since my teens.

Another thing learnt about myself.

I'll write about Israel later. Suffice to say that it would have been easy to imagine I was in a part of Sydney, or the Gold Coast, despite the driving on the right, and the signs in Hebrew, Arabic, and only then English (Anglit in Hebrew).

More later, when I'm in Chonburi, Thailand.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

For Exercise, For Exercise, For Exercise

The building has just been hit by an Iranian missile. All personnel leave the building and proceed to the evacuation area immediately.

I repeat, For Exercise, For Exercise, For Exercise.


We didn't - we were in the middle of a meeting, with some animals more equal than others.

And as I was writing this, there was a live-fire exercise on the sea outside the hotel. At least, by the lack of response and general relaxation of those in the area, I assume it was an exercise. Might have been rifle calibre guns nearby, though from the reflected flashes, more likely 40mm out to sea. Though there's an anti-aircraft firing range not far away, it could have been that.

Less spectacular by far than the artillery firing range not far from us in Canberra.

I like this place. A lot like Sydney - though I haven't the heart to say to my hosts that their wonderful beaches that they're so proud of aren't up to the quality of those I grew up near, back in Oz.

Looking back on my eventful trip on Saturday, and changing the subject completely, Jerusalem is one heck of an inconvenient place to plonk a city. Seriously, the Old City is built on a small plateau surrounded by rugged mountains - suitable terrain for Mountain Goats and little else. Most of the buildings in the suburbs are built on gradients of over 50 degrees, not so much built on the mountainsides as built into them.

Life continues to be interesting. Not always good, though never boring. And I've just had some of the best hommous I've ever tasted, with falafel, pita bread, onions, chillies, olives... extreme yummyness. As I said, I like this place.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Barabas' Followers

I was about 100 metres into the Old City when the zip on my handbag was deftly opened, and my wallet taken.

But while getting 10/10 for sleight of hand, the pickpocket doesn't get a passing grade. His only chance (about 20 seconds long) came while in view of a security cam, and so the police will get him (eventually). He's well-known to them.

This does rather complicate life though. All my Israeli currency, and a good proportion of my Australian currency is gone, as is my credit card. Paying for stage I of my journey is taken care of. Stage II, Thailand, I have a problem with, as there was a mixup regarding my travel insurance.

And I lost one of my favourite earrings after getting back to the hotel too.

I'll write more later, when I'm a little more composed. I will say though that the members of the Israeli police force that have helped me were not just efficient, but kind too. They did everything they could to help, offering sandwiches, putting on ethnic music, and going well beyond the "call of duty" standard. If I hadn't have lost so much, I never would have met them.

Who else do you make Sergeant of the police station that attempts to stop Syrian, Coptic, Orthodox (Greek) Orthodox (Russian) from beating each other up, but a Circassian Muslim? That makes sense in Jerusalem.

It's really difficult believing Israel is an "apartheid state" when you have to go to an Israeli Arab bakery to get Pita bread. Today is Shabat (Saturday - but Sunday in Canberra), you see, and everywhere else is closed. *sigh*