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Welcome to my blog, which I started way back in December 2002 - long before social media was a thing! With the advent of Facebook, Twitter etc. I don't write that often here now, but you never know when I might feel the urge to do so.

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Anatomy for Beginners

Friday, January 28, 2005

Like many people in the UK I've been watching Channel 4's Anatomy for Beginners this week. I I have to say I've found it absolutely fascinating - it's one thing to read how the body works, but something else to actually see it.

When I first heard of Dr Gunther von Hagen's infamous Body Worlds exhibition I have to say I was unsure of what to make of it. There is part of the human psyche that is profoundly uncomfortable with being in close proximity to our dead, and at the time I felt that this exhibition might be going too far. Needless to say, I never went to see it.

After seeing this programme I've changed my mind, for seeing how the body functions in such detail is the most stunning demonstration I can imagine of how beautiful nature is. Our bodies are amazing biological creations and incredibly resilient. No matter how we abuse them (a diet of junk food is a bad enough form of self abuse, but smoking? :omg they don't complain, and do their best to cope. It's a miracle we live as long as we do, given the stresses and pathogens our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that I found the programme on reproduction particularly interesting. Unlike many of those in the audience I saw, I didn't find the sight of the doctor cutting open the reproductive organs a difficult sight to bear either...I guess reassignment surgery gave me a new perspective on more things than I realised!

I must admit I never thought I'd say this but if I had the chance to be in the audience for such an event I'd take it now. Highly recommended.

Posted by Anna at 14:28 | Get Link

The girl I fell in love with loves my muffins...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bad (but tasty) foodWe've all got an occasional foody treat we like. Some combination of ingredients, prepared in a way unique to us, and frequently, well....odd. I'm certainly no exception, and over time I've gone through my fair share of fads. Most of them (remember double decker sandwiches? there's a fad that was so 1980s) I've well and truly grown out of, but there are one or two that have stayed with me since student days.

I've always had a savoury (rather than sweet) tooth, and a taste for cheese. After discovering toasted sandwich makers shortly before going to University, you can guess what happened...various toasty combinations, many of which involved (you guessed it) cheese. The stronger the better, of course.

One toasty combination I discovered (while working with Christian Union in the Coffee Bar in aid of War On Want during my second year,*) was tuna and cheese. Nice.

One of the other tricks I learnt along the way was how to make cheese on toast interesting. It's pretty simple really...add herbs, spices, onions, tomato, mushroom...whatever you fancy. Delicious.

The final (and most important) ingredient is Encona West Indian Hot Pepper Sauce, an imported pepper sauce (readily available in the UK). It's a spicy little number which you'd be well advised to treat with respect - about four drops of that is more than enough for most dishes unless you have very strong tastebuds. Trust me - it's that hot!!

Why stop at toast though? To anyone familiar with Red Dwarf, the phrase "Can I interest you in a muffin?" will be a familiar one which probably causes rolled eyes and an expression which can literally be translated as "oh god not that bloody toaster again....". We're talking muffins, and in particular the wholemeal variety (they're healthier than that nasty white stuff, after all). It was an obvious progression to put my savoury snack habit together with this most delicious of toasted treats, and before I knew it, Anna's muffin surprise was born. The pepper sauce as ever proved to be the exquisite touch that just made the end result complete.

When Beth and I first met last June toasty snacks were of course the last thing on our minds, but as time has passed we've began (as do most couples) to share more and more of our lives. One of the things I've learnt is that Beth has as much of a taste for spices as I do, and we've had a lot of fun concocting different ways to add spice (no pun intended) to our meals, particularly those based on Beth's own "Chickpeas are your friends" receipes. *

So to tonight, and the point of this long ramble through my culinary history as a graduate of the Throw it all in School of Catering when Beth yet again asked me to make some of those "nice spicy muffins". Make no mistake - she's hooked.

Although my tastes have evolved over time (I won't say matured, that would be just too much!) I obviously still know my muffins.

Feel free to groan now.

Posted by Anna at 22:38 | Get Link

Back from London

Friday, January 21, 2005

Well we're back from London now, and trying to catch up on everything we missed while we were offline for the day.

London's a strange place. Although it's about as impersonal and frantic as a city can be, there are parts of it that (after three years of travelling there for one appointment of another to do with my treatment) I'm so familiar with that it almost feels like home.

Earl's Court is one such place, home as it is to the London Institute - consultant gender psychiatrist Dr Russell Reid's practice. I've lost count of the number of times I've turned left outside the tube station and walked the 300 yards to 10 Warwick Road. When I've made that walk on weekdays during school hours the happy sound of children playing in the nearby nursery school always makes me smile.

When I was undergoing laser treatment with Christianos at the Institute I was making this trip at least once a month, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that there was strong sense of deja vu as we walked up Warwick Road. It's actually the first time I've been there for a year; the last time I came I'd just had my reassignment surgery and I was preparing to fly back out to Chonburi for facial feminisation surgery. How time flies.

We'd arranged to meet two of our friends - Alex and Jayne - at the Institute, and arrived to find them sitting outside waiting for us (Russell's secretary Sue isn't keen on us using the Institude as a meeting place, but everyone does anyway ). My appointment was only 15 minutes away by then, so after exchanging greetings they wandered off to a nearby cafe to wait for us, while we went inside to wait.

By the time I went in to see him it was 12:45...only 15 minutes late, which isn't so bad. Russell's timekeeping has definitely improved since I first went there...I remember one appointment running an hour and a half late! He just likes talking with people (no bad thing, given his profession) and appointments often overrun as a result.

The appointment was chatty and relaxed as usual. As well as updating him on my recovery and events in my life since the last time we met (my recovery from GRS and FFS, work etc). As ever, he seemed genuinely interested in how I was getting on.

He was also curious to know a little more abut my experiences with the Suporn Clinic, in particular about prospects for long term recovery and the patient care regime they practice. Obviously, with such major surgery the prospects for recovery are significantly improved if the patient is healthy, has a reasonable diet, takes care to rest sufficiently after surgery and is not a smoker. The latter in particular has a huge effect on recovery, as any surgeon will tell you! When I told him how insistant the Clinic were that patients did not smoke (and the penalties for being caught defyinhg this instruction), he seemed genuinely impressed.

Of course we also discussed the problems I've been having in my hormone regime. According to Russell, upping the dose of Progynova I was taking beyong 6mg was unlikely to help - the symptoms I had are consistant with my body being resistant to estradiol valerate (the active ingedient in Progynova).

He suggested that a reasonable alternative would be Zumenon (micronised oestrogen), but agreed that reverting to my previous regime (two Yasmin tablets daily) with the addition of one 10mg Duphaston tablet would be reasonable for the next year or so. Once my body has settled down again, I'll be in a position to experiment again.

I have to say that Russell seemed more relaxed and at ease than he has in the past (better groomed to). I imagine that's due to the problems he's been having with Richard Green and his sidekicks(who made allegations about him to the GMC last year) are becoming less of an issue.

After the appointment we wandered off for lunch (at Dinos on Earls Court Road) with Alex and Jayne. It's always good to catch up with friends, and yesterday was no exception.

All in all a long but satisfying day. Until next year.

Posted by Anna at 23:06 | Get Link

Off to see Uncle Russell again

Monday, January 17, 2005

Just a quick heads up for anyone likely to be in the vicinity of the London Institute (Dr. Russell Reid's practice) in Earls Court on Thursday. My 1 year post-op follow up appointment is at 12:30pm, so if you're in the area that day you may well bump into us.

Although this appointment is pretty much a formality (the issues I have in my life now are not things a psychiatrist can help with!) I do intend to take the opportunity to review my hormone prescription.

In July last year I changed my hormone regime (see the post New hormones, Please!) from two Yasmin tablets per day (each containing 30ug of the synthetic oestrogen Ethinyloestradiol and 3mg of the progestin Drospirenone) to three Progynova (each containing 2mg of the oestrogen Oestradiol Valerate) and two Duphaston (each containing 10mg of the progestin Dydrogesterone).

Although this combination should be safer and equally effective long term, it just hasn't worked for me. The first thing I noticed was that my hair was losing condition; I then started having problems with dry skin, and I stopped self lubricating. More visibly, I rapidly lost breast development - from a mid sized 36B to a small 36A in less than three months.

By October I'd decided enough was enough and modified my regime slightly, by substituting a Yasmin tablet for one of the Progynova. The results have been striking - my bust is developing (rapidly!) again, my skin and hair are in better condition and I'm starting to self lubricate again. Intriguingly, my nipples are now more sensitive than they have been in the past, which I can only assume has something to do with the Duphaston.

I need to discuss all of this with Russell next Thursday, and try to identify a regime that actually works for me. Right now, it seems that despite the increased risk, switching back to two Yasmin tablets per day - but with a single 10mg Duphaston tablet - might be a good option. We'll see.

Posted by Anna at 21:29 | Get Link

A night at the ballet...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I'm always open to new experiences, but like most people many of the things I'd like to try (parascending or learning to fly are good examples!) are likely to remain unfulfilled. Ultimately, time, money and the other day to day coniderations of life conspire against the new experiences that can so easily widen our perception of what matters in life.

For me, one such experience is the arts. Although I find what little I've experienced firsthand fascinating and moving I've barely explored that side of my character at all. In fact, throughout my whole life I've been to the theatre (for example) just once - to see an open air production of The Merchant of Venice at Highclere Castle near Newbury back in (I think) 1995. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, the opportunity to repeat the experience hasn't come yet. Maybe I just haven't tried hard enough - I really don't know.

That's not to say that theatre is the only thing I'd like to experience of course - part of the problem is that I don't really know what I'd really enjoy until I experience it!

Such an opportunity has just come around, and in an area of the arts which I'd never even considered - ballet, of all things! When our friend Jayne told us she had two spare tickets for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Sadlers Wells Theatre we quite literally jumped at the chance!

I honestly didn't know what to expect at all, but from the moment the conductor bowed to the audience and the orchestra started playing I was absolutely hooked. Although the cast didn't speak throughout the performance, they more than made up for it in the expressiveness of their movements, facial expressions and body language (at one point it actually struck me that in their roles there was a real similarity with the role of actors in the old silent movies...I wonder how many of them had a background in ballet? Intriguing). I found myself rapt, and struggling to take in everything that was happening on stage - no mean feat, considering the cast is approaching 30 in size!

As well as the expressiveness of the performers, the sets themselves were truly amazing. From the drunken seediness of Swanks Bar to the haunting eeriness of City Park, each set was atmospheric and convincing. To this rank outsider, all of the scene changes were seamless and didn't get in the way of the story at all. In fact, they rather added to the magic of it all.

As well as being engaging and absolutely beautiful, the performance was also truly the end I could feel the tears literally streaming down my face, and that didn't stop while the cast and conductor took their curtain calls. The audience just didn't want the show to end - and neither did I.

This really was a new experience for me, and one I'll definitely be repeating when we can afford to. This girl is hooked.

Finally, if you want to know more of about this production, you might find the following links of interest:

Posted by Anna at 23:30 | Get Link

True friends will always be there

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I had a long overdue chat to my friend Bev tonight. Although it's been a little while since we've spoken and both of our lives are in the process of changing significantly at the moment, the time doesn't seem to matter - our friendship is as strong as ever.

It was wonderful to hear how her kids are doing - her daughter Kerensa (whom I first met back in August 2002 during my first foray into living as myself) is now starting time flies!! Nate - who's a year old now - is going from strength to strength and seems to be developing a character that's entirely his own. Aren't kids wonderful?

No matter what was going on in her life, Bev has always gone out of her way to help me when I needed it, and today was no exception - knowing the challenges I face in my life, she offered to talk to the prayer groups in her church to ask them to pray for me and those I love.

That's truly what friends are for.

Posted by Anna at 21:37 | Get Link

"Fast Track" Gender Recognition Applications can now be made

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I've just received the following from Press For Change. It should be self explanatory:

I've had a quick scan of the site and the forms look fairly self explanatory, although they do include a statutory declaration which needs to be witnessed by a magistrate or solicitor (which won't be free, of course).

Although I'm not eligable to apply yet (that will happen in July 2005) I'm sure you will appreciate that this is a huge step forward for transpeople in the UK. Provided the GRP isn't swamped with applicants, by Christmas next year I should have my new birth certificate.

Posted by Anna at 09:32 | Get Link

The new year brings recognition for two of our own

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Another bit of news from PFC. Two of their campaigners have been awarded honoursin the New Year Honours Lists:

I'd like to extend my congratulations not only to Christine and Stephen, but also to everyone who's played some part - however small - in the process of achieving legal and social recognition for us. We won't forget.

Posted by Anna at 01:15 | Get Link

Tickling the New Year in...

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Enough said.

Happy New Year from us both!

Postscript: To all those who sent us anonymous New Year Greetings by txt message from numbers we didn't recognise, or whose mobiles weren't accepting any more messages - Happy New Year!

Posted by Anna at 01:11 | Get Link