Select Page
Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

Before I knew it I was the beginning of March, and suddenly I had a flurry of hospital appointments for the various tests that had been ordered on my previous visit to the endocrinologist on Tenerife back in January ( see https://helresa.com/taking-flight/ for details)

So in the space of a week, I had a number of vials of blood taken, my breasts squeezed in a vice like device and laid on a human version of a flatbed scanner. After all that it was time once again to board the plane that would take me the short hop across the water.

Soon I reached the hospital to find things a little chaotic due to an IT failure on the booking system, and then the Nurse getting a little confused because they couldn’t find me in the system, until I realised they had got my names mixed up and were thinking that Theresa Jo-Anne was my surname. Many Spanish people get confused by the fact that I only have one surname as in Spain you normally have two.

Eventually I did get in to see the Doctor and it was a bad news, good news type situation. The bad news was that my bone density scan wasn’t in the system, and my blood tests showed that I am borderline diabetic. But the good news was that once I signed the consent form to agree that I was OK taking a medicine for something other than it’s licensed purpose ( Technically estrogen is not licensed for use on trans people ) I was able to walk out of there with a prescription for estrogen patches and some other meds to help me not go full diabetic.

After a bite to eat and a lovely walk around the historic center of La Laguna it was time to head back to the airport and my flight home, only when I scanned my phone over the scanner it wouldn’t let be enter security. Then I looked and despite my paper reservation clearly showing today’s date, somehow the app was showing a date for tomorrow. This entailed a quick run to the check in desk and thankfully she was able to change things pretty quickly and I made the flight.

It then took another couple of days to get the patches as the pharmacy was out of stock, and then the first patch didn’t stick all that well, but now I’ve gotten used to applying them again and things are going great. The only other big shock is that when I finally got the results from my bone scan, it appears that due to the lack of hormones for 11 years I now do in fact have the bone density in my lower spine of a 95 year old woman.

I shall wait and see what happens on this after my next appointment in Tenerife in July.

Taking Flight

Taking Flight

It was a dull grey day at the end of January when I eventually got to fly to the appointment with the endocrinologist in Tenerife. Having a 10 o’clock appointment meant the only flight that was available to me in order to get there on time was the first flight of the morning at 8am. In order to make sure I made the flight I arrived at the airport an hour before, it’s a rare occasion that you are forced to wait for the security checkpoints to open. When they did it was straight through and on to the plane.

Taking off and climbing above the clouds in the early morning light was an experience, it helped immensely to reduce some of the nerves that I had been feeling about this trip, that had only been made worse by a weeks delay. The downside of the flight from La Palma to Tenerife is how brief it is, before you know it we were preparing to land in Tenerife.

Walking from the plane right past the baggage collection belts and winding my way through the throngs of tourists, I headed downstairs to locate the bus to the interchange, because in a great piece of logic, the tram system in Tenerife does not extend to the airport. This means taking a 5 min bus ride before I could change to the tram which delivers me right outside the hospital.

The next challenge was to figure out which of the many buildings that make up the university hospital was the one I needed to be in. When I had located the building, getting to the right place was easy as I knew which floor as that was on the appointment letter. The first thing when I arrived was being sent down to the nurse to be weighed and measured.

Then it was in with the doctor, most of the chat was going over my medical history, good job I had brought my initial report from Dr Reid and the surgical report from Dr Seghers, without these I might have had some issues proving that I had a trans diagnosis in the past. Some of his questions did seem intrusive especially regarding my sex life, however given the nature of the interview, it was understandable.

Then followed something that I hadn’t totally been prepared for, a physical examination, nothing particularly intimate. However I was on edge, when he said my blood pressure was a little high, and maybe it was due to being in hospital, I thought, “I’m sitting here in my knickers being poked and prodded and you don’t expect my blood pressure to be high”.

Once that was over and I was dressed, it was time to get the paperwork. First he wanted a full blood test to check my baseline hormone levels, a bone density scan to see what damage being off hormones has done to my skeleton. He also put me in for a mammogram due to the fact that my mother had breast cancer. He also gave me a copy of the contract I would have to sign to start hormone treatment, I have to sign this to say that I give consent due to the fact that technically the medicines are not licensed for what we are using them for.

With all this done I shall return on the 12th March and hopefully 12 years after arriving in Spain I will be back on HRT

Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn

This week I came close to a crash and burn, by Friday I was not in a good place and in fact my mind was going to places where it hadn’t been in a long time.
I realised that things were getting bad when on Friday morning while washing my face in the kitchen sink (still don’t have an indoor bathroom) I had serious thoughts of just reaching over to the knife block and pulling out a knife from it and cutting my arm. The thought passed in a flash but just the fact that my mind went there was scary, I’m still here and I’m coping better today but I need to process how I got to this point.
Over the last few months work has been pretty stressful, there are a number of factors, but somehow it has ended up with several projects all coming to a head in the next couple of weeks with compressed timescales, and some significant technical hurdles to overcome. This has meant a lot of chopping and changing and juggling with other day to day issues that we have to deal with.
Then Friday morning the bombshell hit, this was a front pager article in the Daily Telegraph, now I’m used to the regular Sunday morning hate piece from the Times but for some reason this was personal. As many of you may know I worked at the Telegraph for a number of years and while I was there I was very open about that fact that I was a trans woman. To see this transphobic article on the front page felt like a betrayal, now I know it has been 11 years since I left for Spain, but it will always have a soft spot in my heart due to the acceptance and respect I felt there.
I realised that I am once again teetering on the edge of a complete burnout, so I will take a rest this weekend and try and stave off the worst, until I can find a longer term solution.

Looking Forward

Looking Forward

It is normal for this time of year to make resolutions for the new year, I have made resolutions various times over the years and I’ve never really been that successful in keeping them. So this year I decided that I would take a slightly different track, I am to set some general goals and then some smaller actions that I can do to meet those goals. I’m not going to as far as full SMART methodology, but I would like to have thing more focused than just a simple goal that is vague and more than likely won’t be achieved.

Lose weight

This is almost a perennial on my list, every year I have but this down on the list and every year I have finished the year not a lot different from the start.
I’m however a little more determined this year than I have been of late. So how can I achieve this, here are some simple steps I want to make this year.

Diet

Now I’m not one for fad diets, I’ve tried them in the past and they don’t work well for me, something that I have tried and found works OK for me is to have 2 days a week when I have a restricted calorie intake. I want to continue this and also be a little more careful of the portion sizes, as I’m normally cooking for two it’s difficult as a lot of recipes are for 4 servings and just simply halving the recipe doesn’t always work out with workable quantities. So what I have been doing is when I make something for example a shepherds pie then I will make 2, one to eat then and freeze the other part for later.

Exercise

I have already started to get more exercise than I did a couple of years ago, because with going into the office most days, this enables me to park at the other end of town and walk 20 minutes to the office and back again at night. I want to add a little bit to this with some gentle core exercises once or twice a week, and hopefully introduce doing some sit ups once a week.

Language and Voice

The key things that has come out of my more recent activism and other activities is two fold, the first is that my Spanish is atrocious. I’m OK on a day to day basis but under pressure I tend to mumble and struggle to grasp for words, So I need to be a little bit more confident with the language and extend my vocabulary, I should really get back to using DuoLingo each day so that the Spanish comes easier to recall.
The next thing is my voice, when I transitioned I didn’t have any formal voice training and while again I’m OK on a day to day basis but recently I had a conference call where I had a substantial echo and it was very disconcerting, and again with doing more public speaking I’d like the experience to be a little less dysphoric. I’m going to be using “The voice book for Trans and Non-Binary people” to try and train my voice a bit better.

Thats most of the stuff that I would like to change personally on a day to day basis, there are some other things that I would like to achieve this year, but more specific things.

The Book

Having written the book last year the big thing is to get it edited into something that I feel ready to publish, I have only let one person read it so far. I deliberately left it to one side after I finished the draft so that I could come back to it again with fresh eyes in January. I’m also still hunting around for a publisher, I got one rejection so far and that was on commercial grounds as they already have a number of similar titles, but they did give me a list of other places to try. I’m still awaiting to hear from one, and a number of options are still open at this point.

Other Projects

I’m still looking at what else I can do, I’ve definitely been bitten by the writing bug and I don’t think the current book will be my last, in the meantime while I search for inspiration I hope to keep writing things for this blog and who knows maybe some other things for elsewhere.

I just identify as tired

I just identify as tired

Recently I watched the amazing, raw and thought provoking comedy special by Hanna Gadsby “Nanette”, and in it there is a line “I just identify as tired”, well that is how I feel. I’m tired..

Now I considered writing what I have to write as a thread on twitter, but I don’t think I’d have the space or the patience to cram everything down into 280 character bite sized morsels, so I’ve decided to dust of the blog and put it all down in here. Some of the things I’m going to say in here could be quite raw, so I’ll warn you now, there may be trouble ahead.

As I said at the beginning I’m tired, what is making me tired? Well it would be quicker to list what isn’t making me tired, but that wouldn’t be as interesting. So I will attempt to tackle each one in turn and try and get each one off my chest and hopefully find a way to move on.

The first thing is work, now I know there is one hell of an oxymoron complaining about work when I’m the boss, but that comes with its own set of problems, and to be honest I’ve created the problem myself. We have a reputation for delivering a great service to our clients, but as business has grown that has become increasingly difficult to deliver, and of course this taps into my fear that it’s all going to come crashing down around my ears. So I become more and more stressed about delivering projects, and with this my productivity plummets, as when stressed I have difficulty concentrating and making decisions, which leads to things taking longer, which reinforces the stress of not delivering. I need to break this cycle before I burnout, and go down in a blaze of glory. I’ve spent the last 5 years building everything up to where it is now, but I must take a step back and rethink the way I handle things to avoid a disaster. So I’ve stepped back a bit and I am resting for a few days to recharge the batteries so that I can tackle things anew.

The next thing is one that I can’t do a lot about, as it’s out of my control, I have absolutely no say in the matter at all, and that is BREXIT. Yes i’ve said it. With the UK looking increasingly likely to dive of a cliff, with no deal in place. This concerns me on several levels, as I have a number of business connections with the UK, any impact on the UK economy will have knock on effects for me, in fact it all ready has with the value of the pound dropping. Then there is the fact of my right to remain, theoretically as I have been here for a number of years I will have the right to remain in the EU, but with the UK crashing out, I have no idea of the implications, and of yet we have had no real communication of what we will have to do to maintain our residency. It’s that continued level of insecurity about the future that eats away and causes stress.

Then there is the transphobia that permeates society, predominantly in the UK and US, thankfully Spain has it to a much lesser degree. There isn’t a Sunday goes by when I don’t see another article full of outright lies and invented problems that are heaped at the foot of trans people, when groups are actively campaigning to deny access to spaces that we have been in without issue for years. Now you could say oh just ignore social media and let it be, but I can’t because I care, ever since I read about the death of Leelah Alcorn in the US I have made the decision to be an out trans woman and show the world what we can achieve. Now this has had some great moments and I was extremely proud to stand on the balcony at a local pride celebration here on the island and deliver an address to the crowd. But it hurts, every time I open social media and see people being personally attacked and hurt, and the inaction of companies like Mumsnet and Twitter in dealing with epidemic levels of transphobia on their platforms.

And family, for years I got by without connection to my own family, then in April my sister died aged 51, this resulted in me going back to the UK and reconnecting with family. That in itself was a process which induced a level of stress, having had little contact with them, although they were aware of me, and what had happened, I had no idea of what their expectations were, or even how they felt about me. Some members of the family have accepted unconditionally, some I get the feeling not so much. Then there is the thing that one half of them aren’t talking to the other half, and the petty squabbles that seem to plague our family, this hurts at times, and with the distance I’m not always in a position where I can help when needed.

And finally there is the elephant in the room, me. Apart from the fact that I am overweight and unfit, I have some issues. When I came out as trans twenty years ago, I put a lot of emotional things in storage and concentrated on getting the transition and all that out of the way. Only now am I really in the position where I am comfortable enough to start to deal with some of them. This was the aim of writing the book, to open up all these things and put them down on paper and elaborate on the consequences of these past traumas, in doing so I am learning a lot about the origins of some of my fears and doubts, but it is a draining process and not being a skilled writer it has been hard to get into the flow of writing. That then also feeds into the anxiety of not getting enough done and obsessing about not completing the targeted words per month, I don’t have a publishing deal with a deadline, so the only pressure to do it in a certain time comes from me, I want to do it and I will do it. But I have to accept that it will be done when it is done.

I also have to accept the fact that I’m depressed, and I have been for many years. I have gotten very good at hiding it behind a public face of bravado and false confidence, but deep down inside that little voice keeps nagging at me, undermining me at every turn. The last year or so I’ve started to get very serious panic attacks. I need to look seriously at dealing with this issue and that in itself could be problematic here on a small island.

So there it is I’m tired, and those are some of the reasons, I don’t have all the answers yet to solve the issues and some I just have to wait and see. But it’s all here out in the open for all to see, I hope I can keep you updated as I make progress.

Thanks Theresa