Journal

Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.

Next stop - withdrawl symptoms!

Posted by Anna at 23:29 on Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Into the home strait now. I've just stopped my hormones in preparation for my surgery.

Next stop - withdrawl symptoms!

A wonderful weekend

Posted by Anna at 23:09 on Monday, October 27, 2003
I've just spent a wonderful weekend visiting my friend Susie in Kent.

After a lazy morning on Saturday we did a little shopping in Canterbury, before visiting a local bar (Bar 11) and then going for a meal at an amazing Thai Restaurant (The Bangkok House).

Sunday started off fairly lazy too - we watched Moulin Rouge in the morning (which really set the tears flowing, of course!), then headed off to Ashford in the late afternoon to see Intolerable Cruelty at the cinema (a very funny film!) followed by pizza and drinks at a bar nearby.

The most amazing bit is that by the next time we meet (11th December if all goes to plan) I'll be 4 weeks post-op. What an incredible thought.

Isolation at work

Posted by Anna at 12:00 on Saturday, October 25, 2003
Anyone who�s been following my progress over the last few months may remember that at times I�ve been feeling terribly isolated at work.

I feel that is largely a result of the fact that I work in a male dominated environment. Although that�s to be expected given my profession (I�m a software developer) it�s made harder by the physical layout of the building � I�m the only female on my team and (in fact) on my floor. Although there was another, she was made redundant in February � an event which forcibly brought home to me how much coming into contact with other women during the day means to me.

I should explain why that's so.

Although I expected transition to be a painful process, that pain has not manifested itself in the way I expected. In fact, I�ve actually found the day to day routine stuff (which many approaching transition simply dread) rather easy. What I wasn�t prepared for was the intensity of the emotional pain � whether due to isolation (at work and socially), divorce, etc.

It�s a time of huge change, the effects of which compounded by the elevated hormone doseage I�m currently taking (and will be for several months yet). This is all rather complicated, and I suspect it�s very difficult to understand for most (especially the guys I work with).

Most days, that contact doesn't happen. Sometimes I can shrug that off�but on others I just can't � it really depends upon my emotional state and how I�m feeling that day.

My company has recently begun to make efforts to improve things. Although the one change they could make which would immediately make things easier for me (moving me to an environment where I wasn't so isolated) isn't practical, they are at least trying now.

On Friday we had a visit from a counsellor working for the Gender Trust. She held two discussion sessions - one with the female staff in the morning and a second with my project team in the afternoon. Attendance at both was voluntary, and to their credit, just about everyone turned up. It's intended that these meetings will be just the start of a process which will hopefully improve understanding on all sides.

I came into both discussions towards the end. In both cases, the discussion was positive and I'm told that no misgivings were expressed about my transition by other members of staff.

I've been trying to figure out my feelings about the discussions - and particularly the second meeting. At the first (with the female staff), I felt totally welcome and able to talk freely and openly without reservation.

By contrast, I found the second meeting profoundly upsetting as it just highlighted the lack of understanding my colleagues have for me at an emotional level. Whilst I wouldn't expect them to be able to understand at anything like the level many of the female staff have demonstrated they can, to hear their unwillingness to talk about any significant aspect of what I'm going through hurts terribly.

That's not their fault, but a result of the conditioning they've been brought up with. I know they wish me well and are giving me every support on my journey. That's something to be thankful for, but at the moment I still can't help feeling very alone there. I can only hope that in time I'll be able to cope better. We'll see.

At least efforts are now being made to help us understand each other.

Baht Monopoly

Posted by Anna at 21:00 on Tuesday, October 21, 2003
I changed currency for my trip today so I now have a pile of cash with extremely silly denominations. Fancy a game of Monopoly...?

Shopping for pressies...and a new addition to the family

Posted by Anna at 17:43 on Sunday, October 19, 2003
I'm feeling a little happier today - probably because I went shopping after Church this morning!

My main reason for going in to town today was to see if I could pick out some Christmas presents out for my kids. Although I'll be back from Thailand before Christmas, I really don't think trying to brave the shops while 4 weeks post-op is a good idea - besides, which, I'll be staying with Susie in Kent until new Year, so getting the pressies there might prove problematical...

Although I didn't buy anything for them today, I've now got some idea about what to get them. It's harder than it has been in the past because I've not seen them since May, so I'm getting very little feedback on what they'd like. Oh well.

From a personal perspective, going into town and being around people also helps me to keep my sanity!

I have to admit that I did buy a few things for myself - in particular a new handbag for my trip to Thailand (from a rather lovely oriental girl on one of the stalls in the precinct) and a rather nice V-cut top in just the sort of style I like (for �2.99 from H&M!).

Now the big news of the day...as a result of today's expedition my little friend Tewkesbury has acquired a girlfriend! I've named her Sunrise as it just seemed right...



Jane called a few minutes ago so I may well pop over and see her later on. Right now though, I feel a curry coming on...

A (too) quiet weekend

Posted by Anna at 21:55 on Saturday, October 18, 2003
I feel very alone tonight. It doesn't help that friends nearby who say they will call haven't. That hurts.

With only a couple of exceptions, the friends who do call are those I've met on my journey - but most live miles away so I don't see them that often.

I really despise this town.

Four weeks to go...

Posted by Anna at 23:05 on Thursday, October 16, 2003
Exactly four weeks from now I'll be waking up on the morning of my surgery. What an amazing thought that is!

The nerves haven't hit yet - and maybe they won't until the posse of Thai nurses arrives at my door to escort me to theatre...

Good luck Toni!

Posted by Anna at 16:00 on Sunday, October 12, 2003
A little thank you to Toni, Tina and Maria for the wonderful and fun meal in Southampton on Saturday. I had a great time, and I hope it won't be too long before we all get a chance to do it again...

Toni - good luck on your trip. I'll see you out there!

Having needles poked into your face is fun...honest!

Posted by Anna at 23:07 on Wednesday, October 08, 2003
I had my first electrolysis session this evening (I've been having laser up until now, but it's not making any progress now). As I expected, it was painful, but nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Emla cream helped greatly on the chin, so I must get some more from my GP!

I tried both high frequency diathermy and blend methods - of the two the diathermy method was less painful. Blend caused some particularly unpleasant feelings in my lower front teeth! Ironically, according to my electrolgist most people find Blend the less painful of the two...I guess I'm just unusual in more ways than one.

I found similar comments in the article Electrolysis in Transsexuals on the Looking Glass Society's site, which also suggests that, of the two results, diathermy produces quicker results. We'll see.

Looking at it objectively, this is going to take quite some time, particularly as there's going to be two months while I'm not undergoing treatment while out in Thailand. I've a lot of fine hairs (particularly on the chin) which aren't going anywhere fast.

Hopefully by the middle of next year I'll see some real progress. In the meantime, well I'm not throwing out my razor!

U166 wreck survey

Posted by Anna at 22:12 on Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Something a little different for a change. We received the following at work today:

    This week the NOAA Research Vessel RONALD H. BROWN is at the wreck of U-166, a Type IXC U-boat sunk in 1942 in the Gulf of Mexico. The multidisciplinary project, led by archaeologists from C&C Technologies, is completing a full documentation of the site and performing additional biological experiments to better understand the circumstances of her loss and the dynamics of this deep-sea wreck. Daily updates through the end of this week can be found here:

    http://www.pastfoundation.org/U166/DailyUpdates.htm

    My company (Sonardyne) are supplying the acoustic positioning equipment and Pharos software (the product I work on) used to track the ROV around the survey site.

    One of the major jobs on the first day was calibrating the transponder array which is a part of the system I'm largely responsible for, so here's hoping there's no bug reports tomorrow!

Friends and nostalgia

Posted by Anna at 19:05 on Sunday, October 05, 2003
Yet another week passes, and with it my surgery draws ever closer. There's 5 weeks and just over 4 days to go now, and as each day passes I grow more reconciled with the next big step on my journey - and (just as important) what that step will mean to my future.

This week's actually been rather busy for me - on Tuesday I had a long phone chat with a former colleague from my last company (I left in June 1998) and he was bringing me up to date on what's happened there since. From what he told me, it looks like I left at just the right time...

One thing that did make me laugh was that apparently when news of my transition broke within the company (after someone there read my updated profile on Friends Reunited) I was the topic of conversation (or gossip?) for quite some time - and (even more astonishingly) my picture was apparently wallpaper on quite a few company PCs...

I've never been "famous" before, and somehow the whole thing appeals to my sense of humour.

Wednesday was a little surreal and nostalgic too, as I went back to Surrey University to meet a friend (she works there) for a drink and a chat. I can't believe how much the place has changed since I graduated in 1989...everywhere there are new buildings, and I'm told the campus population is now around 10,000 - a far cry from the 3,000 there when I was a student. Amazing.

I didn't do anything Thursday or Friday evening, but my friend Susie has been visiting this weekend and it's been wonderful not to be alone at the weekend. As an added bonus, that also meant I had an opportunity to cook one of my monster curries for her on Friday evening (well she did say she fancied something spicy!). It was certainly a pleasant change from cooking for one.

Last night we went out for a fantastic meal with my friends Dave and Elaine from my Church. I was surprised to find that the pub we ended up at was the same place Tessa and I went for a drink when we met. Small world.

Today's just been a chilled out day of music and chat. Very relaxing - I think we both needed the break, and it's done us both a lot of good.