Home, but not at home 

K (my wife) and I are visiting our families this weekend while we’re in the area to see Tegan and Sara. It’s good to see my parents and relax for a bit out of the city. I love being a city dweller, but it does get overwhelming at times. It’s always nice to slow down for a minute and enjoy the quiet. 

That said, it is weird to hang out with family because I’m still not out to them. I haven’t worn my binder since we got here, which makes me feel weird and uncomfortable. Knowing my family they might not even notice, but if they did I wouldn’t want to deal with the questions. So I feel cowardly, like I’m continuing to hide important parts of myself out of fear and shame. Not to mention that the political climate here (there are Trump signs planted firmly in many yards around here) makes me feel anxious and unsafe. I knew I’d never want to live here again, but this cements it. 

In other news, an old grade school friend of mine works for a neurosurgeon in the area. She took my MRI images and reports to him and he was vehemently against me having a fusion. He said that based on what he sees in my scans, a fusion would be disastrous – it’s clear that I’m predisposed to disc issues, and a fusion would just exacerbate the process. I’d probably be totally disabled within a few years. He also said there’s no reason I can’t have another microdiscectomy – if my doctor won’t do it, that’s his prerogative, but there’s no medical reason why it couldn’t be done. He said he prefers waiting at least 6 months post surgery before doing another surgery, but he’s going to give me some names of some surgeons in Chicago. I guess if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll come down here to see him. It’s a weird combo of emotions. I’ll be glad to get back to my regular routine. 

Tomorrow we drive home, but tonight – Tegan and Sara. I’m stoked. 

Currently reading: Trans Canada My Way, from the very beginning. What an amazing blog – I identify with so much of it so far. 

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Where does the good go?

I feel like I’ve come to a weird crossroads in my life, which is an odd feeling at 37 when I thought I had everything all figured out. I’ve been with my wife for over ten years (we’ve been married since 2011), I have a job that I like, in a city that I like enough to stay in for awhile longer. No kids but I’d like one. 

Everything was fine. And then, for whatever reason, a series of events occurred that made me question my gender identity. After a scary revelation, months of secret contemplation and then months of therapy, the most I can say at this point is that I’m not cis. Transmasculine feels close, and so does neutrois. I don’t know that trans man fits, because I don’t identify as a “man” and don’t know that I ever will. So far the only thing that’s changed about me is that I usually wear a binder if I go out in public and have short hair. I haven’t taken hormones or had surgery, or any other steps to actually transition. I think about gender more, and talk about it more, but that’s about it. I’ve thought about taking T for a while now, but I have other health issues that make me feel like it’s not a great idea for me right now. That may change. Nothing is for certain, I suppose. 

Anyway, here I am at 37 and the person I’ve loved for ten years suddenly doesn’t seem to want to be with me anymore, because I’ve changed too much. Or something. I’m still not sure of the reasons, only that she’s really unhappy and won’t get into specifics right now. I’m not sure if we’re staying together or not, though I said I’d like to go to a couples therapist to see if we can work it out. Something in the way she looks at me is telling me that her mind is made up even though she doesn’t want to say it out loud yet. Also, our dog (who is 17 and has had a long and happy life) is dying of heart failure. She’s on medications that are making a difference, but we’re only prolonging the inevitable. 

I’m profoundly sad. Everything is changing and I just want to scream, “No, I didn’t want any of this!” I just keep thinking, if I’d only known what a Pandora’s Box all of this gender stuff was going to be, I never would have opened it in the first place. This is why so many trans people never come out, because they don’t want their lives blown to bits. I wish I could take it back, forget it ever happened, but I can’t. Understanding this part of myself has changed me. I feel less angry, less frustrated, less restless and depressed for  reasons I never understood. I wish I’d known this about myself 20 years ago, but the world was a different place then, and I had no concept of trans. 

I hope my wife realizes I’m still me. Maybe she won’t, maybe I’m just not what she wants anymore…and I hope if that’s true that I’ll be okay with it. I guess I’ll have to be. But for now, dealing with all this uncertainty is making me anxious, paranoid, angry and sad. I’m just trying to wrap my brain around possibly starting over at 37, and I can’t quite do it. 

It’s been too long

I haven’t posted here in a very long time. Sorry about that. 

I’ve had a lot of issues with my health in the past few months. I have had ongoing issues with my back since 2013 or so. It all started with a twinge that wouldn’t go away, and then eventually turned into crippling sciatica. I had my first back surgery (when I still lived in NYC) to remove the portion of my herniated disc that was compressing my sciatic nerve. After that initial surgery, I was pain free for just shy of a year. 

Then last winter (around December) the pain came back, all at once. I recognized the pain for what it was, but let it stretch out for months, both because I let my doctor talk me into more conservative treatments that I knew wouldn’t work, and because I was scared to have another surgery. I had another MRI and it confirmed my suspicions – my disk had re-herniated. I was back to square one. After over 8 months of pain, I gave up and booked an appointment with a highly regarded neurosurgeon in Chicago (where I live now). 

He booked the procedure less than a week later. I got the time off work and went in to it very optimistic – it had worked before right? And this doctor was sure it would work again, and I’d be good to go. There was a very small chance, he said, that the disc could re-herniated again. But only 5%. Those were good odds to me. I had the surgery and from day one, it didn’t seem right. Unlike the first time, I still felt the sciatic nerve pain shooting down my leg. By the way if you’ve never experienced nerve pain, think about any time you’ve ever had a toothache. The pain is almost identical…only imagine it taking over an entire side of your body, and it almost never stops. Yeah. 

Anyway, they told me this was likely because the nerve was inflamed from being compressed for so long. They gave me some steroids and I went along with it. But it didn’t get better, only worse. The next week I called and told them that something was definitely not right. My pain was worse than it was prior to the surgery. They gave me a referral for another MRI. Guess what? The disc had already re-herniated. 

And now that the disc has herniated 3 times, the doctor will only move forward with a spinal fusion, and not another microdiscectomy. I spent about two days crying after I got the news. I felt like life was over. Fusion has a so-so success rate, and the way things are going for me, I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up even worse off. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life in this kind of pain. What would be the point? It was a rough couple of days…I was in a very dark place. 

But I’m still here. I have an appointment with my doctor in the morning. I’ll hear him out, but I’m not scheduling a thing until I get some other opinions. A friend of mine from grade school works for a neurosurgeon in St. Louis – apparently he rarely does fusions, especially on younger people, because the long term outcomes aren’t great. I’m going to get all my records and images and send them to her for him to look at. I have hope, even if just a glimmer.