Days 4-5 were not good. I couldn’t sleep more than a couple hours at a time, and the overall discomfort was really getting to me. My mood was pretty shitty because I was restless and bored to tears but too out of it to do much to occupy myself. Yesterday, though, I had a small breakthrough and woke up feeling not shitty. Today was decent, too. I had my second post-op visit to get the nipple stents off. The nipples themselves look pretty scabby and gross, and my chest is rainbow colors from all the bruising.
First, here’s a picture of my adorable cat so the thumbnail for this post on Facebook isn’t frankenboobs:
Here’s a picture from yesterday:
You can kind of see the gnarly bruise in my right armpit, but the phone is blocking most of it. I have a hematoma there that’s slowly looking less terrible.
And a couple from today with a shirt on:
I now look as fat as I am because I don’t have tits to hide it, but oh well. As soon as I can exercise again, it’s more incentive to make that go away.
I’ll be really, really happy when I can get out of the house regularly again. I’m still very tired all the time, but since I’m not on oxycodone so much anymore, I’ll probably feel comfortable driving tomorrow and being out for a little while, at least.
I really want to get back to editing my novel because I’m only a couple scenes away from finishing these edits, but I’m wiped out at the moment. I’ll try again this evening after some more food.
Pain is much better today, as is overall discomfort. Had my post-op visit today to get the drains removed, which was super gross (sorry to my poor partner for having to witness) but not painful. Dr. Mangubat gave me a flexible drain instead of the grenade kind you have to measure, so that made it easier.
Looking pretty gnarly up in here, though the doctors say I’m healing very well. I have a lovely hematoma under my right arm that’s especially charming, but the stitches don’t look nearly as gross as I thought they would. I go back next Wednesday to get the nipple stents removed. In the meantime, I can shower if I want to, but I don’t get feel comfortable standing in the bathtub long enough to do it. Sponge baths for me until I’m not woozy from oxycodone.
I still don’t feel like eating much, but I’m able to drink as much water as I want without tempting fate. I can get up and down and walk around the house by myself, which is great, and I no longer always feel like a slug who keeps falling asleep before the Law & Order episode is over. Still very tired, but as the painkillers don’t leave me any choice about whether to fall asleep or not, I’m just napping a whole lot. Goal for the next couple of days: sleep through the night.
Next time I take off the binder, I’ll take pictures, but trust me when I say you don’t want to see this shit right now.
This is going to be relatively short because I’m on my phone and hopped up on painkillers.
I got to the surgery center after a minor hiccup with my ride, which turned out fine anyway. Pre-op stuff took a while because of various small
issues, and I spent longer than I would have liked with two fellows plus the surgeon staring at my tits while they marked them up for surgery. On the plus side, the surgeon is really well spoken and serious about helping the trans community and wanted the fellows to be the same, so that’s really encouraging. If you’re in the PNW, I can’t recommend him enough. His name is Antonio Mangubat, and his office is in Tukwila, WA, just outside Seattle.
Anyway, I got into the OR around 8:30. Surgery took a little longer than expected because of a large mammary gland in one of my breasts, plus that same one was bigger than the other. I had a really hard time waking up and was in a lot of discomfort. I only kind of remember getting home.
The first day/night was really rough. I was in a ton of pain and discomfort, not just from the surgery but nausea and the really uncomfortable inability to burp, which made the nausea worse. I slept through most of it but had to throw up a few times, plus every time I got up to pee, I was severely nauseated. I couldn’t keep anything down until my good friend brought me some Pedialyte and crackers, which has been my diet since. Tiger has been taking wonderful care of me even though I’m more or less an invalid who needs something at least once every couple of hours.
This morning I felt better and even sat up on my own. The pain is still kind of shitty, especially under my armpits, which burns like a motherfucker. On the bright side, Dr. Mangubat uses soft drains that don’t require measuring what comes out, though I’m all wrapped up in what amount to puppy pads to catch the stuff. Slightly gross but better than having grenades strapped to my chest. Hopefully I’m getting the drains out tomorrow at post-op appointment #1.
Everything hurts a bit more than I thought it would, but the worst parts were actually the no-burp discomfort and the nausea plus a wicked caffeine headache, which not even oxycodone can cure. Apparently I’m supposed to drink coffee to avoid the headaches, so that’s a plus, though it’s rough on my stomach.
My goal for today was to hold down food, and I’ve succeeded in doing that. Tomorrow I hope to be able to walk around the house a little. I’m getting stiff and restless at not being able to get up and around when I want to.
I’m finding it hard to focus on anything today, so I guess nerves are really starting to set in. I spent most of the day yesterday scrambling around doing last-minute stuff and will spend today doing the same. I’ve tried to be productive and inch toward the completion of novel edits (SO CLOSE), but I’m struggling. I get really frustrated with myself when I’m not as productive as I want to be, which I’m sure will make the next couple of weeks an extra treat.
I got a text from my mom yesterday acknowledging the letter I sent her several days back, which only slightly alluded to surgery, mostly to tell me one of my cousins, with whom I haven’t spoken in years, is leaving for college soon. This is pretty typical of my mother, a vague acknowledgment of having received news but no acknowledgment of what that news is, no gestures of support or anything. Again, not unexpected, but frustrating. I’m trying not to become mired in my bullshit about family, but as I’m an anxious person, Anxiety Walrus is trying to remind me that there are five hojillion unrelated things to worry about.
Well, I can’t think of anything else to say at the moment. Here are some “before” pictures.
As you can see, nature seems to have played a mean joke on me and formed me in a Rubenesque ideal. I’ll have to do some work post-surgery to make dem hips less obvious. I’m a little nervous about looking disproportionate because of aforementioned tiny ribcage, but we’ll see what happens.
I’ve been thinking about people from my past a lot. The other day on my Other Facebook–you know, the one you keep as a repository for family members and people you don’t talk to that often so you don’t have to direct them to the account you actually use–a friend I grew up with posted something and the neighbor I grew up next to commented on it. These people never interacted in any significant way aside from being associated with the high school band, as I was. That’s just how small the town I grew up in was. It made me feel claustrophobic even though I’m half a continent away, even though I only observe them peripherally at this point.
Nobody from that part of my life prior to grad school, aside from my mother and one other wonderful friend, knows. Nobody. The only people on that friends list who do know are the ones from Seattle, with whom I interact regularly, and my boss, who’s a cool guy. (Yeah, my boss is my Facebook friend. It’s that kind of workplace.) I’ve kept it that way, and I’m not entirely sure why.
I’ve kept a lot of important things from a lot of important people in the past. The biggest, I guess, was the best friend I had for nigh on 14 years. We met when I was 14 and she was 13 online. We spoke intermittently until I was in college and she was in high school, and then we were really close. We had a lot in common. Our fathers were extravagantly crazy and both were abusive. We were pretty codependent with our mothers. We had some deep reasons to bond. She was my closest, most trusted friend for many years, so much so that we have coordinated tattoos. Both of us swore we would never stop being friends. How could we?
Then, as it does, life changed. I graduated with my second Master’s and got a job halfway across the country. She had stalled out on her Master’s and was moving home to lick her wounds. When I moved, the cracks began to appear. She was stuck in a dead-end job while I was entering my career. We weren’t in the same place anymore. It was half gentle but sad drifting apart and half an increasing tension between our lives and lifestyles.
She was there when I confronted the crazy father I mentioned in an earlier post. That was when a big crack appeared. Her crazy father was also dead, but she never got the chance I did to confront him. I think she was jealous, maybe even resentful. After a messy, awkward couple of months of her pulling away and being increasingly unsupportive of the shit I was going through, we had a friend breakup. I don’t claim to be the innocent party in that exchange, but I realized that I couldn’t hold on to her bitterness and negativity, because it was feeding my own. I had shed a couple of other friends in the same way, that same year, as I slowly began to realize I didn’t have to keep negative people around me.
About a year later, we started talking again. For a little while. Things were pretty strained, though, and eventually I realized that although I had changed significantly, she hadn’t, not really. And I still couldn’t take her negativity. So we haven’t spoken since.
She doesn’t know I’m trans. I never told her. I also never told her about my sexual abuse, even though she, too, was a survivor, or that I’m polyamorous (at least not directly). She probably would have been supportive, to the best of her ability as someone mired in her own shit. So why didn’t I tell her? Part of me wonders if, on some level, I didn’t trust her with that information, or I didn’t trust her to support me. Part of me thinks I didn’t trust myself. The biggest part, though, is coming to the realization that I didn’t think it was possible to form an identity separate from the baggage of my life. Acknowledging my sexual abuse experience and my gender identity and my relationship arrangement in the face of someone who had known me a certain way for 14 years felt impossible. The weight of that 14 years pressed on me every time I wanted to open my mouth or type the words into my phone. I’d have to explain why I hadn’t told her a long time ago when I had no actual explanation. So I didn’t.
I’m sure that’s another part of why I stopped talking to her. I’m sure it’s why I’ve literally moved all over the country since I graduated high school. I was trying to separate myself, to find my footing without goddamn everybody knowing me and pressing a false identity upon me. My friends here have really only known the person I’ve grown into, not the person I dragged along for 27 years like so much dead weight. I feel like I can actually breathe and get my feet under me. That’s why, when I see interactions like that on Facebook, I cringe a little inside.
Some recent experiences in my academic and professional life illustrated to me that I am in fact worthy of help and support. A few times, people I just met went out of their way to introduce me to people who would benefit me academically and professionally. Soon after I got hired, my boss, unprompted, asked me what pronouns I preferred. Later on, when I was filling out paperwork for the full-time position I’d been hired for, the HR person used my preferred pronoun. I’d never had that discussion with her. Somehow it had gotten around. One of my advisors got me in touch with a person I have a lot in common with academically, who offered to put me in personal and professional contact with a couple of trans male friends she has who had been through transition, because I’d told her I didn’t really have any trans men to talk to. This was during our first conversation. If people who don’t know me well are willing to do this, I should expect no less from the people who do know me well.
Was it unfair to cut so many people, including my mother and my best friend of 14 years, out of my life like that? I don’t know, maybe. I’m sure I didn’t handle it as well as I could have. Maybe I should have given (some of) them more of a chance. But looking back, I can honestly say that the people I cut out of my life were not what I needed in it. They wouldn’t, or couldn’t, support me as I moved forward. And the older I get, the less I feel obligated to spend time and energy on people that are less than completely supporting of me and my life. I don’t need them to prop me up, because god knows all of my friends and loved ones have their own struggles, but when I turn to them I know I’ll find a hand.
The weight of the past will always be with anybody who is going through a major life shift. There’s no denying that. I can’t escape it, and I don’t want to try anymore. But I can get out from under the parts of it that are holding me back.
I totally forgot to do an actual two-week post, so here’s this.
I had my pre-op appointment on Friday. I really like everyone in my surgeon’s office. They’re very polite, which I’d expect, but they’re also very nice and personable. I’m a little intimidated by the pre- and post-op instructions and warnings, including the chance for pneumonia (especially since I have asthma) and a potential significant drug interaction between one of my brain drugs and one of the antibiotics I have to take, but I’ve moved past the near-crippling anxiety from a couple weeks back. I think my brain just couldn’t maintain that level of anxiety, which I’m not going to complain about.
I accidentally let slip to my boss that I’m having surgery. It came up in a “what are you doing this summer?” conversation. He’s been very cool and respectful about trans stuff so far, and he’s going to find out anyway (believe me when I say the chance will be noticeable), but I still had a moment of “ohfuck” because it’s one thing to hear someone say they’re trans and another to see physical changes. I’m aiming for tenure, so that was an extra anxious moment. Oh well. He mentioned me getting tenure almost in the same breath, anyway, so I’m sure it’s fine.
Still, it brought to mind the reality of a lot of conflicts I have in my own mind about my physical changes vs. my mental state. I’m absolutely glad I’ll have my breasts gone. I’ll be glad to have at least part of my identity more easily recognized by strangers. But at the same time, that’s not my entire identity. The longer I sit with this “I’m trans” thing, the less binary I feel. I’m masculine of center, I guess, but I still have a hard time saying “I’m a trans man.” I don’t feel that way.
Binary FTM is the narrative that’s most easily accepted in the world at large, relatively speaking. Of course a woman wants to be a man. Who wouldn’t want to be a man? But unless you abide by the bro code, you’re not a “real” man. It’s no different for cis dudes. Probably all of you know this. This is part of my discomfort in transition and probably something I’ll continue to struggle with. I don’t want to be that guy. I also don’t want to erase (or have erased) the 30 years I’ve spent as a woman. I’m not one of those trans guys who’s grown up always considering myself a boy. I can’t divorce my identity from “female” and “woman.” I don’t identify as a woman, but I identify with women in a lot of ways. I’ve suffered the same oppressions many (most?) women have. The fact that I’m moving into a relatively privileged sphere via my changing physical appearance doesn’t change that.
I fully intend to take advantage of that relative privilege to try and make a difference as an ally to other women, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the opportunity. But I’m also not just an ally, and I worry that my gender presentation will push me out of women’s circles, which is where I feel like I belong, at least more so than men’s circles. I really don’t want to be one of those guys who pushes himself into spaces he doesn’t belong, and I’m afraid I’m coming off that way, but if I’ve been socialized as a woman, if I can’t escape that, but at the same time I’ve come into a place of (at least surface) male privilege, where do I belong?
I worry that my female friends won’t feel as safe around me anymore, that they won’t take me into their confidence. I worry that they won’t be able to help reacting that way. Who could blame them? I already make unfamiliar women nervous when it’s dark and they can’t see me very well. I’m nearly average cis dude size and I have short hair. I totally get that socialized sense of fear, but it’s not like I can tell them that. And will my female friends start wondering if they can’t identify with me anymore?
I don’t know. Logically, it will probably be fine. But I can’t shake the discomfort of becoming something I myself have issues with. Ironically, though I identify as more masculine, I’m afraid of a lot of men. Not of my cis male friends, who are among the gentlest and most feminist people I’ve ever met, but of strangers. Of the social construction of a man. That’s fucking sad on so many levels.
I have a lot more thoughts on this, so I’m sure I’ll come back to it. The best I can do right now is just concentrate on the things I have to do in the moment, the things I know will be good for me, and trust my friends to be honest with me if they start feeling uncomfortable.
Instead of grading student papers or posting depressing trans-related thoughts, I will instead…post about the truly depressing last chapter of Key to Conflict.
If only it were depressing on purpose.
Gillian, Trocar, and Aleksei are going back to “Oscar Gray’s” place to fetch Tanis and Luis. Aleksei is all pissed off. Gillian tells him off, but he doesn’t respond, presumably because he’s too occupied with his jealousy boner. This is exactly what I want from a romance book, a hero who is a 400-year-old petulant child.
Tanis and Luis are apparently being guarded by two people or creatures or something. Gillian and Trocar prepare to attack when…
Aleksei grabs her arm.
What the actual fuck? Not only is he a petulant child, he’s just as much of a tool as Gillian, grabbing someone with a fucking firearm.
Before they can make a move, the vampire in front of them gets set on fire, and yet another one of Gillian’s team members pops up: “her former arsonist, or rather demolitions expert, Jenna Blaise.” Hurr durr, Blaise, get it?
Jesus fucking Christ. Has Gillian made a SINGLE move on her own? I’m trying to remember the last time she actually did harm to an enemy, much less killed one. Has that happened in the entire goddamn book? She’s been pinned or otherwise out of commission for every single fight that I can remember. Every fight with her is like
Only, unlike Leia, Gillian stands behind everyone waving her gun while they actually do shit.
Jenna and Gillian re-unite rather loudly in the middle of a dark forest while on a goddamn rescue mission until Gillian suddenly remembers Trocar is off by himself. Ah, but don’t worry, because Trocar appears with Tanis and Luis, completely unharmed. We needn’t have worried about them at all, it seems, because they’re totally back to normal.
Aleksei seems to want to tell Gillian something–oh, could it be something important??
So everyone goes back to the hotel, blah blah, absolutely nothing of consequence. Then Gillian’s other boss, Daedalus, who she calls “Daed.” He tells her the Marines want her to get her merry band of psychos together to deal with a Russian earthquake and a child-trafficking ring–
Earthquake? Child trafficking? Russia? AM I READING THE SAME BOOK??
Daedalus gives this excuse:
“The Feds, the Corps, the Joint Chiefs and Interpol are concerned about the bad PR that Paramortals are getting lately with all the deaths and kidnappings. It looks like some sort of a turf war is going on, wouldn’t you say? It will be bad for the economy if folks start revoking the new laws and talking PMs out of the global economic pool.”
I…what… what the fuck does this have to do with anything paranormal? Is he implying that people think paranormal people are behind the earthquake and child trafficking? HELP ME UNDERSTAND
PS, apparently Daedalus is also hot. This book is just chock full of mutual sexual objectification, innit?
The team is apparently “ready to rumble.” The detectives (remember them?) still want Gillian to answer questions, but she refuses on the grounds of being special forces, and she flounces off smugly. They go off in search of Daedalus again and ask him why they were picked. He says it’s because the team has become so high profile….because it totally makes sense to send in a special forces team that’s well known in an attempt to be sneaky.
Gillian basically says, “I DO WHAT I WANT,” but she agrees anyway. Apparently she hates Daedalus, which we haven’t been given any indication of in the whole damn book.
Aleksei offers his help with the situation and Gillian says, “It would help if you could take Tanis and organize some sort of a grass-roots campaign back in Romania. Make the people aware that even Humans they know can be monsters.”
Aleksei replies, “I will contact Osiris and determine if there is any way we can better establish who is ‘on our side,’ as you say.”
Dude, that reeks in an unintentionally frightening way of McCarthyism. And the protagonists are advocating for this shit? FORESIGHT, YOU HAVE NONE.
Tanis says goodbye to Gillian and calls her some more Italian endearments. The others leave Gillian and Aleksei alone. We are at 98%. Am I missing like half the book here?
Aleksei grabs her. She’s not sure she wants to start a relationship, but “good thing he was decisive, even if she was hesitant.”
GOOD THING, RIGHT?
Aleksei assures her he respects her, which I assume is meant to erase every act of disrespect throughout the goddamn book. Then he kisses her: “his lips warm silk, his tongue a hot wetness flicking over her mouth.”
I’m with Tiger–don’t describe kissing. Presumably most adults know what kissing is like. Especially don’t describe what tongues are doing. UGH.
Yeah, so they’re making out. Apparently he “[fits] perfectly against her despite the difference in their height.” Now, he’s 6’7″. She’s 5-something. Probably the same size as Anita–so we’ll say 5’3″. That’s 16 inches’ difference between them. To give you an idea of how much that is, the average adult’s forearm (elbow to wrist) is about 16 inches. Now lift your arm straight above your head. Look up to your wrist. That will give you an idea of Aleksei’s height in relation to hers. The only way they fit together “perfectly” is if his behemoth dick is crammed against her diaphragm.
Now they’re dry humping, and I’ll spare you the play-by-play, though I’m happy to inform you that he’s “rock hard, large, thick, aggressive, his blood surging to completely fill the erectile tissue“
Protip: if you can find it on WebMD, don’t use it in a sex scene.
Aleksei and his erectile tissue are being all romantical.
“Open for me, cara mia. Open your mind and your heart. Let me in, Gillian.”
She felt his deep, urgent whisper in her mind like an erotic wind.
I’m imagining a hurricane of dicks awash in a monsoon of pussy juice. How about you?
That’s…wow. That’s enough of that.
She comes and he doesn’t, so she offers to get him off. He refuses, and she says, “I can’t leave you like that, it’s not right.”
Oh, here we go, some pseudo-selfless bullshit where Aleksei is supposed to be a good guy because he wanted to “give [her] something before [she] left.” That means she can stay a good girl, because she doesn’t have to do something filthy like blow him or anything. Ain’t he something? Gillian says, “Men. Jesus. I will never understand men.”
No, honey, it’s not men you’re confused by. It’s your author’s hideous construction of gender and gender politics.
Apparently that’s the end of the book.
A while back, I glanced through the publication dates on the first three Gillian books. They were all published the same year, within months of each other. (IT SHOWS.) I can only assume this is a ploy to get people to read the next one, because God and all the angels and saints know the author has provided absolutely no motivation to do so for any other reason.
This is sincerely the worst ending to a book I have ever read. NOTHING. HAPPENS. There’s no sense of climax, other than Gillian’s “shining orgasm,” no tension, no satisfaction whatsoever. I’m actually disappointed because the last chapter didn’t even give me anything to giggle or roll my eyes about. I just kept staring and scratching my head and being faintly confused as to why the progress marker on my Kindle kept rising but absolutely no forward momentum was being established.
Also…Russia? Earthquake? Children? What?
Where the fuck is Dracula? Why were they allowed to escape? What happened to Jack?
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
My reaction as this book slithered to a close:
And yet…I find myself strangely compelled to read the next one, if only because I’m morbidly curious to see how much worse this could possibly get. Will I fall into a bottomless pit of character and author incompetence, random uses of the wrong language, repulsive sexual politics, world building ripped off from everyone under the sun, and occasional famous author ass licking?