Friday, 30 July 2010

A glimmer of hope

    Waking up having fallen asleep in the daytime is a particularly stale feeling. When my wife and I arrived home a few hours ago we sat down on the sofa and were both so tired we were well away, fast asleep before we realised it. We had just returned from my second appointment at our local hospital with the psychologist who is the first port of call for transgendered people in this part of the world.
    I first saw him back in May. Back then he listened sympathetically, but had to admit there wasn't much he could do for someone in my non-transitioning position. He was happy to give me a diagnosis to cover my arse with respect to my work, but beyond that his message amounted to not much more than "Come back when you've started to get worse", about which I probably wasn't as charitable in my post-appointment reaction as I should have been. When the letter confirming the diagnosis arrived as requested though, he asked me to book a repeat appointment and for me to bring my wife with me, he wanted to see her side of the picture. I think he's more used to people whose path is very much to go forward rather than to stay where they are.
    So this afternoon we found ourselves in an impressively dismal waiting room. Continuing my survey of NHS magazine choices: a great pile of the Sunday Times magazine, another pile of the Waitrose (UK supermarket chain) in-house food magazine, an out-of-date copy of the Daily Mail (rabid headline decrying the justice system for not spotting criminals before birth) and the hospital trust's own in-house PR magazine. Inspiring stuff.
    It's not easy to sit next to the person you really care about and listen to her detailing the strain your own condition is putting on her. I have had people congratulate me on my good fortune to have an accepting spouse when so many leave, however the truth is not quite what the word "accepting" might lead you to believe. "Accepting" might suggest that she's fine with all this when the truth is closer to "tolerant" and she's certainly had a toll taken on her by everything. So this afternoon's appointment was a no-holds-barred exposé of a transgendered marriage, and it was pretty strong stuff from where I was sitting. Which is good, being able to talk about this, and especially being able to do so in front of a professional, is one of the things that is enabling us to stay together.
    My question at the end, "What can be done for people in our position?" was one to which I didn't expect much of an answer. But having now seen our situation from both viewpoints he at least could appreciate that while the standard NHS "GIC for RLE, hormones and eventual GRS" path had nothing to offer us we could really use something more than the "Come back when you've gone potty" I came away with last time. So he's going to consult with the colleague who is his liason at the GIC to see if there is anything further that can be done for someone in my position. Which can't mean much more than further talking therapies, counselling and the like, but is better than nothing and at least offers some hope.
    After the drama of the last couple of weeks, a work flood crisis for my wife, all my new job worries and the emotional load for both of us in dealing with the issues confronted in my T-Central piece, I guess it's not surprising we were both so tired. We made our way to our neighbourhood café for a restorative meal and a bout of people-watching among the Friday evening revellers. A good way to end what turned out to be a far more positive day than we expected.


  1. Falling asleep together on he sofa! Ah...what a peaceful thought! I envy the relationship you have with your wife. The last time I fell asleep on the sofa with someone, it was a mouse. I awoke briefly and spied it out of the corner of my eye, napping along side me on the next cushion. Rather than disturb it, I decided to see how long it would stay, and just closed my eyes and resumed my nap. A while later it was still there, so I began to talk to it. It woke up, yawned, then slowly inched inched its way to the edge of the sofa. When it got to the edge it hesitated, then jumped to the floor below, and wanders off, leaving me with biggest smile I think I've ever had. True story!

    Melissa XX

  2. I remember watching a family of young mice playing on the floor as I lay on bed, supposedly swotting for A Levels...

    ...well, talking therapy is poss better than no therapy. I found the presence of a third party useful for bouncing ideas around, when my then partner and I went to Relate. And I at least found out some useful stuff (the relationship between the counsellor and his willy, mostly).

    Anyway, you sound hopeful. Good.

  3. I think the Daily Mail has to be the most bi-polar newpaper in the UK. On the one hand they are so sensetionalistic that it's kind of like car crash reading - you know you shouldn't but...

    Then on the other hand they do feel good pieces that not only don't fit with the other stories but completely contradict them.

    They seem to have a particularly love hate relationship with stories about people like us... On day they'll write a story about how we are selfish, nasty people taking NHS cash that could save someone 'with a real illness' by buying medicene, the next they'll do a profile on someone who has transitioned from a very positive viewpoint...

    Sounds like you got a better answer than last time. I hope that that you get some therapy, I think that it's helped Mrs Stace, and it is certainly helping me.


  4. I've yet to fall asleep with a mouse, but growing up where I did we certainly had enough mice around to observe. It's amazing how bold they can be if you are prepared to st still and let them.
    I'm operating on the "Anything's better than nothing" principle. I've met people who regard counseling as a waste of space and others for whom it's been a lifeline, so if it's on offer I'll certainly give it a try. I also lay more of a paper trail as I do it.
    Ah, the Daily Mail. I think the headline I saw had something to do with the James Bulger killer. I have to admit always checking its headline as I pass newsstands just to have a laugh at whatever nuttiness they're squeaking about today. However it does tend to wear thin a little sometimes.

  5. I talk very little about my wife on my blog and that is intentional. I would also classify her as "tolerant". In some ways, she is much more accepting than others but in other ways she is less so. It is something we both live with and I am the one who (my choice) has to make the sacrifices for the sake of our marriage. I keep thinking about a private blog because there really is so much more I could write...

    It is sad that the only known cure for gender dysphoria is to transition. Some have tried small doses of hormones and I closely follow the results of some of my friends who are doing so.

    I keep "dealing" with it but it gets harder and harder as the years go by. I'm a survivor, however, with an incredibly strong will power. I have often thought that if I can deal with this, I probably should have been a CIA agent (or MI6?) and equally capable of dealing with torture while never revealing the State's secrets.

    Your wife, Jenny, knows the pain you are going through. I keep it from mine. My wife knows and she tolerates, but I don't burden her with my issues other than mood swings, which are common for me. I tend to use my best friend as a way to let it out and to isolate my wife from a lot of this. This may or may not be the best way to deal with it, but it works so far although it is continuous work in progress.

    Calie xxx

  6. I credit being open with Mrs. J all the way through with being what's kept us together. Who knows whether it'll still work as the GD inevitably gets more annoying, but I have to keep trying.