Friday, 28 February 2014

Another trip to the doctor

    It was my periodic trip to West London yesterday, to the gender identity clinic. Nice day for it, a hint of spring at the end of February.
    My usual pleasure of a walk across the park from Paddington, then a short Tube journey for lunch with a friend from way back in a quiet London boozer. Being used to London pubs being full of noisy people in suits drinking eye-wateringly expensive concoctions and yakking away at each other about business it was refreshing to find a quiet local among the bustle. For once London Pride was the local ale.
    The clinic was busier than usual. A mix of people waiting, bound into a camaraderie of suppressed laughter by the arrival of a patient who complained continually of the heat but wouldn't remove her heavy coat, then sat and belched periodically. We're a troubled community at times.
    So, to business. My secondary clinician this time.
    These appointments are an exercise in the clinic ensuring that things are going well. A check-in if you will. Their aim is not simply to ensure that we transition, but to ensure that as we transition we do so without taking any paths of no return before we are certain they are the right path for us. Thus these appointments are for monitoring our progress.
    The clinic are motivated by a fear of "regretters". People who've had The Surgery and then decide they were blokes all along. Or vice versa for transmen. It's a justified fear, and one I think we as a community should maybe take more seriously than we do. The regretters are always "someone else" for us, we should recognise that we all have the potential within us for it to go wrong.
    Do the clinic get it right? Probably, for most people. But they only see us for half an hour every six months. It's too easy for the Narrative to creep in, I wonder whether some people I've met have managed to pull the wool over the clinic's eyes and move forward a little too fast for their own well-being. The GICs are too thinly spread for this, but I sometimes wish a less medical and more community-oriented approach could be taken to this keeping in touch.
    So, the usual conversation. Talking about work, my wife, my decision to go to a local endocrinologist rather than their one. That last seemed to be accepted grudgingly, however as I said I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't lucky enough to have a genuine world expert running my local endocrinology clinic.
    That's it then. So long, see you in the autumn. Then the tube back to Paddington and a train journey home through a still partially flooded Thames valley.
    Another square passed on the game board, haven't landed on a snake.


  1. As I am just starting down this route (maybe) I think that certainty is the single thing that I most seek, and that regretting doing something irreversible is the thing I most fear. So in my case fear of the "regretter" is most valid, but I do wonder how good decisions can be made on the basis such short visits

  2. I have one piece of advice: ask the GIC to refer you to their specialist counselling service. Much more useful than general purpose counsellors, the most useful service I've had in all this. Ten visits at 2 week intervals is a tiny bit tedious, but really helped me see where I was and my way forward.

  3. I certainly agree with the need for specialist counsellors and qualified psychiatrists. Mine was Dr Reed if you remember him. He was accused of fast-tracking patients. In my own case I actually fast-tracked him! I was very insistent on getting the op. after all I had know all my life what the problem was! That is the crux of the matter though isn't it? Whether you instinctively know and have that confidence of self-assurance is the real issue, the counsel should only be for confirmation. If there is any doubt whatsoever about following through with a conviction then you are on the wrong route. Fortunately there are very few who get through the gate and regret it later.
    You might not have encountered a snake yet Jenny but did you get the chance to climb any ladders?
    Shirley Anne x

  4. I actually look forward to the waiting room experience, it certainly is a rich cultural experience.
    Glad that your appointment was kept - mine got bumped two months. I am glad that I got through the doors when I did - some suggestions of ever increasing waiting lists (2 yrs ?).

    I hope things are going well for you

  5. Interesting post, Jenny. I'm glad to see the clinic "over-reacting" (for lack of a better word, or is it two words?) regarding regretters. It's an interesting subject and one you read little about. Better to proceed slowly and with caution rather than fast-track a process that can't be reversed.

    Funny, I regret not being able to do something about it when I was in my early 20's....

  6. I love your post and the observations on that all too familiar waiting room. Post GRS I too, like Calie, regret not being where I am when I was younger. 'Regretters' must be an awful worry for them; even so I understand that there are very few. I appreciated being challenged and questioned, uncomfortable and nerve wracking as it was. It did make me think and indeed led to much of 87 blog posts I've written. In recent months I was finally discharged. I love the sort of glowing report letter you get from James B, like leaving High School. I feel like I've graduated now lol. Good luck Jenny :)

  7. I've heard they are no longer accepting referrals, and since they no longer have a surgeon the surgery team are not doing anything either. Were you able to get any direct information about either of these questions?

  8. Morning all,

    I would disagree that very few regret it. While it may be true that very few wake up at the end and decide they were a bloke all along, by my observation there are a lot who go for it head down and discover at the end that it hasn't dealt with all their problems or issues. Which is why I go by the maxim "Better slow and right than quick and wrong". I know I'll get there in the end.

    I try to pay no mind to the rumour mill regarding the GIC. It's business as usual, and we all know it's slow. The current fuss with respect to Mr. B moving hospitals is merely a hiccup, nothing more. Normal service will be resumed for those thinking about surgery.

    Better in my view to get on with life.

  9. Damn, I found an extra comment stuck in my spam filter. Sorry about that Robyn, you're now published!