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January 2016

Hormones… they’ll kill ya man

Ok so maybe not but…

When I went to bed this morning I had been awake for 48 hours. I only slept for 12 hours. The past few weeks my insomnia has been getting progressively worse. I haven’t kept good enough of track of when it started to get worse so I’m not sure if it’s related to my hormones or not. I’ve had insomnia since college, but this is the worst it’s ever been.

I’m having hot flashes, my mood swings are ridiculous, I’m easily overwhelmed, when I’m anxious about something, it’s worse than it before. I had a panic attack at services last night at my synagogue which then turned into crying because the music was so beautiful I felt so moved by the prayers and singing and the congregation around me. Then I had a hot flash that lasted through the night.

I say all this not to complain, but because I want people to know what it’s like to go through hormonal transitioning for a Trans* woman. Not everyone’s reaction to hormones is the same as every body is different; but from what I’ve read on the messages boards these are all pretty common reactions. I’m also very grateful that my doctor started me out on a fourth of the dose and is working me up to the full dose. I don’t think I could have handled the full dose right off the bat.

Not everything is bad, or doom and gloom; and besides, this is a means to an end. I am noticing physical changes. Minor breast development, I’m losing muscle strength and muscle mass. Those are the biggest things, as well as the sexual side effects.

I weighed myself this morning out of curiosity and I weighed 227.7 pounds. I normally weigh myself every Monday morning so I expect it to go up a few pounds between now and then. I have lost 67.3 pounds since my heaviest, which was 295 pounds. I’m noticing loose skin. I’m going to talk to my transition doctor about the loose skin at my next appointment and ask him when would be the best time to have surgery to remove it as my body is changing.

I’m still trying to avoid buying clothes until I reach my goal weight or am closer to my goal weight. Which my goal is to reach it by the one year anniversary of surgery. My goal weight is 140 pounds. I’m less than 90 pounds away from it.

Well lovelies, I think that’s all I have for tonight. I’ll be hosting an Ask Me Anything on Wednesday night from 7-9. I’ll be answering your questions live on Facebook, so if you’re not following me there, go to the link below. I’ll be sharing the video on Twitter, Tumblr, and here once it’s over and I have it captioned. I will also be posting another blog entry on Thursday as it’s my 1 month anniversary of being on hormones.

Also, if you’re not following me on Twitter, Tumblr don’t forget to follow me there. If you have the means, please donate to my Patreon to help me be able to afford to write my book full time. There are perks if you do donate (go to my Patreon page to find out more, the link is below). Finally, if you’re a student, or a teacher, or a professor and would like me to come talk to your classes I do not charge for schools in the Des Moines area. If you’re in Polk County but not Des Moines, I’ll only charge mileage. I can speak on topics including: my experiences as a Trans* individual, the LGBTQ+ community as whole, intersectionality of identities (i.e. being Deaf and Trans* and so on), sexual assault and domestic violence, mental health, the Deaf community and my experiences being Deaf, and other topics. I have a long list of places of spoken or guest lectured so don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My email address is below as well.

Good night all,

Rivka

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/rivkaschrodt

Twitter: @rivkachrodt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rivkaschrodtprofessional

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/rivkaschrodt

Email: rivka@rivkaschrodt.com

 

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Unexpected Plot Twists

“’Behind the other door’

There is always something hiding
that we’ll never know for sure was
better or worse. Maybe tickets
to a play or ride in a Hearse,
so don’t curse if the day doesn’t
go according to your plans. Be
glad you’re vertical and able
to say you had a good or bad
or even mediocre day.”

– Robert Lee Brewer, http://www.writersdigest.com

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about plot twists in our lives. I stumbled across this poem and it got me thinking about how I handle plot twists in my life; as I’ve had more than a few, some recently. I feel as though the first sentence of this poem does a splendid job expressing the fear that many, if not most, of us have surrounding change.

The second part: “… so don’t curse if the day doesn’t go according to your plans.” speaks to me in two ways. My first reaction is that it’s telling me not to be upset if my life, or my day, doesn’t go the way I planned it to; which I do often and have been doing recently. My plans for the next few years have had to adjust and change and that has been a source of great frustration and annoyance to me. Because money runs the world, generally speaking, I am having to take a job to help pay for me to finish my degree and monthly expenses. Which, in turn, will slow down my writing and completion of my degree. (Insert annoyed emoticon here).

The second part of the poem also tells me something else. It tells me not to be afraid of opportunity. Don’t be afraid of “something hiding”, because how is that living? Now if it’s a spider, I’ll be screaming and booking it out of that joint. BUT, it could be a great opportunity, or it could be a huge fuck-off spider wanting to eat you. Chances are it’s an opportunity. Change is good. Change is scary as hell sometimes, but it’s necessary to grow as a human, and it’s good.

The last part of the poem was the most poignant to me. As my parents can attest, I spend a lot of time daydreaming. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future, and thinking about the past, I sometimes (oftentimes) forget to be in the present. I also forget to be grateful that I could have a shitty day. I know that sounds… odd or peculiar, but think about it. Sometimes, most of the time, it’s ok to have a bad day, it makes the good days that much sweeter. Furthermore, it’s ok to have a mediocre day, and it’s ok to just… be. I know I’m starting to sound like a cliché so I’ll quit while I’m ahead on this topic.

As I was writing this post, the song “Hope There’s Someone” by Antony and the Johnsons played. This song was played in my favorite episode of the television show “Torchwood”. The episode is entitled “Random Shoes”, basically the plot is this young man dies by getting hit by a car, just prior to that he consumed an alien artifact that allows a person to gain a fresh perspective on their past life. I think the episode initially struck a cord with me based on the scene of young man’s mother sobbing as Torchwood left his house with some of his belongings to investigate his death. I have not had a child die, but I’ve had a niece die and that death has reverberated through my life in more ways than I expected and continues to do so.

However, I think, in addition to that subplot, the episode strikes a cord with me because it allows Eugene (the young man) to see his life, especially the days and months leading up to his death, in a new perspective. Thankfully, we don’t have to die to have this experience. I encourage everyone to take time to look at your life. It’s amazing how different your life experiences might look once you have some time to look at them objectively. But don’t spend all your time rethinking and reliving your past. Don’t forget to live; be present, be IN the present.

So to sum up this post: I’m looking for work in the Des Moines area, I’m not moving anytime soon. I’m still working on my book, and my courses to complete my bachelor’s degree in the meantime.

I hope this post finds you all well my lovelies. Be present, live your life. Don’t be afraid of change or what’s around the corner; if there’s a huge fuck-off spider around the corner, just run like your life depended on it, because it probably does.

All my love,

Rivka

PS: Don’t forget to follow my social media, and donate (if you can afford it) to my Patreon page (to help fund my book), and don’t hesitate to leave comments here or on social media.

 

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/rivkaschrodt

Twitter: @rivkachrodt

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rivkaschrodtprofessional

Tumblr: http://www.rivkaschrodt.tumblr.com

Mourner’s Kaddish

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Mourner’s Kaddish lately, and the observation of the Yahrzeit as an anniversary of a death that changed me, changed how I view death and life is coming up.

Why do we fear death? It’s inevitable. All life has to end. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the luxury of knowing when and under what circumstances we will die. However, that should not make us fear death. Is it the fear of the unknowns? The fear of not knowing how or when we might die? Or what happens to us after we die?

I came to Judaism looking for answers about death and the afterlife, as many do to various religions. Jews don’t really have a clear cut answer about the afterlife.

Part of what attracts me to Judaism is the diversity in thought and belief. The debate and interpretation of belief and the sacred texts.

While I may not know where my loved one is since she died; I find solace in reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish on her Yahrzeit.

Her death forced me to open my eyes to the reality of the world I lived in. I had built myself a delusional little world, ignoring all the problems and thinking that everything was hunky dory and peachy keen.

It also forced not only myself, but my family as well, to think of death in practical terms. Everyone (excluding me) bought burial plots. I created my will, which reminds me that I’ll need to revise it once I change my name legally.

I think death became less scary to us and more practical. Like something we check off our to do list. I was so discombobulated when my aunt was dying and she was getting her affairs in order and planning her funeral and so forth. It seemed too morbid, too unnatural. But once this other death occurred, I understood for some reason.

What are your thoughts or fears about death? Leave them in the comments below, or comment on this post on Facebook. I will post an update regarding my personal life journey later this week. I’m going to include some links below for more information about the Yahrzeit and the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Be well and safe my lovelies.

Rivka

 

http://bit.ly/1Pg53Zr – Yahrzeit

http://bit.ly/1Jh6q86 – Mourner’s Kaddish

 

Twitter: @rivkascrodt

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rivkaschrodtprofessional

Tumblr: http://www.rivkaschrodt.tumblr.com

 

Day 8 – Quick Check In

Well hello. So today marks day 8 of being on hormones. I started feeling more emotional last night. All of my emotions are more heightened.

Getting used to typing and doing anything with nails is an experience in and of itself. I don’t even have that long of nails to begin with.

The testosterone blocker that is used is a drug of many colors. In that it has many uses, including blood pressure regulation, a diuretic (water pill), and to treat severe acne and folliculitis. So plus side, my folliculitis is clearing up. There are other physical changes I’m already noticing that I won’t get into.

Down side, I have a general feeling of lightheadedness. It’s not problematic in that it affects my everyday life, but it’s just a mild feeling.

Overall, I’m feeling good though except my anxiety. I’m going to start doing yoga regularly to keep myself in a general state of calm.

I don’t have a lot to blog about tonight, for that I apologize. I’m working on putting up a website and working on my book. Eventually I’ll be linking my WordPress (the platform that hosts my blog) to my website. I’m also working on trying to increase my social media presence, which seems to be working as my posts on my Facebook page reached more than 1,000 people! I hope to continue that upward trend.

I’m also looking for a part time job to bring in some extra money as being a struggling artist doesn’t stop the bills from rolling in. That being said, I think I’m going to wrap this short post up but before I go, I need to do some shameless plugging.

I joined a website that allows users to support their favorite artists, it’s called Patreon. If you’ve found my blog helpful or interesting and/or find the stuff on my Facebook page to be pertinent, please consider donating. It will allow me to be able to focus on my writing and doing more frequent blog posts and other art projects. I’ve included a link below. Spring semester is getting ready to start so if you know of any professors that need a speaker to come talk about my experiences in the LGBTQ+ community, the Deaf community, sexual assault or domestic violence, empowerment and they have some money to spend shoot me an email at rivka@rivkaschrodt.com. My rates are reasonable but don’t let cost prevent you from reaching out, I’m willing to work with people; I know budgets are tight.

Also, if you haven’t connected with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr I’ve included links to those below as well. Finally, don’t hesitate to comment on my blog or the Facebook posts/tweets/tumblr posts containing them if you like what you read. It’s great to hear feedback and hear from you.

Talk to you all later kiddos!

Rivka

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/rivkaschrodt

Twitter: @rivkachrodt

Facebook: http://facebook.com/rivkaschrodtprofessional

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/rivkaschrodt

(I’m still learning how to use Tumblr…)

An Unplanned Post

Please read below my response to a transphobic image that continues to make it’s rounds on social media. I’ve included the image:

“This photograph has been making it’s rounds on Facebook for several months; since Caitlyn Jenner was on the cover of Vanity Faire. Historically, I have reported the photo to Facebook and removed the friend who posted it from my personal page. Each time I report it, Facebook informs me that it is not in violation of their community standards. I find that very difficult to digest that such blatant Transphobia is not in violation of their community standards. While this picture may seem benign to CisGender individuals, it blatantly furthers the mindset that the Transgender community is not entitled to their own truths; or that expressing your gender identity is not ok. At it’s core it’s bullying, plain and simple. Many might argue that they have nothing wrong with Trans* people they just don’t like Caitlyn Jenner; but that’s not what this picture depicts. What this picture depicts is a person who identifies as a woman, being told that she is not, in fact a woman. That her truths don’t matter. I implore you, my followers and Facebook, to continue to report this image and not share it. This image is transphobia. It is not humorous and I am not some Transgender person with an ax to grind. I am simply asking that this image, that any image similar to this, be considered in violation ofFacebook‘s community standards, each time it is reported. Furthermore, I hope that if you (my followers) see this image on your show up on your newsfeed, that you will talk to whomever posted it or shared it, thinking it was funny or benign or not transphobic and let them know that you don’t find it funny, that you support people’s truths and that you request they remove it. People often think words or meme’s like this aren’t hurtful, but when someone calls you a name, or denies your right to present yourself as the gender you were meant to be; while that may not be physical violence, that is still violence. That is the seed of violence that not only hurts that person, but also says to others “hey, it’s ok to treat this person as less than”; it makes it so easy for that violence to escalate. Pictures like this, words denying someone their truth, those are the root of the 21+ murders of Transgender individuals in 2015 (according to the Human Rights Campaign; Wikipedia places the count around 30). Let’s work to end the violence in 2016.”

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Day One

This post is going to be short, and may be slightly incoherent. (I just tried to spell that incohorent, see what I mean?) My insomnia got the best of me and I got absolutely NO sleep last night. Zilch, zero, nada, none. I’ve been awake for… I stopped counting around 36 hours? Don’t worry I’m going to bed as soon as I eat something and post this.

Today was the big day. THE big day. Today I started hormone therapy to transition my body from male to female.

Today was chalked full of doctor’s appointments. I started the day with my Transition Specialist. It was… an interesting experience. I had my first experience with a paper gown and paper “blanket” draped across my lady bits.

He did a full physical exam and then he and his nurse went through line by line the 6 page informed consent form. I asked many questions. He was impressed how well I’d gotten my care team (consisting of my general practice doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, weight loss doctor, and him) all on the same page and in the loop about everything. I don’t think he was THAT impressed because he and I have know each other for several years and we used to work together at one point. So, I signed the consent form, he signed it, and his nurse signed it as a witness that all of my questions had been answered and that we went through the form thoroughly.

They kept congratulating me and asking if I was excited and… truth be told I was a little freaked out. Not like… am I making the wrong decision but… just that this is finally coming to fruition? I don’t know how to explain it. Everything is so… surreal at the moment. He (the doctor) recommended I take a picture of myself everyday for the next 2-3 years so that I can look back and see the changes because some of them will be subtle. That, and I had mentioned that I hadn’t noticed how different I looked 3 months after weight loss surgery until I saw the pre and post surgery pictures side by side. My mind immediately went to “that sounds like something I could turn into an art piece of some sort”. So who knows what will come of my pictures.

I took my first dose of my hormones and testosterone blocker at about 12:30 this afternoon.

I spoke to my psychiatrist’s nurse practitioner by phone to discuss my sleep maladies. Between her and my general practice doctor we came up with some solutions that will hopefully help treat my insomnia.

That is all I have for you for now. I’m including Day One’s picture. I’ll post pictures periodically. I don’t look the greatest (remember, 36+ hours sleep deprivation and running around all day). I did get a new wig that I like much better than my other one. I kinda like how I can change my style just by changing wigs, and so forth. It’s fun.

Oh! I have a photoshoot coming up in the next week, I’m very excited. More details to come. Before I go, I also want to take a second to say how grateful I am. I have so many supportive people in my life and not just support emotionally but in many other ways too (help with makeup, clothes, and much more). Thank you thank you thank you. So much.

Ok, bed time. Good night lovelies.

Day One

Burning my Nipples Off

So I had to go to the Walk-In Clinic this morning because I decided I would try using Nair last night. I have chronic Folliculitis, which is a bacterial infection of your hair follicles. What this means is that basically shaving my legs, chest, and arms is a big, bacterial, bloody mess. I can only use a razor once, I’m not supposed to use washcloths or loofas in the shower, I’m only supposed to shower not bathe, I’m not supposed to use a towel more than once. It’s a pain in my ass. Not literally, but you get what I mean.

Anyway, so I have been trying all sorts of different hair removal products to try to avoid shaving. I’ve avoided Nair because it’s so full of chemicals but alas, I’d reached the point where nothing else was working.

It worked great on my legs and arms and underarms. My chest… not so much. My hair is already growing back after less than 24 hours.

But why did Nair cause me a visit to the walk-in clinic? Apparently I left it on for a little too long and burned the living shit out of my stomach, right arm, and both shoulders.

I was in so much pain this morning I was laying on my unburned side on the exam table trying not to throw up because I was nauseous from the pain. The Physician’s Assistant who saw me gave me what I anticipated she would, Silvadene cream. She told me to put it on after I shower and go lay down in bed for a couple days without clothes on and use ice packs for pain.

Oh, I forgot to mention some of the Nair got on my nipples and I almost burned them off too.

I am NEVER using Nair again. Just kidding. I’m going to try it again on my legs but I am not going anywhere near my chest with that shit. My arms… we’ll see.

I have a friend from India who said she would buy my lots of wax the next time she goes home for a visit because apparently it’s super cheap there? I can’t afford to have a professional wax me, so this is what I’m relegated to. Burning my nipples off.

On the plus side, I do know that one of the medicines I’ll be on once I start hormones is also used for severe folliculitis and acne. So I’ll be blocking evil testosterone AND killing bacteria. SCORE!

Speaking of hormones. I see the transition specialist Monday morning. I saw my therapist on Tuesday and expressed my fear of the emotional side effects of the hormones. She is a little concerned that I’m biting off more than I can chew with tackling finishing my bachelor’s degree, moving when I’m done with that, transitioning, and writing my book. Soooo, she told me she thought it might be good to scale back a little.

I’m still starting hormones as soon as I’m cleared by the specialist. I’m going to continue writing my book. I’m going to finish the two classes I’m enrolled in and slow down on school. My goal was to get my 18 classes that I need to finish my degree done by April at the latest. That’s not going to happen. So here are my goals/timelines for my life and goals:

Finish University: December 2016

Apply to Graduate School: Summer 2016

Move to Massachusetts (where I will be hopefully going to graduate school): Fall 2016

Start Graduate School: January 2017

Turn in Finished Manuscript of my Book: December 2016

Start hormones:  January 2016

Transition Surgery: January 2018

I think that’s it by way of BIG life events. In other good news: a friend who is a photographer by profession has offered to do some head shots. We have to nail down a date, I’m kinda excited. A lot excited. I bought a new wig that looks super adorable on me (pictures to come). I’ve lost 40% of my excess body weight and am where most patients are when they are 6 months since surgery; and I’m only 3 months since surgery. My weight-loss surgeon thinks I’ll have no problems getting to my goal weight. We’ll see how/what weight gain will come with hormones.

Also, I have an editor!! They are doing some research (reading Tyler Oakley’s book, and Jenny Lawson’s first book) to get a feel for my writing style in this book. Once they have read those then I’ll submit my first two chapters. I’m so excited.

That’s all I have for tonight lovelies. Shabbat Shalom to my fellow friends who observe and I hope you had a great New Years Eve and that your 2016 is filled with love and happiness.

Until next time my lovelies!

Rivka

PS: don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (I’m still getting the hang of it, so bare with me there) and Facebook, links below.

Twitter: @rivkachrodt (yes, I know I misspelled my own last name, but apparently I can’t change it, stop laughing.)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rivkaschrodtprofessional

Byeeeeeeeeee 🙂

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