Remarkably Healing

Hello, dear readers, and apologies that this post is going up late – it’s been a weird week, and I nearly forgot what day it was.

I wrote last week about my grandfather’s passing, my complicated feelings around our relationship, and my anxiety about going to the funeral, which was last Saturday. I am pleased (and still a little surprised) to report that going to the funeral, while hard and sad, was actually a remarkably healing experience.

My extended family, including the folks I was most nervous about seeing, all either called me Alyx or avoided names altogether. I heard one aunt use the wrong pronouns once, but she corrected herself smoothly and moved on. I didn’t feel othered at all – I was included every step of the way. I felt…well, like I had a family, in a way that I haven’t felt in a while.

I know that some of the responsibility for my prior estrangement from my family is on me. I chose to pull away rather than engaging with them. I still feel like I had good reason to (I didn’t have the mental or emotional resources to manage their potential responses when I first came out), but I also recognize that I did not give them a chance to prove me wrong about how I thought they would react to my coming out.

I’m also 100% certain that a large part of why the weekend went so well has to do with my grandmother. She and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but since we reconnected this spring, she’s done a phenomenal job of showing up and showing me love and respect, which I am doing my best to return. I think the fact that my nearly-92-year-old grandmother can manage to call me Alyx and meet me where I’m at meant that no one else had any sort of excuse to do otherwise.

It was a long day (I drove from Chicago to northeast Iowa on Friday evening, and back to Chicago on Saturday evening after the funeral), but I’m glad I went. I was genuinely disappointed that I wasn’t able to stick around and spend more time with my family (it was snowing in Iowa by the time we finished lunch, and I decided to head straight home rather than risk icy roads as it got later), which I was not expecting.

One of my aunts, as we were saying our goodbyes, gave me a long, firm hug before telling me she was so proud of me, and that if anyone wasn’t, that was on them, not on me. I still well up a bit every time I think about it.

I guess what I’m saying is people are surprising, complicated creatures, and I need to do a better job of remembering that rather than jumping immediately to worst-case-scenario planning when I interact with people who I expect to disagree with. (I’m also grateful that this funeral was not a place where politics came up, because I’m sure a lot of the warm fuzzies would have been…well, less warm and fuzzy.)

Tired All the Time

Hello, dear readers, and apologies for the slightly late blog today.

I called off sick today. It feels like I’ve been doing this a lot lately, although usually when I don’t go into the office, I’m working from home. But today I decided I needed a day to just not worry about work and catch up on some rest. So here I am, at home, listening to the most recent episode of the Gender Reveal podcast, and writing a blog post.

I have felt so tired so constantly lately. I know some of it has been pain-related (chronic pain is exhausting, y’all), and some of it is just that I’ve been busy, and some of it has been the weird weather. It’s made it hard to get myself into the office, and hard to do work once I’m there. It’s been hard to find the energy to get things done around the house. The shift to Daylight Savings Time was rough – while I enjoy the longer daylight in the evening, mornings have been really hard to handle now that they’re darker again. But I’m trudging through, hoping my internal equilibrium levels off again soon.

In addition to being tired all the time, here are some other things that I have on my mind right now:

  • I’m encouraged by the fact that spring officially arrived yesterday. Spring means allergies, which is not my favorite thing, but I love watching the return to green every year. I’ve seen a few green shoots poking through the ground, and I’ve seen robins hopping around the neighborhood, and it feels like I can breath deeply for the first time in a while (at least until the allergies start up).
  • One of the things I’m learning in therapy right now is that I need to celebrate the things that are going right in my life, and the things I’m doing well. I’m not great at this – I’m really good at looking at where I fall short, even in the moments that are largely successful. So I’ve been trying to celebrate little things, whether it’s with a glass of wine or reaching out to friends or something else, and it feels weird, but it’s good.
  • I got a letter from my grandmother yesterday, and I’m thinking a lot about my relationship with her and what I want to do about it. I haven’t seen her in almost seven years, and she’s 91. There are a lot of feelings there that I’m still parsing out.

Tilt-a-Whirl

Hello, my lovely readers! First and foremost: I am so sorry there was no blog last week. A lot of things about last week did not go as planned, my schedule was totally off, and I honest-to-god did not realize until Monday morning that Thursday had passed me by.

The reason last week was so out of whack was this: I have been avoiding dealing with a minor but persistent and annoying medical issue for many months now. I finally got myself to the doctor at the end of March, who wrote me a surgical referral, which got to me mid-April. I called and made the appointment for Tuesday, May 5, because that was the earliest day that my partner could get off work to come with me.

It is worth noting at this point that this is basically the first time I’ve ever been referred to a specialist – I always had a PPO when I was under my parents’ insurance, and since getting my own HMO plan, I hadn’t looked very seriously at any sort of specialist care. So I am totally new to this process and have no idea what I’m doing.

I was under the impression that this was going to be a super simple, very quick, local anesthesia, in-and-out sort of deal, but I wanted my partner with me both because I did not relish the thought of facing a strange doctor who may or may not be at all trans-competent alone, and because I wasn’t sure how much help I was going to need with aftercare stuff.

So we got to the surgeon’s office Tuesday morning, and as soon as the nurse came in and started talking to us, it became apparent that this was not the actual surgical visit, but the consultation for a rather more involved procedure than I thought I was going to be in for. This would have been really nice to know ahead of time, but in the end we just sort of rolled with it. The surgeon and nurse explained the procedure in more detail (which is still an outpatient procedure, but will require general anesthesia and something like five or six hours in the hospital, and someone to drive me home), gave me some information to take home, and told me to call them to schedule a date once I’d figured things out on my end.

I had totally cleared my schedule for Tuesday and for Wednesday evening, and I decided to keep it that way. Unfortunately, not having my usual activities to trigger my brain, I didn’t remember to post a blog about it last week.

I’m writing this on Monday afternoon, because Tuesday I won’t have time, and surgery is scheduled (for real this time) for Wednesday. I’m nervous, but not as nervous as I had been: even though my partner can’t be there, a friend offered to take the day off to keep me company, and another friend is going to take me home when it’s over. I feel so well cared-for, and so lucky to have the friends that I do.

All that to say, it’s been a couple of wild weeks emotionally. I’ll be glad when Wednesday is over (and I will try to add some sort of update before or shortly after this goes live to let you all know how it went).


Update: Surgery went well; I was very pleased with the care that I received and I had great people looking out for me. I’m feeling very loved.

And, at least as of 6:30 Thursday morning, I’m not in much pain at all. I’m going to work hard to stay on top of the pain meds (and therefore on top of the pain – once the pain kicks in, it’s hard to get it back down), but I’m feeling well enough that I’m at least planning to get some work done from home. Today (and probably tomorrow, too…I don’t know that I’ll be up for public transit yet by then).