Of all the things I wanted never to do again, I am facing the possibility of going back on hormone therapy. I write about that in the second portion of this post.
1. “Hi, I’m Greg, again!”
Today, I go to the dentist for my twice-yearly cleaning. I will be going as Greg. I will be going as Greg for the first time since April of 2015.
On Friday, I see my endocrinologist. I will be going as Greg. I will be going as Greg for the first time since my first visit to this doctor in June of 2015.
When, after I began my transition in the summer of 2015, I was in the spot of going places where they knew me as Greg, I found that I needed to give them a heads up that I would be coming in as Gina. Indeed, I asked if this would be okay, if they were fine with trans patients. At each place, they appreciated my calling, they were on board with me, and they usually told me that they had trans patients.
Returning as Greg, I do not see the need to inform anyone. Indeed, going to places as Greg, where I had gone as Gina—I’m thinking of grocery stores, restaurants, and the like—I have no hesitation. However, going to the same restaurants and stores as Gina, where they had met or seen me as Greg, I stayed away from those.
Today, when I enter the dentist’s office, I suspect the receptionist will immediately recognize me. The question is, how quickly will she recognize that my hair is short and that I’m wearing guy’s clothes?
Because I love chatting with folks, over the four years I’ve gone to this dentist I’ve gotten to know that woman, and others who float in and out of the office, whom I always see when I arrive for my appointment. She is friendly and has treated me wonderfully, so I want to do things right by her.
I suspect that as soon as she sees me approaching her window, I will smile wide. If her window is open, or when she opens it, I think I will say, “Hi, there! You were expecting Gina. Well, do I have something to tell you!”
I’ll have to do the same thing with the dental hygienist, and then with the dentist. I am so hoping I see one dentist (of three possible) in particular. We’ve chatted a lot over the years. He’s been dandy with me. And we joke around a lot.
When I see my endocrinologist, I won’t be breaking my news to her. I’ve emailed with her. But, the receptionists don’t know. As with at the dentist, I’ve seen these women many times, and have had lots of friendly chatter with them, so if my approach at the dentist works okay that’s how I’ll do it with them.
2. “Doc, my muscles are killing me.”
No one warned me I might be experiencing this. My legs feel that since last winter I have aged twenty-five years.
When I went off hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the only concern which was expressed was for the sake of my bones. Osteoporosis is common in older folks for a variety of reasons, one of which is low levels of testosterone or/and estrogen. Having had sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery, I now produce very little testosterone. Because I am a genetic male, I produce very little estrogen.
Weakened bones is not yet a concern for me (that I know of). Several other things have happened and, if my research on them has proven correct, they are connected to my low hormone levels.
I have been having hot flashes since May.
It took me a couple of weeks to figure out that these episodes were hot flashes. The weather grew hot here in Indianapolis in May. I thought that, when I would do a chore and I grew too hot so quickly, it was because of the outdoor heat, even though we keep our house air conditioned at seventy-four degrees.
And then I noticed I was having these overheated experiences when sitting still.
And then I got online to research it.
And as I sorted through all of the possibilities, there was only one which matched up with me. I had low estrogen.
I was experiencing menopause.
The confounding, uncomfortable, toss-the-blanket-off-me-when-it-hits-in-bed hot flashes have continued. As spring moved into summer, again I initially attributed to the heat and humidity why I was struggling with jogging and speed-walking. Indeed, I found myself speed-walking more often than running, because my body simply couldn’t do a lot of running in the oppressive weather.
Since I had the same problem the previous summer, I attributed it to my having grown older. But, now, I noticed that my walking pace was slower than last year, and it kept getting worse, and the weather didn’t have to be as hot for it to be too hot for me to run.
I looked forward to the cooler weather, which finally landed here in early October. Thankfully, as I had hoped, I was able to run. Within a week, I was running five miles non-stop.
But, wow, was my pace slow. After I had one good run, I fell apart. Last Friday, I had the slowest five mile run of my life. My pace has grown so slow, I won’t even tell you want it is, except to say that it’s way worse than ten minutes per mile. At this time last autumn, I was jogging six and seven miles per day, and getting close to ten minutes per mile.
Even more, my muscles are constantly sore. Whenever I get up from bed or having sat for awhile, I hurt the way I envisioned I would be when I get into my eighties, not at age sixty-one.
So, as with the hot flashes, I got online and looked into it. Of all the things it could be, one stood out as likely for me. You guessed it: low hormone levels.
Human beings are not meant to work well without a proper amount of estrogen and testosterone.
I was hoping to stave off osteoporosis by continuing to be a distance runner. Running builds bone. I was determined never to return to HRT for fear that it would unbalance my hormones and cause me to once again experience gender dysphoria. I am all but convinced that my gender dysphoria went away because my hormones finally stabilized at levels which work for my endocrine system, as I wrote in The return to Greg—the cause.
I cannot afford to again experience gender dysphoria. I have been worn out by it. The thought of it drives me to despair.
I have felt so good this year, experiencing myself as a male, completely as a male, with no female tugging back and forth. This is the way I’ve always wanted to be. I don’t want to lose it.
I was bound and determined not to return to my endocrinologist. I was bound and determined never to go back on hormone therapy. I was bound and determined to be forever done with gender dysphoria.
I still have a supply of estradiol and syringes. I’ll let you know whether or not I’ll be getting them out of storage. Or, might my doctor prescribe testosterone? I wonder.
Or, maybe, neither. Maybe, I’m wrong about all of this. I don’t think I am; all of my symptoms line up perfectly with low hormones. But, my doctor is the professional. I have my notes typed up, so that I forget to tell her nothing, that she might make a proper diagnosis.
Julie—ever the wise one—said to me on Monday, “Go into this thinking that you will resume HRT, that it will provide the help you need with the hot flashes and your muscles, and that it won’t cause your gender dysphoria to return.” I continue to reflect on this, picturing her sitting across from me, calming me as she has so many times.
Regardless of my wonderful wife’s advice, I easily admit:
I am scared.