August 19, one last time

It was on this date, in 2015, when I went public that I was six weeks into the Real Life Test of living as a female to see whether it calmed the fire in my brain and if I could succeed in the world as a woman.

On both the first and second anniversaries, I posted photos to show the progress I was making, the evolution of myself.  With the biggest change of all occuring in me this year, it seems a final post is in order.

Before I get to that, I have a fun quiz for you.

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Trivia Time:

What do Clark Kent and Superman, and Gina and Greg have in common?  Two clues are tucked between the photos.  The answer is revealed at the end of the post.

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November, 2011: before I crashed with gender dysphoria:

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CLUE #1: Clark/Superman and Greg/Gina each have their parting ways.

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August 19, 2015: the transition begins:

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August 19, 2016: do you see a difference from 2015?

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August 19, 2017: the final one before my face surgery in November.

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CLUE #2: when Superman and Greg make a spectacle of themselves, they cease making a spectacle upon themselves.

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November 22, 2017: facial feminization surgery day.

Christmas, 2017: healing from surgery, this is the new me.  Gina is ready for 2018 . . . she thinks.

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In January of 2018, I had cataract surgery.  It went so well, I no longer needed glasses, making the Christmas photo all the more appropriate, when I had Julie take some pics of me without my glasses.

At the time of the eye procedure, I was in the early days of my identity shift, of which you now know the story.

August 15, 2018: three months into living full time as Greg.

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Trivia Time Answer:

Since all online photos of Clark Kent and Superman are copyrighted, I can’t copy them to post here.  You can easily find them, or you likely recall the parting ways and spectacle of the two clues.

Clark Kent and Superman part their hair on opposite sides.  So do Greg and Gina.  Did you ever catch that?

Clark Kent wears glasses, while Superman . . . well, he wouldn’t be super with glasses!  Gina wore glasses and, now feeling like a super man—and with the aid of cataract surgery—Greg does not.  Now, to acquire that Xray vision thing . . .

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A final side-by-side look nicely closes this monumental chapter of my life:

Post-transition crash

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Finally, for the past three weeks I’ve been feeling better. Since January, I had been struggling something fierce.  Many days, I hated life.  The littlest things set me off. I didn’t know why.

The crazy thing is, I could have been told that finishing my transition might plunge me into depression.

I even could have figured it out for myself.

Letdowns are normal and natural

When I became a minister, a pastor warned me that the day after Easter I might feel a letdown, a depression for a few days. He said that it would be due to the busyness of Lent, which has Lutheran pastors writing two sermons a week and conducting extra services, with the big buildup toward Holy Week and its services on Thursday and Friday, and then the huge crowd on Easter. Easter afternoon would feel great—a successful completion to the seven week sprint—but, on Monday, with everything completed, the letdown likely would arrive.

Sure enough, it did. I was glad to be warned of it. Knowing it might come, I knew what it was. After a few days, I felt better.

I did not associate that with when I crashed hard in 2008. For two full years, I had been minister to two congregations, as the neighboring parish’s pastor had moved to another church.

I. Was. Busy.

In the middle of those two years, I had the heart trouble which resulted in my receiving two stents, and then the last of our four kids, the two boys, moved out. It was a hectic two years, filled with upheaval.

Soon after I was back to only serving one congregation, I was fit to be tied as to why I felt so lousy. As I told my brother pastors, I should have been happy now only serving my own church, yet I felt as if I had a part-time job. And I missed my boys something fierce as this new empty nest thing finally came home to roost in my heart.

I now understand that all of this dramatic change is what caused the deep angst and depression. If only someone would have told me to expect it. If only my brother pastors had been savvy enough to say, “What you are experiencing is a completely normal and natural letdown.” It was the post-Easter thing X 100.

A day or two after I had my sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery a year ago, I experienced a very strong “What did I do to myself?” I physically hurt so badly, and the recovery seemed positively daunting, and here I had gone and done this of my own volition.

At my first post-op appointment, I told Dr. Gallagher. She said, “I’ve heard this from all of my patients.” I don’t think I replied, “Why didn’t you warn me?” but, two weeks ago, at my final visit with her, I did. And more.

I told her how I had been struggling with myself the past three months, that I had experienced a wonderful high after my final surgery in November, that the euphoria lasted until early in the new year, and then I crashed into a nasty depression.

She replied that this is pretty common. It’s like we are unconsciously saying, “The long trek to transitioning is done. It’s time to move on,” but we’ve not prepared ourselves to move on.

I suggested to her that patients need to be told these things, that I found all of my surgeons, for my three surgeries, to have neglected key things about my recovery. I was pleased when she told me that her assistant had been gathering this kind of information and they now give the info to patients who are preparing for surgery.

Within days of seeing her, I saw my endocrinologist. Telling her of this difficult down period, she commented that she’s had patients describe this. A pattern was emerging. Finally, I recalled what happened in 2008, and the mini crashes after every Easter. My experiences have not been unusual, but to be expected. Or at least be aware that they are possibilities, and if they happen they are completely normal and natural.

Weird and unusual are hard to swallow. Normal and natural goes down nicely.

Get thee to a psychologist!

This year’s crash was so bad that, in late March, I engaged a psychologist. (Yes, wiseguys, at the encouragement of Julie. She remains the brains of the Eilers household.) I found a new therapist. I wanted someone who did not know me so that I would be heard with fresh ears, and one who does not specialize with transgender folks so that he might not be prone to only seeing me as a trans person. I found a man who is a tad older than I, with over thirty years in general practice. From the initial phone call, I was confident I had found a counselor who might be up to my task.

Last week, I had what might be the final of six visits with him. Indeed, I found him up to my task. He heard me. He asked good questions. When he suggested ideas, which he was assembling from our discussion, his thoughts about me made sense.

Though I have yet to change anything, I have been feeling better. After the first week with him, with two intense sessions, my load was feeling lighter. I have not had any days in which I feel completely out of sorts. Indeed, I once again feel hopeful about my life.

Happiness: three main ingredients

We talked a lot about how I might move forward. He told me his formula for a person having a happy life. It has three ingredients, which must be fairly consistent. They are meaningful work, love from family and friends, and fun.

We determined that I have pretty consistent portions of love and fun, but am lacking in meaningful work. Indeed, because I had been feeling so lousy, I had been struggling with being interested in writing, which has been my most meaningful work, so the problem was made worse by the crash.

He and I also spent a lot of time talking about my being transgender. Odd as it might sound because I did fully transition, I continue to struggle with being transgender. I wish I were not.

We talked a lot about a person’s worldview. In my worldview, which is that of a Christian who practices a traditional view of the Bible, along with my being highly conservative in every aspect of how I live and think, transgender does not fit.

Worse than putting a square peg into a round hole, my being transgender is like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle where every piece has been crammed into the wrong spot.

The depression lifting, hopefully the crash is over. It sure helps that spring is here. I have my garden started. I hope that is a metaphor for where I will plant myself, to find a job where I can be fruitful.

2017: The culmination (2)

Today’s post prompts the question, why do I write on the topics on which I write?

Over and over, I hear from folks who are trying not to transition, or are beginning or in the process, or have transitioned, those who are fellow Christians and those for whom questions of religion do not come into play, all who are pleased to learn about my various experiences, both wondering what they might expect or to see if anyone else has gone through what they have. That they found me, and the many ways in which I have written, proves tremendously helpful for them—and gratifying for me.

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Outside of my surgeries, 2017 was notable for one other thing. It’s another thing I could have never imagined.

When I look back over my life, and how I observed trans women, especially those who look and dress and speak so thoroughly differently as females from their former males selves, I always thought—and I suspect this is natural, but perhaps you don’t think this way—that, post-transition, they must experience life differently, and experience themselves differently, because, after all, they changed so dramatically.

I wonder now if my thought had not been completely wrong, or at least largely so. I now admit: What did I know?

Not only do I, having fully transitioned, not experience life, or myself, differently (check off one surprise), I came full circle in 2017 (check off one that’s a downright shock).

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Hmm, maybe this is me—not both new and improved, but a new look while tasting the same?

In September of 2016, I posted a piece entitled, “Gina Deepens as Greg Lessens.” In that post, I explained that more than ever I experienced myself as a female, which meant that male-feeling moments were coming less often, and they were not as intense when they arose. I also noted how pondering my formerly living as a male was as if I were looking at the photo album of my former self, indeed that this was a completely separate person from whom I now was.

As I perceived in myself this gradual and thorough changing of the guard in me, I could only expect it to continue and complete itself, that I would become what I always perceived in the transsexuals I had observed from my youth. In 2017, not only did it not continue to completion, it reversed itself.

After I had sex reassignment/gender confirming surgery in April, the reverting began.  (Great timing, huh?) Because it occurred after this profound changing of my body, for awhile—as much as a couple of months—I wished I never had felt I needed to have the surgery. Yet, even as I had those thoughts, the surgery always felt correct on me.

I got through that period last spring and accepted my situation in life, and then became content with it. Even if, at some future date, I were to resume living as a male (yes, I always leave open that possibility), I would never again have a penis. During the two months of struggle, this bothered me, the single thing I have done in transitioning which is irreversible. After negotiating those rough waters, since last summer I have been able to stop pondering this.  I am content and pleased with the new shape of my body.

As I neared my twin procedures in November—facial feminization and breast implants—I continued to feel like my pre-transition self. Check that. There was something missing from my pre-transition self. I no longer had the gender dysphoria which had been seeking to destroy me.

Feeling more like the person I was before I crashed in 2013—actually, because I now can see that the linebacker had, in my slo-mo crash, been approaching for several years before 2013 (I initiated that metaphor in the previous 2017 review post)—I had to remind myself that even in the first five decades of my life I was a troubled person, not yet hating being a male but feeling so strongly about being a female. Now, in late 2017, I felt all of the good things of my pre-crash life without any of the longing which had turned into suicidal-thought-inducing self-hatred.

Here I now sit, in January of 2018, having done everything a person can do to transition sexes, feeling that I have fully arrived, and landing in a spot I could have never imagined. Not only had I been unable, for my entire life, imagine that I could transition, now that I have transitioned and feel the same about myself, and experience the world and all of my relationships the same as before I crashed . . . well, I am dumbfounded, befuddled, and giddy.

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This one might better reflect the new me, with the “Same Great Taste!” stressed more than the “New Look.”

Healthy once more—truly, finding myself healthier than I have been since I was elementary-school-aged, before my gender issues arose—I am content with myself. (Okay, I long to shed more weight, and I always wish my hair were thicker. Go away, self-critical thoughts!)

I have that wonderful sense of fulfillment that comes with having conquered a big job. I felt it in the mid-’80s, after remodeling our house from the condemned mess that it was when we purchased it. I enjoyed it in the mid-’90s, after having uprooted my family to go to seminary, succeeded at it, and was ordained a minister. And now, in the two months since my final surgery, I have experienced it quite profoundly.

While I thought some things in me would change—and I perceived that some things were changing—nothing changed which is integral to my being. I worked hard at my life, the things I believe and admire, the relationships I have, my morals and ethics, and my lifestyle. That I gave in to nothing, that I continue to hold dear what I always held dear, that I interact the same with my family and friends—wow, wow, wow, I am so pleased that I am reduced to tears of joy and prayers of praise to the Lord.

Thinking of all of the product pictures I have placed throughout this and the previous post, am I both new and improved? Or, would my honest sales pitch be, “A different package contains the same old product”?

I’ll let you decide. Please be kind. This same old product does have feelings, you know.

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Ah, yes!  This is the one!  The new/old me indeed tastes heavenly!

P.S. I suspect that some of you have been onto something, and you have wondered if I am, too. The question: Will I remain where I now am?

Since my life has been volatile for so long, have I reached an end—which sure is how I came off in all that I wrote—or am I now in what will only be another phase? While I hope this is not temporary, I know enough not to be naive about it. Since I write regarding every important thing I experience, should anything change I will certainly keep you posted.

2017: The culmination (1)

 

The microwave take

I had set my goal to be fully transitioned by the time I turned sixty. Over the course of four years, I had done everything to set up 2017 to complete the task in time, having the surgeries I desired.  My birthday is in April, after the eleventh.

  1. January 19: Vocal cord surgery
  2. April 11: Sex reassignment/gender confirming surgery
  3. November 22: Facial feminization surgery and breast implants

When I fudge my stated goal—to have all of my surgeries in the calendar year in which I turned sixty—I can claim to have achieved it.

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That was one crazy ladder.

The crock pot take

It was 2013. A few months after I began seeing a therapist that April, I had decided that I would need to attempt transitioning, to see if it would help me feel better. Actually, I was on about my tenth decision to transition, and my mind would remain on the I-will/I-won’t swivel for more than two years.

That January, I had crashed. As I reflect on things, I now see that I was in the process of crashing for a few years, since my very early fifties. My life was like watching a slow motion video of a football running back who is hurling through the air, stretching for the end zone, only to have the enormous linebacker awaiting.

It was five years ago that I finally made contact with that linebacker. I was crushed, crunched, and crashed.

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Yeah, that’s me—new look, same great taste, and still a dip!

Back to the therapist’s office, that summer I had once again decided I would need to give transitioning a try. Nothing else was working. I was getting worse. Meltdowns were my too-frequent visitors. I cried almost as much as I breathed. If I could have torn off my flesh, I would have.

Having announced my decision, I said to my therapist, “I have a goal. I want to be fully transitioned, with whatever surgeries I will decide to have, by my sixtieth birthday, in April of 2017.”

At the time, I had plenty of time. As I tore off calendar pages, it felt like sand seeping out of the hour glass and through my fingers. Before 2013 was out, I had begun hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and in 2014 I retired. Outside of retiring, everything else was a seesaw, including the HRT which I stopped and started four times. Up and down I went, and with every hard landing came the next crash, more jarring than the others.

While suicidal thoughts regularly came calling, I never was close to trying. What came close, and I truly thought was going to land and stick, was losing my mind, going insane, becoming a blithering idiot of a person who could do no more than sit around, eating and watching television.

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Nice, but I like my new packaging better.

That is where I found myself in June of 2015. On April 29, I had gone public online, that I had struggled all my life with my gender identity. I was so hoping that fighting my battle in public, openly writing about it, would strengthen me in my resolve to remain male. I found that while writing was therapeutic, being public about this was no cure. In June, I decided to begin to live full time as a female, to see if it would help. I set July 2 as the date to go all Gina, all of the time.

I was finding relief. Thus, in mid-August, I went public about it. I changed my online presence from Greg to Gina. While I continued to have seesaw-situations, each one was situational A pattern emerged. Every time I took the next step, I subconsciously rebelled against it.

And, every time, not only did I fight through the rebellion, taking the step proved beneficial. I succeeded at living as a female. I legally changed my name on May 2, 2016. I scheduled visits with surgeons. I kept going forward.

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Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!

In 2017, I had every surgery I planned to have. If surgeries did not take so long to accomplish, I would have made my goal of being fully transitioned by my sixtieth birthday. After I hit sixty, the lone thing I had to do was my face surgery and breast implants. At least, I can say that I got them done during the year that I turned sixty. Yeah, I’ll go with that, reaching my fudged goal.

Since my final surgery, I have been on a high. It is a combination thing. I am both tremendously happy with the surgery and riding the wave of being done. If I had a pizza for every time I have verbally proclaimed a huge, smile-accompanied “Whew!”—well, I’d be continually sauced.

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I’ll take four of these and leave the “33% more!!!”

The other thing I find myself saying is, “I am a completely transitioned transsexual.” This boggles my mind. From my middle-school years, when I first learned about transsexuals and was so intrigued by them, to the many years that my regular lament was, “All I want in life is to be a girl,” of all of the daydreams I had where I could not ponder actually transitioning, so foreign to my life was that notion.

And now here I am. I am one of them—a male who is a fully transitioned trans woman.

If I had been selected in high school to be part of some crazy send-a-teenager-to-the-moon program of NASA, and had been the youngest person to lope the lunar landscape, it would not have been any wilder in my imagination than the ground on which I am now walking.

It turns out the man in the moon is transgender.

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Ain’t that cheesy?

Concern for children transitioning

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At age four, Jazz Jennings expressed that she was not the boy she was thought to be.  At age five, she began social transitioning.  Her story went nationwide when, at age six, she was interviewed by Barbara Walters, which launched her to her own reality TV series.

I recently received a message from a woman’s whose concerns I suspect are those of enough people that this warranted more than a reply only to her. Here is her note, which I have mildly edited to focus on the key points.

Gina, I have some qualms about all the children who are being treated with hormones for dysphoria. We have long held the attitude that children do not have the ability to make life-changing decisions such as marriage and signing binding legal contracts because they are not mature enough to comprehend the ramifications involved. Yet on the simple assertion of a five-year-old that s/he is the other gender, we are now being ordered to treat the child as if this were truth and even begin medical treatments that have lifelong consequences. From what I have read, most children who make these assertions, if not treated, eventually come to terms with who and what they were created to be. If they don’t, then adulthood is maybe a more rational point for them make these decisions? I know I was something of a “tomboy” as a kid, yet there is now no way I would want to have missed being a woman and a mother. I know that isn’t quite the same thing yet why are we encouraging little children to make these decisions? Not just encouraging but actively forcing reluctant parents in some cases.

I have located three areas of concern to address: 1) children transitioning, 2) a child only going through a phase regarding gender, and 3) the encouraging of children to transition, or the forcing of parents for these children to do so. I will work backward through these topics.

I am horrified at the thought of any parents being forced to set a child onto the path of transitioning, or even encouraging a child, which I heard as “pushing” a child.

Yet, I can imagine the scenario. An over-zealous therapist or doctor, who speaks so strongly with the diagnosis that the child is transgender and will only be benefited by transitioning and that the path should be started immediately, and the parents themselves feel pushed—backed into a corner of guilt if they don’t act.

Sadly, there are people in every profession who do not remain inside their boundaries, whose insights and opinions turn into insistence, which virtually bullies a person into the action which they espouse. It happens with teachers and students, with politicians and citizens, with ministers and congregations, in every sphere of life. I can easily imagine it in the area of gender dysphoria and transitioning. Should it happen, that doctor or therapist should be reported to the appropriate person or group.

You are correct in asserting that most children, who express wanting to be the opposite sex, will move on from this, perhaps even quickly. I addressed this and more in the following:

https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/children-talking-transgender-with-parents/

In that piece, I discuss PIC—persistent, insistent, consistent. Parents should take a PIC of these children. Does she persist in her desire to be a boy? Is he insisting that you see him wrongly by seeing a boy? Is s/he consistent in what s/he is saying about this?

Parents should not be quick in seeking professional help while they calmly and lovingly listen to these children. If a clear PIC forms, that will be the time to act.

Finally, regarding children transitioning. It is correct that some children transition socially, how they dress and what name is used. It is incorrect that they are given hormones—this is to the best of my knowledge and, below, I explain why—or that any medical steps are taken.

The goal of a child’s socially transitioning is to alleviate the dysphoria—that is, the ill feelings regarding the mismatch of mind and body—and to see if this benefits the child. It is a testing period. If the child finds what s/he seeks, displays and expresses peace and joy in finally living as the gender s/he experiences her- or himself, and if this persists, then good has been achieved for the child.

Not only are children not given hormones, there is no need to do so. The accepted path is this:

  1. Transition socially. If this is sustained, then
  2. when the child nears puberty, prescribe blockers, which arrest puberty.  (For more about puberty blockers in children who begin puberty when very young, see the end of this post.) By postponing puberty, if the child continues into the later teen years and decides to fully transition, the affects of puberty have not adversely affected the child. If the child does not continue, blockers can be stopped and puberty would commence. If s/he desires to transition, at the appropriate time or age
  3. the child, who now likely is at least eighteen or near it, would begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and experience puberty in the desired sex.

It may be argued that one in the late teens is still a child and should not take measures which profoundly affect the future. I appreciate serious caution. Where I depart from the caution is that, by the time a person would begin the hormone phase of transitioning, several years have elapsed. If anyone has passed the PIC for this long, we are not talking about a passing phase. Even more, as we know of the great emotional and physical distress caused by gender dysphoria, we never forget the 41% attempted suicide rate. HRT often is healing therapy—it was for me—and even a life-saving measure.

In summary, no children, nor their parents as they are advised regarding their children, should be encouraged to transition, especially if information provided causes them to feel they must do so. Parents should listen closely and patiently to their children, showing them love and compassion. If their children pass the PIC, then they should engage a professional. As puberty nears, medical action can then be taken. Hopefully, if these steps are taken, these children will mature into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

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I am thankful for a friend, who is highly educated in these issues, who posted this comment on Facebook regarding puberty blockers:

One point that people miss – hormone blockers that delay puberty have routinely been prescribed for the last 30 years for children with early onset puberty. There are kids who suddenly start puberty at the age of 4 or 5. Helping them put off puberty until they are 16, 17, 18 has been standard procedure for decades and we have years of research that this has no ill effects on young people at all. So delaying puberty for trans kids until they can make informed decisions about their lives isn’t really different.

My new face: all of me!

Dr. Barry Eppley had finished removing the stitches and staples from my lips and scalp. We were chatting about how I now looked, and whether I might be content with where I am or possibly want him to do more.

We talked about each aspect of my face. As we were dissecting my features, he asked if I knew the word, “gestalt.” Before explaining that, consider this.

Picture your favorite hamburger, with all the fixin’s you like. Mmm, all the flavors together taste so good.

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What if you were to eat that same burger, one part at a time. First, the patty. Then, the bun. Now, the ketchup, then the mustard. Chomp on the pickles, and finish up with the onions.

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How do you like that hamburger, now? It’s the same burger, and yet it is not.

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Here is what “gestalt” means: “A configuration, pattern, or organized field having specific properties that cannot be derived from the summation of its component parts; a unified whole.”

To be enjoyed, a hamburger must be a unified whole. How much more the human face, and the entire human body?

As I used three posts to roll out my face surgery, showing you my brow, then my lips, and finally my neck—especially placing together before and after shots—was okay, but not nearly as satisfying as showing my entire face. Even more, in my transitioning, my face could not alone be addressed, but also my chest and bottom, along with my hormones—even my legal name. I needed to be a unified whole.

Gestalt, baby!  Here we go!  I’ve arrived, the completed Gina Joy Eilers!

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We got home from church on December 17 and I put Julie to work with the camera.

Before I had my face surgery, I told folks that I will still look like me, and I will look differently. I do believe that idea has worked perfectly.

So, here I am. And, not only my face, because, as I said, my entire person was part of this transition.

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Because I get asked all the time, yes, I wear heels.  These are three inches.  I love wearing them!

A favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  The Lord strengthens me spiritually, and He gives me earthly gifts to do the same. My greatest earthly gift is Julie.  With Julie, I have been able to do all that I have needed to get healthy!

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Where I love to be—next to Julie.

 

Referring to the two photos, below, I still love the Detroit Tigers and hot dogs with mustard and onions, and shows like The Simpsons.  I am dazzled that I have done everything a person can do in transitioning, and in every important way—my Christian faith, everyone and everything I love and value, my personality and sense of humor, and how I live my daily life—did not change a bit.

And even got better, deeper, and enriched, including my faith in Jesus Christ growing much stronger.

Finally, after a nearly lifelong struggle, and closing in on four years since I became suicidal because I was in such mental and emotional anguish, I am healthy.  Indeed, I find myself the most healthy in mind, body, and soul as I have ever been.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all of your goodness to me, both now and forever!  Thank you, Julie, for living your marriage vow to me as thoroughly as a person can!

 

 

My new face: neck

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Left: now you see my jowls.  Right: now you don’t!

I continue the move down my face, from my brow to my lips, now arriving at my neck.

That I had this work on my neck is not specific to facial feminization. I had a standard face lift, something which any person—I’m trying to refrain from saying, “Something for any older woman or man, who has been afflicted with the nasty affects of aging!”—might desire so as to enjoy a nicer, more youthful look.

By the time I hit my late fifties, my neck had sagged quite badly and I had formed some nasty jowls. I especially noticed my neck when I shaved, the flappy, floppy skin right below my chin flipping and flupping as I ran my razor over it. The other giveaway was a side view of my face, which had me greeting myself, “Hello, turkey!”

Thus, there was no question that a face lift would be part of the work I would have Dr. Barry Eppley perform on me. That, however, created a situation: I had thought I would have him sculpt my jaw as part of the feminizing of my face. but I couldn’t have both during the same surgery.

Why my jaw? As with brows/foreheads, male jaws jut more than females’. As Dr. Eppley smoothed out my brow line, I wanted him to do the same with my jaw. He informed me that he could not work on the jaw and do the face lift in the same operation; it simply was too much for one area, in one operation.

I definitely wanted the face lift, so the jaw was out. Now that I am post-op, I am finding my jaw to be in the same neighborhood as my nose, that is, not terribly male-looking.  And, with my jowls gone, my jaw—which had become more square because of the jowls—was nicely round (see the photo at the top).  When Dr. Eppley removed my stitches and staples, I told him that, so far, I am pleased with how I look and don’t anticipate having him shape my jaw.

If you have pondered having a face lift, consider me to be encouraging you. I am very pleased with the result. Yes, the early days of recovery are significant, but, thankfully, they go by fast.

My neck grew very black and blue, and sensitive. I have a lot of stitches in front of both ears and up each lobe to the antitragus—you know, the hard thingy that sticks up near the ear opening.  See the chart.

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The sides of my face became totally numb and, even at three weeks post-op, are only now regaining feeling.

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This picture was taken the day after surgery.  After scabs formed, the stitch lines became more obvious.

My jaws were stiff for about two weeks. This, along with my very sore lips, impeded eating the first few days. If my lips had not hurt, my jaws, while stiff, would not have kept me from eating just about anything but the toughest foods. Now, at three weeks, my jaws are fine.

For you guys, shaving was very unpleasant until I got to the three week mark post-op. I am not done with electrolysis, and very few whiskers have been removed from my neck. It was a touchy chore to run my razor on my neck, and in front of my ears was very challenging because I was totally numb.

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This was five days post-op.  The camera did not capture how bad this was.  Thankfully, as with all of it, it cleared up quickly.

But, again, and with every aspect of these negatives of recovery, they don’t last and, truly, the time passes quickly enough. My philosophy is not to let a few weeks of discomfort overrule many years of enjoying the results.

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No more sagging neck!
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This is the best closeup I have to show both my neck and jowls.  I am delighted to see no more jowls!

That’s it—three posts to cover my face: brow, lips, and neck.  Now, to reveal the entire image.  In preparation for that, learn this word: gestalt.  As you do, ponder your favorite hamburger, and what it would be like to eat it one ingredient at a time.

On Friday, December 15, I get my hair done.  So I will see you again on Monday, the 18th, and you will see the entire from-the-neck-up new me.