Not A Life Choice – Trudging On

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Sometimes it is hard to keep going especially when you think you are in so deep like this woman. I noted how I have been dancing with the darkness lately. One kind follower responded back. They said that despite us being on political opposite ends of the spectrum, that they supported me and reminded me that I serve a purpose on this earth. I bring light to a subject that many do not understand.

I just want to say right off that I have no intention of doing away with myself. I do believe that all life is sacred, including my own. If I were to end it, where would that leave others who have been following my journey and have been inspired to follow their own path.

I saw a meme attributed to John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Now I don’t pretend to be a leader, but I do hope that I have managed to inspire others to become their true selves.  With exposure comes light. As more and more people are coming out as LGBT, there is a light shining and more research is being done. A recent study found that there is a genetic link between gender dysphoria and sex hormone signaling.

A significant association was identified between gender dysphoria and ERα, SRD5A2, and STS alleles, as well as ERα and SULT2A1 genotypes. Several allele combinations were also overrepresented in transgender women, most involving AR (namely, AR-ERβ, AR-PGR, AR-COMT, CYP17-SRD5A2). Overrepresented alleles and genotypes are proposed to undermasculinize/feminize on the basis of their reported effects in other disease contexts.

Conclusion
Gender dysphoria may have an oligogenic component, with several genes involved in sex hormone–signaling contributing.

I struggle sometimes with being out publicly. There are times I just want to retreat and just hide away. Many years ago I chose a public path. There were too many instances of suicide by young people, and old, that found no acceptance and chose to end life I chose to shine a light and try to educate. I hope that in some way I am being a beacon of hope to someone so they don’t take their life. If I save but one, I have lived a good life.

My hope is that more and more research comes out to prove that this is Not Just A Life Choice. We are learning more and more each day. We have found that gender and sexual preference are not black and white but a plethora of shades of grey. There are those who are fluid in that they go back and forth between genders based on what makes them comfortable that day. Why can’t we just accept that? Why do we want cookie cutter people instead of variety?

I was told by my first psychologist that she believed I was bisexual. She said the best way for me to find out was to date a guy. This was pre-transition. I was going through a nasty divorce due to my first attempt at transition. I didn’t think it was prudent to go down that road. It has sat in the back of my mind. I know that I am still attracted to women, but there has always been those few guys who I found myself attracted to, like Sam Elliot or David Duchovny. Of course, X-Files was one of my favorite shows because I liked both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. In the end, it is curiosity at this point. I have no plans on ever being with anyone else again once my marriage is over. So the world may never know.

I do want to say that I do not intend to ever take my life. I don’t think I could even if I did want to. So I trudge on through the muck. It would be nice to get to a point where I don’t have a shadow of darkness over me. One day.

So if you are LGBTQ+, be the light. Shine on and be a beacon to others. The more light we shine, the more research is done and science can show the truth.

As always, my heart to your heart, one spirit.

Emma (Unega Waya) Croft

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Another Closure

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So going to do my last KJ job. I started KJ’ing as a fundraiser for the local Masonic Lodge. I have been treated to many amazing voices through the years. I especially love when I hear an amazing young voice and I tell them to keep working at it. Who knows, maybe my little bit of encouragement might inspire the next Pink, or Mary Chapin Carpenter, or Grace Slick. Hey, it could happen.

I have been doing a friend’s pig roast for the past few years. The Make A Fool of Yourself Night I think went ten years. As I am unsure of my life going forward, I think it is time to just withdraw and tend to myself for a while. My marriage is coming to an end. I am not 100% sure where I am going to end up. I am inching towards Plymouth, but until we finally sell off the farm and the house, I can’t go anywhere.

It really is bittersweet, ending all of this. When I started Make A Fool of Yourself Night, we grew that and made thousands for the Lodge’s charity funds. About two years or so ago, I was in tears as we broke yet another record for fundraising.  Last year’s was not so good. There just didn’t seem to be the energy behind it. Of course, the turnout was low as the date had to be shifted.

Music has always been a part of my life. I always aspired to play guitar. Oh, I can play some, but not enough. I was mostly hoping to write songs. I did a few. I remember writing The Good Old Days. The chorus went something like, Nowadays they’re running wild, you can’t keep up with the latest styles, things will never be the same, you’ll find love is a computer game.

So I will go and play music and Karaoke for the folks. I will enjoy the pig roast and all the great food and drink. I will listen to a lot of great voices and some not so great. LOL. Hey, Make A Fool was built on the premise that there would be at least one Fool. I used to give awards for Best Male performer, Best Female performer, Best Duo or Group, and Fool of the Night.  After ten years though, it has run it’s course and I think the Lodge will come up with something new. I kind of wish they would bring back the Cook-Off. I have many aprons from that and have come in close many years.

Change is always hard for me. I am not looking forward to the disorder that is to come. I was diagnosed with Aspergers and when I am uncomfortable or upset, I start to rock. I have been doing that a lot. It gets worse venturing into the unknown.

I want to thank all who supported me, especially when I was running the Make A Fool of Yourself Night and throughout my life. I thank MaryAnn for giving the opportunity to bring my joy of music to others at her event. I don’t know what the future holds. I have had to fight the demons of darkness and have had to see my counselor a few times. I just keep telling myself it is just a moment in time and take one more step forward. I look back at all I have gone through and where I am now and know it would be a travesty to end my life at this point. I will keep pushing forward and hopefully, I will get to the other end of the swamp.

As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

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Not A Life Choice – Another Follow-up

StayStrong

I continue to heal. I do have twinges of pain. Some are kind of stabbing. I saw the PA on Friday and she said it was normal.  She said my vitals were excellent. BP was 113/72, Pulse Rate 63, Temp 97.9, and Oxygen at 98%.  I am mostly unmedicated at this point. I am not even taking the Tylenol anymore. Once again, I was treated to the stirrups and speculum. She had to use that medicine on the stick to cauterize a few more spots. She noted that the spot that I had noted as bleeding sometimes was normal. Considering the redo of all my plumbing and total reconstruction, I am doing well

Cindy did have her knee replacement so she is out of action for quite a while. She is slowly recuperating but should have the staples out on Monday. Her son took over the feeding duties but I did have to return to cleanup duty for the alpacas. Probably shouldn’t have started back but really no choice.

All the chickens are gone, so no more Easter Egg hunts. We are back to buying store bought. Cindy had offered them to a gentleman who came and picked them up the other day. He also took the small coop with him. So pretty much nothing left in that area but the big coop. We will probably tear that down as time gets closer to shutting down the farm.

We still have all the alpacas. None have been rehomed as of yet. So the work here still continues. Of course, I took the day off Friday since my appointment is in Boston. Wouldn’t you know it, I woke up at 3:30a. What was worse, I had to do work at 11p even though I was off. Cindy did try to get Jazzie to get her out to to go potty and let me sleep in. Unfortunately, the call of Mother Nature nixed that. So I was up at 6a this morning. It is going to be an early night tonight.

PT continues and I am now on the largest dilator. Hurts more but you get used to it. I have been doing twenty instead of fifteen minutes. Just tough to keep to a schedule when you have farm duties and work calls. I was on back to back weeks of on call.

I really am on the denouement of this ride. If it wasn’t for the occasional tweak of pain and discomfort when sitting for long periods, there would be nothing left to talk about.

On an up note, I am meeting some friends for brunch tomorrow. It will be nice to get out and be with people. Most of my social interaction these days is going to the market.

So far those who are following to maybe get an idea of what to expect, yes, you still will have some pain even after two months, but it is tolerable. Of course, you aren’t going to be tossing hay bales or toting water buckets, or carts full of alpaca poop. Just give yourself the time to heal.

As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

 

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Not A Life Choice – Surgery Follow-up

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Had my six week follow-up yesterday. I had to go see the Physical Therapist first. Of course, they wouldn’t be in the same building nor the same street. I got my steps in! The Physical Therapist went over a few things. She checked to see if I knew how to do Kegels. I showed her I could do them with no problem. We went through a few other things. She told me that some of the pain could be mitigated by massaging the scar tissue. She said that more than likely the sharp pangs I felt now and then were due to the scar tissue pressing on a nerve. She said by massaging that area, it starts to loosen up a bit. Dr. Slama affirmed that later when I saw him.

I had to walk back to my appointment with Dr. Slama. As I was coming down a street, this large gentleman kept yelling at me. I was hurting and didn’t want to have to get into an altercation. He yelled a few more times and then smiled and said, I love your hair. I thanked him and kept going. I tell you, after walking two blocks in the wrong direction and then reversing and finding my way back, I was hurting. Of course, I also had to use the restroom, which didn’t help.

I made it to Dr. Slama’s appointment in plenty of time. Even had time to use the bathroom before going in. I finally experienced the whole stirrups routine. There were a few spots where the stitches had popped or I pulled something. He had some medicine on a stick that he was able to go in and rub on the spots. He noted that the medicine will help to seal the spots as it burns them. He said that I might see some extra discharge over the next couple of days as that sloughs off.

Another thing I noted to him was the sharp pain I get in one of the suture areas. He told me that the scar tissue was probably pushing against a nerve ending. He told me to start massaging the suture areas and that will help alleviate it. All in all, it was pretty uneventful. Dr. Slama said that I was healing really well and thought I was doing excellent. He took some pictures for his archive. Oh, he did get a chuckle when I told him that one of my friends commented that I now had a “designer vagina”. He said he hadn’t heard that one before.

I was set up with two more appointments, one with the PA in about a month, and then back with Dr. Slama in October. By this time it was after four and I was not looking forward to the commute home. At least with my next two appointments, we went for earlier in the day. Boston traffic can be murder. More-so when you have just been poked and prodded by the doctor and are sensitive to all the bumps on the road.

I did note to the doctor that occasionally there was some light pink when I peed. He said that was normal and that it could take up to a year for the urethra to fully heal. It was repositioned and you are using it so that is understandable.

I was a little more uncomfortable after the long ride home, but slowly things are improving. Cindy keeps reminding me that this was a huge surgery and it will take a while. In the meantime, I am looking forward to my nephew’s wedding this Saturday. It could be interesting as for some of the family, this will be the first time they see me fully transitioned. I have a killer dress that Cindy really loves on me. We spent some time last night putting together the outfit. I ordered another pair of heels. Yeah, I know, at 6’2, I don’t need to be adding height, but they were cute.

In another few weeks, Cindy and I will switch, as she will be the one having surgery and I will be doing the brunt of the farm work.

We are slowly drawing to a close on this series. I will probably wrap it up after a few more entries. I really do hope that it has educated and brought enlightenment to people. I also hope that it has served as a guiding light to those who choose to follow this path. My Cherokee friends named me Unega Waya, White Wolf. In their tradition, the wolf is a pathfinder and teacher. I hope that I have made the path a bit easier for someone else.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma Morgaine Croft

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Not A Life Choice – One Month Post Surgery

Dilators

This is intended for those coming after, so apologies if too much information.

I posted in a previous blog that part of your recovery is dilation. I am doing okay on this. I have moved to the blue one, three times a day. Recovery is going pretty well. I do have a bit of discomfort, especially if sitting upright for a bit. I find that if I can recline it takes some pressure off. The pain can be described as more of a pinching kind of pain. Cindy thinks it is due to the healing and things tightening up. I did find the spot where I must have popped a stitch at one time. It is healing, but I will have the PA check when I go for my follow-up next Monday.

I am slowly getting back into a routine. I do have to set time aside for “PT”, but getting there. I have been going to the market and doing the laundry. I do note that after being in the market for a while, I am pretty done in and hurting. Pain is managed with a couple of extra strength Tylenol. Hopefully, after next week, I can start doing a bit more. Cindy has told me that we will switch jobs for a few weeks and I will feed and she will clean. The poop does get a bit heavy, especially after a rain.

We are still on baby watch with Jitty. Hopefully any day now.  We have had six cria (babies) born on the farm over the years. We lost Hermione due to birth defects, but the rest are doing well.

So slowly things are returning to normal. We have even managed to go out to dinner a few times. I did have to leave early from our last. We sat on wooden chairs which was a bit uncomfortable with no padding. I guess that is basically it. I just have an issue with sitting for long periods. Dilation (PT) is easy enough. I might even attempt moving up to the last one after my appointment next week. I figured, I would get checked out before taking on the green monster!

As always, if you are considering the surgery and have questions, please do reach out. Also note that each center has their own procedures to go through. I was surprised when they changed procedures just after I got the note to stop HRT and the doctor said that they changed that and needed to update, so no stopping HRT.

I am at the point where I am just living life now. There is no more gender dysphoria. I have my nephews wedding coming up which will be the first time many in my family will see me. I had sent out an email to everyone to advise them that I had the surgery and only one sister responded. Though my sister Judy has been with me through it all.

I hope that everyone has learned a little about this and raised awareness.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

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Not A Life Choice – Continuing to Recover

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I am still working towards this look. Might take a bit as I still have a bit to go with the hair. Just giving an update for those who may be following due to them possibly following me down the surgery route.

So many times I have spoken about the pain one has to endure throughout this process. I continue with pain, but am managing with Tylenol. I took myself off of the Oxycodone. I have to admit, there are times when I wish I had more, but I have that one left and am not touching it. If I need to, I will just double up on Tylenol. That helps to lower the pain to the manageable level.

I was talking openly about the dilation. Cindy told me that I shouldn’t really be talking about that openly. I feel that it is appropriate here, as it is for educational purposes. She said when others are around, to please refer to it as PT. Dilation is a big part of this post-op In order to prevent the neo-vagina from closing up, you have to dilate three times a day. This will be tapered off as the months and years go on. I was so excited when I first dilated with the nurse and I “buried the dots”.

Dilators

Notice that the second one is about twice as wide. Needless to say, I was lucky to have three dots showing when I first did it. Persistence and Tylenol and soon I started seeing just one dot. The dots denote the depth, and the nurse commented that I had extremely good depth.

Let me take a step back a bit. There are two types of vaginoplasty. There is the penile inversion as I had. Then there is the one where they just create a vulva, reposition the urethra and create a neo-labia. I believe with the second option there is no need for dilation, but given the uncertainty of my future, I wanted to keep options open.

I had my last check-up last week. The nurse said that I appeared to be doing extremely well. According to her, everything looks the way it should. I did note an issue with spray when peeing, but she said that may correct itself as the swelling continues to abate. I also note that as the swelling is abating, so does the pain. I am still uncomfortable, but it is at least tolerable. For those who are prepping to go through the same, be sure to get plenty of light days liners. You will need them. At 18 days past surgery, I am still uncomfortable, but managing. This is major surgery, so don’t expect a quick return to normalcy. The nurse told me it could be six weeks before I can start doing things. I will be returning to work on the 8th, but since I work from home and work in the cloud, it is mostly sitting, which I am doing anyway.

For those who are planning on going through this, be sure to sign up for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and Short Term Disability, if your company provides it. This will help from loss of funds during your recovery. I am just waiting for the bills to start coming. I did manage to squirrel away some funds before starting, so as to minimize the impact, but I may need to come up with some more cash. I will take it as it comes.

I continue to recover and with each passing day, things get better. I may even attempt to go grocery shopping later this afternoon. My store still uses plastic sacks so not much goes in them.

In other news, we are on cria watch, as Jitty looks like she is getting ready to have her baby. We will put that announcement on our farm Facebook page.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

P.S. If you are looking to have the procedure done, feel free to reach out to me. I went to Boston Medical with Dr. Slama and Dr. Oates. They were outstanding. Their whole team was superior.

Emma Morgaine Croft.

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Not A Life Choice – The Follow-Up

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It was nice to go home for the weekend. Many question why they send you home over the weekend but have you come back the following Monday to have the catheter removed along with all the packing, but it was nice to be home after almost a week in hospital. Over the weekend, my in-laws and my eldest daughter and her husband with our granddaughter came to visit. We ordered out pizza, which after a week of hospital food, was especially good. The food at the hospital was passable, but I mostly like just the breakfast. On Sunday, my kids came to make us brunch, so that was especially nice. We had a great breakfast with French Toast, scrambled eggs and bacon and hash browns. I really love breakfast, so this was especially good. They all left in the early afternoon which gave Cindy and I some time to settle in afterwards.

Cindy had arranged for Kyle to come pick me up and take me to my appointment. He came right on time and I was almost ready but not. I never put on any earrings or my rings, I also forgot to take my Oxycodone before I left, so I was going without pain meds.

We got to the parking deck and got settled in. I managed to get across the streets and over to the Shapiro Center despite having to waddle with a Foley bag strapped to my leg and all the packing between my thighs. We headed up to the eight floor to Dr. Slama’s office. I went and checked in while Kyle set himself up with a view so he could nap while waiting.

In short order was led in by the nurse who I first met when under anesthesia so still can’t remember her name. She is English though, with a distinct accent, so we hit it off right away. She is a new addition to the team to assist Pam as there are more people coming through.  Yes, as more and more awareness comes, so do insurance companies that cover the procedure allowing more to get them. So hopefully, with this blog and others like it, that awareness is coming at an ever increasing rate so that there will be more acceptance and understanding.

I went in with the nurse and was soon on the table. I advised her that I had not taken anything for pain and did not have anything with me. She told me that I should be okay, but wished I had. She advised me of everything she was going to do. We took it step by step. The first thing she wanted to do was to check the responsiveness of my new clitoris. She took a cotton swab and put some alcohol on it and then rubbed it against my new clitoris. I felt it immediately and she was very happy about that. She took out the catheter to get that out of the way. She told me that it is held in place by a balloon filled with water. Once she attached a syringe and withdrew the water, the catheter could be removed with little discomfort. She told me not to worry about peeing as I won’t probably need to for six to eight hours as my bladder would need to fill. She snipped the sutures and slowly drew them out. There was a little discomfort, but not so much pain. Then she told me she was going to remove the packing. Just like a magician pulling scarves from their hat, she went to work. She was amazed at how much packing there was. She said that with that much packing there must be incredible depth. We soon found out. Once packing was clear and all the sutures that needed to be gone were gone, we moved on to the dilation lesson. She explained what I needed to do. We lubed up the smallest of the dilators which you start with. She said that we were going to insert it to see how many dots in we could go to check the depth I would have to do. She slowly inserted and kept going and going and going…. by the time she got to the point where I could feel she hit bottom, all the dots had disappeared. Once again, she remarked about my incredible depth. She continued with the instructions about cleaning, and ensuring I use the right amount of lube. I will have to do this for three times a day for a bit, and then you slowly start to taper off as time goes by. The purpose of this is to prevent your new vagina from closing up. They give you incredible instructions with all the details and timelines.

Dr. Slama and Dr. Oates came by and checked their work. They were both extremely happy with the results and were astounded with my progress. There was a black spot that they showed me in the mirror. They told me not to worry about it that it was just a blood clot that is easily peeled off. Dr. Slama took some tweezers and started to. It was like someone peeling off the skin from a sunburn. Ugh. It didn’t hurt. He said it would all come off as I showered. He also noted that some of the bruising was already getting lighter and was extremely happy with that. Some swelling was still there, but he said that too will pass. He took some pictures of my progress and commented about how well I was doing. I have to go back next Tuesday for another follow-up with Dr. Oates and then no more appointments until July.

I did my dilation last night and it went well. It was boring for the fifteen minutes you have to hold it in, but it went in easy and once again buried the dots. I had bought a douching system and tried to do that, but the douche came out of everywhere but the end of the nozzle, so I immediately ordered another system which will get here today so I can do it properly.

I know some of this will be a little too much information for the general audience, but I wanted this also to serve to educate not only the general public but help with the expectations of those who may be following my steps.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

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