Electrology 3000 is a clinic in Carrollton, TX specializing in permanent hair removal for the male-to-female transsexual. You can find places that do electrolysis and other hair removal procedures just about anyplace, but there are some practical benefits to going the E3000 route, especially for beard hair removal.
Speed: A full clearing of the worst beard might take 2-3 days with two operators going at your face simultaneously for 7-hour shifts. Compare this to one electrolygist working for an hour or two at a time on you, squeezing in appointments when you can manage, and this is just much more efficient, and gets you where you want to be much quicker. Clearing every hair off your face in a single round means none of the hairs in the growth cycle slip by. If they're growing, they'll get zapped, and there's no escape for the little bastards.
Pain: E3000 uses litocaine injections which, although the shots hurt like hell, completely elliminate all pain during the electrolysis itself. I could not stand more than an hour or so at a time without litocaine, and I know women who can't take more than 1/2 hour sessions, even with numbing cream, which is not nearly as effective as the shots.
Expertise: E3000 has an excellent track record, uses the latest technology, and knows how to safely rid stubborn beard hair from your face. The business was started by a transwoman, and they have been in business for over 20 years specifically geared towards working with transsexuals.
Cost: At $105/hr per technician (as of September 2008), this costs less than the $95 per 45-minute session I was paying in DC. Even if you have good, cheaper electrolygists in your area, the technicians seem to work much faster than what I was getting for $125/hr by me. Plane fares and hotels add significant cost, but I think that's more than offset by the speed E3000 electrolygists work and the benefits of their method of full clearings, which will catch every hair in its growth cycle more often.
Convenience: If you have not transitioned, it may be fine for you to do an hour of electrolysis several times a week for months on end, all the while maintaining some beard growth. For the rest of us, it's godawful to have to grow out 3-5 days of stubble, even if it's only in a patch on your face.
Cash: Although the cost itself may be less overall, you're going to need several clearings (6-8 I've heard) and each trip's going to be over $1000. The first clearing could be over $3000 including travel expenses if you have a lot of hair. No spending a few hundred here and there when you have the cash and the time. Once you start with the program, you really need to see it through for several clearings. I'm budgeting $10-12k for my face alone, all tolled with travel costs. Added to $20k for SRS coming up and some other potential cosmetic work, and this is going to be an expensive coming year for me.
Recovery: For me, this was not a big problem, since I get time off work with full pay from my job for basically any medical procedure I need relating to my condition. For others, taking weeks at a time off of work may be a huge problem. This might add significantly to the cost, or at least eat up all your vacation time.
Appearance: You will have to grow 4-5 days worth of facial hair over your entire face going in. After treatment, you will look like a baboon (or in my case, Jay Leno's obese twin brother) for several days. This is mostly a psychological disadvantage, and can be dealt with, but it's a key downside and is inevitable when you just had 20,000 electric needles stuck in your face over the course of a couple of days. I'll cover this more later.
Cessation of other procedures: When I first called up E3000, I had just stopped laser hair removal, which was only partially effective for me after 7 full clearings and 6 additional touch-ups. They told me I had to wait 6 months to begin with them, because many of the hairs removed by laser would grow back, and I needed to be at full growth to start with their program. No waxing, tweezing or other stuff allowed. Okay, so I waited 6 months and stopped doing all other hair removal on my face. By the time I was scheduled to start, I was really starting to hate my beard shadow again, which had for a time been almost acceptably faint from all the laser I'd been doing.
Assuming you're coming in from out of town, plan to stay at least 3 or 4 full days after the end of your treatment. The Homestead Studio Suites located very close to E3000 is cheap and reasonably comfortable. $39/night (+ various taxes brought it to around $50) is hard to beat, and you get a full refrigerator with freezer, which will come in handy for ice storage. Get enough food to last most of your stay, try to ignore the mildewy smell the rooms all seem to have, and make yourself as comfortable as you can.
I haven't had a problem at the Homestead Studios, but recent gossip over at E3000 is that a patient got insulted by a manager here (who reportedly told her she was too ugly to transition), and there is a new, better, cleaner and slightly more expensive deal negotiated at the Best Western 1.5 miles away, which offers a shuttle to E3000 and also has a kitchen (essential) for $79/night if you tell them if you're an E3000 patient. I'm planning to switch to there next visit, and will offer a comparison in a couple months.
You will need for your first visit (the essentials):
- Ziploc Baggies (don't cheap out and get ones that aren't as water-tight)
- Ice (1 big bag should do it)
- Paper towels
- Food to last you for your stay (or a tolerance for eating pizza for a week)
- Pictures of yourself from when your face looked normal. On a computer, digital camera or whatever. Bring something to remind you.
- Water, and lots of it. A couple gallons will do. Keep your skin hydrated!
I also highly recommend the following:
- Aloe, moisturizer and clay face mask.
- A friend (preferably someone you can stand to be in a hotel with for 5 days straight). Buddy up if you know someone who's also doing this at the same time as you and share expenses.
- Drugs: Ativan (kind of like Valium), Vicodin (like prescription-strength Tylenol) or any other prescription drugs you can get your hands on. In my case, these came courtesy of my friend Jani who underwent the procedure with me. Don't ask your friend what they're for; just take them*. She's your friend. A doctor prescribed them. You think you're smarter than someone who went to medical school for like 12 years or whatever? Come on!
- Chocolate, or other comfort food
- Computer, DVDs, books or something to keep you entertained while you recover
* Disclaimer: Nothing in this post, especially this part, should be taken as expert medical advice, or even advice a sane person would follow. Don't EVER take someone else's drugs, even though I freely admit that I did. Or, take them but don't sue me. Or get your own from a doctor, even better. Jani says** you can get a lot of Valium or whatever if you just ask your doctor for 3 or 4 (“I'm going to be going though a difficult recovery and I may be feeling very anxious at times. I'd like something to calm me down, but I only need like 4 pills.” Bingo, you get a prescription for 20).
** Don't sue Jani, either.
Diary (Trip 1, September 5 - 13, 2008)
September 4 (Thursday):
I shaved in the morning for the last time. Went to work as usual. Came home and did exfoliating face mask, a hot bath with candles, and moisturizer (olive oil with a few drops of essence of lavender -- my new moisturizer) before bed.
September 5 (Friday):
I show up for work with 1 day's growth. Not too terrible, but I hid in my office most of the day. It's summertime, and the office is quiet (Maybe too quiet, as I'll find out tomorrow). My flight to Dallas is 7:30pm out of National Airport. My prearranged ride from work, Pete, is so embarrassed to be associated with a known transsexual that he latches onto any lame excuse he can not to come in today ("My wife had a baby last night." "Yeah, Pete, your wife had the baby. You just sat there. Come on!").
I lug my heavy suitcase through the Metro. US Airways charges me $15 to check my bag. They want $2 for a soda, which I wouldn't have wanted if it were free. They are clearly biased against transwomen, even though I'm like 99% sure the woman at the check in is trans. I gave her the "hey, sister" nod when I checked in. Why do I always wear a skirt when I'm travelling? My legs are freezing.
Flight gets in 1/2 hour early, and I grab my bag, rent a car, and head for the hotel where my friend Jani (on her 3rd trip to E3000) has been staying since last night. We hit the Kroger's up the road for supplies. Jani insists on buying a Brita water filter pitcher instead of just getting a few gallons of filtered water. I'm cranky from the long drive and uncomfortable flight, and I'm balking at our shopping cart loaded up with stuff, and I'm being pretty grouchy. Should have done the shopping the next day -- remember that for next trip. We make it out unscathed and still friends even though I'm snippy (Sorry, Jani!).
I moisturize before bed (skin needs to be at it's best for this).
September 6 (Saturday):
Ugh! Look at that beard shadow. It's nearly hopeless covering this up. I make a vain attempt to conceal my beard, put on tons of sunblock (this is Texas in the summer) and make the best of it. I hang out with my friend Lisa, who lives here. We do the Home and Garden show with a couple of her friends I hadn't met before, hot series yoga (don't get me started on the anxiety I feel changing in the women's locker room with 3 days' growth), and dinner with Lisa's husband Scott (also my friend from pre-transition) at a fun tex-mex place owned by a transsexual. Every business in Dallas is owned by transwomen. Awesome!
Before bed, I do a clay mask followed by aloe all over my face, and then moisturize heavily before turning in.
Oh, and my company, Fannie Mae, gets taken over by the government. Jani tells me the news in the morning, pretty much ruining my mood. Great, my options were already worthless, my stock had already gone from $60 to $6 over the past few months, and now it's going to open for $1 on Monday. Plus, maybe I'll lose my job soon. Wonderful. Just what I needed this week.
September 7 (Sunday):
Brunch with Scott and Lisa and I don't even try to cover the shadow this time. Cafe Brazil is awesome. I have a cappuccino and a mexican omelet. Yummy yum. I have some Second Life business to attend to about volunteering for trans support groups online and have to dash back to the hotel.
Sunday night I repeat my skin care from the previous night (clay mask, aloe, moisturizer). I try out a Vicodin to make sure it doesn't have a bad effect on me. I think it makes me sleepy. I fall asleep.
September 8 (Monday):
My appointment is at 9:30 am. I take 2 Advil, a Vicodin, and a Valium (or whatever that was) in preparation and Jani and I are puttering around the hotel room (Jani: "They never open before 9:30") when E3000 calls because Jani forgot she scheduled a 9-am microdermabration. Oops. We dash over there, but it's only 5 mins away. I get to watch Jani looking uncomfortable as they sandblast her face as I wait for my appointment. It's supposed to clean out the pores and exfoliate. I've been exfoliating a lot, so I guess that was a good idea.
Sabrina works on me today. Sabrina's pretty much all business. She's fast fast fast. I couldn't chat if she wanted, since she starts on my upper lip. The upper lip is going to be the worst for swelling; I know that going in. Best to get the worst part done first, Sabrina says. I happen to disagree, but she is holding a needle that shoots electricity out of its tip, and so I am in no position to argue the point, I guess.
The litocaine injections (I never once saw the needle, because my eyes were firmly shut each time) feel like a very long incredibly thin needle going through the skin from one side of my face to the other, and as it's being extracted and the litocane is injected, it feels like they loaded it up with more even smaller needles and those smaller needles are filled with pure pain and evil. I apologize for screaming as Sabrina injects me over and over and over and do my best to stay completely motionless. I am not an expert on how you give shots, but I don't think having the patient jerking around when you have a 6" needle stuck in their face is the sort of thing you'd want them to do. Sabrina says I'm doing great, with the same tone as President Bush's advisors probably tell him he's doing a great job running the country, and she says she's leaving the room to write down some information after each series of injections, but I strongly suspect she's leaving the room mostly so she can laugh at me.
(Here's a copy of what she wrote in my file -- I sneaked a peek when Sabrina wasn't looking):
9:30 am - Patient screams in pain when injected with litocaine.
10:00 am - Patient still screaming in pain when injected.
10:30 am - More litocaine. More screamin'.
11:00 am - I told her she's doing great and all, but really this b*tch needs to stop screaming.
11:30 am - Okay, this time I just told her I was injecting her, and didn't even really do it. Yep, she screamed anyway. What's up with that?
(and so on...)
At 1 pm, we break for lunch and Jani and I eat in the break room while the whole office heads over to Burger Street for a little over an hour. We brought canned soup. E3000 has lots of ice packs prepped and I use 'em on my upper lip. There is a big bowl of candy up front. We fish out all of the "fun size" Twix and eat those. If you go to E3000 and the candy bowl has no Twix, I'm sorry about that. My bad.
6:30 pm we finish up, and my upper lip, both cheeks and part of my neck are done. I am not in pain. I am red and swollen, and I look simply awful, so naturally I snap a quick picture of myself with my iPhone and send it out to family and friends. If they think I look bad today, wait until tomorrow.
Jani's done, too, only she's done done and I'm only done-for-today done. Back at the hotel, Jani makes us ravioli for dinner and we break out one of three bottles of wine from Friday's shopping trip. I slather my face with zinc oxide, go through a few ice packs (recipe: ice in a Ziploc bag, wrapped in a paper towel) and take more Advil, which is supposed to be good for reducing inflammation. I'm planning to pop 6-8 Advil per day for the next week. I think this is a good idea primarily because the bottle says not to take that many, and I don't trust big pharmaceutical companies.
I sleep well, drowsy from painkillers and wine. No real problems.
September 9 (Tuesday):
They said the swelling would be at its worst the morning after the procedure. They weren't lying. It's really only my upper lip that's bad, but when I wake up, it's kind of hanging over the lower lip it's gotten so big and swollen. There's a big purple bruise along one side of my lip. I think maybe Sabrina injected me with one of the shots directly through the lip to see if she could make me scream louder. No, not really. She's very nice.
Going into this, I was mainly worried about the 2-day process because on the second day, we're already working with a face that's bruised and battered and swollen. Turns out it wasn't a real problem. The pain of the litocaine injections is already at the maximum level for how much pain your face can feel, so it wouldn't matter if they decided to inject this stuff through your eyeball -- it would still hurt the same.
Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but the shots and procedure was no worse the second day only this time Sabrina and Star are both working on me at the same time, which means more shots at a time and generally more discomfort. Star's newer than Sabrina, and probably not quite as fast, but she seems thorough and the results on Star's side of my face look as good as the Sabrina side. Sabrina had a little less area to cover on me, and after lunch she went to work on another girl they had in for her first clearing. I met "Ryan" -- she's presenting male at the moment -- at lunch. Nice kid. She publishes an online comic, which I read and it's pretty funny, but you can't have the link because she's not "out" and also the main character in the story is trans and that's a spoiler at this point in the comic, and I promised not to spoil that.
To finish my neck, they have me tilted pretty far at an angle upside down, which by close to 7 pm when we're finally done (done done!) is really killing my back. Glad I did yoga the other day. Total cost over 2 days was close to $2000 for E3000. Adding travel, lodging, and food should put me out about $2700 for this trip. The next session we can do my face with 2 electrologists in 1 day (yay!), so this is the most expensive one. Ryan's doing a 3-day adventure for her first clearing. I'd have probably been in that boat if not for the laser.
As I check out, a transwoman who I haven't met but I think she's been at the clinic all day and doesn't seem to be a patient looks at me and says, "you look awful". I smile and take that as a good sign. You wouldn't say that to someone if you were worried there were something seriously wrong with them.
My face looks like a cartoon. I have to laugh as I catch my reflection in the mirror on the way out. Despite the forewarnings, I was unaware my face could swell up this much. I snap more pictures, and send one out to friends and family. I ice heavily and pop lots of Advil. I sleep fine, propped up a bit with my head elevated. There is no pain, but my face feels very tight.
September 10 (Wednesday):
Look, here's some practical advice for you if you're going through this, and I advise you to heed it. Don't pray to God or ask anyone else to pray for you to make your swelling go away. There are three possibilities, as I see it:
1) God hates transsexuals. This is a popular theory, but I find it unlikely, personally. Anyway, praying to Him is just going to attract unwanted attention. Remember what he did to Job? He liked Job, fer crissakes. Job was His favorite person in the entire f*cking world. Know what happened to God's second favorite person in the world? Nothing bad at all, that's what, because nobody ever noticed him, on account of Job taking all the heat. Guy #2, who nobody ever heard of, lived happily ever after and God pretty much forgot he was even around, which is a good thing. So don't push your luck, sister. Try to fly under the radar. This God is a god who you hope He forgets you're even there.
2) God loves you (and/or transsexuals in general). Praying to Her is probably still useless. She knows what you're going through already (She's God) and this is either some bizarre test or She wants to help you but can't. Or, She's already doing all She can for you. Either way, you're just making Her feel bad over something that just is the way it is and nothing can be done about it. Maybe for whatever reason we can't comprehend, if She magically made your face normal again, it would force Her to have to torture a little kitten to death in Somalia or something. You don't hate kittens, do you?
3) There is no God. You might think then that it doesn't matter, but studies have shown that for whatever reason, when people are praying for you, you have a better chance of developing complications. Maybe it's psychosomatic, but if so, it's probably a negative effect. Play the odds here and stay away from the calls for divine intervention.
But I digress.
I did not pray for God to heal my face. My face when I woke up was incredibly tight. Still no pain, but lots of discomfort. It felt like an effort to squeeze a couple of Advil in between my gargantuan, inflated lips. I can barely speak. Jani makes a joke about how I look and sound like I should be at the Ronald McDonald house. She's a card, that one. I spend most of the day with ice packs on my face and I probably wouldn't leave the hotel room if there were a fire.
I doubt I'd even order a pizza looking like this so I'm glad I've got Jani there in case we need to, and I'm glad we've also got plenty of food here -- comfort food like chocolate and ice pops and beef jerky. I also have my photos of my face from 3 days ago still in my digital camera. Even though I can't help staring at my face in the mirror (Jani keeps telling me to stop that, but it's like trying not to stare at an accident on the highway), it's nice to see what I looked like before my face was inflated to comic proportions.
I make jambalaya for dinner for me and Jani, and we polish off most of bottle #2 of the wine. By bedtime, my face feels slightly less tight. I'm hoping (but not praying) this swelling subsides in a few days.
September 11 (Thursday):
Something really bad happened on this date a while back involving some planes and buildings. We now commemorate the tragedy of "9/11" every year by coming up with a new idiotic ritual to perform before boarding planes to add to the list of other idiotic rituals. Take off your shoes and put them on a conveyor belt. No liquids allowed unless they fit in 3 oz containers and are contained in a single baggie. Et cetera. They have a contest every September for a new idea and the rules of the contest are simple: your security measure should slow the security lines down as much as possible while maximizing inconvenience, and (important) must not increase security at all. Ideally, a terrorist should be able to circumvent the rule in about 1/10 the time it takes you to follow it, like, say for instance, by noticing that a quart of nitroglycerin packed in little 3-oz containers is plenty more than enough to blow up a plane or by putting the bomb in a working laptop without first stripping all the electronics out, so that it still turns on.
I hope they pick my new security measure this year: you can only board the plane if you first prove that your shirt is not made of explosives by putting it on backwards as you go through the metal detector, while (this is the important part) also walking backwards, so that it still faces front. That's in the running for the top three this year, but I think it's going to go to a guy from Des Moines who submitted "all watches and other timekeeping devices must be preset to the timezone of your final destination before you pass through security". I'll admit, his makes more sense, security-wise.
Jani doesn't even realize it's 9/11. She asks me what today's date is when we're out making a Dairy Queen run later tonight. She's going to find an "invitation" for "freedom reeducation" when she gets home to San Francisco on Saturday. I'm sorry, Jani, but I just had to make that phone call, as much as I love you, because I love my country more.
Patriotic American that I am, I observe a moment of silence this morning by making a pot of coffee and then drinking some coffee while checking my email. But, you know, in like quiet reverence or something. Jani, meanwile, snoozes away like the freedom-hating terrorist she is at her core.
Okay, the swelling's down quite a lot. It still looks, well, horrible, but I don't feel like my face is about to explode anymore. Redness is not bad (lots of zinc oxide) and except for my upper lip, there's not much bruising. I look pretty much like I gained 70 lbs or so. A lot less cartoonish than yesterday. Jani says I look fine when we go out later for a drive and to Dairy Queen, and I should take this scarf off that I have wrapped around my face, because it makes me look like a terrorist (as she claims), not an Indian princess (as I claim). Well, it takes one to know one, Jani. It takes one to know one.
Wait, wasn't I keeping this diary as a practical guide? I seem to be straying from the advice portion pretty heavily here. Sorry.
Okay, by Thursday night (2 full days post treatment), my neck and jawline are the most swollen parts, and I feel okay. My skin looks pretty good, all in all. I credit my pre-electrolysis regimen (go back and read it) of exfoliation, aloe and moisturizer (wait -- no need to go back -- I just repeated it all right there for you) and staying hydrated and rested. Sleeping pills might be a good thing to take along if, unlike me, you have trouble sleeping.
I've switched from ice packs to heating pads on my face today. I think the key thing now is to get blood circulating. It feels nice. I don't have much discomfort anymore. I'm also chewing gum, which may help with loosening up my jaw and speeding the healing process.
I still sound like Cindy Brady when I talk, with a severe lisp, and it gets much worse when I'm drinking, which I do. Jani and I mostly polish off bottle #3 of wine tonight over dinner. I have more jambalaya, but Jani eats beef jerkey for dinner (somehow that's healthier than jambalaya), since she had Arby's for lunch while I had miso soup and rice cakes and carrots. We watch a movie and I am starting to feel almost normal.
Normal for me, in any case.
September 12 (Friday):
I'm still swollen, but now it's minor. My face looks a little fat and a bit red. It's healing fast. I should be fine flying out tomorrow. I'm still popping Advil, and washing my face with warm water frequently.
When I rudely wake her up in the morning by pouncing on top of her, Jani mentions that my voice is back to normal. Yay! My face is getting there too. I feel okay to go out for lunch without the scarf. Jani and I go to Burger Street, as recommended by the women at E3000. The manager seems very nice as he takes our order. Okay, that's a tasty burger. And they have curly fries (we split an order of those). Jani and I decide we are going to make a trip to Burger Street a tradition for future electrolysis trips. Get the olive burger. It's delicious.
Later on, Jani and I go out for Thai food with Lisa. Scott's too tired to join us. I explain to Lisa in graphic detail about different sex reassignment surgery procedures as we eat some kind of spicy soup and green curry fried rice. I highly recommend the Banana Leaf restaurant, by the way, and the green curry fried rice, which is not on the menu. Jani maybe got sick from all the spicy food later on, but I have always had a cast-iron stomach and I love spicy food.
I show Lisa my photos of my recovery (“Cool, those are going up on Flickr, right?” “Of course! Look how hideous I look.”) and she says I look really old after day 1, like I've aged 20 years. She says my face looks mostly okay today, though, and anyone who didn't know what my jaw and chin are supposed to look like would just think I'm really fat. Jani adds, yeah, but only in the face, like I have Down's Syndrome or something. Did I mention how it's great to have so many friends around saying encouraging things to you during this process? No? I wonder why…
God's still mad at me, I think. The plagues of making me be born transsexual, the face swelling, and destroying my company and thereby wiping out much of my retirement savings weren't enough, I guess, because He also sends hurricane Ike straight at Dallas just to fuck with me, personally. Jani's flight out tomorrow is cancelled. Mine is still on, but they're expecting 30-40 mph sustained winds at the airport by tomorrow at noonish. My flight's at 11:20. Maybe I'm too fast for God to catch me. We'll see. Okay, old man, it's on!
I slather up with lots of aloe tonight, followed by zinc oxide. I pack and head for bed.
September 13 (Saturday):
Friday the 13th is never more dangerous than when it falls on a Saturday. I'll need to be careful today.
I wake up before my alarm, and check the internets for updates on my flight status (delayed 1 hour already - not a good sign), announcements at the Dallas/Fort Worth website (no update to yesterday's warning) and the path of hurricane Ike over on weather.com. Ike's still not done punishing all the transsexuals in Houston, I guess, because now it's not predicted to hit Dallas until late afternoon. God did not bring his “A” game out for me, apparently.
My face today looks noticeably better this morning, and for the first time (we're at 4 days post-procedure at this point), the upper part of my jawline is back to looking completely normal. The swelling is receding, and is mostly isolated now in my neck and chin. I notice I still can't comfortably open my mouth fully (trying to eat a nectarine for breakfast) but aside from that my face does not feel as tight as it did yesterday. I take my last couple of Advils I plan to take for this trip. I think they've helped all they're going to help with the swelling.
Overall, I'd rate my face as nearly acceptable for public use today. It's obvious if you look at it that there's a lot of redness and spottiness on my chin especially, and I draw a couple of curious glances at the airport, but women aren't clutching their children close to them as I walk by or anything. It looks like I have a big chin and a skin condition. To paraphrase Jani, hey, that just makes me fit in even better in Texas.
Oh, and I do still have this large purple bruise on my upper lip, left over from Monday's electrolysis. It does not hurt, but it's not getting any smaller, less dark, or less purpley. Lipstick does not hide it, and I'm not planning to wear much makeup today below my eyes anyway. Oh well. If anyone asks, I plan to tell them my pimp beat me up. Nobody does. :( I get “ma'am”ed plenty at Whole Foods (buying fruit and nuts for the trip home) and at the car rental return and at the airport. Nobody seems to think I look out of place or unfeminine. Most people don't seem to notice my skin. I had been nervous about flying out so soon my first trip here, but I've always been a fast healer, and I think my face is doing nicely. I should be fine for work on Monday, if I still have a job, that is.
My flight's on schedule for the revised takeoff time and there are like 10 people total on this flight to DC. “We'd like to announce boarding of all rows at this time. Just do us a favor and take any seat you want behind row 8, please.” Dammit! The “everyone-must-sit-behind-row-8-for-security-reasons” rule must have won this year's contest. Why didn't I think of that one?
Nobody seems worried about evacuating Dallas or anything, and Ike's down to a category 1 at this point. I make it out of there before the heavy rain even starts to come down, so I win. In your face, God! What's that? Did you say something, God? No? I didn't think so.
Overall, the experience was better than I expected and the results look great so far (I mean, aside from the fact that I still look like hell as of this posting). The procedure itself was not as uncomfortable or as painful as I was worried it might be. My face, which is healing fast at this point, looks completely undamaged. I fully expected that. E3000 has a great track record for avoiding scarring and came very highly recommended in the trans community. Nothing I've detailed here is at all at odds with other accounts I've read of the process or people's experiences.
Ideally, I'd recommend a first clearing before transitioning full time, and it would be even better if you could do 2 or 3. I think this is the easiest and probably the cheapest way to go if you can handle the travel and holing yourself up in a hotel for days on end. In my case, the laser treatments I did starting back in October 2007 were probably a good idea for getting rid of the darkest of my beard shadow quickly, and I'd bet this first clearing would've been much harder without those treatments, so despite having to wait almost a year to start this, I'm happy I did laser first.
Getting the time off of work 4 months before transitioning at work would have been harder to explain anyway if I'd have started this a year ago, but I guess it would have just meant coming out to HR earlier. Not sure I could have done that. In September 2007, I wasn't 100% sure I'd even transition at all. That's not something you can take back once you tell them at work, though.
Next trip, I will be flying in the day before my treatment (I proved to myself this trip that I don't mind going out in public as a bearded lady), and I will plan to stay a week again. I don't expect the swelling to be nearly as bad for treatment #2, but it's still gonna swell up. The needles are the only thing that scare me, but I'll get through it.
I got through a lot this week, and despite the fact that this should have been a really horrible week for me, I kind of had fun. Yeah, definitely bring a friend if you can. The thought of being cooped up in that hotel alone for a week is not a pleasant one. Thanks, Jani!
If you found anything helpful in this post, feel free to comment about it so I know how not to let useful information slip into my insane ramblings in future posts. If you have any questions I didn't cover about the treatment, I'm also happy to try to answer those in the comments section.
And if you didn't like it (hey, you sure read a long way for someone who didn't like it) or if you just don't like me/transsexuals in general, well, go ahead and complain about that if you'd like to.