Essays on coming to terms with being a transgender woman.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
E3000 Diary, Round 3
I'm trying to squeeze in two more full clearings (North and South) before my surgery in March. This trip's a bit different logistically than the first two for a few reasons:
1) Jani's not with me. She's actually having her big surgery in Thailand at the same time I'm in Dallas. I'm alone for this trip. 2) I had to book for a Wednesday to get an appointment this week, so no staying home for the weekend with my beard growing. I haven't shaved since Saturday, but I'm still going in to the office Monday and Tuesday. 3) Since my recovery was so much faster last time, I decide I can fly back immediately and recover at home. I've got electrolosis from 9:30 am - 6:00 pm Wednedsday and an 8:00 pm fight back to DC. Sitting at home by yourself beats sitting in a hotel room by yourself.
December 16 (Tuesday)
If anyone notices my beard growth, they're not saying anything. I'm trying to decide if that's good or bad. On the one hand, not having it pointed out to you that you look like shit sounds like a good thing, right? But on the other hand, are they unobservant or just too sensitive to your feelings to point out to you when you really do look rotten? Because either way, it sort of belies anything nice that these people might say about you other times. Maybe you always look sort of weird to them, and they're holding that back.
I'm over thinking it, I know. People are polite, and I have to go turn that into a bad thing in my head. I don't want to be stared at for being a freak, and yet I sort of wish people would notice that I don't look at all at my best today, because I'm planning to look better soon. That's all. But first, I'm planning to look much, much worse. We'll get to that part soon.
After work, I leave my car at the office and hop on the metro to Reagan National Airport. I might get an occasional look, but I definitey don't get stared at much here, either. Or at the airport. Or on the plane. Finally, in Dallas, on the shuttle bus to the car rental counter, an old woman next to me is staring at my face. She thinks I don't see her, but I do, out of the corner of my eye. Yeah, she's staring good and hard at my stubble, and she thinks it's weird. Good. I do too.
It's late when I get in. Too late to impose on my friends who live in Dallas. I get a car, check into a cheap hotel I booked near the airport (Super 8 - smells a little funny, but the heat works -- oh, yeah, it's 30 degrees in Dallas by they way, which is colder than it was in DC -- and it's comfortable). The front desk clerk is cute and very nice, and an older gentleman flirts with me on the elevator. He definitely doesn't notice the stubble. Maybe it's just not that noticeable, except up close.
I get ready for bed and check my email for news on Jani's progress. She's through surgery and everything's good so far. I write a quick congratutatory note to her and turn in for the night after watching a couple of reruns of Sex and the City. I've got Pikachu to keep me company. Mr. Bear and Meekrat have been to Dallas on previous trips, but this is Pikachu's first time here. He's a little nervous about that, but I'm here with him to make sure he's okay.
Here we are, getting ready for bed at the (très chic) Super 8 Motel near DFW airport in Dallas:
December 17 (Wednesday)
I'm up and showered and packed up by 8 am, leaving me plenty of time to enjoy the complimentary breakfast buffet at the Super 8. Fodor's says that this is a "can't miss" if you're staying in Dallas. Try the raisin bran. You'll swear it's a brand-name cereal -- it's just that good.
The guy who checked me in last night is still working the front desk when I check out. Why do I spend so much time complaining about my job? Oh well.
I'm over at E3000 at 9:10, just as Sabrina's opening up. I pop 3 Advils (forgot to bring any, but they have a big jar of them in the bathroom, I remember. I don't have any other drugs this time, because my supplier is off in Thailand having her fancy new vagina installed, so she can think she's all better than me. I will never forgive Jani for abandoning me in my time of need this way.
Star's out sick, leaving me with one technician for this morning. Denise works on me solo until lunch, and then after lunch Sabrina will try to free up so I've got two again. Good, because I can't really stay late or come back tomorrow, since my flight out is at 8 tonight.
The shots hurt just the same as before, with or without whatever drugs Jani had been giving me. They didn't help the pain. They did help calm me, though, because 3 times during the procedure I start crying and beg them to stop for just a minute so I can collect myself. It's horrible. It's painful. I pop about 9 Advil over the course of the session, hoping it dulls the pain somewhat.
The electrolysis itself is painless as with the other clearings, except when they grab a "stray" hair outside the numbed area. Those are way more painful than other electrolysis I've had, so the shots, as horrible as they are, are absolutely worth it. I'm hoping more pain means more effective. E3000 is defnitely focused on results. I'm glad for that.
Over lunch, I chat with the other client they've got in, Chloe. She's here for treatment #5. She's also doing face and surgery prep. I ask her how many clearings she's expecting to need. She says they told her 14. Fourteen?!? I want out of this. I can't live with the idea that this would take me 11 more sessions. I'm not even going to think about this. She must be mistaken. Anyway, her face is getting cleared much faster than mine. It looks like she's almost done for the day, after having two people work on her for the morning. I'm also more swollen.
In the afternoon, with Sabrina added into the mix, we start to get more chatty. I chime in when I can, but I'm trying to talk without moving the parts of my face that they are working on, which is very hard to do. Plus, my lips have balloned up to 3x their normal size and my entire mouth is numb. I still manage to get them to dish some dirt on a couple of the more obnoxious clients they've had over the years. Nothing I haven't seen before. Hang around with transsexuals enough and you'll meet some strange characters. (Readers of my blog excluded, of course.)
Around 5 pm, we're nearly done with my face and it's time to start working on my genital area. This is the third time today I am crying and begging them to please stop in the middle of a round of shots. After that's over, the rest goes painlessly, and I'm out the door by 6:15, more or less on time for my flight. Thanks to my awesome driving skills, a rental car shuttle that's ready to go when I get there, and a short line for security, I'm at the gate by a little after 7. My flight is late, though. I think we take off at 9 pm or so.
I'm getting some stares this time. I look hideous. I've been crying, my hair's a mess, and my face is swollen to hell and back. I fix myself up a bit in the airport bathroom, but this is as good as it gets:
I land in DC at 12:30 am, and the trains have stopped running, so I grab a $20 cab back to my office, where I left my car yesterday. I stop in to my office, and skim the 100 emails in my inbox, and answer 3 of them. I'm home by 2 am, swollen and very tired. This was a long, long day, but it's nice to be home.
I think it was a good plan to fly back last night. Had I stayed in Dallas until today, my face would have been more swollen for the flight. It always swells up the worst the day after the procedure.
I know how the rest of this will go. My face looks no worse than it did at this point last trip, so by Saturday I'll be mostly better. I think I had almost as much electrolysis this time around as with the prior session. I'm hoping with the next session (booked for February), it doesn't take 10 hours to clear my face alone.
After a couple more of these trips, I might be able to do this more locally, and cut down on travel expenses. My friend Stacey does 5-6 hour sessions up in Philadelphia. She doesn't get her whole face cleared in that time, but she does get the lidocaine injections. Down here in DC, I was paying $125/hr without the shots. I've got to check with her on what she's paying.
I really like all of the ladies down at E3000, though. They seem genuinely sympathetic to trans women, and they're extremely good at what they do. The process itself sucks, but they definitely make it more tollerable.
Anyway, that's another successful clearing under my belt (literally, for part of it). If this is session 3 of 14, well, I'm going to have to reconsider this whole process though. I mean, if people aren't even going to notice the stubble when I don't shave for 4 days, why am I putting myself through this torture?