November 19, 2013

Starting Hormone Replacement Therapy

I earned a new Operation Gamer Girl achievement today.


Yes, the day has come. I drove back out to Ann Arbor yesterday, to the clinic where I was to have my “New Patient Hormone Initiation,” and things went well. Really, you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to post that achievement. [Actually, if you’re a regular reader, you probably do.] Feels good to see it there on the screen.

On the drive out to the clinic, I wasn’t feeling good. It was a cold, blustery November day, traffic was thick, and I was anxious. What if something goes wrong? What if they decide I’m not a good candidate? What if I’m making a terrible mistake? I distracted myself by turning on the local “all Christmas music” radio station, hoping to draw a little cheer from it.

The clinic is part of the massive University of Michigan Health Services, and it is located a giant, sprawling UMHS office complex surrounded by a sea of parking spaces. It was a bit intimidating, to be honest. Once inside, though, the building is clean and modern and pleasant. The lobby nearest the clinic even had a classic car on display because, hey, why not? And the clinic itself, which is not just a gender clinic but a general practice office, took up most of the nearby office space so it was easy to find.

I checked in, got my new patient paperwork, and sat down prepared for a lengthy stay in the waiting room. Unexpectedly, a nurse aide came to get me after only about five minutes — I wasn’t even done with the paperwork! — and led me to an exam room where she checked my vitals. After a slightly longer wait, Dr. K arrived.

There’s not much to share about the appointment itself. Dr. K is a very nice woman, she had worked with many trans patients before, and she clearly knew her stuff. We talked a bit about why I was there; we talked about expectations and side effects; and then she talked me through the various meds and dosages. [If anyone is interested in the specifics on the regimen, I wrote it up over at Transgender Science.] Then she typed a few things into her computer, asked me which pharmacy I preferred, hit SEND on the scripts, and sent me on my way. It was all very professional and uneventful and not at all the way such a huge, life-changing moment should play out. 

The good mood started welling up as I was checking out at the front desk. I was smiling on the way to my car. But when it hit me right in the feels was when I opened up my pharmacy’s smartphone app to make sure the scripts had been received. When I saw those three script names on the screen — Estradil, Aldactone, Prometrium — I got, for lack of a better word, giddy. I laughed. I cheered. I couldn’t get out of the parking lot fast enough. 

The pharmacy is close to home, and thus a good thirty minute drive from the clinic. It’s fair to say that this was the Longest. F’ing. Drive. Of. My. Life.

In transgender narratives, there are generally two places where a transwoman takes her first dose of E: either in some memorable spot (on a beach at sunset, in the cafe where she first went dressed) or in the pharmacy parking lot. I went with the latter. The other option was to hold off until I drove to somewhere appropriate, but that meant putting things off for ten more minutes. And with those pills in hand, that would have been really difficult.

Obviously, nothing happened immediately. These things take time; the WPATH SOC estimates the first real physical changes will take up to three months to start. But on a mental level, on an emotional level, a lot happened in that moment. I call this blog Ali Finds Her Self; and in that moment I felt like my Self was finally found.

My daily pill box is quite full now, and also quite colorful. The estrogen tablets are a soft shade of blue; the progesterone is garishly orange; my one-a-day multivitamin is cornsilk yellow; and both the spiro and my Wellbutrin are bright white. It’s actually rather pretty. I almost want to build an outfit, or a blog color scheme, out of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to take my E.

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