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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Feeling Sleepy

When last I posed about my adventures with the NHS, I had just gotten a prescription from a completely uncertain doctor. She had no idea if she'd written me the right amount of the right type of T nor whether or not I should have to pay for it. She didn't even know what kind of needles I would need. She went to ask a nurse but couldn't find one. She promised me a referral to an endocrinologist, so that somebody with experience could be checking on things. I agreed this was for the best.

If I had stayed in the states, I would have 10 weeks of testosterone left on my initial prescription, so as long as I'm getting an equivalent amount to what I was first prescribed, it's ok that nobody has checked up on me yet. And I went asking around on the internet and the doctor had, indeed, given me an equivalent amount. So I took my prescription note to the chemist (British word for "pharmacy") to get it filled, the day before I was due for my shot. They had to order it.

I find injecting to be stressful as hell, so I didn't actually hurry to pick it up the next day. I arrived on Friday, a day late, to get my T. The pharmacist gave me 3 ampoules and 30 needles! But they were insulin needles. They only held 1 CC and the needle part was about half the length needed for intramuscular injections. And, I mean, I like to have spare needles, so I can practice on oranges a few times before I stab myself, but ten per shot is a little excessive. Ten per shot of totally the wrong needle is beyond useless. The pharmacist (chemist?) said he could order 2 CC needles for me . . . in a case of 100 for £20. That's a fairly major investment on my part, not just economically. If I stay on the same kind of T, instead of switching to the once every three week formulation most frequently used by European ftms, that's enough needles to last me 4 years. If I practice with an orange every time, that's 2 years worth of needles. I was kind of hoping to switch from injecting to some other form, like a patch or implant or whatever. That's a hell of a lot of needles. He promised to order them. They would arrive on Saturday. Two days late for my shot.

I got home and found I had one needle left from before. yay. Obviously, I'd prefer to have an extra (one time I took the cover off of a needle and promptly gouged into my thumb. So much for that needle.), but if I only have one, then I only have one. I watched a youtube video about how to DIY it, just to double check that I'm doing it right (more or less, I'm fine) and I put on some Steve Reich phasing music to feel happy and relaxed. I did the prep. Wash my hands. Figure out where I'm going to stab myself (left leg). Clean it. Clean the top of the ampoule before . . wha? What's this? It's made entirely of hard plastic. Where do I stab it? How do I get the T out of this thing?

I looked at the clock. 17:15. I looked at the web page for my Doctor's Surgery (British word for "office"). Oh christ, they're closed until Monday morning.

I was already a day late.

I don't know how to describe what this feels like. People who have taken the pill or whatever can probably relate, on some level, since they're messing around with their hormones also. The goal of the T dose taken by an FTM is to cause masculinization, but also to overwhelm his ovaries so they just give up. It's early menopause. Which is fine, because he's got new artificial hormones to keep him going. It's better living through chemistry! Except that's only as good as the pipeline coming to you.

When I started T, I still had a fair amount of anxiety, so I'd never typed the name of my drug into google. I thought reading the information might freak me out, since, you know, I got freaked out kind of easily. Oh my god, this is the most sought after steroid for weightlifters. There are body builders who take more every day than I take in two weeks. Well, I guess I don't need to worry about dying of an overdose or something. They all report the same effect I did. More energy. More stamina. Easier to make muscles. All this physical energy and strength.

Missing a dose for several days, though, isn't just going back to baselines levels. My baselines hormone levels have been shut down. It's going to zero. Not only am I below the normal male range, I'm below the normal female range. I'm at nothing. I feel like. I don't know. I want to take a nap. A really really long nap.

I feel like I'm underwater, somehow. You know how it sounds when you've got your head underwater and somebody's shouting at you? You can hear it, but it sounds strange and distorted and barely understandable. I feel like that sounds.

I can get through a few days of this with tea (caffeine is a little like T. (if only there was T tea)) and chocolate. In Harry Potter, you recover from dementors by eating chocolate. It sort of revives you from having stared into the abyss. That's the most true part of those books. But, now, I dunno. I got nothing. I don't want to eat. I don't want to walk around. I don't want to make music. I don't want to make tea. I don't want to eat the chocolate sitting by my bed. I just want to sleep. And not, like, with a longing, just like a default. It's like staring in the abyss, but the nothing staring back at you isn't infinitely horrifying in it's emptiness. It's not horrifying at all. It's like the abyss is made up of shuffle board courts and corporate team meetings and sandwiches made of wonder bread and waiting rooms and BBC Gardening shows. It's not dread, it's complete numbness. The mummy's curse causes dread. But being a mummy is all white bandages and laying in a box and nothing ever happening, just a really long nap.

A half hour goes by and I haven't even noticed. I could stare at the wall for days.

Of course, some part of my body has noticed this state of affairs and is rousing itself to action. It's kicking at my ovaries telling them to wake the hell up and do something about this. I really don't want them to wake up. stay asleep. Stay asleep. It's only another day. I'd rather be a eunuch.

Is it bad for me to oscillate like this? How the hell should I know? Probably it's not good. It doesn't seem like it could be. When I made a list of pros and cons, this possibility was at the top of the con column. I'm tethered to doctors and prescriptions and chemists and needles and and and. Not that being anxious all the time constituted total freedom.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I'll get through this. I don't regret my decision. Not that I have the energy for regret.

I want to go abroad this summer for a few weeks. I don't see how I can work that out and my prescription at the same time. Especially since the referral that came was for a shrink. I have to jump through some hoops in May and probably June. There must be a way, obviously. I'm sure I'll work it out. And it's not like I don't have a fuckload of options. When I go to play a gig in the states in July, there's 10 weeks of T I've still got prescribed to me. I'd rather not have to fork over the $$ for it, but I know it's there if I get stuck.

2 comments:

Zeth said...

People who come from abroad and are accepted as ordinarily resident in the UK (including those given leave to remain in the UK and people accepted as coming to work or study in the UK), and who are accepted for NHS treatment, may claim help with health costs in the same way as other residents.
Source

I have no idea is that applies to you, or if your income is below the threshold ("£16,000 in property, savings or any other money"). But if you don't mind giving the government all your income details then it is worth filling out the HC1 form anyway. The worst that can happen is they say no.

Les said...

I have an NHS card now. They'll cover this. The question was always which hoops they want me to jump through first. Apparently, I have to have a psychiatric evaluation, but I've learned from talking to others that I can get a referral from that fairly quickly and won't have to languish for two years.

And the shrink appointment I have is for very soon too. I think they're trying to speed it along because I'm already started.