The observant may have noticed this is almost my first post in nearly four months, and that I’ve been taking a bit of a back-seat in the blogosphere generally. I apologise for the fact that I’ve also not been reading others’ blogs as assiduously as usual, or adding my two penn’orth to comments sections. It’s nothing personal, I promise – I just needed a bit of a break.
Truth be told, there’s been very little happening in my life that’s seemed interesting enough to write about, the closest item of topical interest probably being that I’ve completed my course of laser hair removal, which I’ll come to in a bit. The absence of anything else strange or startling happening for the last six months or so has caused me to feel a bit like I’ve been living in a kind of suspended animation, waiting for something to kick-start me back into life.
There are other reasons. One can only write so many times bemoaning the seemingly interminable wait for the first GIS appointment before it starts to become repetitive, especially for those who may have forgotten what it’s like, or were referred in the days when the wait was measured in months, not years. Whilst no doubt well-meant, advice and suggestions about what I should or could be doing in the meantime, or to speed up the process are rarely as helpful as the giver may intend, as indeed are reminders that the GIS is not some kind of silver-bullet and that I should (that word again) by now have a transition plan that dots all the is and crosses all the ts, preferably supported by a Gantt Chart and full Critical Path Analysis (OK, I made that last bit up). A dear friend coined the term transplaining in an email to me, which I think sums up pretty well the way ‘advice’ is sometimes perceived. That person knows exactly where I’m coming from, and continues to be amazingly helpful with her own words. I’ve probably ‘transplained’ myself to others unwittingly, and if so then I apologise. We’re all at different stages of our journey and keen to impart the benefit of our experience to those following behind, which in theory is a good thing but sometimes can feel like a telling-off, and end up leaving the the other person feeling deflated. We’d do well to remember that sometimes when people offload or have a moan about something, all they might want is a sympathetic ear and not to have all their shortcomings fixed. I shall leave that there.
Rightly or wrongly, actually getting onto the GIS pathway is incredibly important to me and the way I want to handle my transition. In my mind it provides an element of validation when precipitating conversations with the remaining significant people in my life who still need to know about my journey. It provides the catalyst for conversations at work, if only to put the right people on notice that this is happening rather than trigger full-blown workplace transition just yet. I hope it will help me feel better supported and let certain people know my direction of travel. Others in a similar situation might handle things differently, but this is the way I’ve realised it has to be for me.
What’s been keeping me afloat in recent months are the recollections of my screening appointment with the GIS last August which left me on a high, and feeling the most
positive I’d ever felt since this journey began – yet as I remarked at the time there was the sting in the tail of still having to wait months for my first appointment proper. Unfortunately, like many positive and uplifting experiences over the past three or four years – indeed in life generally – time has the effect of slowly dulling the memory of floating out the clinic on a cloud of euphoria and optimism, believing that anything was possible. Last year, I felt I was starting to surf the wave of transition – albeit in a small way, more like what you find on a seaside holiday rather than the huge breakers of the Old Spice advert – now there’s a memory for those of a certain age. Slowly, everything seemed to be falling into place. Unfortunately as time’s passed, the more it’s felt like someone slowly letting the air out of my balloon (to mix metaphors). Despite a number of reasons to be cheerful, after the high of the screening appointment, the wait got the GIS proper began to get me down, and on the worst days I’ve ended up wondering if I’ve left it all too late or whether I’ve even got the energy to go through transition. From all the carpe diem moments of recent years, I began thinking I’d seized the wrong day. So, as the winter months set in, I decided to back off a bit as there seemed little point forging ahead with much more until I had a clearer idea of timescales.
One thing I have pressed ahead with is facial laser hair removal which, although nothing else much was going on did at least give me the feeling I was doing something. I completed the programme recently, and am awaiting a final review at the end of the month. It’s not perfect – and probably never can be 100% – but the difference is remarkable and worth every zap and moment of gritted teeth (those who’ve been through it will know!). I think a little bit of tidying up may still be needed but, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I can safely say that the days of ‘specialist’ foundation are behind me. The difference this makes to one’s confidence – let alone how long is needed to get ready to go out – is unbelievable. I think even that in extremis now I could get away with nothing more than a bit of lippy and mascara. Plus in practical terms it’s one less thing to worry about from the point of view of transitioning.
Returning to last August’s screening appointment, I was told to expect a delay of at least a further eight months before my first appointment proper. Despite my irrational fears that I must be slipping down the waiting list in favour of more deserving cases, and the occasional suggestion that I was doing myself a disservice and extending my wait by not pestering the medical secretaries every couple of weeks to make sure I wasn’t forgotten, almost eight months to the day I came home to find a letter on the mat with the tell-tale red Private & Confidential stamp of my GIS, offering my first appointment proper in the next couple of weeks.
I should be more trusting. The wait is nearly over – now it really begins.