Cancer sucks; K update

I don’t even know what to say, so stream-of-consciousness time I guess.

My mother continues to decline. She is down to 70 pounds, more or less, and my Dad said for a few days last week she was losing a pound a day. She will probably be going in to Hospice this week so their nutritionists can work on a diet for her, because she hasn’t been eating enough to keep her strength up. She is still trying to walk around on her own, which is scary because she is very unsteady on her feet, and sometimes her hips give out on her. She’s very lucky she hasn’t fallen yet. My ex-to-be said she seems to be getting around okay, and I said yes, she gets around just fine right up until she doesn’t. She needs to start using the walker…the Hospice nurse didn’t order that in just to serve as a decorative element in the corner of the living room.

Daddy sent around an email a few days ago–Friday–saying she’d been spitting up blood that morning. My Aunt (Mama’s sister, a retired nurse) and I both responded asking if they’d called anyone to report this, and his answer was, “No, we just figure it’s par for the course.” I’m wondering if he’s thinking clearly.

I talked to her this morning, and she said Daddy had come back from exercise (he goes every day since open-heart surgery three years ago) feeling dizzy, so they’d had “a bite to eat” which for her was probably literal, and now he’s napping. Apparently he’s been forgetting a medication he’s supposed to be taking. She said she isn’t feeling well, that she is very tired and has very little appetite. I think at this point it would be good for her to spend a few days at Hospice, although I worry about my Dad being by himself, because she does help him with remembering things.

I spent a little time talking with the Hospice nurse, and she offered to go see Mama tomorrow rather than later in the week. My aunt will be there, which is good, because I’d like them to meet.

While all this is going on, we did get a bright spot of new “stuff” happening for K. She is going to be starting on some new medications, which should initiate further physical change and development to move her further along in her transition. I’m pretty excited for her because of that, but also because of this:

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/federal-employee-health-plans-will-no-longer-exclude-transition-related-hea

…which means surgery will be covered! SO thankful for this!

Advertisements

Just…ughhh

Really hard to stay positive lately…probably why I haven’t put up anything new in a while. I meant this blog as a place to sort my thoughts, clear my head, vent, whatever. But when I noticed people were actually reading it, I got a little self-conscious and started worrying about putting people off with all my problems. I’ve just had all I can do lately to keep my head up and keep pushing through, and you (at least, I do) typically pull back and avoid communicating much when that happens. But yeah, I guess I finally figured, this is my blog, I need to get this shit out somewhere, so I’m layin’ it all out there.

Everything is just bad right now. I’m getting fewer hours at work, which is kinda okay because I’m able to spend more time with my parents, but bad because I’m not gonna be able to pay the bills. I spent this afternoon with my mother because Daddy had a doctor appointment. I unpacked her suitcase–they’ve been back for almost a week–and she talked to me about what she wants at her memorial service. She weighs under 75 pounds now. The last time I was there, I noticed they seemed short-tempered with each other, and hoped it was just a bad day. But I noticed it again today. After his appointment, and after Mama’s nap, he told us the doctor gave him anxiety medication. I hope that helps, because I don’t want to have to sit my parents down and have a talk with them about being kind to each other. After he told us about his appointment, the two of them started in on the topic of K and wanting her to be responsible and get a job. They kept using masculine pronouns and calling her by her old name. I explained K’s situation to them (again) as carefully but clearly as I could and felt fairly good about their attitudes by the time I left. It just felt like such a setback–I’d had the feeling they understood everything, and it was discouraging to have to go through all that with them again.

It’s bad at work because literally my three favourite people there, most especially the one person who knows about K and has been such a source of strength for me, all are leaving within the next few weeks. I’ve been putting in applications, but everything is done online these days and I have yet to receive a call from an online application in a solid year of trying. I seriously need full-time work (full-time pay) so hopefully something will work out for me soon.

But what’s mostly bad is the situation with my ex-to-be living back in the house. That’s probably why I’m having a much harder time staying positive. I have no safe haven, as I keep saying. The stress level in the house is so high. As Jayne said in Firefly, he is damaging my calm. I downloaded a hypnotherapy app that is supposedly helping me reduce anxiety and stress…if it has, I’d hate to think how I’d be doing without it. He doesn’t understand K and has very little tolerance for her, and K simply can’t stand her dad. For the most part we stay in our separate rooms, but every couple of days or so, he’ll talk to me about the same old complaints until I can feel the top of my head starting to blow off, then I make some kind of excuse and leave.

Yeah, I’ve written all this out and I can’t say I feel any better. And to think I was so positive a few weeks ago.

Something lovely/something ugly

About the time I started this blog, I also went in search of a community or forum where I could meet and hopefully learn from people dealing with transgender issues, in the hope that it would help me with my tg daughter, K. And I lucked into a gold mine.

I went to Google and found tgboards.com. Made a post in the “Introductions” section. And then was absolutely blown away by the outpouring of support! The people on those boards–at least, the ones I’ve encountered so far–are generous and understanding and nurturing. They’ve already helped me so much, just in feeling more positive and hopeful for the future.

What gets to me, though, is the fact that they find me somewhat of an aberration. There continue to be commenters who are complimentary about my attitude, about my wanting to educate myself to get more insights that might help me with my daughter. I pointed out that I was just a mom, just trying to understand my daughter better and support her, because I mean come on, she’s my child and I love her! The responses were all along the lines of that’s not the norm, most parents aren’t supportive, and some don’t even want to see their children anymore.

Again I learned that not all people think or feel the way I do. That sounds simplistic and I guess it is. I just want to believe it’s in our nature to be fiercely protective of our children, the way animals in the wild will kill to protect their young. We’re animals, too, and I just assumed we all had those same instincts. Learning there are parents who would turn their backs on their children at a time when the children need them most has really upset me. My children mean the world to me–they’re my reason for living. But not all parents feel that way. I know I saw this type of apathy from parents when I worked with the elementary school guidance counselor, so I’m not sure why I was surprised. I guess I have a hard time taking it in, so I have to keep relearning. Wish I didn’t. 😦

Gotta make a move

I’ve been putting off writing about my marriage/separation. It’s something I avoid in real life, too. I just feel I have so much going on, I don’t want to deal with it; but push has come to shove and it’s finally time.

We’ve been apart for more than two years, since I suddenly just moved out of the bedroom and started sleeping on the sofa. We’d steadily drifted apart over time, and it seemed the inevitable next step. We tried marriage counseling, but I think the time had already passed for that before we thought to try it. It just didn’t work.

He moved to his parents’ while they were out of the country, but when they returned he stayed on. That lasted about a year and a half, until he had some sort of panic attack or something and his therapist said it was unhealthy for him to be living with his parents. So he moved back into the house. By then, my youngest daughter had moved out to be with her boyfriend, so I moved into her room. We’re able to get along fairly well, so it’s not too horrible, but it is definitely stressful.

I feel like (other than that tiny room) I have no safe haven. The house is 1,200 square feet, so it’s hard to find privacy. K has been the most affected by his return, because they don’t have the greatest relationship. He actually tries, but he just rubs K the wrong way. He has a hard time with the GID part of her being transgender and can’t quite wrap his head around why she can’t just get a job. So the stress level in the house is quite high.

I sometimes think my medications aren’t helping me, because I’m so depressed, but then I think about everything I’m dealing with at once and realize they’re probably the only reason I’m somewhat functional. My main focus has been on my girls and my parents; honestly, I literally have had the thought that I just can’t deal with the marriage thing, and I’ve shoved it to the back of my mind. But now that he’s living here again, it’s constantly in my face and I can see how it’s putting an enormous strain on K, so I finally need to deal with it.

I had an appointment with an attorney last week, so now I have a game plan. I want us to be able to divide assets as soon as possible, because I hope to find a place for K and me up near my parents. They’re about 25 minutes north of where we live now. Getting out and getting a fresh start in a new place will be one positive thing in all the negative. We’ve barely been paying the bills as it is so there will be added financial stress, but I think we can figure out ways to shave expenses and come up with a budget we can live with.

Crazy how it seems everything happens at once.

Why K is not okay

Transgender people may be eligible for diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) “only if [being transgender] causes distress or disability.”[69] This distress is referred to as gender dysphoria and may manifest as depression or inability to work and form healthy relationships with others. … Moreover, GID is not necessarily permanent and is often resolved through therapy and/or transitioning.

“Transgender” article, Wikipedia

I mentioned K isn’t okay, but not why. Here’s why. She isn’t able to work because she isn’t able to leave the house unless she is with a family member. She is immersed in the personas and worlds she escapes into via video games and the internet. She is on Tumblr and has found a community there she’s comfortable with, but she doesn’t really actively participate. She does a lot of reading and reblogging but she doesn’t communicate directly with anyone. She’s fine on the surface, but right underneath that thin veneer, she’s severely depressed.

K has canceled two of her last three psychiatric appointments at the last minute; she really doesn’t like going. She says she usually just spends the appointments talking about video games. I have no idea how to go about getting her to open up and start talking about herself. I don’t want her to feel pressured, but I want her to make progress. Whenever I bring up anything having to do with real life, she changes the subject. Occasionally she will bring things up herself, but I have to play it carefully because if I seem too excited or eager to continue the conversation, she clams up. I get teensy glimpses, once in a great while. I’m learning a whole new definition of patience.

I hope to see her start opening up more this year. The end of June will mark a year since she started on hormone therapy, and that’s going well. Maybe we’ll be able to get her to the point where she can start attending some sort of group session, and interact with other people who are dealing with the same kinds of issues. I think that could really help move her forward, but so far she continues to resist. It must be a great fear in her and I wish there were some way to break through that. I think it’s going to be a long, long road.

Any ideas?

K is not okay

I’ve mentioned my transgender daughter. It’s such a complex issue. (Duh.) When she told me, on February 1, 2013, I was prepared. I sort of already knew what I was about to find out. We had engaged in conversations about equality, same-sex marriage, and similar topics. I’d started noticing that she preferred video games with female protagonists; in playing games where you create your own character, her characters were always women. So when she said she wanted to talk, and then hemmed and hawed and kept darting her eyes all around the room, I tried to make it easier by asking, “Is this about gender?” She literally underwent a physical transformation at having it finally out in the open. Seriously, she looked happier, almost glowing. It was a beautiful thing.

She reminded me of a time when she was in elementary school and said to me, “Sometimes I wish I was a girl.” She said that feeling never went away. She also said she’s attracted to women; so she’s not only a transgender woman, she’s a gay transgender woman. My major reactions to all this were: 1) profound sadness that she suffered through this all by herself for so many years; and 2) fear for her because of how transgender people are treated out in the world.

People typically don’t understand transgender. Many people see it as a choice, when it literally is a gender correction; this is a female person who was born into a male body. The first thing I did was to set K up with a psychiatrist, whose first act was to send her to a physician for blood work. The lab result was that her estrogen level is high, her testosterone level is low. There is actually a physical basis in her case–not that one is needed. How she identifies is the most important thing. She once mentioned being annoyed at something she saw online that expressed admiration at how women deal with their periods. She said it should say how people deal with their periods–men and women. I was trying to wrap my head around what that meant (“Do post-surgical transgender women menstruate? How does that happen?”), and K rolled her eyes at me and said, “I’m a woman with a penis….”