Thursday, 27 July 2017

2nd appointment at Charing Cross GIC

The day before the long awaited 2nd appointment with Stuart Lorimer (we had heard good things about him) was finally here. We had booked a stay at the Premier Inn at Chiswick which was a great price (£36 + £10 for parking) and only a 15 minute drive away from the clinic. Although the hotel was on a main road it was dead quiet and far superior to the Premier Inn we stayed in at Hammersmith last time (and cost £100 and £8!). We would highly recommend this hotel and the staff were all polite and friendly.

We did a quick trip to Asda on the way just to pick up some drinks... apparently.... and Lucy ended up spending a fortune on clothes and bras. I had told her before how sometimes Asda have some great clothes and we found the 2 sizes bigger bra range which I had previously mentioned to her as I wanted her to try this range as it could mean she could get rid of the inserts she has to use. There was only one in her size but we got it anyway - it was a great fit and did the job. She now has also bought a few more and doesn't need the forms any more. Another step in the right direction.

In the morning, as always, we were later leaving than we had planned but we still had plenty of time to get there for the 10am appointment. As luck would have it when we got to the clinic there was loads of parking right outside the door. Result! We checked in at reception and were told that Stuart Lorimer was off sick and that we would be seeing Vanessa Crawford. We hadn't heard of her but we were not worried.

We got called in dead on 10am by this little new age hippy type lady with really long dreadlocks and a very friendly face. She explained that actually they had tried to cancel Lucy's appointment this morning but we hadn't got the message (it was on Lucy's other phone but we hadn't noticed it, luckily as it turns out) so she would be taking the appointment. At no point did she say it wouldn't go ahead. She was one of those people that you felt so relaxed with and both Lucy and I felt that she really connected with us and understood our situation. She certainly could see how together and supportive we are as a couple. She explained that since the move to the control of Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust how they are trying to get better with the system, moved everything over to computer instead of paper but it seems it is not yet organised in an easy to find way, they have updated their phone system and are proud of the latest call stats (in the last month CX GIC received approx 2,300 calls and only 6 went unanswered) and they are making an effort to be better with their admin.

She went over some of the questions Lucy and I had been asked previously and updated our current situation. The session was very relaxed and there were a few jokes bandied backwards and forwards. She wanted to know about all the changes from the medication and it was a very open and frank conversation. The way it was between us all made the atmosphere great and was just like 3 friends having a chat. She asked a few extra questions and was speaking to me as well as Lucy and none of the conversation felt intrusive at all even though some things were quite personal to us both.

She confirmed that she would be agreeing for the GIC to take over Lucy's medication which was good news and they will still expect our GP to do the blood tests as they have been doing anyway so we so we do not anticipate any issues there. She couldn't confirm what form the medication would take as Lucy's record would be passed to the endocrinologist Dr Leighton Seal who would make the decision however Lucy mentioned that she seems to be reacting to the patches so a move away from them would be good and Vanessa made a note.

She also said that the waiting list for the voice coaching was about a year and although Lucy was referred in Nov 2016 she would double check to ensure she was on the list as it is very beneficial. She also recommended a book to read so we have ordered that already: The Voice Book for Trans and non-Binary people by Matthew Mills and Gillie Stoneham.

She asked about Lucy's hair removal referral. Lucy explained that this had been bit of a nightmare. She had received the referral and found a clinic but they had been having problems getting the confirmation from the person who had approved the referral. This was only sorted a few days ago when the clinic contacted Lucy quite frustrated and she then emailed the person and it all got confirmed so she is now just sorting out a date for her first appointment in the next couple of weeks. 

Vanessa went over a few things and was happy with the progress that Lucy had made with her life and transition. She seemed quite impressed that we were involved in the community, not just for nights out but Lucy's involvement with Sparkle and my involvement in partner support. She advised that before being referred for surgical assessment they require you to have been on hormones for a least a year. As Lucy has been on hormones since October 2016 the next appointment would be in approx 6 months time and would be the pre-surgical assessment. While we waited for reception to book the date we were expecting something far longer as the timelines always seem to be skewed but she got her next appointment for 27 Feb 2018 and again with Vanessa which we were pleased about. Exciting times..... so far but actually so near....... 

We came out thrilled with the way that the appointment had gone. This was definitely a good day. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Telling my eldest sons.... so we thought!

I have been pushing Lucy for sometime to let me tell my 2 eldest sons. My other 2 younger children know and our daughter knows too. Much of the delay was caused as Lucy wanted to tell her sons first however with their individual circumstances we don't get to see them very much at the moment and we see much mine more. There was an urgency to tell them as they are more likely to notice all the changes.

My eldest son and his wife came over for dinner last week. They are expecting their first child, our first grandchild! We had a lovely time and Lucy nearly felt like telling me that it was ok to tell them however it is important that we tell both my sons at the same time and then she couldn't make up her mind so we didn't.

For this weekend just gone I had planned a family bbq where all my children would be over and together. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell them but Lucy kept wavering. I thought it was important especially with the new baby due in January and didn't want anything to detract from the joy this baby would bring. All week we had been discussing it and Megan our 14 year old daughter was trying to persuade us to tell them.

On Friday night while Lucy was in the bath Megan came and spoke to me to say that she had been in a discussion with my 3 sons (she games with them regularly) and they had all decided that I should be told that they knew already and in fact they had know for over a year!! Their message was to tell mum that they were all very supportive. Turns out my 21 year old daughter had told them......

Well that dealt with that situation! Now to tell Lucy.... we don't have any secrets and I needed to tell her. Later that evening when we were sat together and she mentioned about telling my sons I told her we didn't need to as they knew already and they were incredibly supportive. To be honest Lucy had suspected for some time that they knew but we didn't know for sure. We would have liked to have told them ourselves as there is the whole background story that we wanted to share but in any case they were over the following evening so I could have a chat with them.

As luck would have it, Lucy got asked last minute to DJ at a party so wasn't there when they all came over. My second eldest son came over first and we had a chat. He and his girlfriend were not fazed by it at all and were interested to hear all about us, our friends and see pictures. They both reiterated that they were supportive of us both and actually don't see how it would be a problem for them. I had to pop to the shop to pick up something and his girlfriend came with me and we had a lovely chat about it all and again everything she said was full of support and that they were interested in coming out to Pinks with us. So it looks like they will come in either Nov or Dec (they are busy with holidays and weddings before this). 

My eldest son came over with his wife and gave me a big hug. Again they were both so very supportive and actually I was overwhelmed with how super supportive he was. The whole evening was a fantastic night.

Over the following couple of days my eldest son and his wife continued to message me with such supportive messages for me and Lucy. Some of the things he was saying just blew us both away. I knew my sons would be supportive but the extend of the support of them both and their partners far exceeds anything we could have wished for. My eldest son and his wife are all booked to come to Pinks in Sept and they can't wait to meet Lucy properly but also meet many of our friends. To top it off my 21 year old daughter is also coming to Pinks in Aug with her boyfriend. It is going to be great to introducing them all to everyone.

It seems this blog has fulfilled its primary objective. To be there for when we started telling our family. My second eldest son and his girlfriend have started to read it and my eldest son and his wife have read it all and his comments were:
Read the blog and what an experience! Its a hard fight but it looks like you are both winning. I still hate the fact that she has to hide away her true self  but really... f**k everyone else and to let you know you have our full support in every way and we are here for you both. Oh and tell Lucy we thinks she looks beautiful.

Well boys and girls, if you are reading this, Lucy and I love you very much and your support is just AMAZING and just so appreciated!

We have spent the last few days with something in our eyes.......

Friday, 21 July 2017

Sparkle 2017

Well what a Sparkle it was this year!

We had been looking forward to it very much and even more so as Lucy had been doing behind the scenes work for the trustees so knew some of the arrangements in advance. We arrived on Thursday and were staying until Monday.

Last minute we changed our hotel from the Premier Inn to The Britannia Hotel as Jenny and Ethan were moving hotel and we moved too as we wanted to be near them. Originally Lucy booked a room with no windows (yes no windows in a hotel with no aircon – not her best idea!) so when we checked in and we asked to pay extra for a room with windows they gave a us a free upgrade to a room with windows on the 6th floor. All great except the lifts stopped at the 5th floor and we had to walk up 4 flights of tight winding stairs to get to the room. By the time we got there we were both hot and sweaty and a bit frustrated, it had been bad enough getting our multitude of luggage out of the car and into the lift in the first place let along lugging it up further stairs.

The room was tiny, tired and old but had windows that opened but was still very hot as we were in an attic room. Luckily we had bought 2 fans with us which helped. We decided that although we were not impressed with the room it would be ok as a base for changing and sleeping so started getting ready to go out. There was a huge painted beam over the top of the bed and while we were getting ready I happened to look up…… it was covered in THICK dust and written in the dust were the words ‘Clean Me’ which looked like they had been there some time. We were not impressed but we wanted to get out for the evening so didn’t say anything….. yet.

We went out that evening along Canal Street and visited lots of bars having a couple of drinks in each to get a feel for the atmosphere, price of drinks etc. It was just us but we had a great time and met up with a few people. Lucy’s name was on the window of Via for her DJ stint she was doing on the Sparkle opening night Friday evening and she was very excited and loved her claim to fame.

Friday we had a lay in as we got in very late and we knew we wouldn’t get much sleep over the weekend as Lucy was also helping out backstage at the Sparkle stage on Saturday and Sunday. By the time we got up and out it was about 3pm and we were starving. On the way out we visited the hotel reception to ask them to clean the beam and change our bedding as the bed was directly underneath and any cleaning would have messed the bed up. The receptionist was having none of it and wanted to move us into a different room straight away. The only disadvantage was that it had to be done immediately but they did eventually send a porter up to help with the cases. Lucy was rolling her eyes as she had unpacked everything for the weekend so it meant repacking everything and it was a hot day in a hot room too. Anyway, we packed up and I did several journeys from one room to the other which was on the 2nd floor while Lucy waited for the porter (it was hot and I thought best Lucy didn’t do too much in the heat and she was hot enough as it was). The new room was amazing! It was a large suite with a sofa area and a spa bath! Still no aircon but a much bigger space. It was the size of a large studio flat. Suffice to say at this point it was a lot of faff to move however we were glad that we had said something.

By the time we eventually got out it was gone 4pm and we still hadn’t eaten so grabbed a pizza at a restaurant down Canal Street and then had a walk around. We met up with a few people we knew and visited a few new places. Friday evening Lucy was dj-ing at Via and we had arranged to meet Jenny and Ethan and some other friends for a meal first so we went back and got ready.

We had a lovely Chinese meal, a bit later than planned, but it was really nice and the portions were huge! As well as Jenny and Ethan, our friend Paulette, who is a Sparkle trustee, and her partner Lorraine were there, as well as Shelly Webster who was the headline act for Saturday on the Sparkle stage. She had come all the way from Texas to play and was such a really lovely person. When it got to about 10.30pm Lucy was keen to get over to Via to get her stuff put in the DJ booth and get herself prepped for her big moment. Lucy DJs as ‘he’ and has been dj-ing for 30 years but this would be the first time as the real her. A momentous moment.

We met up with a few other friends in Via and had a couple of drinks while waiting for Lucy’s slot. Before we knew it, she was there dj-ing. The place must have had approx. 400 people in it and was heaving. Her music pumped out and she put in a few of her favourite old school garage tunes which went down a treat. Everyone was dancing and singing, the bar staff said they loved it and safe to say it was a resounding success. A trans male DJ was after Lucy and his kit was not working so Lucy let him plug in his tunes into her stuff and we went off for a celebratory drink with our friends who were waiting.

The new DJ had only been on a few minutes when the owner of the bar came and dragged Lucy back…. The music was not in keeping with the bar and customers were leaving and he was not happy as he was losing money and was worried that in 10 minutes the bar would be empty. He insisted that she had to come back and DJ for the rest of the night. Lucy felt bad for the other DJ but there was not much else she could do. She got right back on to it and people stopped leaving and extras came in. It was a long old night and I didn’t get to spend much time with her but it was very successful!

Saturday we were up and out relatively early (well early for us!). Lucy was helping Paulette backstage and I spent most of my time in the Sparkle lounge with friends sitting in the sun. It was a glorious day unlike the rainy days from Sparkle last year. The acts were good and Shelly Webster was an amazing guitar player. There was a great lesbian hip hop group called Ajah who were fantastic too. My only criticism would be that the majority of the acts were influenced by rock and it would have been good to have had a bit more diversity in the music style but in any case it was far better than the year before when it seemed that the only attribute you needed to be on the stage was to be trans rather than have any talent. I met up with some friends and also a blogger friend Amy who I have been friends with on Facebook for ages and whose blog I love reading. It was great to actually meet her properly at last!

For Saturday night it was the Sparkle Ball at the Mercure hotel. Champagne reception and a beautiful ball room which was air conditioned and looked the part (unlike the ball at the Britannia the year before). The food was lovely although somehow we missed out on the ice cream desert but to be honest we were busy enjoying ourselves with the friends on our table. There was a pianist who played beautifully however the sound was not amplified so was difficult to hear at the back of the room where we were. Later there was a singer and people were up dancing.

We left at about 10.30, got changed and went off down Canal Street where we met up with lots of friends and had another fun night out. We went to a few bars and ended up in Via with friends dancing and drinking…. Unfortunately our time in Via was marred by a complete d**khead bouncer. Lucy had taken her shoes off to dance and he came over and aggressively told her to put them on. Just at that point another friend arrived and as Lucy went to greet her seconds later the bouncer told her even more aggressively to put her f***ing shoes on. Actually there was no need for this attitude and we felt miffed by the fact Lucy had bailed the bar out the night before. The owner was not around that evening and the duty manager was not bothered so we drunk our drinks, left and went off to GAY with some friends (we will be complaining about the bouncer as he was unnecessarily aggressive). I like the downstairs of GAY but not so keen on upstairs where it seems to smell of pee! In any case the drinks are amazingly cheap and although they don’t have a DJ they play good music. It does seem to be a predominately male gay place but we still had a good time.

Sunday we had to be up, out and at Richmond Tea rooms by midday – no mean feat when we probably rocked in at gone 5am! We met Jenny and Ethan and while they had a lovely Queens Tea, Lucy had an English breakfast and I had poached eggs. It is a great themed tea room with lots of mis-matched china and tea cups but all added to the charm. We need to go back to have a proper tea and they also have mad hatter themed days where everyone dresses up so we would be keen to go on one of those days too.

We made our way over to the park and the Sparkle lounge. Jordan Gray was the host for the day as well as performing later in the day. She is just amazing and is so talented and was a great choice for the job. It was another hot day. Lucy helped present some of the awards on the stage. The day just flew by and before we knew it the trustees and helpers were up on the stage finishing the event with a rendition of Amazing Grace.... a fantastic finish! Jenny and Ethan were leaving that evening and had put their stuff in our room when they checked out so came back for a cuppa and a natter before they left. They are such a great couple and exactly as last year we sat there chatting for ages before they had to go.

By the time we got out it was gone 10pm so we grabbed something to eat from the chippy and made our way back to Canal Street. It was much emptier as many people had gone and last year the Sunday night was a bit of a wash out for us. This year there seemed to be more places open later which was great and we went back into Via as the bouncer wasn’t working that night. We met up with our friend Sonya and ended in Eva which is a basement bar with karaoke. It was a nice little place, shame about the sodden toilets but we met some great people in there. Lucy and Sonya sung Wonderwall and transpires it was Sonya’s first time at karaoke and she has shared the video on her Facebook much to Lucy’s amusement. Once they closed we ended up in Napoleons which was still quite busy and again made some new friends in there too. Our Sunday night had been a blast and nothing like the year before.

We had paid extra for a late check out on the Monday and once we were out and stuff packed in the car (2 taxi’s had problems finding the car park we had parked in but that is another story) we went off for our last stroll down Canal Street and grabbed some breakfast. Kiki did an all day breakfast which wasn’t bad. It was weird being in there when it was light, quiet and relatively empty apart from a few people dotted around grabbing meals.

For us Sparkle this year was so much better than last year. The talent on the stage truly was talent even if it wasn't all to our taste, the Ball was far superior, the Sparkle lounge had been given a great face lift and the park was not so muddled. The effort that we know that was put in to laying on the whole even was tremendous. The bars on Canal Street were busy. Despite being a community event there was the odd idiot we came across but just chose to ignore. You get idiots everywhere sadly.

The drive home wasn’t too bad, 4 and half hours I think. When we got about 20 mins away from home Lucy started to change back to him. Last year this was an incredibly emotional time for us both and this year was just as bad. 10 minutes from home we pulled over in a quiet area so she could fully transform back…. We both stood there hugging each other overwhelmed with emotion. I feel like this every time she goes back to him even if we have only been out for one evening and this had been 5 fantastic days 24/7. Emotionally it breaks us both….. she needs to go full time to everyone soon…. we can’t keep going through this…….