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16 Months (Past One Year) Post Opt (WooooHooo)

Lisa: a beautiful being

Lisa: a beautiful being

In my last post I thought I was ready and able to start writing again, since the loss of my precious beloved Lisa.  I guess I wasn’t all that ready.  This is coming up on nine months since she passed away and the grieving and loss is just as intense as it was then.  I am a bit stronger, I do have times now where I am enjoying life and times where I feel good and feel like I have my feet firmly on the ground and accomplishing things and proud of it.  It is like waves in the ocean (huge ones):  there are times when I’m struggling to get air and being tossed around like being inside a clothes dryer and there are times that I’m peacefully, calmly and confidently floating on top.

I had promised to write two other posts, one on the ways that Lisa has come to me and is present in my life and the other about handling grief and the process that I’m going through.  I have started both of those posts, but have not been able to finish – partly because of the continuing intensity of this grief.  Someone told me that the intensity of grief is a testament to the greatness of the love shared.  I firmly hold that as true.  Lisa and I had an intense love and life together.  It’s the type of love that as a teenager I had dreamed about, the kind one finds only in novels and great plays.  But it happened – it happened to us.  Terms like twin flame and soul mates don’t come close…

Leaving flowers at Lisa's memorial

Leaving flowers at Lisa’s memorial

It is a week to my 16th anniversary (and the day before my anniversary will be 9 months since Lisa passed away ….).  As a result, my 1 year anniversary of my SRS and becoming who I am inside now on the outside, was a pretty hard day with vivid memories of Lisa and I sharing the hospital room and her being constantly by my side plus all the times in Chonburi getting out and around.

Since the last post, I’m now dilating only once a week – I picked Sunday nights.  There were times when I missed a week and didn’t have any issues or problems the next time I dilated.  Some people I know only dilate only once a month.  I might go to that after my 2nd year anniversary but don’t think that would be a good idea right now.

I’ve traveled to the mainland twice this year already and will make another trip in Dec.   I think it’s important to visit Lisa’s and my family more often then we did before, especially after her passing.  During the first trip I held life celebrations for Lisa with everyone and together we scattered some of her ashes in places that were very special to her.  The second trip was just to be together with them, revisit some of these place but also to reminisce and just be together, as a family.  My trip in Dec will be along the same lines.  Although, this will be the first time back in Minnesota during their winter – not sure how smart of an idea this is, but the grand kids have been remembering me and I want to be there more often for them.

On the way to the airport when I was leaving Minneapolis to come home the last time – I got rear ended on the interstate.  I saw my doctor and she prescribed a month’s worth of therapeutic massages, twice a week!  I like this doctor!!  Those are wonderful, so relaxing and has helped my stiff neck and back that I had after the accident.  I have one more to go.  But I think I’ll come back once a month (on my own) from now on.  These really help reduce stress and relax the body.

Lisa and Mazie

Lisa and Mazie

Another major thing that happened is our (Lisa and my) cat Mazie passed away.  Mazie was a very affectionate and loving.  After Lisa passed away, Mazie would cuddle with me in bed and would always be on my lap when I got home.  It’s very interesting that Mazie came to us (appeared at our back lanai) after Lisa’s mother Mazel passed away.  Hence her name – Lisa named her after and in honor of her mother.  And now, Mazie passed away about 2 months after Lisa did.  She was here for Lisa!  This picture of Mazie on Lisa’s lap says it all.

Last week, a good friend of mine decided she is going to move to the mainland and would not be able to bring her cat along and asked me if I would take the cat (named Bella Marie).  Bella is 7 years old, a mix of Tobi and Siamese and is very loving as well.  At first I wasn’t sure I was ready.  Bella knew me from the times I would visit, so everything went exceptionally well when she was came to stay with me.  She is becoming just as affectionate as Mazie was – sitting on my lap and laying at foot of the bed at night, occasionally coming up and cuddling next to me.  And amazingly, she is toilet trained!  She is an indoor cat, so I don’t have the messes I had with Mazie trekking in all the dirt.  Bella is a huge help with my grief and loss of Lisa (and Mazie).  It’s great having her around the house.  Another loving being is now sharing the house with me!

I’m keeping myself busy – maybe a bit too busy.  For a couple of weeks I helped a good friend of mine with her business – spiced cacao.  I helped package, label, count and load everything up for a ‘Made in Maui’ huge event.  That was a lot of fun and met a lot of friends there.  She also took me out to a couple of Rotary outings, one was a Halloween party put on by a well known doctor here – that was awesome.

I’ve also been elected to the board of  Maui Pride.  For me this is a huge honor.  I’ll be helping with their events and planning.  They have monthly hikes, monthly dine outs, special events, etc.  Their largest event, the Maui Pride Fair, raises enough money to be able to hand out a dozen or so scholarships to LGBT students here.  They also help other organization on island with their fundraisers like “Woman helping Woman” and the AIDS foundation.

Through on of their events – a dine out – I met a wonderful couple.  A couple of weeks later I get an invite to their wedding!  It was beautiful.  They are both chefs and you can just imagine the festivities and food afterwords.  Well, last week was a birthday of a mutual friend, I was invited over to their house.  There were five of us women and we had a wonderful time.  It is so great to be accepted by them and to enjoy their company.  Now, I’ve been invited to share Thanksgiving with them.  What an honor!

Ok, on to transition and what’s it’s like for me at 16 months.  Again, so much has been eclipsed by Lisa’s passing, followed by the loss of Mazie our cat and also all three topical fish (basically every living thing in our house except me!).  It was just one thing after another.  Then that was followed by losing a number of precious items, like the ring from Lisa’s finger (that I took off of her in the hospital after she passed away).  So it’s been pretty tough.

It is nice only dilating once a week – that takes off a huge burden.  My breasts have been sore now and then, just like they were when a growth spurt occurred – and they have grown a bit more.  I had one scare however.  I had my first mammogram and they called me back to get an ultrasound.  It turns out I had a swollen lymph node and not to be worried.  However, this does point out how important it is to be checked.

So, a bit of TMI  (too much information) – stop here if you don’t want TMI ….

Everything ‘down below’ has healed well and functioning perfectly.  As a young boy I could never understand my mother when she always told me to clean myself very well down there.  What was there to clean any more then any other part of my body?  Well … things are sure different now and I now understand what she was referring to!  There are so many folds and creases down there that it’s a lot harder to clean.  I’m not sure what they call that white stuff that forms in the creases but it does not smell good.  Twice I asked my doctor and she showed me yet another crease or fold I didn’t know about, where this hid …. I’ve got ’em all now.

Big news is that I had my very first orgasm.  It was a small one, but it was one none the less!  A lot of trans*women have experienced their first orgasm at around 4 or 5 months post opt. But I had urinary problems when I came home from Chonburi and then a urinary infection back home that took months to clear up. A couple of months after that, the love of my life, my spouse Lisa passed away (she is a nurse and was with me in Chonburi for my operation).   I had a dream where Lisa came to me.  She wanted so much to give me my first one.  So, in a way she did.  Just like Lisa, an orgasm’s effects lasts for days after – sort of a glow – just like Lisa always had.  This is just one of many ways Lisa has been showing up – but that is for another post, perhaps another blog site.

So there were lots of factors contributing to not being able to orgasm when others had.  But, it finally happened.  Just wish my beloved Lisa would have physically been here with me ….. miss her so terribly much …

Those who are post opt and have not yet had an orgasm,  you need to be patient – it took me a year. And ‘yes’ to what most others have posted about this – it is different, both physically and mentally.  As a male we were used to ‘forcing’ it, powering through and everything was very focused (mentally and physically).  This is not the case now.  It’s now more about letting go, feeling the entire body, not being focused at all.  Instead being patient, not forcing anything, being open and sensing ‘all’ your feelings.  Here is an accurate but somewhat strange comparison:  for those of you that have had SRS surgery, it’s like the first time you had to urinate (usually they make you do this before you can leave the hospital).  You find out really quick that you can not do it the way you did as a male – you can ‘not’ force it out.  You have be patient, relax, no stress or strain and allow it to flow.  I’m glad I have transitioned.

Well, in the interests of getting this finished and posted, I’m going to finish here.  I can include more details in the next post.  Wishing everyone happy holidays!

With Aloha,

Sifan

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10 Months Post-Op

Posted on
Sifan 7/10/2015

Sifan 7/10/2015

I’m not sure what to say, accept that I feel I need to post something.  Today marks 10 months since my SRS and birth into the physical reality of who I am.  Yesterday however, was the 3 month anniversary of when my beloved Lisa passed away.  This post will primarily cover transition.

The entirety of these past three months have been spent in grief, morning and loss.  People say I’m doing better, but it feels even worse than at first.  Nothing in my entire life has been this hard.  This is one of the reasons I could not post until now.  Not sure I’m ready to post now either but I feel I should.

I think I will be creating separate posts to cover the main things I’m going through and experiencing.  Those include the continuing transition (or perhaps it’s post transition now), the grief and loss of my spouse and what I’m going through and what is helping and the many ways that Lisa is showing up and making herself felt.  This last one is quite amazing.  Lisa is being felt by many and I have heard from a lot of people.  This has been an immense relief and comfort to me.

It does not relieve the grief and pain of loss.  After all these years of cuddling every night, all night long – my body experiences this loss so terribly.  But my spirit knows Lisa is with me and I experience her constantly.  These two things continue along at the same time – loss/grief and comfort.

Of course Lisa’s passing has completely eclipsed my transition.  I am very grateful that during this period of memorials, life celebrations and lots of public exposure that no one has ‘clocked’ me, no ‘he’ nor ‘him’ or sideways glances or inappropriate comments or remarks.  Actually I haven’t had anything like that for more than 1/2 a year now.  I’m not sure if that is because of looking more like a woman, acting more like a woman or because of my confidence in being who I am.  I think it’s all in the latter – confidence.  I’m not even thinking about whether I look like a woman or will I be ‘passing’ ok today, etc.   Thanks to my dearest Lisa, I have a confidence now that carries across.

As far as post op recovery is concerned:  wow, they are right – looking back, 6 months was the magical time!  As I stated in an earlier post, it almost happened overnight, the night before my 6 month anniversary.  I no longer used the seat cushion, the remaining pain went away, dilation was much easier, and on and on.

Since then, I have even ridden a bicycle!  Now that was something that the thought of before would send very unpleasant shivers up and down me.

I had a granulation between my labia on my right side that used to bleed now and then back in the months after I got home.  I was very concerned and was going to have my doctor here remove it.  The advice from Chonburi was to just leave it alone.  But I wondered what would become of it:  would it remain as a protrusion?  Would it fall off?  Would it just go back in?  Well now I have the answer – it goes back in.  It’s gone and everything looks good there.

However, my doctor noticed something else – it looked like a ‘Y’ shaped frenulum split my clitoris in half!  Sent off a picture to Chonburi and they said ‘oh oh – that needs a revision’.  Ouch.  The clitoris has ‘legs’ that come down inside the inner labia on a woman.  Apparently those legs are along the inner sides of the inner labia instead of underneath.  These are sensate, but not to the point of pain or it being a problem.  My doctor here said that unless they were effecting me, to not worry about it at all.  She also said to look at it this way:  I have ‘extra’ sensate areas – be glad !!  So, I have a normal clitoris, clitoral hood, frenulum etc., then directly below the frenulum I have these two longish bumps on each side between the upper inner labia that are also as sensate as the clitoris.  I’m happy with that!

For dilation, I’m now down to once every 3 days.  I am on the largest dilator, have been since before the 6 month mark.  I don’t have any problems, no pain and it’s been easy and fast to get to depth.  I will wait for another 2 months (my 1 year anniversary) before I cut down to once a week as recommended for that time and then for the rest of my life.  Trying to figure out what day I’ll do my dilations on when I get to once a week – hummm – Mondays? – nay, those are bad enough ….

I have finally stopped shaving the upper 1/2 of my face!  The electrolysis has progressed far enough along that she now cleans up anything from about midway from my chin to my lower lip and up, then has started on my jaw line and chin and below.  There is nothing to shave above that!  At last – this is soooo good.  However, hair is still growing on my chest and stomach and that is starting to really bother me.  It has slowed down and others have said that it will eventually stop given about 2 years or more of HRT.  But I’m starting to think I might have her do electrolysis there next if this continues.

I’m also having electrolysis on my eye brows and finding that very very helpful.  She applies a topical to numb the area – it’s still a bit more painful than other places but it’s a huge difference in how I look and I don’t have to pluck anymore.  What a relief.

One of the concerns I had recently was how to shave my back.  Lisa used to do that for me – in the hard places to reach, but now ….  Turns out at my doctor’s office they now have waxing and massage.  So I signed up for a waxing for my back, my ears and my nose.  Yes, nose!!  I was pleasantly surprised!  They use a topical to numb the inside of the nose and it really (for me) was not painful at all.  So this will become part of a tri-monthly routine for me now.

My breasts have grown a bit more – I’m a 42B and filling that in pretty solidly now.  I’m glad I did not get breast augmentation when I was in Chonburi – as they had recommended against it and said I would fill out a bit more.  I did and am very happy with what I have.  Mine are ‘on the sides’ a bit, so when I put on a bra I have to pull or tuck them in (and get ‘side’ control bra’s).  This makes them look a lot better as well.  One thing I learned the hard way however – a mosquito bite just under the bra band in the middle of my back is the very worst thing to have!!!  Can’t reach it plus the bra rubs it raw.  ACK !!!!

Finally, my hair is just below my shoulders and slightly wavy along the sides.  I love how it is styled and layered.  Just right.  Ya, I still have high spots on each side of my forehead and therefore have bangs that cover them.  I wish I could use other styles but I do like this one.  I’ve had my hair up and also in a ponytail – always wanted to do that.  I didn’t think I had that much of a ponytail until I caught a reflection in a cornered mirror – wow, it was nice and long – a ‘real’ ponytail at last!  Now if I could just get more hair to cover those high spots ….

I’m settling on a style!  I’m mostly wearing mid to long skirts with tank tops (here in Hawaii) along with cork wedge sandals (1.5 -> 2″) and almost always earrings and a necklace, sometimes a bracelet as well.  I don’t like pants but will wear jeans when I have to (like going to the summit or taking hikes).

Well, here you have it – my first post about transition after Lisa passed away.  Finally, I was able to write.  Hopefully shortly I will write about how Lisa has been showing up to me and others plus a post about grief/loss and coping.

With much aloha,

Sifan

Sifan’s Vagina Monologue

The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues

A couple of months ago I was fortunate to be able to see a local production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ here on Maui.  I was invited to come along with six other woman.  It was a quit the experience.  A lot of bonding, a lot of laughing, some crying. but everyone came away with a deeper sense of what it means to be a woman and a sense of ‘owning’ this important part of ourselves.

For me it was an initiation of sorts.  It allowed me to be proud of who and what I am.  It got me in touch with myself – much deeper appreciation of a vital part of myself that was missing for the majority of my life.

One of the monologues had to do with a transsexual woman’s experience.  It was read by a good friend of mine who is a trans-woman like me.  At one point she declared:  “I payed for my Vagina!”  Well, all the way home that night, my mind came up with verse after verse of a monologue that I would have given.  I decided I should put the virtual ink to virtual paper and post this.

I had to pay for my Vagina
(The Voice of a Transsexual Vagina)

I was born a woman without a vagina.  I have had to deal with the confusion, societies stereotypes and misunderstandings for most of my life – like more than 60 years.

From the very start, my first memories are of knowing that I was supposed to be ‘smooth’ down there.  I didn’t know what smooth was supposed to look like until many years later when my baby sister was born.

Early trauma involving my mother and then school had triggered my subconscious into protection mode.  It felt the misunderstandings, the stereotypes and the hatred that society had towards me so it convinced my conscious mind that I wasn’t a woman.

Me convincing me by achieving ‘manly’ goals to prove it:  technical mountain climbing, small plane pilot, long mountain treks, marriage, children and grandchildren, even starting a high risk business.

Who and what am I?  How could I be a woman without a Vagina?  Where is my authentic self and what is it?

But my body knew even if my head did not.  Waking up after surgery, at the birth of my Vagina – I had a visceral feeling that I was now back to how I ‘used to be’.  After surgery, somehow these sensations were ‘known’ and ‘normal’ to my body and I was at peace.  Before, it was a constant irritation and cause of deep dysphoria.

There are many costs that had to be paid:

My Vagina cost me over $20,000 and a trip to the other side of the world.

It is going to cost me almost as much and two years for electrolysis and other procedures to correct what testosterone and puberty has done to my body.  Some of those things can not be changed.

It cost me a month of pain:  5 hours of surgery, 7 days in a hospital and 23 days in a hotel next to the clinic to give birth to my Vagina  Some of this was the most severe pain of my life.

Four months of blood and fluid loss, of intense contractions as my Vagina healed.

A loss of everything I had before:  some friends, part of my family, a great job and a dream house on one of the 10,000 Minnesota lakes.

Other transsexuals have lost their lives to suicide or have been murdered because some people cannot deal with our authenticity, our truth.

My trans*Sisters – OUR sisters – live with this reality daily.

Our Vagina is an integral part of my ‘our bodies.  It is vitally important to be in connection with and ‘own’ our Vaginas.

All my life, my body knew this even though my head did not.  I paid for my Vagina with gender dysphoria.

Puberty robbed my body of many essential feminine traits.

I am still ‘paying’ for my Vagina ….

Memo to my Former Self (1 of 3: to my 8 yr old self)

I recently read a book (“Letters For My Sisters, Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. Published by Transgress Press”) compiled with stories that trans* people wrote to their younger selves.  They were asked “what would you say to your former self” and “to what age”?

I think this is brilliant and thought I would give it a go.  But I had a hard time determining the age that I would sent it too.  The best I could do was come up with was three different times of my life that I would have sent a letter to.  This is the first of those three.  I’m sending this to myself when I was in early grade school – about 8 or 9 years of age.


Steven: 7 Year old me

Steven: 7 Year old me

Hi Steven, it’s ok.  I know I must look ancient to you but please don’t be afraid.  I’m not one of those adults that tell you what to do or believe a child should be seen and not heard.  I know how tired you are of always being second tier: adults, older kids, bullies.

Your parents don’t give you credit for what you accomplish.  I know all you want is some recognition for your hard work. You just want to have some say in your life and some control over yourself, your life and your future.  I know…

And yet – look at yourself – one can see in your eyes how proud you are of yourself and of your determination.  Remember this, these are powerful tools that you have and that will get your through life.  And I’m sorry to say: you will need to remember this.

I have some great news and perhaps some scary and unbelievable news – about you and your future!

You know how every body in school picks on Billy, calls him names, thinks he’s slow and stupid and retarded?  You hate that.  You’ve seen how smart he is.  He just has a problem in front of people he does not know well.  But no one gives him credit, they just ridicule him and call him names.  Worse yet, you saw how his other friends attempted to stick up for him and then they got ridiculed and shunned.  I know this has kept you quite and that you held back from supporting him in public.  I know you feel bad about that too.

I’m not going to tell you that you should have stood up for him.  I know that you have something you are hiding that would make it even worse for you if anyone knew.  Surprised?  Yes, I knew you would be.  I’m sorry to say, that even at your very young age, trauma has forced your secret so deep that it will take many many years to reconnect to it.

I know you are scared, you saw how people treat Joey, calling him names like sissy and queer just because everyone thinks he acts like a girl and likes the other boys.  And I know you have some things in common with him.  And yes, I know you like girls not boys.  In fact you can’t understand boys and why they are the way they are.  They are so different than you – right?  And I know you are having problems understanding why you are so different.

You have spent a lot of time thinking about this, right?  A part of you knows you are more like all the girls around you then the boys.  Yes, I know, you ‘know’ you are a boy and just have these ‘extra’ abilities and sensitivities.  And that’s ok.  It really is ok.

I can see how all the kids at school would treat you and the very difficult time you would have if they knew.  And you have already seen what would happen from watching how they treat Billy and Joey and others.  You need to be protected and that is what your unconsciousness has done for you – buried this deeply.  And that is ok too.

You believe fitting in and doing what everyone tells you to do and achieving will make you successful.  And you know from watching others that doing this puts you ahead and in front of everyone else.  You have seen how competitive grade school is and know that success is not on the play ground or being the most popular with the kids.  You see the larger picture – it’s the adults and later life you are getting ready for.

Well, you are right!  But everything has a price.  Your price is burying something so deep that it will take 50 years before you find it and solve it.

Steve: at puberty

Steve: at puberty

This is ok too.  Everything has a give and take.  This will haunt you, you will not fully understand why or what it is.  There will be many times when life will give you huge clues, but you will simply ‘file them away’ only later to look back and finally put the pieces together.  Such is life I’m afraid.

Yes, it’s going to be hard.  There will be times you wish you could just skip forward 5 years – get past the awful times.  At least you will never think of calling it quits.  You are tough that way.

Please, take time to look back at your accomplishments and awards.  You need to know that you are accomplishing some really big and cool things.  I know they seem like nothing, like everyone else and that you feel you are not at all special – you are constantly being told this by your teachers, your parents and family and even the other kids.  But really, as you grow up, remember this:  take time to look back and assess your spectacular achievements – they really are wonderful accomplishments you know.  And you need to know that.

You have a wonderful enjoyment of life.  Your nature is to be happy.  This is going to serve you very well.  You love nature and many times you will go to her to help sooth yourself and solve the issues life throws at you.  Believe me, you have all the ‘tools’ you need and then some…

Let me give you a small peek at the rest of your life.  There are many hard times – much harder then what you are experiencing right now.  But you accomplish so much.  You will find and experience some of the most beautiful and joyous moments anyone could wish for.  The last job you have before retiring will be a dream come true for you.

Steven - about 7

Steven – about 7

You will have a family, grand-kids too.  They will be an awesome part of your life.  But, when you solve your deep secret, you will cause them great pain and will have to leave them.  The jury is still out if they will ever reconcile.  Like I said, everything has a price.  I’m sorry to tell you this.

I’m not going to comment on good or bad.  Life just is.  Things that seem bad usually turn out much much better – although it takes time before that happens.  You will always be happy and content with life.  You will continue to achieve and to enjoy life.

Solving your deep secret will free you – in ways you just can not imagine.  Yes, I know I have not told you what that is.  I’m sorry, but if I did, so much of your life would be different.  I really do wish you could figure it out now, at your age.  Yes, your life would be easier in some ways, but you would miss so many of life’s struggles and these struggles are what will shape you into a wonderful person that you will become.  Unfortunately, these hard times really are necessary.

With so much love and admiration,

… your future self

 

6 Months Post-Op

3/11/2015 Working at the summit

3/11/2015 Working at the summit

The ‘big’ 6!  This is the second milestone of recovery from SRS (4 months, 6 months and 1 year).  At 4 months the contractions and nerve re-connections pretty much stopped.  Now at 6 months most of the rest of the constant pain has gone away.  Whereas before it felt like something very hard was just inside under everything – that has now gone away.  Before, there was a constant low level pain – every second.  Regardless of what I was or was not doing – I always felt “down there” – constantly.  Only when I took pain medicine was it normal – with out pain or a constant swollen feeling.

Now, it’s just occasionally that there is any pain down there.  Today I didn’t even use my seat cushion at work – and I worked at the summit (it’s harder when working up there).  I’ve graduated to only using my seat cushion if it’s a hard chair.  Trust me – that is a lot of progress!  I can also sleep at night without having a pillow between my legs to keep them apart.

This all happened the day before my 6 month anniversary.  Just like the 4th month anniversary, seems like it took me right up until the day before for things to fall into place – but they did …

I’ve gained about 8 pounds since the operation.  Now that I’m feeling better, I’m going to start my walking again.  I bought a weighted hula-hoop for exercise too.  And oh boy – it’s not so easy to lose weight like it was before.  My goal is to drop another 30 lbs over the next year.

It’s been very cold here in Hawaii, especially upcountry here.  It’s been down in the 50’s.  Now, back when I lived in Minnesota, with furnaces in every house, even at -40 below zero, our house was a nice comfortable 72.  But we do not have heaters here.  So when it’s 50 degrees outside, it’s ever so slightly warmer inside – like 52 ….  That is cold even for Minnesota for inside.  And worse:  since my operation it’s very easy for me to get a chill.  I feel like I’m freezing almost all the time.  Life has changed.

I have three wonderful women that I’m privileged to have had as mentors as I transitioned to full womanhood.  Lisa of course and two others that I work with at the observatory.  One of them now, no longer works there.  She is the only one that would wear a dress or a skirt to work.  Almost everyone else is in t-shirts and jeans.  She was my inspiration for many things, style was one of them.  She is also the person that ran interference for me when I first started using the women’s restroom.  The other woman at work has also been an inspiration and huge help.  I would best describe her as a ‘wild woman’ in the best way – the way we all should aspire too.  Lisa on the other hand is my conservative mentor – right down the middle of the other two.  She keeps my feet on the ground and everything ‘real’.  I’m fortunate to have these three woman around me and mentoring me.

I still see the woman, that left the observatory, for lunch now and then, and just gave her and her sister’s family a tour of our observatory.  They had two sons, 5 and 9 I believe.  The older son was asking lots of very good questions – I wish everyone that I gave tours to would ask these kinds of questions!  But the younger child was getting bored fast.  He raised his hand and when I asked what his question was, he stated:  “I raised my hand three times …”  Oh dear ….

The spring is a busy time for me as I’m preparing and getting ready for some astronomy outreach events.  I am giving a demonstration on how we find NEOs (near earth objects – asteroids that are close to the earth’s orbit) using a 3D virtual model of our observatory.  The first is for the University of Hawaii’s open house in Manoa (Oahu) and then on the big island for their AstroDays celebration.  Later I teach about 320 3rd graders some elementary astronomy.  So I’ve been busy polishing up my presentations.  I enjoy these!

Soon we will be going back to Brookings to look for houses or lots again.  More houses and lots will be coming back on the market with the coming of spring.  Lisa is diligently watching and saving those we are interested in.  I can’t wait to get back there.  That is a magical place – just like Maui is.  Like other times in my life, it seems when it’s time to move on, I get behind it and put my energy into it.  It’s not that I want to leave, it’s just that I know I must.  I am going to miss Maui greatly.  I have spent two decades traveling the globe, have lived in a number of places – none I would actually call home, any more than home was where-ever I was.  Maui was the first and only place that actually was a home to me – and always will be.  This is the only place where the land beneath my feet has a deep connection to my spirit.  I chose my surname to honor this:  literally “the home”.  This is hard, but I embrace this move to Brookings and am investing my future there.

Not sure if I’ll couple a trip back to Minnesota with the next Brookings trip or the one after.  But I can not wait to go back and see my two sons, their wives and the four grandsons I have now.  And also to see many of my friends and some old friends that have stayed with me.  Somehow, now, this is very important to me, this re-connection.  I think a lot of this has to do with feeling that, for them, I’m now on the other side of transition.  The last time I saw them was when I came out to them at the very beginning of all of this.  I know so much more now and am so different from back then (it’s been awhile).  I wish I could go back to that time with the knowledge I have now.  Now, few will ask, most will quietly attempt to accept and carry on.  I wish I would have the opportunity for a full and deep discussion with them – but I truly doubt that a situation would arise to allow it.  Advice for others:  make it good the first time ….

For the first time I’m seeing scientific and medical papers being published about older transsexuals and the uniqueness of our stories, especially my story.  Today, children 4 or 5 years old express their gender truth and because there is enough information out there, parents, schools and society acknowledges them and they never have to live their lives coping with disphoira (it’s getting there – there are still a lot of horror stories).  For those older but not my generation, there was enough information, usually hidden, but enough that they knew they were the opposite gender even though they did not know the terms for it or if anyone else was like them or anything else about it.  They usually fought it – they became ultra-masculine: top navy seal, football quarterback for a top 10 team, even getting married and having children – as a way to prove to themselves they were what society said they were – men.

But older than that – me for example – there just wasn’t such a thing – nothing and society back then was very strict and fierce.  The only option, at least the way I explained it to myself, was that I was different – I was a boy, but I had all these other abilities (which were all feminine – but these all got twisted into somehow being masculine and acceptable).  But it really comes down to what we are inside and when that is in direct conflict with society (everything external to us, family, school, friends, relations, etc.) and this conflict is dangerous – then our subconsciousness deploys protection mechanisms.

When I was very young, I had a number of incidents that wound up driving this deep underground.  I was also a fast learner and when I saw others in deep trouble, this reinforced my protections.  Since there was no way to know or understand what my conflict was all about – part of me simply hid and made up a story – a story that would take 60 more years to unravel (see my beginnings blog for more information).  It’s nice to see these research papers basically stating the same – at last.

A number of people (family, spouse, older friends) have mentioned that they never saw this coming.  Along the lines of “I just don’t see how you could have hidden this for all these years – I did not see any indications of this in you”.  Well, nether did I !!  That is a consequence of how we create these protections within ourselves.  Ask anyone who has had childhood trauma, for example repeated familial rape.  They might even see the perpetrators as benevolent as they have to in order to survive.  These protections last a life time and only when things are ‘safe’ and these protections are no longer needed, will cracks start to appear and slowly layers upon layers peal back to reveal what actually happened – and we slowly heal.  It took seven years with a therapist and a ‘safe’ environment with Lisa to be able to bring all this out and start to understand.  And as I’ve stated before:  “As I allowed myself to become more of a woman, I started to notice something. It was more like my maleness was falling away then a femaleness was being attained. I was not becoming more of a woman, rather, like layers of an onion, my maleness was being peeled back.  I realized, I’m not becoming a woman – I am a woman.”

It is also of interest that both my ex-wife and my spouse now, have said that what initially attracted them to me were these female ‘sensitivities’ in a male.  They both see that it was the woman that I was underneath that was the attraction:  “you are not like other men….”.  Of course neither see themselves as anything other than heterosexual and would not have even giving me the time of day if I was a woman when we first met.  And of course when we first met – I still thought I was a man – only with all these ‘extras’.

These two things have always been difficult for me to explain:  why I didn’t have a clearer picture of myself as a girl at an early age and why no one, including myself, understood this or could even see my transsexualness for most of my life.  Only in hindsight is all of this clear to me.  I hope this post helps to answer this for you.  I’m glad to see research covering this as well.

What a journey!

With aloha,

Sifan

5 Months Post-Op

2015-02-14 Valentine's day in Brookings

2015-02-14 Valentine’s day in Brookings

Lisa and I are spending Valentines day in Brookings Oregon.  We came here to look for and buy a house that we’ll move into when I retire in about one and a half years.  Very exciting!

However, it was a long flight over, then a 7 hour wait at San Francisco before catching a 1.5 hour flight up to Crescent City, then a car ride to Oregon.   This plus all the driving around and looking at houses  – which were mostly out in the mountainous forests – has really had an effect on me ‘down there’.  I’ve been walking all around, up and down and in one case hiking around a 20 acre parcel.  As a result, I’ve been bleeding from those granulations on my vestibule.  This was a bit more than what has happened before, but at least I know what it is and where it’s from.  As a result, I’m much more ‘relaxed’ about it although it means going through pads and liners and checking more often.  And there is a general constant pain down there – had to take some pain medication twice already.

We found a house and made an offer.  I can now rest a bit and keep things off ‘down there’ to help heal better.  Wearing tights and at one point jeans was pretty hard on me.  Perhaps having those two granulations right in the middle between the inner labia is why it seems like this is taking longer for me to heal and get off using the seat cushion.  My third granulation is between the inner and outer labia and that seems to behave itself now.  That was the one that always bled a bit.  I’m hoping these other two will settle down as well.

Up until last month, the pain was mostly in the swollen outer labia and the ‘bowling ball’ then ‘golf ball’ hard feeling was just above the clitoris by the pubic bone.  Although there is still some tenderness there, that has subsided for the most part.  Now it seems the pain has moved down along the sides and sometimes around the intruitus.  The nerve re-connections have diminished but I still have a sudden sharp but bearable quick pain now and then – not enough to make me jerk or jump.

I also have correlated my exercise walks or long rides or anything were it’s either bumpy for a while or where my legs are moving, with increased pain the next day.  This also happens if I work at the summit for a long hard day.  One time I was feeling pretty good, went around the block once, still felt pretty good so I wound up going around 3 times (it’s a big block with a steep section of about 60 feet up and down).  I had to stay in bed the next day, nothing on, legs apart and on pain meds.  That also happened after I had a long hard day at the summit too.  Seems like I’m always slowly learning ….

I saw the endocrinologist and he basically said not to worry about the low levels of estrogen I had on the last blood test.  As I stated last month it could have to do with any number of things.  The levels were great on the blood tests a month before.  I’ll have another blood test just before I see my GP and we’ll retest my levels then.

Last month I also said my breasts were growing again.  Yup, they are.  They are getting firmer (actually harder) and once again are sore and tender at times.  I bought new bras that give me a bit more room and those help.  I can’t wear shelf-bra camis any more without something underneath – rats – those were very comfortable.

I’m finding that I can cut down on my dilations a bit too.  Instead of dilating once every day, I can miss one once in a while and not have any issues the next day.  This is nice, especially when I have had a day that was hard on my new parts and left me bleeding (or ‘spotting’ as they say….).  I always wear liners so at least I’m not going through panties.  I remember at Chonburi, even with pads, I was going through a dozen panties each day – got them washed every day and repeated – what a mess.  I still have a bit of discharge and will go through about 3 or 4 liners each day – but what a long ways from what it used to be.  That is something I’m going to bring up with my GP – I’ll ask her about this discharge and make sure all is well.  I believe it’s just part of the healing process, but want to make sure.

I’m making good progress on electrolysis – I’m supposed to stop shaving my upper lip starting on Wends now.  I think after the next session I will have to stop shaving there completely.  Already I’m not supposed to shave where my sideburns used to be and I think I will have to cut back shaving my lower lip this next time too.  I’m going for 2 hour session every Monday and this is starting to make a difference!  Oh that feels so good.  Normally, on a flight to the mainland like I just did, especially with a 7 hour layover, I would be very concerned about a 5 o’clock shadow – now it’s only beneath my chin and that is almost all white and not that noticeable.  It was always something I would worry about – where would I shave?  Women’s restroom? – no way, and just about everywhere during a flight is somehow always in a ‘public’ area …. ack.  At least now I don’t have that ‘urgent’ of a problem ….

I was a bit concerned about others’ reactions to me in southern Oregon.  This is not the open and accepting Hawaii!  It’s not exactly redneck either but it is more conservative here.  And since this is where I will be living, hopefully the rest of my life – it is important for me to be able to be accepted and yes, ‘pass’.  To my surprise even the most strident and conservative didn’t even bat an eye and I was met with ma’am, you ladies etc. the entire time.  I’m just an older woman that looks a bit masculine as do most others that live in the woods and small towns around here.  I fit in quit nicely.

The best compliment I received was from Lisa after seeing me standing next to and talking with our Realtor (a guy named Tiny and of course he was huge).  Lisa could not believe how perfectly and normally feminine I was. She said I looked like a relaxed, casual woman.  The best part of it was that I was just being ‘normal’, I was not putting on ‘airs’.  Now, compare this to any situation before as a man where everything was posturing and every situation analyzed and having to act appropriately as a guy ….  Now, not a thought is placed, not a posture imposed – I’m just letting it flow, being natural and being my true self.  Oh this is so nice.  Feeling more as myself, being comfortable and being accepted as is.   This is part of what this transition was all about!

I had mentioned before about ‘owning’ my new parts.  The clinic in Chonburi had mentioned this a number of times:  “You need to stop treating your new parts as a surgical wound that has to heal and instead ‘own’ it, know it, let it become part of you”.  Well there are levels of understanding this.  When it’s sore and painful, requires lots of attention and every little change, regardless of how minor but especially if major, causes great concern and worry, it’s very hard to treat this as anything but a surgical wound requiring the utmost of care, attention and paranoid cleanliness!  And of course this is a ‘catch 22’ – the more care and attention the more it’s a surgical site – the more it hurts or causes pain the more care and attention …  It’s inspected daily, it’s carefully cleaned at least twice a day, etc.  That is one level of the meaning of what they said – know it.

Another level is slowly letting it ‘become’ me.  Now this part is tricky:  on a very visceral level my body knows this is me, so does my head.  I think others have had problems adjusting to this change of anatomy – I have not – it was immediately acknowledged by my entire being the moment I came to after surgery.  For me this is more of an issue with the constant low level, almost chronic pain that causes me to still see this as a surgical site.  This will take time and the acknowledgement that so much progress has already been made.  And I have previews of what it will be like.  When I’m on pain meds (which is not that often now) I have a wonderful taste of what life will be like with out this chronic pain – and it’s awesome!

I’m finding yet another level to their saying as well.  Even though this was also told us and is in our ‘care’ booklet – I never connected it to ‘owning’ my new parts.  They highly encourage us to ‘get to know’ our parts.  And they don’t mean the names for all the parts and pieces – they mean to explore, touch, feel and experience all/everything there is.  See what does what, what feels what, how different parts react and what does not.

I was amazed:  last month I talked about how dilating was separate and didn’t have anything to do with where the pain was (thank goodness….).  But in exploring around I’m finding out a number of things.  One is that everything ‘down there’ is pretty tough!  Even though there is pain – everything is still sensate and can take quite a lot and just like dilation – it has nothing to do with the pain areas.  Not only that, if there is too much stimulus, instead of hurting, it slowly shuts down – not quite a numbing effect – but sort of dulls out gradually.  Even the granulations behave!  This does connect me with my new parts in a way that I had not contemplated and is allowing me to fully accept this as ‘me’ – to own it!

This is not something new – this is advice that is given to every woman, not just transsexuals.  Very few women understand or know themselves and as a result accept this essential part of ourselves.  Too often it is looked upon as a handicap, source of pain and constant care and cleaning: paranoid cleanliness (I’m starting to understand my mother’s obsessions with cleanliness…).

This last bit brings me to a wonderful production I just saw:  “The Vagina Monologues”.  The stylist I see invited me to come along with her and 5 of her friends.  Seven women sharing our experiences, stories and emotions during this show.  We laughed, cried, cheered and clapped.  We shared pride, horror and commonality with all women.  We connected and were inspired.  This is a wonderful way for ‘any’ woman to reconnect to our being, to bring us up out of the oppression and taboos surrounding our Vaginas and to celebrate that which is a part of us and to ‘claim’ it!  So very powerful, so necessary and so inspiring.  Mahalo nui e’ tita!

A good friend of mine was part of this production.  She and one other transsexual woman performed a ‘monologue’ on transgender.  Beautifully done and well received by everyone in the theater.  This has inspired me to write a monologue.  The entire way home that day I came up with verse after verse.  When I got home I quickly jotted everything down.  When I finish I will post it here and place a link to it from this post.

In summary, this was a major surgery – like any other, it is taking a very long time.  Progress is slow, but progress is being made.  My unique process of ‘owning’ my new parts is taking a new and deeper turn.  This combined with experiences both with public acceptance far from home and acceptance and sharing on a deep and personal level with women at home in an inspiring production of the Vagina Monologues has allowed me to be a natural, casual, relaxed woman.  It is so awesome to be authentic!

With much aloha,

Sifan

 

 

 

4 Months Post-Op

01/01/2015 At Mama's Fish House

01/01/2015 At Mama’s Fish House

Progress seems so very slow.  Sometimes the only way to measure is by the week and by seemingly small changes.  However, when I look back at what I have already gone through and realize what is now in the past – it amazes me.

Probably the largest change and one that I will never forget is getting over the UTI complication and being able to use the restroom like a normal woman.  As I’ve stated before – I will NEVER take going to the restroom for granted ever again in my life.  Almost every time I do use the restroom – I remember how difficult and painful it used to be and how it seemed like I would be that way forever.  This is the single most wonderful achievement other then being anatomically correct now.

With all of that behind me, now it’s the ‘normal’ recovery process for SRS that I face.  Of course now that this is front and center it takes over as the number one pain and stress of life and now becomes the next issue that I am waiting to get past.  Everything is swollen ‘down there’ – very normal but as I’ve described it before – it felt like a bowling ball between my legs.  At night, trying to sleep, I have to keep a pillow between my legs because I cannot put my knees together.  But there is progress – it feels like a baseball now.  Slow progress….

There is a whole new drama unfolding within the sisterhood that in some ways was expected but perhaps none of us really understood the full ramifications.  That is post-op depression. For some it’s huge.  For me it’s a slight sidelight hardly worth mentioning.  Basically we have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy planning, researching, questioning ourselves and preparing for transition – taking almost every second of our day and occupying our dreams at night.  Suddenly, it’s over, done, accomplished – even the dreams stop.  This was a large enough subject to warrant it’s own post.

Good news from the sisterhood (those of us that were together at Chonburi for our SRS plus others I know that had surgery with a different clinic around the same time):  a number of my sisters have reported that almost overnight, at about this point in time, the swelling suddenly subsided and things looked, felt and became – normal.  Well, I still have a baseball and am waiting for that to go away.  It is a constant low level pain.  I really feel sorry for and sympathize with those that have chronic pain.  Wearing anything puts pressure there.  Mostly I wear dresses or a skirt, but even panties will sometimes hurt.  Usually I can’t wait to get home and lay back, either in my comfy chair (where I can almost lay out flat!) or in bed.

The other good news from the sisterhood is that an increasing number of them have reported going beyond sensate and achieving the ‘big O’!  I am certainly sensate – but in no way do I want to go beyond that yet.  I’m just way too sore and protective of that area.  I can see where, just like I had to relearn how to urinate as that is completely different from a male, that this might be along the same line.  I am just hoping that my protectiveness does not complicate this.  From the sisterhood I know that I must learn to let go, to relax, trust and open up fully.  But this is all for the future – not now.

The granulations that I mentioned in the 3 month post, are still there – I did not have my doctor remove them.  I wrote to the clinic (and attached pictures) and they recommended to leave them alone, that they will heal by themselves.  They also pointed out that the rawness of the vestibule (center/floor of the inner labia below the clitoris) was actually due to two additional granulations, one of which is about 1/4 inch long – ugh.  My doctor agrees:  if it’s not causing pain or getting in the way – leave it.  These will bleed slightly now and then – but never very much and seems to be less and less.  My doctor says she can always remove them later if needed.  I cringe either way…

The other really good news is that I only dilate once a day now.  Usually that starts at month 6.  But I was able to reduce from 3 a day to 2 a day back in month 2, to only once a day now.  I’m also dilating with the ‘big’ one now.  Before it was only the medium.  The important thing is to be able to maintain depth and I have not lost any depth since leaving Chonburi.  Like my other sisters, I check every time I dilate and watch trends.  I will temporarily lose depth if I’m stressed or was sitting or had a car ride.  But I do my dilations just before going to bed.  This way I’m relaxed and can douche, wash up and go right to bed.  I also do not have any issue in getting to depth.  There have been some horror stories out there in the sisterhood of 1 to 2 hours just to get to depth.  Usually it only takes about 20 seconds for me.  One lesson I have learned – the intruitis and vaginal vault are totally separate from all the other parts down there as far as pain and discomfort are concerned.  The outer labia may be swollen and painful, but that has nothing to do with and no connection to dilation.  Wheeee – thank you very much!

Like everyone else in the sisterhood, every time we dilate, we all take out our mirrors and a light to meticulously inspect everything down there, watching for anything new or changed or a different color or troublesome, etc.  Just like everyone else, I am so careful with hygiene, washing before and after, being careful what I sit on, wiping seats down before I go, being selective where I go, using two different toilet papers for front and back, always wiping to the back and doing the back last.  That UTI taught me and others a big lesson…

I haven’t talked about HRT changes since before the surgery – time to catch up a bit.  Today is 19 months (slightly more than 1 1/2 years) since I started taking hormones.   Of course after the surgery I no longer take testosterone blockers – I’m only on Estrodiol.  Recently I have had additional breast growth.  Like before, areas of my breasts would get tender, then sore, then hard and then finally turn into growth in that area.  My aureoles have finally expanded along with my nipples – I’m looking much more natural now – they have caught up with the rest!  That was something that I wondered about – so note to others – this took a year and a half.  In fact I ‘show’ too much if all I wear is a shelf bra cami – I have to either wear a bra or use ‘hidden petals’ as they are called.  My skin is softer, my bottom is more rounded and the hair growth over most of my body has slowed down and changed.  I shave my legs and arms maybe once every two weeks (used to be once a week).  I shave my stomach and chest about every other day to every 3rd day (used to be every day).  So changes are still happening.

My estrogen levels have suddenly dropped this last month.  I see my endocrinologist later this week, so I’ll know more then.  They were normal for a younger woman (which is what I need to be at, at this point), now the level is about 1/4 of what it was – still normal for a post-menopausal woman – but not where I need to be just yet!  I’m going to ask for a retest.  There could be a number of reasons for the drop, including that I missed a day or two taking my hormones, could be where I apply the gel is getting less able to absorb it, could be the test itself or that the lady parts goes through phases where it exudes estrogen..  I’m hoping it’s the latter – just a phase of healing.

My new one piece bathing suit.

My new one piece bathing suit.

Finally after waiting so long, I made it to the beach!  I bought a new one piece bathing suit just for this moment.  The beaches and the ocean have meant a lot to me and having to abstain from swimming and wading for these three months following surgery was hard.  During my recovery in the hospital, swimming in the ocean was one of the things I would think and dream about.  That helped me through some of the rough times.  Here in Maui, especially on the south shore by Kihei, the water is nice (almost warm) even in the middle of winter.  I usually will try to go swimming on Mondays right after finishing electrolysis.  I’ll head down to the beach around noon and spend an hour there before heading back up home to get ready for work.

Oh, speaking of the beach – last Sunday I again went to the beach but the waves were in the 5 to 7 foot range.  It took me awhile to gather enough courage to go in.  Like they say, never put your back to the ocean (except to duck under the wave…).  I tried to measure one of them:  I was in about 5 1/2 feet of water – just before the wave the water went down to 2 feet and the wave topped my out-stretched arm – I figure about 6 to 7 feet worth of wave.  You have to know what you are doing out there – how to duck dive and what to do if you get rolled – which happened when I tried to measure that wave ….  Nothing like being in the ‘washing machine’ on spin cycle!  The water was grey with sand – and this was 1,000 feet out from the beach.  One lesson I learned:  lady parts and sand are not a happy combination – for days after!  I’ve rinsed out my new bathing suit a number of times and I’m still getting sand out (and same with my lady parts …).  Ack!

First time at the beach since my surgery.

First time at the beach since my surgery.

My electrologist found a new, better and much more powerful numbing cream.  She tried this out on me 3 weeks ago and was able to get at the very sensitive hairs beneath the nose (oh girl those used to be painful).  Previously, I had a dentist numb my face directly before going in for a 2 hour electrolysis session.  This past Monday I had my second 2 hour session where she used this new cream.  She would apply it, cover it, then work on a different area of my face as that area would numb up.  She is using topicaine.  She says its very important to occlude it.  Wow, she can get a lot done this way.  I’m seeing a lot of improvements.

Facial hair remains one of the more difficult self-conscientiousness issues.  It is difficult for any woman, but especially so for me as I have to stop shaving on Friday and let everything grow out over the weekend so there is enough to ‘grab’ for electrolysis on Monday.  This makes going out or doing anything on Saturday and Sundays difficult and embarrassing.  Right now, I have a faint 5 oclock shadow in a thin strip above my upper lip.  I noticed at work, that a couple of the women there have this as well.  So I’m getting there.

For the last month, occasionally I would wake up in the middle of the night (3am ‘ish).  I would be very sensitive to everything:  weight of the blankets on me, discomfort of my lady parts, refrigerator kicking in, dog barking in the distance, wind rustling the trees, my spouse cuddling me or being too close (normally we cuddle the entire night as we sleep).  These would prevent me from going back to sleep.  My mind was clear – no issues, nothing bothering me, etc.  My doctor gave me a prescriptions for pain, sleep and anxiety pills – none of which I want to use regularly.  Finally I found that I could take a Tylenol – it would take 30 mins but I would be able to sleep and more importantly, to be able to cuddle!  I’m going to talk to my therapist and doctor more about this.  I also posted to the sisterhood to see if anyone else went through something like this.

Jan. 3, 2015 Snow at the summit of Mt. Haleakala

Jan. 3, 2015 Snow at the summit of Mt. Haleakala

Seems this winter has it’s share of storms.  In the beginnings of January we had this ‘small’ storm come across the island of Maui.  The information from radar and satellite didn’t concern us at the observatory so no extra precautions were taken.  Oh girl – this storm flared up as it hit us and wound up dumping a bunch of snow and ice at the summit.  Could have been worse – the big island had blizzard condition on top Mauna Kea.  As usual, one of the engineers and I were the ones that had to run up and rescue things the next day.  It was freezing cold up there.  I had to fall back on my Minnesota experience: dressing in layers, shoveling snow and chopping ice just in order to get into the door of the observatory!   I had fun making a snow ball – first time in about 7 years since I had left Minnesota.  Next day, I found a little snowman in this same spot. I wound up having to go up to the summit three days in a row before the observatory was back on-line and on-sky.  Even now there are 5 remaining non-critical issues that I will have to get back up there to fix (I’ll probably go up this week sometime).

Dec 25, 2014 Christmas dinner at the Makena Beach resort

Dec 25, 2014 Christmas dinner at the Makena Beach resort

Lisa and I had a wonderful holiday.  I bought a new red dress for Christmas dinner.  We went out to the Makena Beach resort.  It’s a beautiful resort situated on a beach and overlooking the ocean.  Of course we got there a bit before sunset and watched as the sky turned beautiful pastel colors out over the ocean.  They have a huge smorgasbord of food from around the world.  It was a quite the feast with so many different foods and flavors.  It was difficult to choose from as there is no way a person could taste even a small piece of everything and not be wheeled out in a wheelbarrow!  Plus we celebrated with a bottle of delicious champagne – what an evening to remember!

For New Years, we went out to another favorite spot here on Maui – Mama’s Fish House.  This has got to be one of the best restaurants in Maui – if not all of Hawaii.  It’s on a cove on the north shore and is filled with memorabilia and nick-knacks, its architecture a bit eclectic with twisted tree limbs and roots for some walls, ship’s propeller and outrigger canoes as parts of the ceiling!  The food is very delicious.  This is where we go to celebrate my birthday.   Hummm, how do I convince Lisa that we should celebrate my new birthday (the date of my surgery) by going to Mama’s twice ….

01/01/2015 Celebrated New Years at Mama's Fish House

01/01/2015 Celebrated New Years at Mama’s Fish House

For the holidays, Mama’s Fish House put up a ‘sandman’ (a snowman would not last very long in the cove with the sea mists blowing over …).  So I had to get a picture with the sandman!

Overall, four months out from surgery, I would summarize by saying life is starting to settle into a new rhythm.  I am finding out more about myself, my body, as everything meshes and comes together.  Looking back, I think the biggest realization occurred right before and directly after surgery when I discovered that my body had disphoria in addition to my head.  I had spent all that time ‘in the head’ beforehand – that was very important – but I had missed all the clues from my body.  Perhaps being on the right hormones and now finally having SRS, I’m able to listen to my body – to be in touch with it and to love it.  Maybe it’s because of the lack of testosterone, perhaps it’s finally being congruent or maybe it’s just being female.  Such a difference from before …. such a difference …

With much Aloha,

Sifan