Friday, December 19, 2008

Face Trans-plants

The first US face transplant occurred earlier this week. I was on the road at a vendor so I caught this and a few related stories via the radio. One interesting interview came up discussing the psychological impact of obtaining a new face. She wouldn't look like the donor, but she also wouldn't look like her old self...she'd be more of a blend of the two. They pondered how the recipient of the new face would deal with her new identity.

Sound familiar?

I've seen a few FFS patients struggle with the identity issue following FFS...and, I've seen some people totally embrace their new face. I wouldn't call this "identity absorption factor" a measure of how T we are, but maybe it deals with how far each of us has either prepared, witnessed ahead of time, or thought about what we are going through.

I mean, look at it on a larger the book, I needed to see my therapist for at least 3 months before she would prescribe hormones. I "needed" to live part-time in order to get used to going full-time, and of course, I needed to live full-time for a year before having SRS. I also needed 2 letters from certified therapists/psychologists in order to obtain SRS.

But for FFS, all I needed was enough money to pay for the surgery. There was no letter, no amount of time spent living full-time or part-time...just money.

Am I one for gatekeepers? No. I don't think therapists should be considered gatekeepers, but more like keymasters. They are there to help us open the doors ahead of us, not hold us back. They should be there to help transitioners ensure they are prepared for what lies ahead and how to deal with all of the motions and emotions that comes with transition. I'm not proposing we have therapists issue letters approving FFS for transitioners, but it would be nice if FFS surgeons did ensure their patients had at least discussed the psychological issues of FFS with someone. Sure, most people totally love their face after FFS, but there are still some that struggle with their new identity.

When I first woke up from FFS, one of the first things I did was to feel my new forehead...because I really wanted to confirm that the male brow ridge was finally gone. My face would no longer look male, but would now appear female.

Out of everything I have gone through, I would say that FFS has been the most life changing. Our faces really help say so much about who we are in terms of how other people see us and how that perception helps us to interact in the world.

I'd say one of the harder things I had to deal with on FFS was how many people thought I didn't need it or didn't need it on certain features...that I looked fine. Some of the people who pondered my actions probably didn't know what to expect with the results with some trying to sort of talk me out of that procedure.

Claire, an old friend, recently visited San Francisco and just happened to have old photos of myself that were shared with a few residents of the Cocoon House. It's an ugly reminder of just how bad things were back then. Yeah, FFS drastically improved the quality of my life and I'm totally glad I had the procedures that were performed. (On a side note, I recently heard that Dr. O will be retiring in about 2 years.)

Some of the same issues came up for the face transplant recipient. Was it OK for the patient to have life threatening surgery just for quality of life? It's really interesting listening to the justification for the face transplant surgery. Here is a quote from one of the interviews on the ABC link:

"Even though we say it is only for quality of life, for someone with severe facial deformity it is almost impossible to live your life as we all do."


For those that say the face transplant recipient shouldn't risk the surgery, perhaps they should ask themselves how they themselves would live the rest of their life without a nose or most of the middle of their face, not be able to breath through anything resembling a mouth, or to not have lower eyelids. They simply cannot imagine what this woman has gone through. If she decided to partake in this surgery, I say good for her. I hope she has the support of her family, and access to the psychological resources to deal with this trying, yet exciting time of her life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

0 for 2

I play fantasy football. I have now, for like 15 years. It's fun since I can watch other games besides the Packers and still root for different players. I also enjoy the social aspect of the draft, when you can pick who you want on your team, and also rib others for their selections.

For probably every season I have played, I have always had a Packer player on my team...even back to the beginning when I grabbed this young pup named Brett Favre.

When I watched Brett play on Sunday, there was still the same sporty vigor ever present, but you could tell he is still feeling the slow tolling of age. I enjoyed watching the game with my friend, especially since she has season tickets 3 rows from the field. It was too bad, though, that while I was up buying garlic fries, that the Jets marched down the field and Brett eventually scored a rare rushing touchdown. Other than that, though, the Jets, and Brett, didn't have that good a day.

In my fantasy league, I just had to win one of my doubleheader games to move into the playoffs. Losing both games would also almost definitely spell any chance I had at walking away with not only money, but bragging rights with the girls and guys in my league.

And, of course, I went 0 for 2.

It's probably best, though, as I got very lucky this season. My total points were well below the other teams with the same record, and my points against were far below anyone else in the league. Seriously, I got very lucky.

For the past few weeks, I have known that two other things were coming, one of which was my mom obtaining the latest test results on her cancer today.

I had also heard rumors over the past week or two that job layoffs were expected. When I analyzed the conference room schedule for this week, I found an alarming amount of rooms booked by building admins for a good portion of today with the simple title of "Training".

Thus, my odds were on today. I just hoped that I didn't go 0 for 2.

My mom called me right before I headed off to work. The prognosis...partial remission and they were continuing her treatments, with the planned procedure to take place in February. Good news. Well, better than hearing the current treatments weren't working.

On to work.

Once I arrived, I walked past the meeting room where the "training" was supposed to be occurring, and it looked awkwardly conspicuous. After I made it to my desk, my boss says that he walked by the meeting rooms I noticed, and that HR was in there talking to people.

Sure enough, layoffs were in full swing.

Yesterday, my boss indicated that our group was being taken to lunch today. I wasn't sure if was because our schedules are sporadic the next few weeks with the holidays, or because of the layoffs, but either way, it was a free lunch.

Once seated at the restaurant, he said our group was fine, but others were still being notified. While I breathed a sigh of relief, I also have issues with survivor guilt. I've already had to shake hands with one guy who sat right near me who was released. He seemed like a nice guy, and it's unfortunate it happened to him.

Last night when I went to bed, I worried if I would have trouble sleeping due to what was expected today. Luckily, I was tired enough that it really didn't matter.

I've gotten some decent marks over the past year on a few different projects, so, while I wasn't too worried about work, there was still the possibility in the back of my mind that I would have to deal with it on some scale or another. And, I mean, I'm just waiting for the day when someone has a huge issue with working with a transsexual...but so far, that just hasn't happened. Sure, people have told me that they weren't sure about working with me, but afterward, they gave me excellent marks...and obviously felt comfortable enough to tell me their feelings.

There has been some of the same emotions with my mom. Obviously they wouldn't tell us that everything was fine and she was free to just go back to her regular living. She still has treatments, and the procedure in February, and a long way to go before she is considered cancer free. She is still managing through her treatments, though, and trying to keep a positive attitude.

Thus, for today, I went 2 for 2, on a bunt-single and a double, enough to keep me in the lineup for the games to come.