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The hospital letter

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Sunday 13th of January 2019

Sometimes it storms. Like on the 13th of January. The wind is pounding onto the house. I’m inside, super disappointed. And thinking about the wagon, about the plastic which is probably being torn apart for the 100th time due to the strong wind. About the water, which can go into the wagon, the damage it can cause to my hard work. At half past 4 I have to go outside. It seems to be the hight of the storm. 80km/h they’ve told us… Does, the dog, hates rain, so I do what our dog trainer told us: after putting on some water-resistant and fluorescent clothing I walk semi-enthusiastic and with quite a fast pace through the rain. Just like that against the wind. The dog walks semi-enthusiastic with me, it seems to work.

While the wind is trying to push me off the road, I realize this is such a metaphor of my mental status of the day. Of the weekend. Friday evening I got a letter, the hospital (UMCG). 3th of January my case was taken in to consideration, put on the waiting list, and now I got my letter about it. The content of the letter shocked me, to put it mildly. After all psychological exams, intervening by the GP and endocrinologist, and talk with the psychiatrist, I would say I’ve had the psychological part now. Which waiting list I’ve been put on? For an intake with the psychiatrist of the hospital. That waiting list is 12 to 13 months. No, not weeks, months. More than a year. For 1 hour talking with a psychiatrist which will conclude that their colleagues were right and I can be placed on the waiting list for the intake for the surgery, which is 10 weeks.

I realize it can be a miscommunication. When I called before, I appeared to be placed on a waiting list for something I can’t even reproduce. Something psychological. But it’s f***ing Friday, and I can’t do anything! Nothing else than eat myself up about the letter, about the super frustrating bureaucracy, and think about all strategies in which I can make them realize this ain’t gonna happen, with which I can’t do anything right now, because it’s weekend. A stormy weekend.

The ways in which people are talking to me are going through my head. Lots of the people who know about my process, don’t seem to develop any awareness, are not realizing how super important this is to me. Yeah, I might pretent to take it easy, because I know how hard it is to change the pronouns. I really know this, because I’ve hurt people myself with this. Which I regret so much. But pleaseeeee, give it a try! Even trying is already so rewarding, even if you make mistakes. Be aware, hear what you’re saying and improve yourself. As long as you talk like always, or just use my name a little more often, not even aware of your mistakes… Don’t claim you do it right already, if I say you don’t.

I notice the longer the bodily changes are testing my patience, the more important the social aspect becomes. When all of the bodily aspects are over, I do think this will lessen, become less important, because I can be happy with my body. But right now I feel like all sorts of formalities are keeping me back, it takes so long, and when your surroundings aren’t giving the respect you seek, it becomes lonely and difficult. Luckily I do have people who try hard. Unfortunately I don’t see them often. So right now, it’s a storm in my head.

But the question in the end is how you deal with that storm. That’s where the metaphor comes in. Did I let the wind blow me off the street? Nah, of course not. I held my head high, walked firmly forwards, and the dog followed me semi-happy because if the boss doesn’t seem to mind it’s probably not that bad. That storm sometimes blows in real life too. The question is what do you do with it. Do you choose the route against the wind, or do you first go through the woods, so you have the wind in the back when you reach open field? Do you let the storm influence you, and do you start to think and think about how annoying it is, how cold you are, how your clothes aren’t water proof…. Or do you walk on, in search for solutions? Roads who are a bit covered. Because the storm will be there anyway. As they also say: can’t make it easier… But can make it more fun.

Update: 14th of January 2019

In the morning I eat, because I think I should, my meal. A bit less than usual. Still too much because it makes me sick. I’ve never gotten sick due to nerves, at least not nauseous like now. I feel down, my whole being feels bad, and I can think of anything else than calling at 8. But I have to go, got a workshop, and I will be in the bus at 8. Once at the busstation the bus seems to be super full, so I decide to wait and get the next bus. Now I can make a phonecall first, hopefully this will take away the nauseousness, because I can see myself becoming car sick in the busy bus.

The secretary is taking the call. I explain the situation and ask if the letter of the psychiatrist I’ve spoken to isn’t enough to get on the waiting list for surgery, instead of on the list for psychiatry. Nope, this is how it works. Everybody has to wait this long. I say that I think its really weird that they don’t trust other’s decisions, as this isn’t how it works when somebody with for instance breast cancer is referred, is it? Then they don’t have to do a 2nd opinion first, they’ll just operate. Well, that’s just how it works, she says. But, if I don’t agree, I should write an email, so the psychiatrist can react themselves.

When I hang up I don’t feel particularly better. But the nauseousness does go away. It was the stress for the phone call: now I know where I stand. In the worst position I had thought of, in the scenario’s I had prepared. When I get to the workshop I first write the email. I explain the situation again, tell them how odd I think this is, with the example of breast cancer, and explain that I’ll take some additional actions like getting a 2nd letter of recommendation of another psychiatrist (with shorter waiting list) and get in touch with my insurance. The Dutch insurance companies have been promoting how they can help you when you got waiting list issues, so I thought the hospital might not like this very much if I’d contact the insurance. I did try very hard to not make it sound like a threat, which wasn’t what I wanted, but I wanted them to know what my additional steps would be so they’d realize I’m prepared to do anything in order to skip this year of waiting list.

Wether it was the email I send or not, it only took 20 minutes before I got an email from the Gender Team of the hospital. Not in reply to my email, that email wasn’t even mentioned. The phone contact was. They had ‘accidentally’ send me the wrong letter, and if I could make an appointment for upcoming Friday……….

Yes! Of course I can make an appointment on Friday! It is with another psychiatrist, so I’m super curious in which list I’ve gotten myself now, but… uh??? This wasn’t expected!!! First it seems to go very hard, all that bureaucracy, and having an appointment the same week wasn’t at all what I was expecting, because I knew about the 10 weeks waiting list for intake in surgery, plus they told me on the phone before that it might take long before they would get in touch with me for an appointment at all. So whaaaaaat, I have an appointment, this week?! From 12 to 13 months of waiting, to only a couple of days, after one phone call and one email…

Suddenly I find myself with a huge smile in the workshop, and I get totally hot from that sudden positive news, even get a headache. I can’t contain myself and show the email to my neighbor, which is happy for me. The small commotion gets the attention of the workshop leader, who asks what’s going on, so I tell everybody that I’m all right again, even happier than happy. All stress flows away from my body, and my head clears. Suddenly I have the concentration, the head to coach somebody after the workshop, interest in the people around me, space to send people longer answers than just the necessary words. I’m back.

Remarks

I’ve been so surprised how much this has done with my physically, how much effect it has had. I really thought I’d go into a depression, just like that. For me it shows me how important it apparently is to me: even more important than I realized. It has made it much easier to tell anybody with whom something like this comes to the topic of conversation, also where I would not say anything before. Because this isn’t something to be ashamed of, it seriously is something which I am very much, which makes me physically sick when I get the news I have to wait another year for an appointment….

Thanks so much for all the sweet words on facebook, and for the people who have send me personal messages, asked if I’m holding up, past wekend. And besides that too, the support helps. In a world where it sometimes seems as if this topic is a huge thing to debate about, it is good to know I have people around me who at least pretend to have no problem with it. Even if it is just pretending, it makes it much easier for me. And the motivating words make sure I have something to read back on days which aren’t as good, to remind myself that there are people who support me in this, and that it is ok. So thank you for that.

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