Progress report (or lack thereof)

So I think I’ve hit a plateau.

Or stagnation.

Don’t know whether to be disappointed, angry with myself or lash out at my current lot in life or what.

A couple days ago, I went for my three-month checkup with the doctor administering my hormones.

First stop: the scale. I was 267 on my last visit. Physically, I felt like the low-to-mid-250s tops. I felt as if I’d been making at least some progress.

I stepped up.

266.

So much for progress …

Of course, as some say in modern parlance, I own it. It’s my body, I control what I put into it or not, it’s my damn fault that I didn’t lose a lot more weight.

The weird thing is that physically, I’ve felt better than I have in a long time. Until a couple of weeks ago, I was on my bike four or five times a week, 10-15 miles a clip. When I went to San Francisco a month ago to try out for “Jeopardy!” I felt I had it all together: I looked good, I was confident — I didn’t feel fat and didn’t carry myself as such. And I had game. (Of course, I won’t know how I did unless they contact me in the next 17 months …)

The natural reaction is to be pissed at myself. Could I have done more? Hell, yeah. I’ve never been very charitable to myself to start with.

I had two nights of overt backsliding: one in September when I bought two bags of potato chips; and a night about three weeks ago when I caved in at WinCo and bought a bulk bag of Sassy Sours, the cheaper (and better-tasting) version of Smarties. And it was less than half the size of the bulk bags I would buy a year ago, and I stretched it out to three days instead of the usual one or two. And, like the episode with the chips, it was a dalliance with an old lover that just didn’t feel, or taste, the same.

Also, I’ve cut back a lot on my drinking. Not that I’ve ever been a heavy drinker, but one or two at a pop at Landmark, even if they are Absolut peach and cranberry, can add up. As often as not, I’ll have club soda these days when I stop in.

But I did find myself loading up on extra portions at the local Fresh & Easy — picking up some unnecessary macaroni salad here and there while buying microwave meals, for instance. With portions that include rice or pasta with the meat already, I know that’s a no-no. Just stupid things like that.

(And, for the record, I was good on Thanksgiving. My friend and pub-quiz teammate Whitney invited me over to eat with her family. I had one plate of dinner, and while I was a little naughty with the dessert, it wasn’t by much.)

Anyway, as much as I’m angry with myself, I also find myself fighting against two things I wasn’t expecting.

*****

One is the still-continuing unemployment — or, more to the point, the deep anxiety and stress that come with it.

Next week it will be 21 months. I’ve put out seven resumes in the past two weeks — many of them back home, to Connecticut and New York, in the hope that someone will bite and that I’ll actually have an interview while I’m home for the holidays.

Compound that with a heartless Congress that’s fucking with our unemployment extensions — just in time for Christmas — and an impotent president who has enabled these evil creatures every way to Sunday.

Sure, they can throw hundreds of billions at the thieves who run the banks that have driven many of us into the rocks, and they can waste trillions — not to mention thousands of lives — on two unnecessary and futile wars. And they can steer millions in business to the former head of Homeland Security so we can have a choice of either his backscatter scanner machines of dubious safety or sexual molestation at airports.

But a few million bucks to keep a couple million of us afloat for a little while longer, just as the economy seems to be turning slowly? No! It must be paid for now! Logic tells me the Republicans are holding us hostage in a potential prisoner exchange for tax cuts for their suffering, ultra-wealthy friends, and this will all shake out sometime in the next week. Or maybe Barack the Clueless should just say he’s against the extensions and the Republicans will go for them …

Needless to say, the job situation has really done a number on me. There has been beaucoup family anxiety as well on a couple of fronts, though that seems to be clearing up, at long last — freeing me up to spend all my energy fretting on the futile job hunt.

I got lucky this week — I had one night where I slept six hours and one where I managed seven. But they’re the exception; for the past 2 1/2 months, I’ve otherwise not slept more than four, five hours a night.

I know from my longtime battle with sleep apnea that this isn’t good. Stress doesn’t help the body much. It also keeps me from losing weight. The body produces cortisol as a defense mechanism and stores fat. And when I’m not sleeping, the body’s at stress. I’m thinking all the stress in my life is forcing my body to hold on to some of that excess fat, despite even my best efforts.

The battle continues …

The other thing I have to rail against is an injury where I have no idea how it happened.

Two weeks ago Wednesday, I felt my right ankle tweak up on me, and I have no reason for it. Did I just come down wrong on the downstroke while pedaling my bike? Did I misstep? (And no, smartasses, I wasn’t in heels …) The next day it felt even tweakier, and by Friday, it was downright painful. And Saturday and Sunday were absolute torture. I’ve had the ankle go out on me a couple times before, but never like this.

And me without healthcare or crutches. Fucking great. Another level of anxiety on top of the ones I had already …

The past week and a half have been a steady diet of Epsom salt and, until the weekend, ice and Ben-Gay. I mean, my room reeked of Ben-Gay. And all I could do, really, was soak the ankle and rest it. I didn’t eat much or get out or up much because it was torture. I couldn’t bandage it, at least for long, because the sprain went ankle-and-foot with an apparent case of Achilles tendinitis.

The past couple of days, I’ve progressed from a serious hobble to a pronounced limp to something in between a limp and a walk. (A wimp?) But at least I’ve felt confident enough to ditch the Ben-Gay and throw all the bedstuff in the wash yesterday and get rid of the smell.

The ankle looks encouraging at last, but damn — even though it’s gotten near-New England cold here in Fresno, I was looking forward to riding my bike this whole time so I would be in great shape for going home for the holidays.

So that’s what I’ve had to rail against: the things out of my control. That’s contrary to the addict’s God-grant-me-the-serenity prayer, I know. But it’s reality.

And I know I’m not alone in this — even though I hate when people throw that in my face, as if they’re either trying to make me feel better about it or guilt me into shutting up. Turns out two of the kinfolk to whom I’ve come out in the past two weeks have been undeservedly out of meaningful work for quite some time themselves, and one of them has also been dealing with the effects of a severely broken leg.

*****

On the positive side, at least my doctor didn’t give me shit about my weight, as she checked on the ankle and confirmed I had a sprain.

I told her it felt as if I had gotten down to the low-to-mid-250s. She did tell me that my body is changing very slowly.

Maybe I’m just reproportioning. The girls are growing very slowly, but I can indeed see a palpable change now. And as I’ve dropped weight in the past few months, I’ve noticed a couple more curves. And there are times when I’ll lean over and, despite my very small bust size, I’ll momentarily lose my balance. Things are indeed shifting.

But I have come up against a plateau, and not just the weight. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this last batch of hormones I was prescribed was a placebo. The slow-growing chest is one thing. But I also feel crankier than I used to feel — more like the guy I no longer am. I don’t feel that sense of calm I had the first three or four months, and I don’t know if that’s just the stress at work. Worse, though I haven’t acted on them: I’m starting to feel occasional pangs of food cravings again. The only difference a year ago and now is that my dark moods, while still pronounced and stormy, don’t last nearly as long — maybe a few hours instead of days or weeks.

The doc explained: “You’ve been on the hormones six months now. (Well, seven, actually.) Your body is adjusting to them. Your changes from this point on are going to come more slowly.”

So I guess I have to redouble my efforts. Or something. But maybe it can wait until after the holidays.

I at least was able to ask her about traveling transgendered. The big difference between us is that she didn’t travel as a woman until she had the full surgery. I’m getting on the plane with the license and looks of an F with the plumbing of an M.

With all the TSA brouhaha going on lately — the scanners vs. the sexual groping, both clear violations of the Fourth Amendment — I’ve been scared about going through the boarding process. I know the Transgender Law Center has been working with the TSA on making the process easier for trans passengers, but with all I’ve read lately, one of the many things that have become clear is that not all the TSA workers have read all the memos about anything. Some of the people, with little education and a starting pay ($12.85) not far above minimum wage, seem to be taking rules into their hands.

Even as a guy, I found my treatment by TSA employees to be arbitrary at best. Flying home last Christmas, and contrary to what I would have believed, I was harassed by two TSA assholes at SFO but had smooth sailing at Bradley in Hartford on the way back.

So what to expect this time?

Well, for one, the hormones, and three sets of hypodermic needles, will go in the suitcase. And the doctor gave me a letter to carry stating that this is a prescription.

She also told me that they might take me aside and ask me questions, since the appearance and gender won’t match my license.

“Nope. I had it done.”

“The license? The gender marker on the license?”

“Yep. Everything’s done.”

“Then you should have no problems. If your gender and photo match, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all.”

But she did advise me to ditch the fake boobs. Carry them in my suitcase (which I did last year) or in my laptop case, but take them off. Birdseed and Baggies are unusual, she said, and they might mistake them for some explosive device. (After all, one of the TSA stories that surfaced last week was a breast cancer survivor who was forced to remove her prosthetic breast.  Not as bad as the woman who was hassled and damn near assaulted over carrying breast milk, or the woman who practically had to remove her tampon, but still pretty fucking bad enough.)

“Most importantly,” she said, “Don’t look nervous. If they see you looking nervous, they’ll get suspicious.”

“Well, I have no problem with flying as my better half,” I told her. “I’m out and open. And besides, I tried out for ‘Jeopardy!’ a month ago.”

“Really?!” she smiled in astonishment.

Maybe if I can handle the TSA, I can handle Trebek. Or is it the other way around?

Anyway, now to find a way around the plateau that doesn’t involve starving myself to death …

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2 Responses to “Progress report (or lack thereof)”

  1. Kate Says:

    I was going to ask you about the TSA issue. I have dreaded getting on airplanes since the post 9/11 security changes. A summer ago I intervened when the TSA abused a family with a very young and a clearly ill child (the father had the medical records in his hand.) They were Vietnamese and clearly knew little English and were in the US to get medical treatment. I helped mom and child through with a lot of hand jestures while TSA just screamed and threatened. Another woman likewise helped dad get through. If we hadn’t stepped in they would have ended up in a TSA strip search. As a result my family got some nonsense and our luggage searched. Already the body scan images have ended up in the hands of inappropriate people. I will not be a happy camper to get felt up by some government worker let alone the risk of having my child groped. My fear is would amounts to a crime if committed by anyone else will become a permissible government in other aspects of our life. I think that we will be driving to our vacation destinations from now on.

  2. Jody Says:

    Lord grant me the serenity … I used to try chanting versions of that when the stress reached steam-out-of-the-ear levels. Though I often found the prayer morphing into “Yea, though I walk … etc. … I shall fear no evil, cuz I’m the meanest muthatrucker in the valley.” Not because I really felt that awesome. It’s just more fun to say.

    Hossette (does that work?), you are stronger than four-fifths of those mean muthatruckers. How else could you negotiate all the adventures — self-imposed and otherwise — that you’ve enjoyed over the last couple of years? I admire you. I truly do. Because I guarantee that had I tried to run your gantlet, I could have been a worthless puddle of primordial goo in a few months.

    Cheers. And don’t let the TSA Man oppress ya. Just find a fun pat-down partner and go with it.

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