Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Thyroid Chondroplasty blog...

Well I have now had the operation known as Thyroid Cartilage Shave or Thyroid Chondroplasty and am back home.

I will tell you about it.

For about a week before I felt like I was having trouble breathing and that my throat was closing up.  I seem to have an interesting line in psychosamatic stress related physical symptoms lately.  Like when I had a job interview I had a really dry mouth and ulcers and stuff.  Because this was my throat - I had a sore throat.  Weird.

Anyway, the day before I was bricking it - of course.  And when I was officially nil by mouth at 8pm that evening I was really scared.  I think you'd be a bit mad not to be scared about any operation really.

After a short, restless night I got up at 4am to get ready to catch the 5.30 train to London!  Oh yes, I had to be at Charing Cross Hospital at 7.30 !
It was grim getting up without being able to drink or eat and getting the train and tube to the hospital - felt pretty wafty.

Got there on time.  There was another transwoman going to have the same thing.  Sorry but she was the type who gives us a bad name - why?  She kept talking to herself and was mad, that's why.  She was wearing huge sunglasses - no make up allowed you see - but honestly...   who would sit indoors with huge sunglasses on like that?  You just look mad.  What with that and the talking to yourself.  And the dodgy wig which she kept playing with - Christ!

You really do see all types of trannies up there - from the grotesquely unnatural like her, to the amazing you would never know ones.  Please girls, don't be mad and talk to yourself - it doesn't help the rest of us.

Anyway, when they took us into the ward the mad tranny was in a different room.  Lucky for me she was also crap at following instructions because she'd had a cup of tea at 8am so I could go first!  Yes!  So I was taken along for surgery at about 9am - I was worried that I'd have to wait all day, so that was great.

The anaesthetist came and introduced herself first - which is good because you kind of 'know' her when she comes to knock you out.  She was really lovely.
Also, they zonk you in a side room from the theatre so you don't see the scapels and shit - which I think is a good idea.  One of the nurses in there kept calling me 'he' but other than that it was fine.  

You know how it is - being in hospital is largely OK or not depending on what the nurses are like.  Some are lovely - most actually - some treat you as if you are an inconvenience.  Some call you 'he' - which is a bit stupid.  

Anyway, the nice knockout lady did that cunning thing of not telling me when I would be 'going' and not getting me to count backwards from ten or anything like that.  She said I would feel something like a double G&T and it would be nice - but that was only to get me ready.  I think that was actually the juice though because I said 'oh yes that feels nice' and I was gone!

It was lovely - just heavy and warm and ahhhhhhhhh gone.  Nothing to worry about at all.

I woke up back on the ward - not too bad pain but very, very wafty indeed.  And very hungry.  I had some lunch and felt a bit better - that tired NHS sandwich and coffee was wonderful at the time!!

I was told I'd be able to go home the same day unless there was a problem but they seemed to want to keep me in.  I think, quite honestly, that it was too much of a hassle to get the drugs together and take the needle out of me!

I was obviously OK - just a bit dizzy and tired.  One bad incident - as I was laying there sleeping my heart started to race and it woke me up.  I lay there for a bit wondering what to do and not wanting to be a nuisance - then rang for the nurse.  She was one of the grumpy ones. 

She told me I shouldn't be talking (complete voice rest for 3 days) I pointed out that I might need to communicate in some way - yes?  Ah - I should write it on a piece of paper.  Er... but no one has given me one?  So she did - and a pen that didn't work.  Great - thanks.

Also she said my pulse was fine after checking my chart... er but that was last taken an hour ago, when it probably was fine!  And I couldn't even speak to explain all this.

I needed the loo so waftily got up to go - then when I was sitting there I noticed that the tube thing in my arm had blood in it.  It seemed to have got knocked.  So they came and took the tube off and 'bunged' it - I wonder if that's why my heart was going - because I was bleeding. hmmm

Other than that the nurses were good - but you just get one grumpy horrible one and it ruins the whole thing.

Sooooo - Becca came to get me and made a fuss till they let me out.  That's another thing - the communication.

I was told to bring stuff in case I had to stay - in case there was a problem - but that I would be out that day.  When I got there they said I would have to stay for 2-3 hours after surgery, then I could go if someone picked me up and stayed with me overnight.

But when Becca came they all insisted I was staying in.  Oh for god's sake!  Was that to prevent infection?  Yeah - coz you never get MRSA or anything in hospitals do you?!    We had to badger them to let me out - and to get the cannula thing taken out.  That was a bit of a shower really.

So - it's done.  They could only take 50% because any more could fuck up my voice.  In the picture I have taken it looks much better and flatter - but the area is swollen and briused so I don't know how it will end up looking.  They measured it and it's gone down from 2cm to 1cm - so it should be less noticeable.

Pain wise, it's not too bad.  Like a sore throat but with more tenderness than that, so it hurts when you move your head.  Really not a problem though with
painkillers - and I'm only taking paracetemol and ibuprofen.  It's not as painful as I thought it might be.

Any trans-ladies reading this who might have the same op - I would say it's nothing to worry about really.  How successful it's been we'll see when the swelling goes down and the scar has healed up and everything.  They make the incision in the folds of your neck so it shouldn't really notice, ultimately.

Yeah - that's about it.  I may not be allowed to speak for three days - but at least I can still type !!

Friday, 4 February 2011


I am addressing this blog to that staunchest critic of graphic novel to film adaptations... DB.

I have finally seen 'Kick Ass' the movie - having read the Graphic Novel (GN let's call it) so I did it in the right order and everything.  It took me a long time to see it because Lovefilm, my usual provider of filmic entertainment, has had some kind of spat with paramount or someone so you can't get some films from them now.

So I had to lay out my fiver and buy this DVD.

I believe DB considers it possibly the worst film he's ever seen - so presumably as bad adaptations of graphic novels go it must be right up there.... yes?

Well...   I liked it.  But then I also liked those other pariahs of the DB universe :  'Watchmen'  (the movie) and 'V for Vendetta' (the movie).

The first thing you notice about Kick Ass the film is it is much lighter than the GN - both in tone and literally.  So to be honest I can see why that might be annoying to fans of the GN - it doesn't capture the darkness and griminess of the original.  The humour seems less black - although it is still funny and has elements of humour the GN doesn't have.  It veers away towards becoming a comedy piece though.

Hit Girl - who is quite obviously the star of the piece in both versions - comes across as less abused in the film.  A little girl who has been turned into a killing machine?  The GN quite rightly asserts that this is not a morally justifiable situation - although it whispers 'yeah, but isn't it awesome?'

The moment Hit Girl asks Kick Ass for a hug because... well I won't blow the plot (DB knows the moment I am talking about) but that moment of vulnerability has been removed - I would have liked to have seen it in.  As it is, the ending of the film seems a little bit too air-punching - in the usual Hollywood way.

Also Big Daddy should be a lonely fantasist - rather like Kick Ass himself.  That's a central ironic device which has also been sadly removed.

BUT - I did say I liked the film didn't I?!

Yes - the content of the original is largely preserved and I do think it captures the spirit of it.

Hit Girl's first line 'okay you cunts...' is faithfully rendered and it provides a beautifully transgressive moment of cinema.  This just shouldn't be happening - but in Art anything is possible.  

This touches on the controversy - of both versions, but I suppose more keenly in the film because Hit Girl is obviously played by an actual little girl (and arguably, as I said, the intrinsic wrongness of her relationship with her father is played down in the film),

Let us not be so naive as to assume that a film like this would be made without protecting the actress and looking after her.  The controversy reminds me of the fuss over Linda Blair and 'The Exorcist'.  For goodness sake - there are ways to do these things in the movies.  So won't somebody please think of the children?  I'm sure someone did.

Also, we live in a world in which children are frequently sexualised and also, in some cultures, given guns and taught to kill.  Art will reflect that.  In fact 20th / 21st Century art has most reflected advertising, I would argue - the dominant mindset and vocabulary of the Western world.  Kick Ass, in both versions, makes a genuine comment about this fast, intellectually bankrupt imagery.

It makes that point directly because of Hit Girl - she is the axis.

By putting a child in that situation questions are asked - a reaction is demanded.  It occurs to me that the violent situations seem more wrong because a child is involved... but does that mean we condone violence among 'consenting' adults?   It is the role of Art to ask these questions - the answers must come from the viewer.

On a less cranial level I have to say - and I challenge DB to refute - that the scene in which Hit Girl kicks the fucking shit to the banana split theme tune just has to be awesome in every universe I can conceive.

Yes - awesome.  That Americanism is required to describe Kick Ass the graphic novel... and the film.  

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Mike Leigh blog 11 - Another Year

Well just for my own personal pleasure (probably) I have now written something about every Mike Leigh film.  Or I will have done in a minute, when I've finished 'Another Year' - that brings us up to date, with Oscar speculation rife.

I doubt Mike will get the Oscar he so richly deserves - one day it will come.  Another year maybe - ho ho.  Or maybe this year - why not?  It should be a lifetime achievement award or something.  Another Year doesn't deserve an Oscar more than Secrets and Lies or Happy Go Lucky - but maybe the tide is turning his way at last.

Although - I seem to remember I found it easy enough to see 'All or Nothing' at my local multiplex...  'Another Year' was very difficult to find.  So while Mike Leigh's critical reputation grows, his cinematic presence seems to dwindle.  Unsurprisingly, the Brits have little taste for a more continental type of film-making raised, as they have been, on Hollywood pap.

Anyway, 'Another Year' is another wonderful film with huge, glorious performances, laugh out loud moments and the alchemic process by which Leigh turns every day reality into something heightened, something epic.  Or maybe these are epics which take on the appearance of the everyday.

This is just the tale of a happily married couple and the strange people who orbit them like elliptically like moons.  Lesley Manville hits it just right in a performance which is a masterclass not just in acting - but in Mike Leigh acting.

Real - with just a little piquancy, a little of the spice of unreality.

I would urge you to see it - but I think I've done too much urging here.  Either you will or you won't.  I just know what these films do for me, and to me. 

I can't explain it to you - it's like whistling about sex.  I'll just leave it up to Keats to encapsulate my feelings about Mike Leigh :

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Insecurity ...

I don't actually know who Beth Moore is, or what she has to say about insecurity.  Probably something about discovering the power inside or being true to yourself.

I've been thinking about female insecurity - it's weird isn't it?  It's obviously appearance based and mostly to do with weight.  I don't think it's anything to do with vanity - to me it feels more like a desire to please and be loved.

So where does it come from ?

I think what I said before about a desire to please is important.  But then I suppose there's an element of competition, just as there is in all areas of life. This is where I am possibly lucky, because I am kind of exempt from the competition - I don't think any women look at me as competition because I used to be male and am therefore not in the running.  I'm not really expected to look gorgeous.  I am bound to look odd.

Do I sound a bit insecure?

It's a different insecurity from 'regular' female insecurity - I think.  I am honestly not sure if it's better or worse.  I have known lots of beautiful girls who are convinced they are hideously ugly - so what good does the beauty do them?   None really - and yet I can't help feeling it would be better to be beautiful and think you're ugly then be ugly and think you're beautiful.

A paradox.

I suppose we all find it rather hard to believe that those girls really DO think they are ugly.  We think they are just being falsely modest.

I know the feeling of insecurity now anyway - even if it's a modified kind.  I am tall and skinny - and sometimes I am insecure about that, although on the whole I use it psychologically to my advantage.

I try to think :  'most women want to be tall and skinny - and I am.  So why should I feel down about myself?'

But then we get to the face.  I think my face is hard and angular and pointy - and worst of all male looking.  I don't think I look like a woman, not enough anyway.  Maybe I look androgynous.

As my hormone treatment progresses my face should become more girly and soft because of fat redistribution but that won't help the nose.  Women usually have a smaller nose - in pictures of trannies or transgenders it's actually the nose that 'gives them away' more than anything, I think.

Still, I have found a reasonable proficiency with makeup and decent hair helps hugely.  I often use eyeliner 'flicks' because it pretties your face up instantly.  Decent hair... and OWN hair is a bonus.  Loads of trans-women are forced to resort to wigs because their hair isn't up to it.  I am pretty lucky there.

See me analysing my appearance...   am I so different from any other woman?


I could give you a raft of sociological theories about why women feel the way they do - but really, at the end of the day, would it make me - or you - feel any differently when we stand in front of the mirror?

Or in front of the camera perhaps more importantly.  Because the mirror I can control pretty well - the camera has it's own ideas about what I look like... and I definitely don't agree with it's opinions...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Working Girl

oooh you've gotta love this haven't you?

It's a time machine that takes you straight back to the 80s.... not that I grew up in New York but the clothes, the shoulder pads, the enormous hair and the makeup was just the same in...er... Hoo.

People whine on about it being a hymn of praise to capitalism and the American Dream - I suppose partly because of Carly Simon's (fabulous) theme tune which is literally about the 'New Jerusalem'.  Subtle as a brick but really, who cares?

It's the pioneer spirit, it's no different to Harrison Ford pretending to be a space cowboy and overcoming the odds - except in this film it happens to be the world of business which is the battlefield and HE gets to be the bit of fluff while Melanie Griffith rides out on her titanium horse.

If you get me. 

Sigourney Weaver is such a bitch in this film - what a great actress she is - she must be because you really hate her 'bony ass'.  And Joan Cusack is hilarious : 

'Can I get you anything?  Tea, Coffee, me?'

I must try that one.  But then Harrison Ford-alikes don't come into the office where I work much.  

Can someone pass an edict or something that will bring that hair back into fashion?   It's insane and wonderful.

And let's not forget : 


When I feel sad 'Working Girl' makes me happy.  Simple as.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Another letter...

These scissors are my idea of a joke - sorry.

Another letter today - this time from my shrink to my doctor updating him and... well you'll see if you read it.  In case you are wondering I do edit these letters and take out the personal bits!!   I just think getting this stuff out there increases people's knowledge of the trans experience.

Dear Dr Davies

I saw the above named in the Gender Identity Clinic on 13 December 2010 where she arrived early and was seen 30 minutes late owing to an administrative error.

[ strange bit of detail ? - jaye ]

I understand she continues to prosper at her job with Maidstone Borough Council and her revenue and benefits department is due to merge with that at Tunbridge Wells.  She thinks her job is still to remain secure.

Her relationship is intact and her son continues to prosper at school, particularly since she became a governor at the school that she attends  [ ?? ]

She is due, as I understand it, a thyroid cartilage reduction, which hasn't yet come to pass and I will ask the ENT surgeons to make haste with this since, given her long thin body shape, it is something that is going to be very useful to her.

She is very pleased with the results of hormone treatment, paricularly since Decapeptyl started.  She describes her emotional range as fuller...

She is pleased with breast growth, aware that it will always be fairly small given her build.

She describes occasional trouble with teenagers but otherwise appears to be prospering in her life and given that she now has a hormonal milieu which will most closely reproduce that after gender reassignment surgery, I would for my own part be supportive of such surgery, particularly given that she has worked as a woman for at least the last 2 years and more, most likely.

Her next appointment will be a second opinion with regard to that surgery.

James Barrett BSC MSC FRC Psych
Consultant Psychiatrist / Lean Clinician


Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Mike Leigh Blog 10 - Happy Go Lucky

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

I've decided to try to finish this Mike Leigh blog thing because I am a completist.
Nearly there anyway...

Ah!  Happy-Go-Lucky!  I almost can't find the words with which to praise this film - I think I might just have to show my appreciation with some kind of dance.

It's about a woman called Poppy who is a primary school teacher. She has some driving lessons, her instructor is a bit of a weirdo, then she meets a bloke and, er, that's it.

Oh but there is so much more.

Poppy is an optimist.  Poppy is THE optimist - not at all cloying, the performance is not mannered or OTT, Sally Hawkins plays it straight down the line with honestly and realness.  I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a fictional character so instantly or deeply.  I defy you not to do the same.

The driving instructor, Scott, is the exact opposite -  a paranoid pessimist who is secret and closed to life.  The collision between the two of them is archetypal and intense.  It's a simple situation but it feels somehow epic in that car.

Eddie Marsan plays Scott - and his performance is equally immaculate.  It's terrifying and harrowing.  In a lesser film he would have been a serial killer - a much lesser film - there is nothing so banal here.  He is a real monster from a real street with a real life.

I watched this film for the first time when I was suffering from labyrinthitis - which seems quite appropriate really as it did make me pretty spiritually dizzy.

It's glorious.  See it.  See it.  See it.  See it.