Health update: lots to share

Hi y’all,

A few things happened in the past few weeks I had promised to write about, but it all had been so exhausting, not just physically and cognitively, but also emotionally, I had to put it off for a while. Simply put it has been an emotional rollercoaster. It’s hard to decide where to start, so let’s just go in chronological order.

Last week I had a hospital appointment in Rotterdam. Between the fact that I had to go alone and how rubbish the phone calls with them went I was super anxious for it. I had very low expectations to be honest. But I went as well prepared as I could be and had a written list of symptoms. When I got there I was very positively surprised. I had to get up at 6 and I had a 90 minute train ride, so I was tired before I got there, but everything still went well. The doctor actually listened to me, I truly had not expected that. He asked lots of questions. He didn’t press for an answer when I didn’t know and he heard me out when I had a longer answer than he expected. He even kept my list of symptoms to add to my file. He did some quick examining himself and then sent me off to get several tests done right away. I got a blood test, urine test, lung x-rays and a heart recording all done in the same morning. I was on my way again before noon. I have a phone appointment next week to discuss the results. I have mixed feelings about the phone consult, because I really struggle with conversations on the phone. Between my sensory issues and my cognitive issues it’s very hard to keep up with the conversation. But on the other hand it does save me €30 in travel costs. So yeah, fingers crossed for next week.

Then this week was even more of an emotional rollercoaster. On tuesday I had an appointment at the gender clinic. Well two actually. One with the endocrinologist and one with the gender therapist. I had them in that order, so let’s continue in that order. Since my mom had to drive me anyway, I asked her to come with me to both, to the endo for my sake and to the therapist for hers. I’m really glad that I did. The appointment with the endo was very overwhelming. There were the expected health checks. However they can’t draw blood and they told me they would have liked me to have my bloodwork done ahead of time. At the moment that made me feel rubbish, how was I supposed to know, noone told me. When I got home Luna pointed out to me I couldn’t even have done, they need to fill out the form for me. They did however give me two of those forms, one to get done right after and one to get done before the next appointment. They asked a bunch of questions as well. Some of which made sense, because they were directly related to my health, but others not so much. Which honestly kind of felt like they were trying to determine if I deserved hrt, which isn’t their job. Then they asked me if I had any questions about the affects or the application options. But everything went so fast and was so overwhelming I felt like there was nothing to ask. In the end they ended up prescribing me T anyway. They handed me paper prescriptions told me how often to get it. They also wrote a note, but for my gp, not for me. I was super happy with the prescription, but I could barely feel it because I was so overwhelmed already. I was very glad I had my mom there to serve as an extra memory.

So after that appointment there was still plenty of time before the next, so we immediately went to get my blood done. Luckily that’s not a big deal if you’re not afraid of needles.

Then it was off to the gender therapist. As I mentioned this time I asked my mom to come with me for her sake. Well mine too I suppose. She has been very accepting since the day I came out, but not very understanding. Which makes sense of course, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We talked a bunch about my childhood and how she was surprised at first, but when it all sank in it made sense. The therapist explained how gender is a spectrum to my mom (well, a simplified version) and that it’s not just man, woman and right in the middle. It really seemed to have a positive effect, not just knowing a little more, but I think it also helped here feel like she is more of a part of my life now. And another significant thing that happened during that appointment is that I received a referral and contact info to get my name and gender marker changed. Changing these is rather complicated when you live in the Netherlands and go to a Belgian gender clinic, but I’ll go into that properly when I get it done, so I can explain fully how it works. I just emailed them just before starting to write this, so fingers crossed it all goes quickly and smooth.

After all of that my mom drove me to the chemist straight away before going home. Which was a good thing. Apparently they’re not supposed to work with written prescriptions anymore, only printed and digital. But luckily they worked it out anyway. Not so lucky was that my insurance won’t let them claim Belgian prescriptions (or any foreign ones probably, but Belgian ones are common). I’m still pissed off about that. Before getting my referral my gp made me check with my insurance which places would be covered and they told me it would be fine to go to Ghent, but they haven’t paid a single penny so far. Luckily for me Belgian healthcare is very cheap, but when you have a low income it’s still a lot of money. But back to the chemist; I was completely penniless at the time, so my mom picked up the bill. I’m so grateful for her, not many parents are both able and willing to help out their kids financially. It pisses me off that it’s necessary, but, I’m so thankful for it. Without her I still wouldn’t be on T. Anyhow. They didn’t have it in stock, so they had to order it in. I was told it would probably arrive the next day and I’d get an e-mail when it did. So as much as it sucked to have to wait, at least it was convenient.

So the next day I think I checked my e-mail every 5 minutes. I was hoping I could get it before 10.30, because I can only call my gp before that time, since here you’re not allowed to do the injection yourself. Honestly I have mixed feelings about that. I’m glad I don’t have to do it myself, but it would be nice to have the option. Unfortunately I did not get the e-mail before 10.30, but I did get it that day. Of course I was curious and had a look, I genuinely only got the vial.

Thursday morning I started calling my gp first thing. For some reason the line wasn’t connected though, and a recording told me to try another line, their emergency line. I might have been super impatient, but it wasn’t technically an emergency, so I just kept trying the regular line. When I had had it 90 minutes later (they’re only available for non-emergencies 2,5 hours a day after all) I decided to try one last time and if it didn’t ring I’d try the emergency line. And guess what, it rang. I got an answer almost right away. However the phone got answered by an intern and it seemed to be her first day, because she appeared more nervous than me. She struggled to understand what I was calling for, but she ended up consulting the gp twice and got the job done in the end. I struggled not to lash out at her after the frustration of the 90 minutes before, but that wouldn’t do anyone any good. She got me an appointment for that afternoon, so that was nice. Normally an assistant does the injections, but it appeared both assistants working at the time were either interns or new and the gp did it himself with one of them watching. They were all really kind and the gp genuinely seemed happy for me that I got T, which I could really use at that moment. The needle itself didn’t hurt at all, but 4 ml of liquid being pumped into my muscle did, yikes. Luckily the next time is in 6 weeks and then after that once every 3 months.

So yes, since thursday (for those reading this later, it is now saturday) I’m finally on T at 26. In the eyes of the endo I was still young to get T, but honestly it doesn’t feel like it. But what matters is I’m finally there now. The endo also told me that my voice would be the first thing to change, which is wrong. While it might be the first significant thing to change, my smell and my sex drive have changed already and my skin has started breaking out in places it never did before.

Oh, and lastly, I got green light from my insurance for top surgery, so that can actually happen now!

[TLDR: The doctor was surprisingly understanding about my fatigue and actually listened and ran tests. I wonder if they’ll find anything, but I’ll know soon. I got T, but it was drama, my insurance is at it again, but my mom is helping me out. The process to get my name and gender market changed has been set into motion.]

I hope this was remotely coherent and you enjoyed reading it. I’m not sure if I’m going to do T updates, since there are already a lot of those online. I do however intend to elaborate more on the process of medical and legal transition when you live in the Netherlands but go a Belgian gender clinic, as there isn’t much to find on that, if anything  at all. So keep posted for that. Bye! Have a nice day!

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