Vein injection, gender change perks, n' school/health care whining!

I hit a vein yesterday during my bi-weekly injection for the first time since starting hormone therapy in '08. Everything was going to honky dory until I removed the needle - and immediately a faucet of blood turned on and welled up from the injection site. Surprised, I immediately dabbed it with an alcohol wipe, which was instantly soaked. The blood flowed down my thigh and dripped on to the floor. Once I had all of the blood soaked up, I noticed what appeared to be a partially swollen vein. Not knowing what else to do, I covered it with a bandage.

Ahhhh ha, so this is what it's like to hit a vein, I thought.

I would have been more anxious about this situation, but I remember bringing this concern up with my doctor before injecting for the first time. She reassured me that I don't need to fret if it happens; that I wouldn't die and nothing horrible should happen.

My leg didn't hurt and I took the bandage off last night to discover that the vein was no longer swollen and was now a quarter-sized bruise.

Risk or no risk, I'm definitely going to be a little more attentive with future injections and won't skip the step to test if I'm in a vein or not before injecting:

After the needle has been inserted, aspirate by holding the barrel of the syringe steady with your nondominant hand and by pulling back on the plunger with your dominant hand. You’ll see some air bubbles in the testosterone. If there’s just air/clear fluid--no blood--then it’s ok to proceed. If there is blood either push the needle in or pull back a little and pull back on the plunger again, or pull the needle out and start over.

Oh the bane of becoming too comfortable after doing something every other week for a year and a half now. Which is bizarre in retrospect, because it was so terrifying to start in the first place.

Gender/Name Change

Changing my name and gender legally is far more refreshing than I had anticipated. Especially with all of the little things, like my last driver class last night where I wasn't worried that there would be a scene in front of this room of 20+ strangers when my gender didn't match, or if the instructor were to yell out my prior name. Instead, he yelled out, "Dexter!"

Earlier in the day I was on campus for a meeting with the McNair Scholars Program (which I applied to on April 1st, which is a federal program to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in graduate study). It was an interview process, and I'm really hoping that I get it. Fingers crossed!

I also got a replacement student ID reflecting my new name. When I walked in to have this done, there was one student working with a few of her friends visiting. While updating my information, she confirmed that my address would stay the same - yep! , then my name. She didn't ask my gender, and just said, "Not female..., check!", ... which, just a few weeks ago, I would've had to correct, "Oh, actually, female." - resulting in a slew of apologies, feminine pronouns, and awkward situation central. Not anymore!

I can use my debit card with ease now. And my I.D. doesn't cause brows to furrow and question my potentially fraudulent ways. After living my entire life up until very recently experiencing a great deal of difficulty navigating the world as a visibly gender-nonconforming person, little things like this are so refreshing. Just getting around, using bathrooms, .. all of these things I don't, in the slightest, take for granted.

And my brain is so, so happy.

So much is changing. And so quickly. I will be starting classes soon, just next month. It's been a while since I've been a student, so I feel all giddy-anxious about it. Especially because I'm only in this school due to having a high GPA and a scholarship that is entirely dependent on being able to maintain a GPA above 3.8.

But, I am worried about being uninsured as a student. Luckily, I discovered a health insurance plan that corresponds with my college that might be affordable, unless I'm denied or if it's trans-exclusive. Hoping for the best, though.


I have prioritized work and health insurance over taking the risk of school. Because I really need health insurance.

Since being laid off in 2009, I have been uninsured and have gone in to see my doctor only twice since when absolutely necessary to have my hormone levels tested. I have to make sure that I'm injecting the correct amount. Too much, for instance, could cause a stroke. Just those two visits, out of pocket, were a few hundred dollars each out-of-pocket. I have also had to stop seeing my therapist.

I'm presently due for a gynecological exam. But, without health insurance, I am essentially rolling the dice with my health, obliviously hoping for the best. I don't feel comfortable relying on luck while trying to maintain honors in college, so I'm hoping that I'm approved for this student health insurance plan and that they won't dink me around for being trans.

And these exams are essentially. For example, a pelvic exam and pap can identify pre-cancerous cells on the cervix in their early stages, in time for treatment. Thing is, there are physicians who recommend having a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) and oophorectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries) within the first 5 years of starting testosterone therapy because there is some concern that long-term testosterone treatment may cause the ovaries to develop similar symptoms as those seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

And, according to Hudson's FTM Guide,

PCOS has been linked to increased risk of endometrial hyperplasia (a condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows too much) and thus endometrial cancer, as well as ovarian cancer.

Paying for that out-of-pocket, on top of what I already owe, does not sound fun. Especially while in impoverished student-must-prioritize-maintaining-honors-in-school-to-stay-in-there mode. Plus, last time I had that exam done, my doctor had to inject me with a slew of sedatives in order to make it happen. I was down for the count, sleeping, for two days after. And I'm betting those VERY NECESSARY sedatives are expensive, too.

Which I want to be on top of. I want to at least know what's going on in my body and potentially catch anything odd before it's too late. Plus, there are a number of blood tests that are used to evaluate liver function, which is affected by the use of testosterone (which is metabolized in the liver), and I want to be able to have my doctor monitor my liver levels also.

Plus little things like red blood cell production (testosterone has been shown to increase this, which can thicken the blood and impede its passage through small blood vessels and causing a number of potential health problems), cholesterol testing, blood pressure...

Gimme, gimme, gimme! I want my health care!

Speaking of health care and while I'm rambling and whining anyway, top surgery is getting closer! I've saved up a total of $1555. I have a ways to go, so I'm considering a loan for the remainder.

I found this CareCredit, which I confirmed with my preferred surgeon, Dr. Charles Garramone, would be accepted for the surgery. Then I could get a loan for X amount (hopefully!), depending on how much I save by the appointment date, which I haven't scheduled yet. Soon, I'm hoping. Then I'll go backpacking/swimming/bicycling NUTS! A bonanza of chest liberated hairy belly freedom, 24/7!


3 comments:

  1. Maybe random/odd but I see a homebirth oriented midwife for my health care. They don't have prescribing privileges so no gorilla sedatives available (sorry!) but she gave me the speculum so i could put it in myself (blechy for me even). The biggest + for me was the office visit is only $45 and she only charges the cost of whatever labs were done. I ordered the whole range of tests since I haven't been in for a girly bit exam in 8+ years and I believe it was under $150 for the visit and labwork. I know that doesn't help with the actual issue of tackling issues with the pap test but I prefer midwives to docs and the cost is awesome for us nun/under-insured.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i thought you hated rock climbing?

    i am starting school in a month also. very, very trepidatious about it all. let's be study buddies, please. plus, i kind of miss you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would like to exchange links with your site www.humancomplaints.com
    Is this possible?

    ReplyDelete

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