Saturday, April 11, 2009

Youch!! Laser Day Part 2

In my last blog, I had arrived at the laser hair removal place after a long drive dominated by thoughts of guilt, a sense that I can't have what I want out of life no matter how hard I try, and other generally depressing things.

But little did I know, my day was finally about to make a turn for the better. I signed in and one of the girls who worked with me last time called me back almost immediately.  She was all smiles, and I felt welcome. She mentioned how long it had been since she saw me last and that I was looking well.  Shortly after my dermatolgist came in and joined the chat. They were both very sweet and supportive.  I found myself loosening up and letting down the defenses and self consciousness that had arisen from the day's earlier exchange with dad.  

I was just me, and they understood. I was being myself, and I was suddenly happy. I could feel my smile returning, and was now just a girl chatting with acquaintances and feeling very much in my element.

But of course, the fun was short lived.  Soon I had foul smelling numbing cream on my face, waiting to go numb enough to endure ILP (intense pulsed light).  When they said I was ready, I washed away the cream. It turned out my face was so numb that I couldn't even dry without a mirror because cold water against my skin didn't even register with my nerves. I found this comforting, because numbness could only be good under these circumstances.

I can't even imagine what laser  treatments would feel like without the numbing cream.  It was even harder to endure than I remembered.  The sensation of each light pulse literally frying hundreds of hair follicles to a crisp is sensory overload.  After the first hit, the smell of the  cream combines with the stench of fried hair in a really gross way.

We actually continued to chat. But most of the conversation was devoted to continual appologies for the pain, and my reassurances that I was fine.  I tried to hold on to my poise. I didn't want to cause them to switch to a lower setting. This needed to be as effective as possible.  

Half way through I couldn't handle it anymore and asked for a break. I sat up a few moments and my doctor gave me a little back massage, with more apologies for the pain.  It was a really nice gesture and felt so nice.  When I was finally ready for more, I laid back in the chair and said "Ok, I'm ready. Hit me!", with a laugh.  And hit me they did! 

When it was all over they peeled the little protective stickers from my eyes and the tears trapped behind them ran down my face. So much for keeping my poise! I checked the mirror. Hair looked utterly and completely scorched, but as lst time, much more prominent than before the treatment. The light fries the hair to a ptich black char.  Darker hair equals more shadow.  Plus the texture of the hair actually changes visibly. It is hard to explain, but even at a distance it just looks fried.  My skin looked even worse than the beard.  Splotchy and red. It had the appearance of a burn in places. 

I had walked in depressed, but now I was ecstatic.  I had stood up to Dad, and taken  a major permanent step toward my transition without sneaking around to accomplish it. I would have less beard as a result of this forever. Maybe enough to change my makeup strategy and extend my days  out with less worry.  In my newly corrected mood, I was realizing again that I had just accomplished something life changing.  

The areas that had taken well to laser last time did not hurt as much this time.  And they also did not show as much irritation. Less hair equals fewer after effects in an area, and less pain during the procedure it seems.  So next time will be even easier, assuming this takes well.  And it will have fewer visible signs, meaning I may be able to do it without five days in a row off from work when I go again.

On the way home all the friends I had tried to call on my lonely drive down started to call back one by one, adding even a little more to my pleasant mood.  

When I got home Mom would not look at me or speak a word. She tried hard not to be in the same room with me all night.  Dad did not talk about transition or hair removal, but did start some normal domestic conversations to show me we were still on speaking terms.

Thursday morning things were better. Mom was showing me her new Helen of Troy iron and I was trying to decide how much enthusiasm it was safe to show on the subject.  I complimented her on the new hair cut she had gotten while I was out for hair removal Wednesday and she smiled.  We ended up driving around together all day, me and my parents.  The subject of transition never came up, but everyone seemed happy and had a good time.  

I think we have all made major progress this week.  I have been so wound up, that now with everything over, all I want to do is lay around basking in the calm following the storm.  My face still looks terrible, but at least today I was finally able to shave again. Also, washing my face, 2 hairs fell out.  I remember from last time that it's the first sign of shedding.  Hopefully Monday or Tuesday morning I'll be seeing tons of short black hairs on my hands each time I wash my face. And shortly after that, I'll be nearly beardless. Some of it will grow back, and more treatments will be required. But I will likely have a week or two preview of what it will be like to live beardless.  It has been over a year since I experienced it and I can hardly wait to try it again.

Slowly I am standing up for who I am and what I need. And my transition is moving along steadily. There are lots of challenges ahead, and turbulent times for me and my family I am sure. But for now I'm thrilled with my blessings and accomplishments. Today feels like serenity dipped in sunshine and sprinkled with hope. Its yummy. LOL!


Suzi said...

Yikes! I thought Laser removal was supposed to be relatively pain free...guess

I'm so glad you're getting to do more things like that...things that will make noticeable changes towards transition.

You just have to be patient with mom and dad. Virtually every non-trans person just cannot conceive of why someone would change sexes. They have never suffered GID so it's totally foreign to them. To them, it's more like they are losing a son than that they are gaining a daughter. Hopefully, over time, this will no longer be an issue of acceptance for them.

I always encourage communication as much as possible. Be very, very open with them and talk with them often about transition instead of trying to just avoid the topic. We're talking a completely new life for you, and they need to know you are alright...that you will really be happy, and that they can still be part of your life after transition. Offer as much information and facts as they can stomach. If they can come to understand GID, maybe they will not have much trouble accepting a new daughter. Explain how much you need to be a daughter...NEED. You may have already done some of this discussion but don't settle for once. They need to be reinforced constantly and they need to know how much you still love them.

Even though my wife accepts me as Suzi now, I still try to make time, as often as possible, to talk to her about it. She says it's still hard sometimes, but that her love for me is strong and unconditional. Every time I go back over the subject, she seems to learn something new. She even relates stories about how she thinks she saw a TG person in the store she works at. Now it's just something she notices...not something that revulses her.

Bask in that sunshine sprinkled with hope...just make sure you're wearing a Hugs, Suzi

Leslie Ann said...

Nice to hear things are looking up, Shan. I would recommend giving your father a copy of True Selves. It's written for the people who know transsexuals, to help them understand the difficulties of our experience. Your father, at least, seems open to learning more. And he can pull your mother along for you. I can't wait to see the results of your scorching!

Tina Jenson said...

Leslie has a great idea. I'm embarrassed that I haven't read True Selves but I've heard nothing but good things and other girls claim it has helped their families understand.

I'm glad you are enjoying your happiness. Life isn't always joy but learning to savor the pleasant is certainly healthy. I wish you all the happiness you can bear. *smiles*