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Day 1249 – You are awesome!

Today’s topic of discussion is believing in yourself.

I want to start off by talking about a seemingly insignificant moment that happened this morning. I had just gotten out of the shower and I was busy drying myself off. I usually flip my hair over my head to dry it off since I have so much of it. While doing so I began to think about headbanging, which led me to think about how awesome I am at headbanging. From there my mind drifted to all the times I performed on stage and how awesome I looked, and then I realized, I have done some really impressive and awesome things. Just thinking about my past accomplishments inspired me to do something meaningful with my day.

Now, I haven’t made many updates lately so chances are you don’t know what has been going on in my life. Long story short my now ex-girlfriend and I finally broke up after a long period of decline that ultimately led to our undoing. She had been in Florida for at least 6 months and tension between us grew until we were practically at each others throats one minute, and absolutely in love the next. By the end both of us realized that the best thing for us would be to break up, to much chagrin. There was a period of several weeks where we split apart then came back together but it was not meant to be.

I am ashamed to say I have felt much better now that I am not focused on a dying relationship. I am still battling depression and a loss of self that has inevitably led to a lack of direction in my life. My current goals are to decide whether I want to go back to school for something other than sculpture, or start working. I realize now that pursuing a degree in 3 dimensional art was not the wisest of decisions because living life as an artist is not easy without some other form of financial support. For that reason I am considering going to school for something else, perhaps metallurgy or science.

I have not been completely useless the past 6 months. I’ve updated my Etsy shop with more jewelry and I am working on building my brand on the side. Which reminds me I need to make some business cards. It’s time I collected those 250 free business cards from Vistaprint.

That sums up the last 6 months of my life. I have applied to a few jobs and had one interview for a packaging position at an automation motion control company, sadly I didn’t get it. My problem with finding jobs is that I need something that interests me else I will get really bored and depressed.

The reason I just told you about how depressing my life has been is to show how even the smallest of things can lift your spirits and change your outlook on the day, or even your life. The challenge comes when that initial glee wears off and you start to slip back into the void. That is why it is important to surround yourself with or do little things that make you feel good about yourself throughout your day. If there is one thing I have learned from my years of therapy it is that no one thing can keep us afloat in the sea of emotions we call life. We need an arsenal of tools and coping skills(there is that word!) to stay above the surface. Think of coping skills as small floats that alone can’t support a person, but together can be used as a raft to navigate the choppy waters that surround us. Even if you only have a few floats you can always find more.

One way to develop these skills is to write down all the things you gain enjoyment from no matter how small or insignificant they seem. From there pick out some of the positive ones and incorporate them into your week. If you stick to your plan and they make you feel better, good for you! Keep going with them. If by chance they didn’t really do it for you, pick a few more off of your list and try again. It can also be helpful to hang your list somewhere where you will see it everyday as a reminder.

When I start to think about my guitar performances or the art I’ve made it makes me feel good about life. When you start feeling down try to think about the positive things you’ve done. Below is my first time playing on any sort of a stage at an open mic night. It isn’t the best performance but damn, my hair looks good!

In closing I just want you to know that you are all awesome, each and every one of you. No matter how shitty life is treating you or how bad your day is going, you truly are awesome, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Abbey

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2013 in review

I am a little late on the new years bandwagon but hey, better late than never right?

It has been an interesting year, but I’d hope that every year would be because otherwise there wouldn’t be much excitement now would there? In the past year I’ve consulted with Dr. Mcginn, I began seriously considering surgery, I took a leave of absence to reassess my life goals, I spent a year with my wonderful girlfriend, I met many extraordinary people who I now call friends, I was forced to see how much support I have from friends and family, My life has been broken down into pieces, and finally I have begun rebuilding my life into something amazing.

Below is a summary, courtesy of WordPress, on my blogging activity in 2013.
My question for you is in the past year what major changes have happened in your life, and what great things will they lead to if 2014?

Happy new year!
Abbey

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A new face, A new life

Welcome! God bless everyone!

And as she began typing that overdue post, she looked up and it was no ordinary post she was writing…. It was….

MARLEY’S FACE!

Marley's Face

Can you tell I’ve been listening to and seeing musicals? I recently helped load in A Christmas Carol at the theater where I work and it really is a great show. The theater has been showing it every year in December since 1989 (the year I was born). It has the most set pieces, automation, theatrics, special effects, & Pyro than any other show each season. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anyways, I have been spending most of my time working on myself and setting goals for the future. Since I am not taking classes I am going to start working and putting some money away to put towards surgeries. I am really not sure I can get insurance to cover anything, so I have decided to take things into my own hands. It won’t be too hard for me to save enough for a breast augmentation. That is one of the first things I am going to get.

My consultation with Dr. McGinn went well. I will just run through how the meeting went. We talked about FFS, GRS, and of course breast augmentation. Most of it was going over basics and expectations as well as the risks. I was impressed by how down to earth she was. I could easily see myself hanging out with her like any other person. She was impressed by how feminine I already look, which was pretty humbling. She also took photos of my various features as a reference for any surgeries I do get with her. The area her office is located in, New Hope, PA, is a beautiful quaint little town right on the border of PA and NJ, split by a river. I was really comfortable in the area and it reminded me of the area I live in New England.

Face

As for my face the only things she would suggest is rhinoplasty, trachea shave, some brow bone contouring, and possible a lip lift with Juviderm  injections. There really isn’t a whole lot I need, just a little bit here and there. The biggest thing I think will be my nose and brow. I already have a great natural hairline and she seemed to think it would be a mistake to mess with it. I already have a fair amount of tooth show already so a lip lift isn’t necessary, the Juviderm would give them more volume though. She does not do any jaw or chin surgery because it is a very risky area to be cutting into. Some surgeons will shave the angles down on your jaw/chin bones to lessen the sharp angles. I admit I do kind of want to have my chin rounded out a bit. I have a dimple in the middle and it is fairly wide; I am very self conscious about it. The main risks are A: damaging your jaw, and B: ending up with an uneven chin.

Breasts

We talked about the different options for breast augmentation. Over the muscle or under the muscle, silicone vs. saline, incision location, size, etc. Dr McGinn suggested that I get high profile silicone implants places above the muscle via an incision in the crease beneath the breast. She said I would need about 600cc in my left breast and 550cc in my right to account for the difference in size and the be roughly a C cup. Having had a breast reduction when I was younger I do not have as much breast tissue in my left breast which will make it difficult to have a perfectly symmetrical result. Her reason for choosing above the muscle is that when you place it below the muscle they sometimes get pushed up to an unnatural position on your chest. If you have limited tissue surgeons tend to put them below the muscle to give a more natural look.

Once I got home from my trip I did a little experiment (for science!) by making mock implants using dry rice and two balloons. I filled one with 600ml of rice and the other with 550ml. One cc equates to the same as one ml. The size isn’t exact due to the air gaps between the rice while measuring, but for all intensive purposes it did the job. I then proceeded to put them in my bra and walk around with huge boobs. They seem pretty large, perhaps a little too large. I am undecided though since they will obviously fit & flow with the contours of my body with actual implants. I intend to consult with at least one other surgeon in MA for augmentation to get a second opinion and perhaps have the surgery up here. It doesn’t make much sense driving to PA to get a boob job when there are dozens of them in every major city. The important thing is finding one with experience in treating transgendered clientele. The frame of a biological male body IS different than that of a biological female body, and experience will lead to the best result.

Dr. McGinn charges $6,000 for the procedure + $1,400 for the implants bringing the total to $7,400 for breast augmentation. A good BA seems to be running between 5k and 8k so I believe it is a reasonable price.

Now, onto the pictures!

Front

As you can see they are of moderate size and do look pretty good.

Left

They look a little big in profile.

Rice implants!

And finally the rice implants themselves (complete with nipples!)

I think the experiment was a success, it gave me right understanding of the potential size. Chances are I will end up somewhere between 450cc and 600cc.

Bottom Surgery (aka Vaginoplasty)
(Graphic surgical descriptions below)

This part of the consultation was the most in depth. We talked about the procedure itself as well as the risks, results, and preparation involved. It would be hard for me to describe it in my own words so I will transcribe the description she gave in the appointment summary the office gave me.

“We do a one stage inverted penile technique using the scrotum as a skin graft to make the back of the vagina. We reduce the glans penis to make a sensate clitoris. The nerves of the clitoris are in the Mons pubis. The labia are made from the penile foreskin. The urethra is shortened and wrapped around the clitoris to make a clitoral hood. The hood provides protection and lubrication to the clitoris. The areas that have the most sensation are the mins, clitoris, and the g-spot inside the vagina. The surgery takes about 3-4 hours.

Logistics: Vaginoplasties are generally done on Tuesdays. We operate out of Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol, PA. We ask that you come into the area the day before surgery in order to complete informed consent and a bowel prep. You will be in the hospital from Tuesday through Friday. Please be prepared, you are on bed-rest for 48 hours. Friday you are discharged from the hospital to New Hope, PA. You will have a Foley catheter and vaginal packing in place. You will return to the office for two visits the following week prior to going home. You should plan on being in PA for 2 weeks total.

Hair removal: We recommend a full clearing for 5-6 months of genital electrolysis or laser hair removal. it is not required, but highly recommended.”

Dr. McGinn covered much more than just what is here, but the rest is more specific to the patient. You are required to stop taking estrogen/progesterone 2 weeks before surgery and remain off it for several days. I think that genital electrolysis will be a must for me because I am very particular. Having any sort of hair INSIDE would both annoy me and skeeve me out.

The cost of Vaginoplasty is $19,500 and covers all hospital fees, your hospital stay, surgery costs, anesthesiologist fee, as well as your new dilators!  That is another thing, dilating. Dr. McGinn has her patients dilate more often than other doctors because it is  crucial if you want to maximize your depth. Her average depth is around 5″-6″.

For most procedures they require a $2,500 deposit when you schedule a date.

It is quite a lot to take in isn’t it? I am pretty confident that Dr. McGinn would be a great surgeon for bottom surgery and at the moment she is at the top of my list. One of the most important things I feel next to skill is the level of comfort you have with your surgeon. That way you will be more comfortable asking questions and expressing concern. I tend to be more comfortable around women (it seems many transwomen are), and there happens to only be a handful of female GRS surgeons including Marci Bowers and Christine McGinn. There may be several others I haven’t hear about, but those are the two big names.

I have started rambling and I am running out of things to say, so this seems to be a good place to stop. I have pictures to update my breast timeline that I keep forgetting about, I promise to get to it soon. I also let my facial hair grow for a week to get an updated reference for electrolysis effect. I will be updating that soon as well.

In case I don’t post before the holiday,
I hope everyone has a wonderful wintersday and new years! 🙂

Abbey

Great news and not so great news

20131118-235248.jpg

Hey there, I bet y’all have been wondering what the hell Abbey’s been doing for the past 2 months; or maybe you didn’t. That’s fine, I won’t take it personally. At least I’ll try not to. Okay I lied, I am going to cry myself to sleep when I find out you don’t care about me. Okay that was a lie too, but lets move on to what has been happening in my life! (And yes that is me in a cage)

The not so good news is that I have been in a state of emotion meltdown for the past 2 months and my life has been crumbling down around me. It was partially triggered by my girlfriend’s emotional crisis in which lead her to temporarily relocate to Florida in order to get away from all of the negativity in her current environment. For a time I hadn’t heard from her and I’ve been a blob of raw emotion oozing through the days like clockwork at the same slow pace. Many feelings of fear, panic, pain, sadness, uncertainty, abandonment, shame, guilt, anger, rage, psychosis, delusions, and anxiety. It has also brought up a lot of issues I need to work on within myself. It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture does it? It is probably a dark swirling canvas of black and sharp colors like crimson blood red, or a deep magenta. Maybe I will paint my emotions. That could totally be a coping skill!!!

Moving on, this all sort of culminated two weeks ago when I cut myself and went to the hospital. From there I was sent to the lowell treatment center and put on the young adults unit. I spend a week there on 15 minute checks, asking to go to the bathroom, no pencils, rubbery pens you have to sign out, no belts, laces, necklaces, jewelry, or drawstrings of any kind, and basically constant supervision. It was the real deal. They at least got me to a point where I was stable. One of the Nights there was a code blue and someone had to be restrained. They put him in the quiet room right next to my room and he was banging on my wall. I start having a panic attack and run to the other side of the unit with my ginger cat buildabear and cowered in a corner. One of the staff was checking on me the best she could. In the end I scratched up my arm with a folded up teddy grahams wrapper.

The night prior to my discharge an even bigger code blue or green happened and a kid had a knife and was gonna stab someone. The police were called and while they were restraining him with sedatives and force, I was helping keep the other rowdy patients calm. I went into fight mode where I wanted to do anything I could to help.

But, I am out now, and on to the good news!
I am in New Jersey! (No that’s never good news) but what is right next to Jersey?? What’s that??? PA… Pennsylvania!!!! And who practices in new hope, PA? Dr. Christine McGinn!!!

Yay you figured it out 😀
Anyways if you don’t know who Dr. Christine McGinn is, she is a transgender surgeon who does srs, ffs, and other surgeries and is now one of the few surgeons here in the states who can perform these procedures!

So tomorrow at noon I have a consultation with the doctor (who?) to go over the various procedures I may get and possibly about insurance. My goal is to get insurance to cover some of the procedures I want like FFS and a boob job. But we will see once I get a request for pre-authorization in.

So anyways, wish me luck tomorrow and I hope you all have a wonderful day! I will post a more organized update later this week about my experience.

Bye!
– Abbey Kat

Fifteen hundred seventy-six thousand, eight hundred minutes!

2013-09-19 13.27.37 2

The time I’ve spent popping estrogen pills.

That’s right, this is my 3 year anniversary since starting hormones, and now I have rent stuck in my head.

Quite a bit has changed in the past 3 years and I am genuinely glad that I made the decision to transition so long ago, even if I thought I was too old. Trust me, 21 is not too old. It is a daunting step, but absolutely worth it. I have had my fair share of ups and downs, which is partially what I am going to talk about today, but in the end I am still happy with the choices I’ve made.

The last time I gave a substantial update was around the beginning of the year. My girlfriend and I are still together, we are pretty madly in love, which creates it’s own set of problems. More on that later. Over the summer I did some more over-hire work at the music theater, mostly welding. I got to design an awesome set of handles for the gate into Oz (Thats right, we did the wizard of Oz). After that they did Cats, which I only helped on load in for. I was pretty off the wall about it because I am a cat myself. I was freaking out running around the super-sized set pieces and climbing up the steel cat perches suspended above the stage. On opening night I even had a confrontation with one of the cats in the aisle. I meowed at him and he froze, looking at me. I meowed again and as he slowly backed away I hissed. I am mildly insane.

2013-06-26 19.14.56(The handles I designed and built)

Speaking of insane, I am re-evaluating my mental health. My girlfriend recently went into the hospital and is now in Florida trying to get her life back together. Since we are so in love, being apart is wreaking havoc on my emotional well-being (especially with our particular relationship). While she was in the hospital here I had a few mental breakdowns because it was particularly triggering for me. I took a medical leave of absence to get myself figured out this semester. At one point I stopped caring and took a bunch of pills, including 40mg of Ambien. I woke up the next day with my mom sleeping next to me, wondering what the hell happened. Honestly, she probably should have taken me to the hospital.

This whole ordeal has been quite trying on my state of mental health. I am questioning whether the Zoloft and Wellbutrin I am on are doing anything at all. I need to be re-evaluated to determine what my problems actually are. I feel like my anxiety and panic attacks are the root of many of my problems. I’ve had an increasing number of panic attacks recently. I have had some incidents of self harm as well. 

I need to be in some sort of program, and yesterday I was evaluated and referred to a partial hospitalization program, where you are at the hospital from 9am-3pm doing group and individual therapy. I think it will help me, but I am not sure if I actually need inpatient. Last night I had a particularly bad panic attack because I was thinking about all the people I would have to be around in the program. I eventually started scratching myself but had enough willpower to stop myself before any significant damage was done. It scared me a lot. Hopefully I end up where I need to be.

On a more positive note, I have been trying to take this time off from class to do things I’ve always wanted to do. I am trying to expand my Etsy store and this past friday I took a blacksmithing workshop and had a blast making this forged “S” hook and pointer.

2013-09-20 22.11.24

On an even brighter note, I have a consultation on the 19th of November with Christine McGinn in Pennsylvania. I am going to be talking to her about FFS, breast augmentation, as well as GRS. I am making a strong effort to get the procedures covered under insurance. Chances are I will focus on the FFS and breast augmentation first because they will have a greater effect on my self confidence.

Anyways I will try to get some answers up to the Ask Abbey questions that have been piling up in my inbox, sorry to those who haven’t had their questions answered! I am also going to update my face and breast development timelines soon.

Until next time,

Abbey Kat

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