Thursday, 30 November 2017

Not a man. Not a woman. Always someone else's problem

The past weeks my therapist and I have been playing a little game, involving him suggesting gynaecologists and other places to contact for possible help with my increasing monthly pains, numbness and general discomfort. I then contact those places to get told that they cannot help me, but wishing me good luck. Or not responding at all. Or like earlier that they don't have room for more non-privately insured patients, but please try again next year or so.

That's basically the past thirteen years in a nutshell: me trying new places, following suggestions and getting disappointed over and over. With only super-rare exceptions. At this point I am not convinced that there is any point to me continuing to play this game. At least not trying to keep up the pretence that I will ever be treated like a biological woman - despite mostly being one - and that the only 'help' there exists for intersex people is the utter brutality of 'normalisation surgery', the euphemistic term for genital mutilation.

I actually managed to lie to myself this time, actually convincing myself that this time it might be different. Yet nothing again. Maybe there will be an open spot for me next year. But what are the chances that I won't just be served a 'sorry, I can't help you' from the gynaecologist with the very first appointment? Won't be the first time. I am convinced that trying this 'solution' over and over again is insane and pointless.

What I have left at this point is to wait and see what the neurologist says regarding the worsening numbness and pain in the right side of my body, with the extreme use of painkillers in order for me to live a somewhat normal life. Kind of. Not really. Maybe the neurologist will order more tests and they will finally get down to the cause. At least at the neurologist it's not nearly as important as what one's biological sex is. We're all wired mostly the same, and causes of pain and numbness tend to be similar.

I can move without too much pain most of the time after taking an ibuprofen, or dosing up on diclofenac gel, yet I have to use both practically without pause at this point. Without either I cannot get through most days, or not wake up from the pain. I absolutely do not like using painkillers, but increasingly I am faced without any other option.

Yesterday for example I was doing okay, up till the point where suddenly the right side of my abdomen started hurting severely, along with a burning sensation in the vaginal area. What happened? I don't know. It didn't go away on its own after suffering through it for a while, but did when I took an ibuprofen. Today much the same.

I don't know what's happening, and am powerless to find out answers, let alone do anything about it.

At this point I am trying to manage a new job, worrying about my health and facing the prospect of finding a new place to live. Which is more important? How much time can I afford to spend on either? A home is irrelevant until I get a job first and know where I'll be moving to. Is my health more important than an income? I would say it is. Yet if one isn't healthy, one cannot hold a job, or even get one.

It appears that there is no right answer. Just an impossible balancing act.


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Wanting happiness for all, yet not even coming close

Today was the inspection in the eviction case at the apartment. Maybe it was mostly the sneering and character assassination attempts by the lawyer of the landlady, but the impact of the experience was quite literally soul-draining.

Even though the heating system did exactly what was expected of it - ticking loudly and happily when turned on - the water wasn't as brown as it could have been because I had flushed the system a few days ago because I wanted to take a shower. Ultimately I had to give up on that attempt and shower at the office instead. It's amazing how much better a shower works if it's not done with rusty water.

The court had somehow mangled the part about the windows having gaps, instead focusing on the gaps in the structure above the windows, which got sealed last year. As a result that complaint is not being taken further at this point, and instead the waiting is now for an independent laboratory to be contacted, who will sample the water at the apartment and determine its toxicity to human life. This will likely not not take place until well into next year.

It's disappointing that it will take longer yet again, with every chance that this experience will end up costing me many thousands of Euros, on top of what I have already had to spend on lawyer and other costs. On the other side, I could have accepted a settlement and been forced to move to another place, only to lose my job shortly after and likely relocate again. Then there's the issue of my PTSD and other traumas which I'm still working through.

On one point I was at least absolutely correct: as I have talked about with my therapist and others on various occasions, this whole eviction thing is essentially the same as what happened to me as a child, when adults decided to take advantage of me. Here, too, am I left to obey whatever the court and lawyers demand from me. I can only hope that they won't hurt me too much.

After this morning's experience I was left feeling extremely depressed, feeling as if life had lost all its meaning. That I would soon lose everything again. End up homeless and without possessions or money on the streets.

It's hard to fight back against this darkness. I still do not understand why such horrible stuff keeps happening to me. From doctors lying to me, to adults abusing me, to facing one lawsuit after another for things which I have not done or cannot possibly be considered responsible for. It feels as though I am cursed. This makes it often very hard to see a way forward.

There's this future that I can picture, which gives me hope. In this future I got hired by the branch of this international company here in the city at which I applied. I would live in a house in the countryside, and travel by car to my job, but also doing a lot of home office and gladly take up vacation days simply because I like being... home.

It's a possible future, one which sadly also relies on others. Soon I may not just find myself without a job, but also without a place to live. Worse, I may may not be able to find a way out of this darkness, as all those horrible things just keep happening to me, along with the chronic pain in my abdomen and right side. The darkness feeds on pain and misery, worsening both in the process.

I want others to be happy. I want to be happy myself. Yet what I see is I'm not happy and neither are many others around me. Not even this landlady, or her lawyer. They're carriers of misery. Unhappy human beings who just bring more misery to others, whether they deserved it or not.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work on inventions and technologies that would make others happy. Because that makes me happy. Because of all the discoveries I would make and the things that I would learn along the way.

That this is being made impossible because I'm simply not capable of finding a place in life where I would feel at ease and motivated enough to do those things is perhaps the most unfair thing of all. I'm so sick of dealing with miserable people all the time. Life isn't hard. People make life hard. People can make life easy.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A biological woman who can find no gynaecologist to help her

Years ago I thought that I would never need a gynaecologist. That was back when I still assumed that I did not have ovaries and such, figuring that I had the luxury of stable hormone levels courtesy of hormone therapy. In that regard I was not much different from a transgender person. My assumption was that I would have to take those hormones for the rest of my life.

Then 2015 started off and with it my body began to undergo physical changes. From the appearance of linea nigra on my abdomen to increasing monthly pains and more. That's when I learned that I do in fact have ovaries. Since that time I have found myself increasingly struggling with the negative symptoms that these changes brought with them.

The past days I found myself waking up basically to pain. As the monthly cycle kicks in anew, the pain in the middle of my abdomen - just below the navel - can be felt, adding to the pain in the right side of my body that doesn't seem to go away any more. My right hip and side are a constant source of pain. I haven't been able to sleep on my right side without liberal application of painkillers for months now. My right leg feels numb, and all the time my right ankle and feet feel as if they are actually broken or injured.

As at this point I have given up on the ridiculous thought that there might actually be a medical specialist with a clue about intersex, let alone who is interested in anything more than eradicating intersex from the face of the earth through forced surgery. That just leaves me with trying to find a gynaecologist willing to take me on as a patient.

Since my problems seem to be caused by the female parts of my anatomy, that would seem like a reasonable course of action. Yet after years of trying it seems that it's irrelevant that I'm essentially biologically female. Me being in increasingly more pain seems to be of no real concern either. I seem to be facing the prospect of more severe abdominal pain and the gradual loss of sensation and increase of pain in at least my right leg and arm. My last attempt last week to contact a gynaecologist also ended with me getting rebuffed but offered 'good luck'. I'm sure that'll help.

What am I to do? Is there anything that I can do?

I'm regularly maxing out the daily allowed amounts of ibuprofen and diclofenac painkillers, just so that I can get through the day, and even then I often find myself flinching in sudden flashes of pain, or only realise how bad the pain still is when I allow myself to relax a bit and I notice how incredibly worn out I am of tolerating the constant pain.

At this point I cannot even afford to do anything but fight this pain with painkillers, as my physical health is basically irrelevant next to the current issues of finding a new job, finding and moving into a new place, and also dealing with the eviction case. This week the latter continues with an official inspection. Next week I have an appointment at the Dutch embassy in Bern to have my passport renewed. Neither of which allow me to be sick.

Thus with my current schedule I can but ignore the pain and pray that nothing disastrous is going to happen that will make it impossible for me to walk and otherwise attend to those priorities. I would be eternally grateful if someone could help me out with finding that gynaecologist who isn't afraid of a more unusual case like mine, but I'm not very hopeful there.

It's one of those areas where society makes it abundantly clear that I'm not a proper woman and also not really a proper human. It feels like society tolerates me more than anything, just like how I tolerate these physical pains because I have no other choice.

I wish things could be different.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The countless branches of the future

Today I signed the form that terminates my current employment contract effective end of this year. Tomorrow I'll be registering as officially looking for a job, to ensure that I'll receive a monthly amount in the case that I haven't found alternate employment by the beginning of next year. How things will go from here is something that's basically up to however is judging my job application at those businesses where I applied at.

One company at which I applied and which is also based here in the city would be a natural fit, as they are looking for a senior C++ developer, with experience in automotive technology, both of which applies to me. Ideally I'd be invited to a job interview there, ace it, and get a job offer. That'd immediately end most of my current uncertainty and allow me to breathe a sigh of relief that my income is secure, I dodged months of bureaucracy at the jobs office, and I'd be working at a company of which I know that it's good for its employees.

In an alternate reality, I would fail the job interview, or not even receive an invitation. Ditto for the other companies where I applied at. The search for a new job would drag on, even as the deadline for welfare would draw closer. Moving to a new place would be the least of my concerns. This is the future where I would become increasingly more unhappy and depressed. Even with intensive psychotherapy this would be my definition of 'hell'.

There are many more futures imaginable, and it's impossible to tell what will happen these coming weeks and months. It's also pointless, as things will happen the way they happen, and all you can do is do your best every single day.

Of course there's a lot weighing in my favour, including my current resume (as found on my personal site) and my general level of experience. That gives me at least some comfort. But no certainty. That will have to come from others. All I can do is wait.

And regardless of what happens next, there will forever be the memories of my old employer. The offices I worked out, and some of the great people who I'll sorely miss. The memories of games we played together, whether billiard, Playstation 2 or GameCube games. The save files still stored on those systems for games which I'll never finish there. Projects which I was involved in for improving the office which now suddenly have lost all relevance to me.

I hope that soon I can make new awesome memories at a new company.


Saturday, 11 November 2017

A dream or being awake: same difference

I was on my way to my family doctor to make an appointment. Making my way through the hallways of what looked like those of a sci-fi-looking space station, I could see the GP office's entrance when I made the discovery that I could feel something weird in my groin. A quick check revealed that my testicles had regrown. This made me feel both unsettled and happy, as though unexpected, it would help me make the point towards the doctor that my body was doing weird stuff and that I would need help, stat.

Sitting myself down at a nearby table with the laptop which I was carrying with me, a waitress commented how great it was that one can look up information everywhere these days. I was readying to investigate what Google et al. would have to say about this phenomenon of organs which had been removed before suddenly regrowing by themselves. Then the scene shifted.

I was in a similar location as before, but with more large windows, with light pouring in. Some other people were there. I talked with one of them about a package that was lying in front of him on the table. It turned out to contain a brand-new Commodore 64, which he didn't want any more because it used the newer type of power plug. I said that I would gladly have it.

I was lying in my bed, suppressing feelings of terror and general fear and discomfort at the thought of all that is coming my way the coming weeks. Whether I'll be okay. Also the realisation of needing to sleep more. That sleep is essential if I want to get through those weeks at all.

I was walking through this shopping mall, admiring the fruit and vegetables that was put out. After a bit of walking I came to what seemed like a real-life demo for a video game. It had me walking into this room that had like a hill in it, everything with a slightly purple tint to it. Walking up the steps carved into the side of the hill, I got to a section with a wall that I could walk in front of. Walking to the right side, there was a section of the wall that I could take off, with a carving of a goat.

Next to this carving was a bit of netting stuck across the opening of a cave, inside of which I could hear a goat. Tearing the netting away allowed the goat and another animal that was inside to get out.

I was lying in my bed, nursing bad pains and numbness on the right side of my body. Getting out of the bed, I got some diclofenac gel to put on the worst part the pain, namely on my right hip. I noticed that I could barely walk from the pain, and was on the verge of crying because the pain was so bad.

After making breakfast and taking an ibuprofen I began to feel better. Donning headphones to block out any environmental noises helped even more. I'm assuming that I am awake at this point. Not because I'm typing this, but because I'm feeling cold and uncomfortable. I cannot recall ever having felt that in a dream.

Dreams are better, I think.


Friday, 10 November 2017

Take it one day at a time

It's all too easy to get overwhelmed by life. With medical, job and other issues piling up it quickly feels as if it's too much to all handle. Most of this feeling is caused by trying to look too far ahead. One cannot predict what things will be like a month from now, or one week, or tomorrow, for that matter.

Yesterday was a rather interesting day. I suddenly got a request for an interview by a journalist for USA Today, about the third gender thing in Germany [1]. It pleases me that journalist are still able to find me. Sometimes it's easy to feel invisible as an intersex person. Today I discussed the topic of my medical situation with my therapist along with the issue of finding a gynaecologist who might be able to deal with a situation like mine.

So far I have tried to contact a few people who might know a gynaecologist like this, but received no response yet. The suggestion of contacting the hospital directly doesn't seem to be an option, as one needs a referral from a gynaecologist. Catch-22 there. I guess this is one situation where it would be so incredibly much easier to be jusst a regular woman, I guess. Any tips would be most welcome here.

I also sent out a couple more emails along with my resume to a number of companies yesterday. Today I received a response from one of them (Microchip), informing me that they have received my application and will handle it as soon as possible. I'm hopeful that I'll soon be asked to come in for a job interview. Based on my interest in both hardware and software development, I think that such a company might be a good fit for me.

Beyond all of this all I can do is do my best the coming weeks. Do my best at my current job finishing up the climate control automation project and documenting it fully. Receive this engineer the end of this month along with my lawyer as my apartment is inspected for the claimed defects in the eviction case. Go to Bern, Switzerland a few days later to apply for an extension to my Dutch passport at the embassy there so that I'm set on that point until 2027.

Then wait to see what gets concluded in the eviction case, see how those job applications work out and hopefully get both sorted in a positive way. Find a new place to live around here, or maybe relocate to elsewhere in Germany or another country. At this point it's impossible to say which way things will go, or what my life will look like one, two, or three months from now. Whether I'll finally live in a place which I like and feel more comfortable in my skin.

Got to wait and see. Even if the waiting almost feels impossible.



Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Monsters inside your own head

I have always felt drawn to video games such as Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and films and series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Saishuuheiki Kanojo, Interlude, Kanon and Zegapain. Not so much for the horror, survival or action aspects, but mostly for the general theme of uncovering the truth through a haze of delusions, lies and deceptions. A journey which will inevitably lead to the harshest of realities.

Maybe it's because my life has felt like it carries a similar theme. From discovering that everything that I thought I knew about my body was a lie, to finding out the horrible truth about what was supposed to have been a care-free childhood. It makes one wonder how one can so successfully and fully deceive oneself. Or rather, how one's mind manages this.

Everything we experience is merely an interpretation, filtered through our memories, past experiences and biases. What I am finding is that I never managed to actually grow up. Intellectually, sure, but emotionally I never did. There was just this terrified child, shivering and trembling in that silent, dark room, always trying to forget the feeling of those hands groping around its body. Never more than that child.

But one has to grow up one day. One just has to find a way to stop being that child. To give those absolute horrors that were inflicted upon an innocent life a place. To accept that one's life did not end there, in that room. To banish those monsters, that darkness that feeds upon one's fears and terrors.

To accept reality, no matter how harsh. There is no escape. There is only the truth.

Embrace it. Accept the pain. Tolerate the suffering. Life is pain, suffering, agony, hatred and rage. Life is gentleness, a caring gesture... love?

To see the whole of reality. Of life. Of death. Of darkness and light, and the inevitability that comes with it. Joyful laughter drowned in screams of agony. A colourful flower blooming on a fresh grave. A birth. A wedding. A funeral. All gone in the blink of an eye, to start anew again, and again. The insignificance of a single life, and yet the incomprehensible preciousness of one. Until the universe ceases to be and everything is gone.

Is reality too much for a single mind to take in? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Only one way to find out. Beyond that silent, dark room. Beyond this body. Beyond this life. There is so much out there. So much time has passed and so much time will pass again.

Just hampered by those dark monsters inside our minds. Monsters that make us feel small, weak and insignificant. Which makes us prey on others for our own gain. Monsters which trap us in the darkest periods of our forgotten past.

One must fight back.