Self Improvement

  • Reading time:9 mins read

So the journey continues, reclaiming my body for myself, fixing the damage that’s been done to me over the years. There are a few things going on right now, all of which are really exiting for me. One that’s been going on for a while is that I’m finally on Ritalin, and after two months it seems to be having a positive effect on balance (though whee are there ever things to adjust to, some of which play into my inherent problems with food and sleep). The second has now officially begun, and the third I’m gonna pounce on a month from today, at my next HRT follow-up.

Yes, I did have time to fix my nails before my appointment.

In regard to the second thing, it’s happening. I’m all committed now. All signed up. This face is gonna be clear. After HRT, laser therapy was the second big thing for helping me out of this horror show I’ve been living for three decades.

My first appointment was three days ago, and it’s going to recur monthly until this is gone. It’s a bit of an oof financially for someone without a reliable income, but the payment is spread out and if I were actually receiving money on a regular basis it would be negligible. It’s not by the session; it’s for the procedure as a whole, which is guaranteed, unlike with most laser places. Like, it’s a lifetime investment. If any touchups are needed down the line, they’ll already be covered. And you know. I’m barely surviving here, but this is necessary medical treatment, so I’ll figure it out.

The experience has been weirdly positive so far, just dealing with the people. They seem all about making sure their clients have all the information up-front so everyone is talking on the same level and can understand what’s going on and communicate clearly. The main lady seemed kind of nerdy, and appreciated my whole neurodivergent approach to things. They were accepting and seemed to totally get it. They get all the transes there, so they know.

Also she kept telling me how pretty I am, which I guess is her job, but it felt kind of nice.

The procedure itself was even quicker than I had come to expect, and largely painless except for my upper lip and, to a lesser extent, a sensitive part of my throat. Mostly it just felt like someone flicking my face over and over. The upper lip was intense enough that I needed to ask for a five-second breather after every zap. It was bearable, but yikes. I think it was when she was doing my right cheek that the nurse commented on the roots just popping out of the skin, as they can and will do sometimes, the ones that die right then and there. There was this smell of a birthday candle being put out.

To be sure, I don’t have a lot of facial hair compared to some people: very thin, rather fine. Lots of gaps. Grows slowly. I’ve been fortunate that my natal puberty was so underwhelming in nearly every regard. The nurse was poking my upper cheeks, asking me, “Don’t you want me to go up here? Why didn’t you take off your makeup in these places?” And I’m like, there’s no hair there. I didn’t do makeup where there was hair.

So between that and the one-two of my complexion and my darker hair pigment, I want to think that this should be a pretty straightforward procedure with me. A neat thing is, where the follicles aren’t dead, they are likely damaged. The effect here is, the hairs are likely to get finer, fairer, and to grow more slowly. Which is a result in itself, albeit one that may take a little while to present itself.

To that end, it was hard to tell exactly what effect the first wave had until I gave it a couple days for my skin to recover and for me to exfoliate any dead hairs that didn’t just pop out immediately. After the weekend things were less raw, and were easier to judge. The upper lip in particular was too pink to really see what was what. The impression I got after about 24 hours reminded me of past cycles following long periods of compulsive plucking, as stuff would begin to grow back in, a little weirdly at first.

As of today I can maybe assess things a little better. There’s been enough growth that I can shave it all evenly, and the redness has gone down enough that I have decent contrast. The first treatment was no miracle, as I had no reason to expect it would be, but I do see some patchiness developing. It’s not like big sections, right. It’s more that one out of every five or six spaces where there should be a hair there isn’t. It’s thinning out, with the occasional space half the size of a pencil eraser where things seem basically clear, at least for this growth cycle. Which seems pretty much according to plan.

As one does, I had these ideas in my head that I might be the miraculous special case where somehow half the work is done on the first go. But no, this seems to be be normal. Nothing really obvious yet unless you’re me and you’re staring at this garbage every day while it eats your soul alive, but we’ve got progress. I can’t say yet how any damaged but surviving follicles are doing. I think with my growth rate, what little hair has grown out since Friday is what was still in the sockets, right, under the skin. Over the next week it may get clearer if and how the remaining hair may have changed in character at all.

My next appointment is a month from Wednesday, and that may build on this exponentially. They say typically it’s 6-10 sessions to get everything, so two of them will be between a fifth to a third of the way there. I imagine the progress will be easier to measure at that point.

This should be basically done by the end of the year. Fixing the damage. Reclaiming Azure for Azure. September will be the six-month mark, which puts it on a similar cycle to my HRT. Around the time I’m finished here, I’ll be up on my two-year Azureversary—to which point, we have my third and pending intervention.

Now that I’m up to my optimal estrogen level (any later wobbles and adjustments aside), and that my T levels mope about in the single digits, I figure I’m going to pounce on the micronized progesterone. I know there’s not been enough clinical research, like with any goddamned trans healthcare, but the anecdotal support is overwhelming and provided I go with bio-identical hormones it can’t possibly hurt. And I can just take another pill; it’s fine.

My next HRT appointment is in 30 days, two days before my second laser appointment. And so long as my body isn’t secretly exploding, which would surprise me as I’ve never felt better in my life, I’m sure they’ll shrug and allow it. I looked at the provider’s website, and on their /trans/ sub-page they call it out by name. I talked to my therapist, and she said oh yeah, they absolutely do progesterone there—which isn’t a given, right. I know a lot of providers push back on anything that’s not clinically proven to hell and back.

I hadn’t really considered adding this until the last week or so, when I realized, this will be my first follow-up where I have no new immediate goals to set. And every day I read something new about how great this stuff is. All the transes go nuts over it. And I’m at a stable baseline here now, and this is a year of just improving things, getting my life in order. So, hey. Why not give it a shot. It should be good, right? Just biologically it feels like a missing piece, the more I read on it. If not for my particular medical condition, my body should already be producing this in some quantity that it isn’t.

So this is pretty exciting actually. I know people can get really resentful over having to take medication every day. Two exes ago, my partner yelled at me about how awful it was to have to take birth control. They demanded I get a vasectomy so they wouldn’t have to bother with the pill—though, uh, any and all sex was for their benefit of course.

Come to it, my ex-spouse demanded the same of me. Both times, they started to grouse about getting me snipped shortly before things totally fell apart (not that they had ever been good). And both times, as used as I was to just rolling with whatever they threw at me, I was like, uh, that’s unreasonable. If you are determined to have sex with me, there are other ways to do this without modding me to your pleasure.

Somehow everything to do with sex was always my responsibility despite my never wanting it. Like I was only ever there to maintain their whims, and was only as good as the service I provided. In this as in other departments. My opinion was worse than irrelevant. It was dangerous. I was not to suggest that I was a person with my own ideas about things. I was a toy, and I could be abused or disposed of at will.

Anyway, I get how people who have chronic conditions they’ve been treating their whole lives might not love maintaining this daily thing just to keep going—but as someone with chronic conditions that have gone untreated for 40 years, this is all kind of… good. I like it. I like the routine of taking care of myself in this measurable way every day, knowing that I’m doing something to make things better after decades of misery. It’s a daily dose of self-love. Rebuilding this relationship that was taken from me. And each of these suckers is different. Different color, texture, quantity, schedule. It’s so interesting to me.

I am so grateful and so happy to have all these gosh-darned pills to take now. I mean yeah, in an ideal world my body would just work out of the box in a way that didn’t make life unbearable. But as with so many people, it doesn’t. And now I can address that to some extent. So, hooray? Keep it coming, sure.

I’m only going to keep getting better.