Hormones, Round Two

So once upon a time I got a prescription for injectable hormones. The injections hurt, but the effects they had were worth it. My skin softened. My boobs appeared. My hair began growing back. My emotions unlocked, and I realized I’d been living a pale shadow of a life.

When I moved away from San Francisco, my endocrinologist neglected to come with me. I shall never forgive her for this unforgivable lapse; there was plenty of room in my suitcase. What I did bring was a bag full of needles and a bottle of hormones. I kept up the injections, no matter how much I loathed them. Their benefits were too good to lose.

And then I lost them. My skin became rough again. My boobs stopped growing. My hair’s rallying charge turned into a desultory retreat. Worst: the haze settled over my emotions and the world once again became a pale, dry place. My performance at work started to suffer as my irritability and impatience returned.

A long and mighty struggle ensued. I did battle with the forces of OHSU, who politely but firmly declined to provide me with an endocrinologist because “we don’t have anyone who does that here.” They were willing to provide me with a list of unvetted alt-med bullshit artists they found on the Q Center’s website. I’m sure they felt quite generous.

On the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Kate!) I tried Legacy Good Samaritan. I was initially concerned about going to a hospital with such a religiously aligned name, but it turns out that they kick a simply amazing amount of ass on a daily basis over there. These people are fucking medical ninjas. Two phone calls later I had an appointment with a new endocrinologist who, upon seeing my prior medical history, simply asked me to do a couple of blood tests and then she’d prescribe whatever I wanted, pending test results. One test that same day, which happened to be injection day, before my injection. So call that the trough. The second a week later, then average those out to get a picture.

The first results show up in my mailbox with a handwritten note appended. “Estrogen levels a little high. Please come see me.”

The second results show up in my mailbox with a handwritten note appended. “Estrogen levels very high. Please come see me!”

I get to my ass back over there. (It doesn’t jiggle the way it used to. I am sad.) The doctor says that my test results for the first test, the trough, where my estrogen levels were about as low as they’d go, were a bit high. 640. Out of a scale of what, I ask.

“Well we’re shooting for 60,” she says. It gets better: the second week’s tests put me at about 1240. (I now have medical proof that I am 2000% woman!) I had so much estrogen in me that my body essentially said “fuckit, we’re done with with this shit until you quit flooding us out.” So it turns out that it’s okay that I’d stopped giving myself injections after that last one; I just couldn’t face them anymore.

We switched to pills. I’d wanted patches, but my new GP (yet another ninjadoc from Legacy Good Samaritan) has a lot of experience with transfolk and says that patches make it hard to get enough. I might have had to use two of them at a time. So now I take a pill and a half every day and it is glorious. My hair is returning again, my skin is softer again, my emotions are better again. I’m less irritable at work, and my performance is coming back up. Best: I don’t have to stab myself anymore!

I feel alive again, and I’m going to have regular appointments with my team of ninjadocs to keep this from happening again. Progress feels good. Literally feels good.

I feel lucky.


2 thoughts on “Hormones, Round Two

  1. April,

    I have been on HRT for close to 5 months. I share the same experience on having the grey haze lift as my endocrine balance reversed. Ahhh, better living through chemistry.

    One of the things I learned along the way is instead of swallowing my estrogens (I’m on progesterone and estradiol) I take them sublingually. Under the tongue. For both, it saves them the trip through the stomach, duodenum, small intestine, and then the liver before hitting the blood stream where they can do the most good. Bypassing 4 organs gets the good stuff there faster. What’s more, at least for the estradiol, it saves the 1st trip through the liver, which is the hardest pass on that organ.

    When I started HRT I wasn’t really concerned with breast growth. Now that they are starting to blossom, I’ve been rethinking that. I guess it’s the reverse of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone.

    Hang in there girl. Glad you were able to find your Ninjas.


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