We have been experiencing troublesome symptoms -- I describe these as "like menopause hot flashes, or morning sickness, menstrual bitchiness." We use "female" symptoms on acct. of attributing these feelings to Finasteride and an upset in androgen levels. 60 days on Finasteride, and now 30 days discontinued. I've been in and out of ER and Primary Care at the VA a half-dozen times or more. My doc is telling me "It's not the Finasteride which has a half-life of 6 hr. Cut back on the cannabis."
We have been using cannabis for more than a half-century (1967), have a Medical Cannabis Card for this state, arthritis/PTSD. Recreational is lawful here too -- It's not the pot smoking!
The local ER, which is NOT part of the VA rules out heart-attack, stroke, virus, infection. But they cannot seem to put a finger on the symptoms. They prescribe Zofran for nausea, Meclizine for vertigo. But these meds only relieve symptoms; they don't address the causes.
And so Sunday, 2/12/17 I'm feeling "ick" -- Medical care locally is problematic: we might try for non VA emergency room or I can wait until my NP (Nurse Practitioner) is not really available for Tuesday walk-in w/o an appt. Since options suck, I decide to drive 125 mi. to VAMC in Portland for VA Emergency Room care.We did this two weeks ago for an Rx of Zofran -- because there is no one for me locally who can prescribe.
I arrive in Portland VA about 10 AM. Emergency Room can sometimes take hours for Triage, and then more waiting to see an MD. I get lucky, Triage sees me immediately. The RN notes I am in tachycardia (pulse 115) and gets me on a gurney for an EKG. This EKG leads to consult w/ several doctors, RN's take vitals, again and again. Blood draw, more blood draw, urine specimen . . . adjunctive physical exam, reflexes, strength, nystagmus (eyes flutter when fixed on object), balance. I am dizzy, unsteady, nauseous, weak. They call in a cardio specialist for consult.
A few hours and the diagnosis is "atrial fibrillation" -- upper heart chambers flutter and fail to send blood to ventricles. Part of this is caused by mixed signals from the cardio sinus node. Google can get the Gentle Reader up to speed on Atrial Fib.
Moving along -- VA decides to admit me to the hospital Cardio Ward, overnight, monitor, more tests, IV for hydration, potassium, Warfarin . . . EKG, EchoCardiogram.
This is where this narrative begins to get germane to this blog:
Presentation-wise I'm definitely "male" -- but I work assiduously at subverting presentation cues: Hair well past the shoulders and tied back in a bun, three pairs earrings, leather bag (It's a gender non-binary PURSE). When nurses do the EKG they note that I've shaved my chest (etc. etc.) and that electrodes don't pull body hair. Legs are shaved too.
I'm admitted to a four-bed ward, male. I can survive it, but it means sharing a bathroom/shower with men, like the Army. My experience living in male "dorm" situations is that men are pigs. Draw curtains around the bed afford some visual privacy, but conversation is public.
The RN wants to check my buttocks for "pressure sores" (bed-sores, dicubitous ulcers). A year previous this whole shaved torso and lingerie thing would have made me anxious.
I note to my RN, "You need to realize that my underwear is probably more lace and more pastel than what you are wearing. I'm good with all this, but I don't want to make you uncomfortable." We thereby turn, drop our pants and underwear . . . all the while being discrete enough to not be hanging a blatant BA.
My nurse sighs, "Jeez! I really need to buy some new underwear!" -- LMAO "Let's see if we can find this patient a private room, move off the ward."
The patient behind the curtain in the next bed over inquires, "Why does he get a "private room?" It's VA sarcasm, nothing personal.
"A private room is medically necessary for this patient," notes my nurse.
They move me to a private room, double entry doors for respiratory isolation (privacy), private bath.
The nurse wants to know if I can pee into a urinal or "do we need to set up a hat on the commode to monitor urine output?"
"Thanks and yes, I stand to pee, not that far transitioned."
"OK, thanks! Not sure quite how to approach this! Do you prefer certain pronouns?"
"Relax! Gender Studies is my academic field. I'm comfortable discussing, answering questions. I'm male, just dysphoric. I lost the gender crap-shoot."
There are the standard questions, family attitudes, companions, sexual orientation, marriage, etc.
Mostly . . . mostly it's nice to be validated, accommodated. I don't realize that while I present undeniably "male" -- I present a lot of mixed gender cues that I don't give much thought to. We should also point out that PDX is more sophisticated about gender issues than the rural venue I live in. One of my nurses, Jenny, I took as male until I interacted with her. My "gender peg" for her went back and forth several times. Lot's of staff women in the hospital present gender ambiguous/non-binary. Not seeing any non-binary men -- besides myself. It's the VA; most veterans are male and "gender normative."
Mostly it's nice to be validated. A year ago I was closeted and anxious. Now I'm comfortable with who I am, how I present.
Also what I'm discovering is that my interactions with others are more "connected" -- Likely a subjective feeling derived from my personal experience with aggressive male sexuality (raped). I used to feel I was an intrusive threat to women -- guarded about my interactions. Now we no longer feel threatened, nor threatening.
That's a major transition in my life!