I guess now is as good a time as any to do a quick check-in and update. While I’m still on the lowest possible dose of testosterone, and while it has only been a few short months, and while the changes are teeny-tiny-eensy-weensy, there are some changes beginning to emerge.
That is, of course, in addition to the cerebral congruence and overall eudaemonia (that one is just for you Kris!) I have been experiencing since the first dose. I really do wish I could adequately describe the inner changes. It isn’t that I was an emotional disaster before or that I’m ecstatic or blissful now. The inner changes have been both subtle as a warm breeze and simultaneously shocking as a bucket of ice water. I feel an inner peace and calm I have not been able to sustain before. Yes, of course I have felt glimmers of it. But those feelings have been flashes, glimpses, shadows. Now I feel *right* inside, grounded in an imprecise, but definitely positive way. It isn’t exactly happiness or even confidence and certainly not euphoria. It is more ethereal, harmonious and placid, a contentment and overall tranquility. And the feeling is panoptic, prevailing. More the underlying lens of how I am and how I experience things. It isn’t that I don’t still have reactions to things in my life that are difficult, painful or frustrating. Or even joyful or effervescent. It’s as if I’ve always experienced living using only one lung or one eye or even had grey-lensed glasses on and now, *poof* I can see with both eyes, breathe with both lungs, see without the film of grey. It isn’t that the air is always sweet or the view always beautiful. But I can experience all of it with a sense of rightness and tranquility that has always been elusive to me before now. I know I’ve said similar things in other posts trying to explain. And I’m sorry for the repetition. But I also feel committed to trying to describe this most indescribable metamorphosis as I’m experiencing it.
As for physical changes, those are still nearly non-existent. I see no significant outer changes. I look closely at specific things that I know can change with testosterone, like the shape of my body or my jawline. And so far, I see no change at all. I’m also closely watching, with suppressed breath, my hair. No change so far as far as I can tell. The hair on my legs has evened out. Though I wouldn’t call it “thick”, nor would I consider myself hairy. But I don’t think hairiness runs in my family either. It’s been almost 20 years since my dad died, and I never really noticed whether or not the hair on his arms or legs was more or less than other men. He could grow a good beard and mustache though. And that’s as far as I care to go in considering my male relatives and their hairiness, because I keep coming back to the fact that most are bald.
Aaanywaaaaay…. on other hair fronts… As I said above, the hair on my legs is evening out. Whereas before starting testosterone the hair on my calves was patchy and scraggly and in general ridiculous looking. I still have no hair evident on my thighs or upper legs. There is no hair (except the singular wiry one that grows from the mole) on my face. When I am driving and I look at my arms stretched before me toward the steering wheel, with the sun shining on them through both the window and windshield, I sometimes notice faint, translucent peach fuzz. Was it there before? I never looked. I never noticed. And in the time it takes me to ponder, either my attention is drawn back to driving or the sunshine changes ever so slightly and the noticing changes and I’m left wondering if my eyes were playing tricks on me or if it was my imagination. Also in the arena of “am I making this shit up” is that I’m beginning to feel a bit stronger physically. Nothing major, but I noticed last week that I was much more easily able to carry 5 bags of groceries up the stairs without straining. (heaven forbid I should have to make more than one trip) Again, I don’t know if I AM any stronger or if it is a mind-over-matter or wishful thinking. Just that things don’t seem quite as heavy to me as they used to.
The side effects of testosterone that are definitely real begin with the area close to where I rub the gel (my shoulders and upper arms) as well as the hairline at the back of my head, both festering with blotches of acne. And it seems to be getting worse. It’s gross. Perhaps along the lines of TMI (too much information), I’ve always been a *picker*. I’ve always liked popping zits (when I’ve had them), picking scabs and peeling dried sunburnt skin. This acne is different than any pimple I have previously had experience with though. There is no *popping* the small red dots with white middles. Pressing, squeezing or dragging a thumbnail across them only makes them angry and red as well as painful and sore. So I’m washing more. While we have not had to buy soap since I started making it about 7 years ago, I’ve taken to using more astringent drying store-bought soaps because mine is too moisturizing. Whenever I have the opportunity I’m also wiping those areas and my face with rubbing alcohol. I guess it’s pretty well-managed, and probably not-so-noticeable to the casual observer, but I am very much aware of it. It feels revolting to me and regardless of whether others notice it, I can see and feel it.
There is also now the issue of my voice. Changes there are definitely beginning. At first I thought I was getting run-down, coming down with a cold. My throat felt strange and scratchy and my voice was a bit hoarse. I’d been singing hours and hours a day and speaking more than usual because of the month-long Jewish holiday services I lead. So I chalked it up to that. I noticed that my voice has been much much lower first thing in the morning, but by afternoon it gets mostly back in my regular range. So again, I chalked the changes up to overuse. And then my good friend Joyce told me, with her usual frankness, that I was getting that *helium voice* that trans-guys get and told me to “knock it off”. Nothing like breaking it to me gently – LMAO! But I knew she was right. And I totally love her for that honesty. Especially since I clearly can’t tell. I’d also sworn Joyce and a few others who know to promise to tell me if/when changes became apparent. The problem with my new helium voice is that I have no idea how to *knock it off*. My voice is like a ship on a roiling sea, swaying, lurching, pitching. I don’t have control over it. I can feel the inner urge to speak lower, from deeper in my throat, down towards my belly. But I don’t know if that is psychological or physical. I can feel the connection between the base of my throat/top of my chest and my nasal passages as I speak. And I’m noticing that it is taking more breath to get sound out than I am used to. So in addition to the helium effect, I also feel as though I’m not modulating my volume well at all. This works well for the hard-of-hearing elderly with whom I work. Not so much for lunch with peers who are wondering why I’m shouting intermittently during casual conversation. So, not so surprising, I’m very self-conscious. I find myself wondering if my voice and other changes are obvious, if others are noticing and commenting to one another. I don’t like feeling like I’m being talked about, but I also understand why people might not ask me directly. Luckily it is, as I’ve already said, immediately after a month of working overtime and using my voice more, and hopefully most folks (those who do not know and with whom I do not care to discuss) are also assuming changes have to do with that. In the meantime I remain contentedly somewhere in the middle, at peace with the uncertainty and enjoying the beauty of becoming.