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This story may trigger some readers as it talks about a medical condition. Proceed with caution.

Kathy's Self Medication Story

Submitted by Kathy (9/4/2004)

Why unsupervised hormones are such a damn fool idea, OR How I learned to forget the pain and love the pill

Hello. Please accept that this is not going to be the case for all TG people, but this is a cautionary tale of the dangers of the potent chemicals we so blithely refer to as 'mones.

It's also the tale of how I managed to get my mother to see ME... By showing her my skin seared off to a depth of a millimetre across 40% of my body.

To set the scene, we arrive in the September of 2000, meeting a very young me. I've just taken the first hormone pill - Ovran, a mixture of oestrogen and progesterone (it's since been withdrawn !). I'd been prescribed them by a leading UK private psych. As far as I was concerned, the world was at my feet, the little boxes of pills I held in my hands as I left London, so small and compact. Magic in fact.

Honestly. Those pills cost me 35 and half killed me. But I do remember the joy of that first pill - to know that at last I was moving - moving towards leaving aside portions of my biology I did not wish and couldn't handle.

After a few days I relaxed. I had rather fled from my little static caravan in the depths of west wales for the big lights of London in order to obtain my supply, but that was irrelevant. The fact my mothers' hadn't noticed my leaving, so much the better. At the time I was rather in limbo - Mothers knowing but not really accepting, although they tried. They were very very nice to the TG friends I had made across the various chat networks and mailing lists... they just didn't believe in me.

I was in the classic parental catch-22: if you knew you were a TG, you'd be going all out to do it. Except if you do it... then you're being swept into the system and may end up doing something you regret. With hindsight, I'd just like to point out to any others in this situation, it's so damn hard to get the backup from medical services that the only way TO cope, is to throw yourself into it. Frankly it'll take so long, if it's a mistake, then you've got LOTS of time to fix it!

At the time I was gainfully employed, working a call centre. It was a lovely place where you could sink into the work, forget yourself and be happy - I learnt my voice control on those phones.... As it was almost aggressively informal, everyone wore comfortable clothes, by now I was up to a month on the pills. I was feeling calmer, more relaxed, more... ME than I ever had. And my feet itched through the running socks and faded sneakers. With the heel of one shoe I would scratch through the other. Just as anyone else would.

Approximately three hours later I noticed a burning sensation in the top of my feet, and I took myself off to the disabled loo to look. The shoe came away damply, the sock beneath soaked in a yellow liquid, the skin abraded, red, weeping in great rivulets that tricked so slowly from the skin they beaded up from.

I actually have to say at this point that the only thought i had to the dangers of hormones was the traditional DVT, "Deep Vein Thrombosis", warning, so I merely wrote this up to a dose of eczema, wrapped my feet in half a loo roll each, in great disgust re-added the sodden socks (I had after all rinsed the worst of the serum out of them) to the top of the makeshift kit, and slipped my shoes on again.

I didn't tie the laces back up. After few days of this at work, the fact the gentle burning itch was starting to spread was starting to worry me. I had after all seen my GP, who'd merely diagnosed friction burn on the feet, however I was pretty damn certain that friction burns didn't leave you having to wear slippers that were three sizes to big, so you could put them on without pain. The backs of my legs were starting to badly hurt, and while absently scratching an itch in my thigh, the telltale red weeping blotch had appeared. My skin was turning an unhealthy hue, and looking like tissue paper. And I didn't notice that it was all since the hormones. After all - they'd have warned me right?

Now. this could have become a lot worse. As I said, I lived in a static caravan. My mom Lived in a small holiday chalet three miles up the road, where the telephone lines actually reached to, so they had the internet. While... no. I have to pause here. at the time I was working rather hard in the OL support of various people who just needed a sympathetic ear. And one was coming for a visit. By this point, alone in the caravan I was starting to dress female as a matter of course. And my friend had come to visit me.

Sadly, even though I'd walked into the local village to pick them up, and was looking very nice, I felt sore. And when I got back to the caravan, having stripped off the tights (hey- it was cold outside, and they were bonding the flesh most unpleasantly!) taking away more layers of skin from the weeping sores my mother taps at the door.

It's 7pm at night. It's mid November. It's dark. I've brought a friend back to chat since they're stopping by. Oh, and I'm being me in front of my mom who at the time was well known for trying to dissuade me of any notions of TG, and insisting I would only ever be a bloke in a dress. I'm wearing a housewife skirt, silk blouse, and looking like... me. Oh and the cardie. I really mustn't forget the cardie. Moms only comment "It clashes."

I never saw that friend again ^_^

Later that night mom came back.

I ended up at her place, wrapped in a blanket, having been told to pack some clothes and anything I desperately wanted. Arriving I limped painfully on both legs into the lounge down the steps, the Ovran in my pocket digging painfully into a sore. My step-mom looked at me, and quietly said "You've been taking hormones haven't you"

I was moderately surprised. In their house with lighting that was useful, and central heating, I'd been brought back to try and save my life. Looking at the full length mirror wasn't an option. I didn't bend enough to look at feet and head in one viewing, but staring at the huge white areas where my skin had peeled away ready to slough off, or the red wounds, the tufts of scalp larger than my fingernails attached to the hairs in my brush, or the fact I'd damn nearly broken my neck walking on feet whose damaged skin was so teflon smooth that I had lost all traction, the layers of trapped fluid between my "real" skin and the soles of my feet itching. I hadn't realised I looked so awful. The clincher that let me know how truly badly off I was... they'd let me sleep out the exhaustion, and my face... the caked fluid released from my cheek as my skin had developed pressure sores in the night... It had been explained to me, by my step mother, they'd known what they were looking at, a friend at uni had had the same response to the combined pill. At first I refused to believe, but the next day, my GP advised me to cut out the pill. And mentioned that i should have come for routine checks. I was to be honest confused - hadn't my psych made arrangements to joint monitor my care? Evidently not. The GP didn't actually receive information untill over two *months* later, when I was on the waiting list of an endrocinologist. I'd been left out there alone. I'm informed a simple blood test would have shown up the progesterone intolerance. The period where I came off the hormones was worst. I wanted them so BADLY... even if I had to concede they were killing me. The day I lapsed and took a pill again... It was so bad that I've blanked the memory. During this period I was in continuous pain, the skin is one of the largest organs in the body. When you raise your arm, and the armpit cracks, tearing, weeping, drying, just to crack again. The flexural areas of the body are so little thought of. I can never really take the pleasure of a good stretch for granted. I recall the days when despite all the potions I was made to rub on myself, all the lying perfectly still, I had to get up, and everything started screaming in pain.

I lay on moms couch for about 2 months. I would have been hospitalised, but a rather annoyed matron slumming it for the day informed me that the consultant had "pissed off for bloody Australia" as he was won't to do. And when he wasn't there, the dermatology unit shut. Back to the couch I went.

We will pause here to wonder at the British NHS, who never once thought to offer me painkillers, and why was I to thick to take paracetamol. Done? Lets continue then...

There were other aftereffects. I was banned from hormones for 6 months afterwards. To this day I don't know if I had a menopause event, or if the way my skin flaked caused all the hot and cold flushes. All I know, is I felt flu-like, I was in tears constantly, not always from the pain, and I felt like I'd been betrayed by my own body. That my goal of being ME was to be denied by biology. I think I know how it'll feel come the day they take my patches away from me.

Then came the day in January where to my blessed relief, I just woke up human again. The lesions had finally closed in the night. The skin that had tormented me so badly was laid about my bed in huge piles. And my mom handed me something. A keyring.

It said "Kathy"

Her look said it all - if I could go through all that to be me, then who was she to deny me? I've gotten on a lot better with my mother since then, although one of these days I'm going to have to replace all the cusions she had throw out after the event...

To this day I'm still scarred. It took a further year before all the marks faded away. before I was able to move comfortably, and the scarring had stretched back to usability. You can't help but be anything else but fearful after such an event. It's still not totally past either - a hyper reactive skin that never lets me forget. If I shave, my face turns that dangerous red I recall so well, and linger for hours, destroying and softness to the face, leving me looking like I've just been branded. If I get really stressed, my body emits a strong scent of acetone. I still don't know why... If I see a patch of dead skin on an eyelid, or a heel, is it just dead skin, or is the allergen I've been sensitised too coming back? And always, I see the raw meat version of who I was instead of what's in the mirror.

I wish I'd seen the GP before that first pill. I wish I'd explained to the GP after the day my feet fell to pieces. I wish...

I wish no-one else has to go through what I did.

You shouldn't die for hormones. my GP says I was a week away from septicaemia when I went to remission

don't you all die.
   all copyrights reserved 2004
   this story is true.
   the names are changed to protect the incompetent.

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Metadata -- keep at end of page Summary: This story may trigger some readers as it talks about a medical condition. Proceed with caution.


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