My left arm feels dead. A little stretch and a slight twitch of the fingers and something changed. A twinge, a sudden movement and suddenly my best arm would not obey. I am left handed so this condition concerns me. I am doing what I am “supposed” to do. Seeing a PT, doing exercises, taking the drugs my doctor allows me but there is something else that I might have to do that I am dreading.
A “frozen shoulder,” Google will explain as something that generally occurs in women during menopause when hormones get out of whack. My sister had it when she was in her early 50’s and told me to “do your exercises religiously.” Which I am doing but my religion isn’t helping all that much in the moment. In this moment, staring at screen, typing words, searching for understanding as an images of “self” as disabled bring forth anxiety and shame. Anxiety makes sense but shame…….
Shame seems to be a default that I go too when life and the narrative of my life takes a turn I do not like. I do not like how limited and weak the left half my body feels. I find myself just letting it hang when it could be doing work and helping the rest of us make a living. And there are just some things that only my left arm/hand can do … like focus a camera…like scratch the right arm…like hang out the car window drumming the roof to some 70’s rock song.
Today, I could not raise my arm high enough comfortably and bent enough to write a few words on a board for students to see without creating throbbing heat sensations in that spot where “the shoulder always registers pain,” as Mandy, my wonderful PT taught me. She thinks I need to take the T to induce the hormonal triggering cascade that takes place in the bodies immune system which fights inflammation. “Steroids will break down the scar tissue but you gotta have T to build the muscles back up.” She might be right.
I am not thrilled by this Fucking Opportunity for Growth. I am not excited about where this trip with T might take me.
The last time I had testosterone running through my body was 4 yrs ago. I recall because that was our first summer with Cody the next door malignancy and the restart of T coincided with our “neighborly” wrangling over a cattle guard and a gate. All that aside, Dr. L. had suggested that I start T to help with bone density and stuff and at that time in life, taking T felt right, felt good, I was excited about it – excited to see what I’d discover by applying mindfulness to the changes of body, mind, and soul. Dr. L., had ordered up a 2 weeks supply of cream where each pump dispensed 4mg of T. I started with 4 and all was well.
My partner and I were then and are now concerned that the T might silence the feminine whisperings I have worked to recognise and welcome and find ways to give voice. Then, as soon now, I began with 4mgs and waited and watched and a month past. I went to 8mg and that was OK and I was starting to see some changes in my dietary desires. Chocolate. With no T I crave chocolate, with T, not so much, digestive systems shifted and my metabolism sped up but at that level I wasn’t aware of any changes in my emotions or thought patterns nor was I perceiving women as sex objects as T makes me prone to do. I thought I was ready to head off to Seattle for a planned vacation in B.C., with family. I asked for a refill on the nearly depleted bottle and the good Dr. L., responded and Opps.
I found myself standing for long times trying to urinate. Since landing in Seattle, the weather had been humid and hot. I kept well hydrated but nothing was coming out! Checking the prescription I learned that while tripping the size of the refill, he also tripled the amount of T dispensed with each pump. I thought I was taking 8mg when actually I was taking 24 mg and this huge jump of hormones had caused my prostate to swell, shutting the plumbing to a slow leak. I immediately stopped. Luckily, my clog soon dissolved.
But the drug was in me and there was no getting that out. No anti-testosterone pill to take, and it changed me while it was in me. The thought patterns that had been part of my blissful Buddhist days of kindness and joy changed to wonton, predatory, dominating, degrading, “grab em by the pussy,” kinds of thoughts. I found that my mind had fallen back into the dank, sweaty, stinky, unsafe hallowed halls of the locker room where “boys will be boys,” where all my dank thoughts would have found friendship and encouragement from the best Republican Senators this nation has not seen the last of yet. Trump and Brett and I could drink diet Coke and joke about “coming onto her like a bitch.” All in my mind. T takes me there. T takes men there. Many, it seems choose to stay. Keeping rape culture alive.
Not me. Not today. Not in thought or deed…..but maybe with T, I might and that concerns me – feeds the masculine myth that us men are simply overpowered by our sexual needs / desires and we will rape pretty much everything in sight. And I do know the rep and stories of T among early transitioning trans folk…. and I don’t want to lose connection with my body, its wisdom or close down the intuitive channels I have come to rely upon…..and I want my left arm back.
I’m scared of losing the comfort I finally re-discovered roughly six months after taking my last mega dose of Testosterone. For a long time I simply did not feel at home in my own skin and when finally all the traces of T were out of my system I noticed that difference in feeling at ease in “self” and with “self” best described as being at home in this body – being at home in the world.
Now some one inside of me is suggesting I’m being silly and foolish, that it’s a blessing and a gift that I am genetically constituted as such that I can live and thrive without and with small managed amounts of Testosterone entering my body and all its systems and that one probably right and probably I am in part writing all this just so I could have this imaginary conversation with “you” ie., myself. And I should ask and inquire thusly who is the Robert that is typing and who is the Robert that is listening to this story as it unfolds in real time and on this virtual screen of white and black lettering?
Yes, we could ask that……only….which Robert would answer?
We don’t know. For some time now I have been a we. A they and a them, a their and an us. Referring to the conglomerate of all them inside of me of both gender and neither gender, of no one gender at all – opens me to freedom. Freedom of expression – freedom of communication – of vulnerability and transparency that i like very much and do not want to let go of quite yet – if ever. FOG Alert.
Today, I watched the Ford / Kavanaugh hearings. Among all the entitlements and privileges that Mr. Kavanaugh has as a white cisgender upper class male, a Yale educated lawyer, Harvard teacher and friend of girls everywhere, a man with rich friends who like him so much they periodically pay off his debts, a man who is a paragon of kindness and truth. A man who reminds me of Lucius Malfoy and we all know how he lived his life. Cowering to power and craving it enough to sell out his son and his soul.
And I wish it was simply dark magic at work but I see more, I see that misogyny is mankind’s original sin and racism and classism, the rape of the earth, the denigration of the oceans, the fouling of our air and rivers are the same expression of fear and hate turned outward – towards a world us men don’t know how to relate to – so we destroy it.
My partner and I made an agreement. If this starts to happen again I stop. I cut back, wait and see what will arise and where I will be transported next?
Stay tuned the journey will soon be starting.