Thursday, August 30, 2012

Buddy's recuperation ~Sevan

We took Buddy to the vet for his surgical follow up and the vet said everything was looking great so far. His incision has closed up very nicely. We talked about the pros and cons of getting him a custom knee brace from OrthoPets. The vet wasn't familiar with the company or braces that fit properly for dogs and don't fall off. She said she'd look into them and we'd talk about it more as an option to further support his knee and hopefully help him move better and live without arthritis for longer. (I have no illusions that he'll be arthritis free for life. Not possible considering how much cartilage he lost in surgery)
We left with a bucket of glucosamine condrodien supplement (chewy treats) and instructions to help him work out more and more to build his leg muscle back. He'd been refusing to put his foot down for the longest time until I actually helped him and showed him it wasn't going to hurt to walk on it. He started limping a bit after that, but he preferred to hop.
We have been taking him up to the lake to go swimming as the vet said that was the best thing for him to rebuild muscle. My dogs have never been swimming and I wasn't sure he'd be much for it. The first time I took him he wasn't at all interested. Once he found that he could swim he became more interested. I let him swim against my hand in the shallows (I put my hand against his chest so he was just swimming in the same spot) and then let him get out, shake off and walk around a bit. Then I brought him back into the lake to do it again and he was more willing the second time.
We've been walking him on short walks to get his strength up. We've also got to watch him where weight is concerned. He's never been a fat or over weight dog, but the vet wants him to stay on the lean side. He builds thick muscle easily, and we have to watch that so he's not over heavy. He used to weigh 96lbs, and now he weighs 86. I told the vet I was shocked he'd lost so much weight, and she told me he shouldn't weight any more than he does now. Which I was shocked at because, as I say, he's not a fat dog...but he's usually much more muscular than he is now. So I'm not sure how I'm going to help him to keep weight off, but we'll try.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gender Dysphoria ~Sevan

To my trans* readers...I'm sure you know exactly what Gender dyphoria is about, and you don't need me to tell you. light of the new changes to the DSM 5 that is switching from "Gender identity disorder" to "Gender dysphoria" many people outside of the trans* community are starting to talk about it, think about it and come to me and my community; to ask about it.

That made me realize that while I go and do speaking engagements and tell people about being trans*; I never bring up dysphoria. In my attempts to normalize and express myself, I leave out the pain my gender incongruity brings me.

So...let's attempt to bring light to it. Shall we?

First...let's define gender:

  • One's sense of self as masculine or feminine regardless of external genitalia. Gender is often conflated with sex. This is inaccurate because sex refers to bodies and gender refers to personality characteristics.
  • A socially constructed system of classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different between cultures. Words that refer to gender include: man, woman, transgender, masculine, feminine, and gender queer.
(as always with are free to agree with these as stated, or disagree. This is my best attempt to define that which is pretty darn tough to define!) 

It's my feeling that dysphoria stems from being incongruent in both or either/or. So I'm going to attempt to tackle the first one. 

Gender dysphoria; simply put is the pain and discomfort/depression that comes from your body(sex) looking/feeling different than your brain (gender) tells you it should look/feel. For example many trans* people experience a "phantom" outline of their body as it "should" be. Cyndi (prior to breast augmentation) used to have phantom sensation of where her breasts should be. I have had phantom sensations in my genitals that don't match up with what's actually there. It's alarming, it's disarming and it's a reminder of what's not right...often in moments when you're not otherwise thinking about your gender. 

There is an inner sense of "wrong". I don't know that I can even fully express what goes on inside my mind and body when I'm in the worst of gender dysphoria. It comes and goes in waves. Often I don't see it coming. It sneaks up on me and pounces as if I am but a field mouse to be consumed. 
Thankfully transition and hormones have helped me escape the worst of my personal dysphoria, but this isn't enough for all people. Everyone is different, and experiences this pain differently. There are triggers, and they're like landmines that are nearly inescapable. If you are friends, or someone who's interacting with a trans* person, please don't blame yourself should you trigger a trans* person's dysphoria. Unless you knowingly did so, this isn't your fault. 

So if we take the knowledge of internal dysphoria; the incongruousness between mind and body and then layer on top of that the social constructs and ideas about gender/sex/stereotypes. 
Gender/sex is the base of the pyramid that informs almost all other things. What colors you "should" wear or like. What pronouns we use when referring to you. What familial terms we should use. (mom/dad, sister/brother, girlfriend/boyfriend etc) What bathroom you use. What toys you (as a child) are "allowed" to play with. Even our sexuality (terms) are informed by our gender/sex. A person who is "gay" is usually a man who likes other men. "Straight" is gender neutral enough, but pretty much all other terms are based on who you are first, then followed by who you like. There's a changing tide in those terms, which is fantastic...but they're not broadly used quite yet. (Gynophilic-someone who likes women, Androphilic- someone who likes men, Pansexual- someone who likes people regardless of gender. Etc) 

As a trans* person who goes through simple daily tasks gender comes into play. Going to the store and interacting with people; they will gender you. Often for a trans* person, the assumptions strangers make can be hurtful. Especially when piled on top of many other such mistakes through out one single day. It adds up. Then day after adds up. It's small stabs in already delicate, raw skin. 

When a person takes the steps to correct the incongruencies, and tries really hard to change their body and first they likely will not pass. The public doesn't see, nor understand just how HARD many try. How many hoops we must jump through. When society shames trans* people, or continues to gender us incorrectly...on top of trying SO HARD...that really hurts. I can think of a day early on in transition where I scrutinized myself up and down. Hat, face, binder, shirt, pants, shoe choices, movements, walking style, speech patterns....feeling finally confident that I'd pass, that I could do it...and not a single person I interacted with that day saw me as male. Not. One. That hurt. That just added up into my pile of past pain. As a non-binary person who doesn't really lean all that male...that was painful, but not such a big deal. Ok, if I'm not going to pass male...I'm just not going to go into public as male. Simple (for me) but for those who ARE binary, and try their hardest to pass, to be included as the gender group they are, to be gendered correctly...when that doesn't happen they don't have the choice to just not present that way anymore. That's WHO they are! 

I think some of the worst pain is when you have internal doubts, fears and pains be "confirmed" by outside sources. This is the point at which internal gender incongruence meets up with societal and outside incongruence. When someone "confirms" your fears about's sometimes very tough to recover that wound. 

Just the writing of this blog post dug into some of my old wounds and has left me a little raw. Though even in spite of that, I do hope that it brings some understanding of what dysphoria is about and maybe how we can all be a bit more sensitive, because we never know where someone is at in their internal process. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He's home!

Buddy's surgery was successful! We just got him back after he spent a day at the vets rehabilitating. After surgery was complete they gave us a call to tell us how it'd gone. He'd also ruined %75 of one of his knee cartilage...which makes me so sad!! They have two cartilages, one on the left half of the knee joint, and one on the right half of the knee joint. So the right half is completely fine, but the left cartilage is the one that was we'll be doing our best to stave off arthritis, but it's pretty likely it's in his future. :(

He's home now and resting on the couch (his favorite!) he needed some help getting up here, but then decided to snuggle some. :)

He came and said thank you :) Such a sweet boy!!!

His incision. He's not messing with it so far, which is good because he's definitely a stress licker. We're actually having a hard time keeping Lily away from it! Silly girl.

Thanks to all who donated we were able to cover his full surgery cost! We do have just a little bit of credit card to pay off, but that's fine, no big deal. Thank you so so much!! I can't express how much it means to me.

The vet did warn us that it may be a breed deficit that makes it easier for these ACL injuries. As such, he may blow out the other ligiment. We're looking around at ways to protect him from this happening...and I've found a company that makes dog orthotics. I'm really considering such a thing for him, especially when he goes to the dog park, or wants to really play. I want him to have that option...and live his best life. We'll see if that's an option for him or not.

He's on the road to healing!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tomorrow's Buddy's big day!

Tomorrow (Tues 8/13/12) is Buddy's surgery, so today I finished his crate. He's sleeping in it now, and thank goodness doesn't seem to mind it too much.
I cut up an old memory foam mattress topper that we had laying around and stacked two layers of that to fill the whole crate. Then I put his familiar bed (which is a bit smaller) on top of that, and covered all three layers in an old sheet (that I don't care about, so if he messes it up or tears big deal.)
We've got a nice new bed coming in the mail that I found online, and while it's big enough for this crate, it's meant for a dog that weights less than Buddy which is why I intended to keep these memory foam pads under it so he doesn't just sink to the ground.
I put it in our bedroom for the time being so that he's in the quietest part of the house. After about a week post op I think I'll move it into the living room so he can be around everyone.

Just for size's Lily in the middle of the crate:

And here's Buddy in it. He's not panting or seeming stressed to be there, so that's a good sign. I only plan to have him in for a few hours at most today, just so he can get used to the space. We'll put a small food and water bowl outside the back wall, and it's enough space for him to stick his head through for water or food. That way he won't knock it over inside his crate.

He'll go in first thing Tuesday for surgery and stay at the vets for observation for two days. I'm so nervous for him. He doesn't handle medicine or medical treatment very well...or hasn't in the past. I'm hoping he'll do fine! I have never been without him in this house...this will be very weird. (I've been without him when we travel, but never at home.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Buddy's new crate/kennel

Yesterday and today I worked on Buddy's new crate. He had a metal one as a puppy but he out grew it very quickly, and he's such a mellow guy that we generally trust him to behave at home and not need to crate him. We tried to see if he still fit but...nope. He's too big, and can't turn around in that crate. So I had to buy or make him a new one. I had wood laying around and didn't need for it make the most sense to make one rather than buy one.
I intended it to be big enough for him to lay completely stretched out on his side, and be able to turn around easily; as he'll be limping or hopping post surgery.
I had to rearrange the house a little bit because our home is very very small and the crate is 46in x 33in. I also can't finish it until it's time to use it, because it won't fit through the doorway! Thank goodness I thought of that before finishing the front and the top. Here it is in progress:

I wanted to give Buddy a chance to get used to it some...and as soon as I saw him start stress panting I remembered how much he hates being crated. Oh boy. I can only hope it's somewhat better for him post surgery as he'll have been kenneled at the vet for 48hrs before coming home. I'll also have plenty of treats ready to stuff his kong with and crawl in and snuggle him. The slats on the walls are actually wide enough that he can stick his head out and get water or food. So I don't need to keep those in his crate with him. I'm also hoping to get him a new large bed that will fill the whole space, and be much fluffier and nicer than his current bed.