First, I need to find a less awkward way to tell medical staff that I had top surgery. Second, I need to learn how to ask for help when I need it. Third, no one wants to hear about my colonoscopy.
When you see a new doctor, you fill out a form and list all of your surgeries. I’ve had surgery to repair a torn meniscus (knee), to remove fibroid tumors, to remove my uterus (partial hysterectomy), and to remove my breasts (top surgery). The nurse at East Side Endoscopy didn’t know what I meant by top surgery, so I told her I had a bi-lateral mastectomy. She asked if it was for cancer, and I said no, and left it at that, but I felt her question dangling, unanswered.
I only had gotten three hours of sleep, and I hadn’t had any coffee, and I nearly said cosmetic, but I caught myself. My transition, no matter how ambiguous it is, no matter how much it has to do with how I look, is not cosmetic. I’m still angry that my health insurance refused to pay for top surgery. They claimed it was not medically necessary. I couldn’t find the words to explain to the nurse that top surgery is gender confirmation surgery or to tell her which gender it confirmed.
I’d like to find a phrase that is clear. That isn’t pathologized. That doesn’t sound like a euphemism. That tells the truth.
I’m trying to convince myself to meet with a cardiologist. There will be an EKG with sticky electrodes on my chest, right near my scars. There will be a discussion about previous surgeries. There will be questions. My total cholesterol level (282) is the only thing standing between me and testosterone. I want to get it under control so that the only thing standing between me and T is me.
I kept forgetting that I’d scheduled the colonoscopy, and that I needed someone sign me out (and presumably take me home). Normally, I rely on Donna, however, since she broke her ankle, is using a walker, and is barely able to get in a taxi with my assistance, it seemed unwise to make her come with me, or sign me out. I nearly cancelled and rescheduled it. I didn’t want to ask anyone else to pick me up.
I suck at asking for help. I have three friends who would do anything I asked, but I hesitate asking. I don’t have family other than Donna, and in the back of my mind I think you only ask your family for help.
It is a holdover from childhood. “You got yourself into the problem. You get yourself out of it.” I’m good at figuring out how to do things by myself, but some things, like being signed out of surgery, are impossible. I hate asking someone to give up a day, and a day’s salary. I hate making a request that is difficult to refuse. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. I don’t want to be an obligation.
I don’t live in a tight-knit community where people practice mutual aid. In my New York, if you can’t do something yourself, you hire someone to do it for you. You can get anything delivered, almost instantaneously. It is a service economy. I considered Craigslist, but then I came to my senses. Plus, I couldn’t figure out what to look under. It turns out you can hire a home health aide to take you to and from medical appointments. I asked a friend.
I make an exception for Gracie. When Gracie needs an extra walk, or to stay with someone overnight, or to make an emergency trip to the animal hospital, I am able to ask for help and get it from my dog-owning friends. But, it is different if the help is for me. I need to get over this, and bark for help when I need it.
Notes: Mutual aid is a term coined by Peter Kropotkin, a Russian anarchist. Mutual aid societies were popular in the U.S. amongst immigrants; some groups were based on your profession/trade and others were based on your country or town of origin. Amish barn raising is a form of mutual aid, as are freecycling programs, and babysitting cooperatives.
I’m rereading this article from the New York Times on how to ask for help….
The colonoscopy went smoothly. The doctor cut out a polyp and sent it off to the lab. I’m hoping he will tell me that I don’t need to come back for another 5 to 10 years.