First T Shot - Day One
DAY ONE, ARRIVAL
On February 20th, 2017, I woke up knowing that a new part of my life would have it's first introduction to me. That day would be the first of many times that a needle would enter my skin and leave behind a liquid that would grant me access to things outside my natural reach. This liquid would extend my reach to grab the pieces of myself that I so desperately craved to possess. It would seep into my muscles and live there, working it's way to push all the past unrevealed years into the present. I woke that morning knowing that over the next many months, there were many gifts that I could expect to open. With gratitude I got up from bed and rose to the occasion.
My appointment with the Doctor was at 1pm. I worked a little in the morning and went about my usual routine, except the entire time I knew each thing I did would be the last time I did it "pre-t". It was the last time waking up pre-t, last time having coffee pre-t, last selfie pre-t, etc. Those little moments rang in my ears like radio jingles. I sat at my desk and sweat with nerves. My excitement was slightly numbed out by the anxiety of this big event. Would it hurt? Would I feel any different? Was this all worth it? Questions came flooding in and I deflected them like someone casually shooing a fly. I knew this was right for me and I was excited to finally go from wading in the water to swimming in it.
I got ready and wore a casual but nice outfit. This was special and I wanted to feel good about how I looked that day. I wore black tight pants that hung low on my hips, squaring them off. On top, I wore a comfortable t-shirt, flannel, and a black denim jacket. My beanie was tight but finished off the outfit along with nice brown boots. I was ready. My wife and I left for the 1pm appointment.
The facility that I went to was new to me, I'd never been at this location and I'd never met this particular Doctor. When my name was called all I could think about was how someday soon I would no longer have to respond to "Allie". This was starting to become all I could think about when I heard my current name. We went into the room where they did blood work to learn how to do the shot. I sat down in what looked like a giant beige massage chair.
The Doctor that I saw was very matter of a fact and to the point. She made me realize that not everyone feels the need to crack jokes to start off on a good foot, I like that about her. We talked about the process... clean the area, clean the vial, draw air, push air, draw the liquid, press to dosage, tap out bubbles, double check for bubbles, switch needles, tighten skin, press needle into skin, draw back to check for blood, push dosage into thigh muscle, take out needle, put a band aid on, throw needle in a secure container, and done.
I went over the steps in my head several time until I felt that I had it down. I picked up my needle and went to work, acting those steps out. When I got to the point of injection, I felt my brain hesitate at puncturing the skin. After a few jab and stops, I finally darted the needle in and pushed until I felt a strange nerve sensation that told me to stop. Keeping my hand firm, I drew back to check for blood and then pushed down. I was good to go, all done... yet, just begun. I took my materials and bagged everything up. We headed towards the door and I felt free.
We drove out of the parking lot and headed towards the freeway. I had done it, arrived at a point of moving forward. The first shot was a plunge that I'd been waiting to take and it felt so freeing to have jumped. I wanted a celebratory beer. I had always imagined it that way and knew that I'd be bummed if I didn't take that opportunity to sit down and let everything wash over me with a delicious glass of Chocolate Raspberry Stout.
Sitting at the bar was my moment to just breathe. I needed to pause to exhale out the past and inhale the future. It was an odd sensation, kind of like standing on a wire. My new life was here but my old life was still so close to me. I wanted to be further away from the old me and yet things still felt so much the same. This spurred up my anxiety and I reminded myself that this was just day one and that everything was fresh and new. My new identity still didn't feel like it belonged to me and my old one kept nagging at my shirt sleeve. I was in flux, flung into the air and getting used to the sensation.
There was a laundry list that kept posting itself on my forehead. Number one on the list was to come out publicly. I hadn't quite done that yet... not professionally at least. There were several people that I had told, but I hadn't fully finished this step. It seemed of utmost importance for some reason at that moment. Yet, it still didn't feel right. I calmed myself and stayed in the moment, telling myself that it was ok that I was feeling a flood of emotions and suspense. This was a big day, I couldn't help if a bunch of random worries came flying at me. Overall, I tried to just enjoy myself.
As all of the random to-do's on my laundry list kept flooding in, I started to go numb. My anxiety and depression had been acting up prior to this day and now here they were again. My mental health isn't always the best and when things start to get chaotic, my anxiety goes way up. Unfortunately, it came up on this day. It's important to mention this though because it shows that even beautiful moments have highs and lows. For me, these bigger moments in life often bring up a flood of feeling that are so dense and hit my system like a punch to the face.
As I got more numb, I got more pissed that I couldn't just enjoy this day. Why did this always have to happen to me? Once we got back home, the levee burst. All those emotions and feelings that were having a boxing match in my insides came flooding out. My panic attack came on fast. It was the kind where I can't stand up and have to cling to something sturdy to feeling like I'm not sliding off the earth. I grabbed the sink and just held on. In my head, I heard so many negative things. Jabs and gabs of darkness, choking at my ability to focus on breathing.
My wife came and got me, helping me to the couch and sat me down. I gained back some focus and was able to get my breath back. After 30 minutes or so, my heart rate came fully back to normal and I was able to relax. I knew I would need to shake this off. My depression and anxiety were no longer going to be "my story". These things could no longer define me and it was going to take practice daily to combat them. Instead of being defeated by panic attack, I turned it into a reminder of how strong I am and how much stronger I am going to be.
I woke the next day with a newfound sense of peace. That morning I decided to really make an effort to stay in the moment, even if that moment is painful. Transition or any journey of change is messy, there are a lot of ups and downs. When I first entered into an emotional recovery a few years ago, it was really messy. There were so many dark days during that journey but it led me to a much deeper understanding of myself. This journey is no different, there will be dark days and many struggles. But, it is worth it. I know that from the all the journeys that embarked on and I'm so grateful to be taking off on this one.