Content note: This essay talks about sex in a marginally explicit way.
Today is day #1 on pine pollen. I am taking a powdered supplement I purchased on Amazon; I'll be using the storebought stuff until I can get a good personal supply wildcrafting next spring (unless, of course, I don't like the results, but I may wildcraft it anyway because, well, wildcrafting). Pine pollen is the trendy thing right now. I never claimed not to be drawn in easily by herbal trends. I'm starting with a quarter teaspoon a day (this is a low dose) in my morning medicinal protein shake and will increase that if I see fit in the future.
If it works the way it's supposed to, I think it'll be of benefit to me as a post-hormonal trans guy. In cis women it is reputed to help with the same things I struggle with after stopping testosterone, although admittedly all of these are low-key struggles. The main issue is sex drive, of which I have strikingly little nowadays. My libido tanked after I gave up testosterone to the point where I basically do not have a sex drive at all unless my partner is actively available or I am on my period, and a lot of things that I was really turned on by on testosterone don't turn me on anymore. This was somewhat alarming, as my sex drive before testosterone was quite high.
Mind you, this is all mostly a good thing. The stuff that turned me on while taking testosterone was really awful, and I became viscerally disturbed by the places my mind would go and the erotica I was starting to seek out. So it's not a bad thing that my libido tanked, but I would like more sexual motivation, as my lack of sex drive is starting to make me for lack of a better word lazy. This has led to some innovations in the area of the sex toys I design as a hobby, as I am creating things that allow me to have sex without much physical effort. So believe me, I make it work, I'm a goddamn inventor, after all. And I love these toys, but it would be nice of this herbal helps me expand my tastes a bit so stuff I used to enjoy is enjoyable again.
Pine pollen is a general testosterone booster. I believe that the hype around testosterone is ridiculous and fully embrace that I am estrogen-dominant (I'm quite proud of it, in fact, hence the blog) but am curious to see how this experiment goes.
Had to edit this because I realized as I was re-reading for proofreading purposes that, ha, I forgot to write about the "being trans at the doctor" story.
So at Pagan Spirit Gathering I got bitten by a couple ticks. One was a Lone Star tick I'm praying does not give me a meat allergy (I may not know for months if it has). The other was a tick of unknown origin, as I only saw the later bite. It doesn't look like a traditional Lyme rash, but the medical personnel at PSG told me to come back if it got bigger or started itching or being painful. It didn't at PSG, but it did start itching and stinging when I was at work on Thursday, prompting me to have a minor panic and leave work early to go to urgent care.
I have good reason to be anxious about tick bites. I worked at a summer camp one year with a man who was only like 20 years old who had an obvious Lyme-ridden tick bite, was told by our nurses it couldn't be Lyme because there wasn't a tick (I would not claim these nurses are incompetent, but this was incompetent advice). Eventually he acquired them all over his body, and I noted to him they looked like Lyme rashes. He stated the nurses didn't know what they were. A day or two later he's acting really agitated. I ask him what's wrong, and he snaps back at me, reminding me of first aid videos showing how people act during heart attacks. "He's acting like he is having a heart attack," I thought to myself, puzzeledly. Later that day he collapsed in the mess hall, having had a form of heart attack that happens to people with untreated Lyme disease. He survived, but it's rattled me ever since.
So I worry about tick bites.
Anyway, I get to urgent care, and am told it's probably fine (the problem is that not all Lyme disease bites have a classic Lyme rash, but I'm monitoring myself as best I can and have no real evidence it was even a deer tick to begin with). But that's not the good part.
I am talking with the nurse before the doctor gets in, and she's taking my blood pressure and going over medical history as nurses often do, and suddenly she exclaims, alarmed, "OB... why is there a box for OB/GYN history here?! How come that's there?!" She says there must be a problem with Epic (the application they use in medical systems to keep records) and that she will get it fixed as soon as possible.
I explain, calmly, "I am transgender, so that's there for a reason."
"Oh? Oh!" She looks slightly embarrassed. She gives it a couple seconds of thought before saying, "But you don't get, say, a period or anything like that?"
"Actually," I continue, "I do, because I went off of hormones and didn't get any surgeries."
Slight pause, "OH! Then... when was your last one?"
"Alright, I'll update that for you then."
I am a very lucky person as far as trans people go, because I have very few negative stories of going to the doctor. I have awkward stories and funny stories, but whenever a doctor or nurse has fucked up (or thought they'd fucked up) they have attempted to correct it very quickly.
The worst experience I had was transitioning at work at the same camp with the Lyme sufferer I described above. I worked there one year as a woman and when I came back as a man I expected their on-site physical would similarly be a private deal. It turns out that in many contexts men get considerably less privacy than women, and the doctor has me lift my shirt with all these guys there. He apologized later, but it was a serious issue while it was happening, and I have no idea if he even understood what had happened.
Second worst was going to a doctor for uterine cramps a couple years on hormones. It started with a nurse who, when I explained the issue, got a super awkward frozen smile on her face and started replying with nothing but "uh HUH? uh HUH?" She probably wasn't trying to look as uncomfortable with the situation as she looked. Anyway, the doctor came in, and rather than being uncomfortable he was uncomfortably ecstatic to meet me, as apparently he had trans patients and had no clue who to refer them to (he was unaware that the hospital system he is a part of provides hormone therapy; I actively go to a secular system because the Catholic systems here will often treat trans people pretty respectful with the exception that they don't give us the transition-related care we need). In retrospect I think he also thought I was trying to cheat the system to get rid of my uterus on insurance.
One of the best, though, was going to a work physical (a private one this time). I seriously thought that the doctors and nurses knew about me, because I was pretty clear about my medications, but right near the end of the physical the doctor says "Just one more thing... we need to check you for a hernia."
"That won't work."
"What do you mean it won't work?"
"I know what test you're talking about. I am transgender and do not have testicles, so that won't work."
"Oh," she pauses, mulling it over. "Well, then we're done, have a good day.
Bright side: Whenever I feel like I don't pass well enough (something I understand is absurd, even though due to my long hair people do misgender me from behind fairly often nowadays), I just need to remember the doctor who tried grabbing my balls and the nurse who was confused at my OB/GYN history.
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