Five Days Without Estrogen
It is a typical Friday for me, frantic as I rush from one thing to the next so I can hopefully finish everything just in time to be at group later that evening. One of those “things” on this particular Friday was to stop at the pharmacy to pick up my estrogen prescription. Though it was not really on the way, the plan was to stop there before heading out to group. As usual I was running late, and being that this was a support group that I was running, being late was not really an option. I decided I would just have to pick up my prescription in the morning. I believed I had at least a pill left to get me through the night. No big deal.
Group had gone well and had run late into the evening. I always look forward to spending time with my extended family, but I was happy to finally get home after a long day. Just before bed it was time to take my last estrogen pill, which turned out to really be just a part of a pill and some green-blue pixie dust as I poured the remaining contents of bottle into my hand. Again, “no big deal” I thought to myself as I took the little pill remnant and proceeded to lick the last bits of pixie dust off my hand (you know you’ve done it too) like a junkie who was desperate for a fix.
“THE PHARMACIST TELLS ME MY PRESCRIPTION HAD RUN OUT AND THERE WERE NO REFILLS LEFT.”
The next morning I called the pharmacy just to make sure they had filled my prescription before I made the drive. That was when the bad news came. The pharmacist tells me my prescription had run out and there were no refills left. Over the last year, I had been spoiled as my endocrinologist had always just called in my refills without issue and without me having to bother him. I had just been to see him a week prior and he had called in everything else I needed, so I was surprised to say the least. A slight panic began to set in with the realization that it was now Saturday and the endocrinologist’s office was closed. It was also a holiday weekend, which meant the earliest I would be able to even call them was on Tuesday. Though in reality this was my fault and I should have been on top of things that are important to me such as my hormones, it didn’t make the prospect of what I was going to have to endure any easier.
Now I am sure what I am about to tell you was 99.9% just in my own head, but the 0.1% of the experience was excruciating. It started of with me telling myself that it was all my own paranoia as I began to just not feel right. I proceeded with my day, a few meetings and catching up on some work. With me through it all was the thought that it was going to be a long few days accompanied by the fear of what was to come. I survived most of my life with the wrong hormones, I could surely survive a few days without the correct ones, right?
My Saturday night was filled with restless sleep accompanied by nightmares about regressing to the former version of myself. Sunday, day 2, was full of lethargy and outright panic. I began to have fears that I would undo two years of laser and that facial hairs would start popping out of nowhere. My wife was getting annoyed because I kept asking her for reassurance that I wasn’t turning into a man. She kept insisting that the little black dots of hair I was seeing all over my face weren’t really there. By mid-day it was full blown dysphoria. My voice was even starting to sound deeper to me as I spoke (even though it was never really deep in the first place). I was in pretty bad shape but trying to barrel through it all.
By Monday, day 3, I was a total mess. I couldn’t think straight as I tried to recall if this was the way I was all the time before I began my transition. I had become accustomed to feeling right over the last couple of years thanks to estrogen, and in this moment I started to truly appreciate what it has done for me. For each of us our experience is different, but for me transition was always about being able to think straight before anything else. Having the right kind of gas in my brain changed everything for me. It not only fixed a host of physical problems, but years of depression and dysphoria. Have I taken these little green-blue wonder pills for granted? Absolutely, and now I was paying the price for it. It was a 13-hour overnight shift for me at work on Monday night, but somehow I got through it. I felt lifeless after a long day with no sleep and no hormones in my body.
Tuesday came, day 4, and now at least I can call the doctor. I select “2” on the answering system for “refill a prescription” and get an automated machine that tells me to wait 48 more hours before it is filled. Instead of getting much needed sleep, I proceeded to call the doctor’s office throughout the day until I finally got a human being on the phone. They tell me the doctor is on vacation (of course he is), so they will have to reach out to the doctor on call to try and get it filled. Just my luck. At this point I am avoiding anything that gives off a reflection, mirrors, windows, pools of water, you name it. I am afraid to see my reflection staring back at me out of fear of seeing a combination of myself and Obiwan from Star Wars with his fuzzy beard staring back at me in my reflection. My dysphoria is at an all time high at this point. Later on my way to do another 12-hour shift at work, I get a text confirmation that the doctor sent the prescription to be filled.
Wednesday morning, day 5, I get home from work at 7:30 am and my wife and daughter surprise me at home with some flowers and a card. Oh yeah, I forgot it is my birthday. I cut my beautiful flowers and put them in a vase, give them an appreciative whiff, and my wife tells me to try and get some sleep. She promised to pick up my prescription on the way home from work. I went and setup the day’s articles for Transgender Universe and got myself a little sleep.
“WHEN I WOKE UP I WAS LIKE A KID ON CHRISTMAS MORNING, ONLY I WASN’T HOPING SANTA CLAUS HAD LEFT ME A PRESENT, I WAS HOPING MY WIFE WAS HOME WITH MY HORMONES.”
When I woke up I was like a kid on Christmas morning, only I wasn’t hoping Santa Claus had left me a present, I was hoping my wife was home with my hormones. Truly the hero in my existence, my beautiful wife had come through and I made a straight line to my estrogen. It was probably the happiest I had ever been about taking it since I first started. It was certainly the best birthday present I could have imagined. The crisis was over.
I was off to yet another 12-hour shift on Wednesday night, but my head was much clearer. The panic and fear were now gone. I no longer had to worry that I would somehow magically turn into the former version of myself. I made it through the night, took my next pill when I got home Thursday morning and slept all the way until I had to go to work again. I had been so exhausted that Transgender Universe went dark for the day. Thankfully I only had a 4-hour shift that night.
I do realize my experience was all in my head. A few days without hormones won’t reverse anyone’s transition. What I do know is that I never want to go through the experience ever again. The lesson I learned is that I need to stay on top of my prescriptions. I also found a new appreciation for what HRT has done for me in my journey. I was consumed by the fear of ever going back to who I was. The mere thought of it triggered my dysphoria. I know now that I could never go back to living as that person. Next to marrying my wife, transitioning was probably the best decision I had ever made. I walked away with a lesson learned and a new appreciation for how far I have come, and I am thankful that I finally made the decision to live my truth.