Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Swans, Diamonds and BBC Radio Berkshire

Last Sunday was a Surrey Swans night. We had a visit from Lynne and Claire from Femesque. It was an excellent evening. Great to meet up with people. There’s more detail and some pictures here.

On Friday I’m scheduled to visit BBC Radio Berkshire for an interview about what it’s like being a TV in Berkshire and in general. Billie and Kathie had first been approached but weren’t able to take part. When they mentioned the possibility to me I was happy to volunteer.

If you’re interested in listening in, the radio station can be listened to, live, online here. It’s the Anne Diamond show and I’m due to be there on Friday 2nd March from noon until about 12:45 pm UK time. Normally the show is hosted by Anne Diamond, but this week Bill Buckley is in charge. If you miss the live broadcast but would like to hear a recording then I think it’ll be available for about a week here.

I’m looking forwards to the experience, though I admit, with some nervousness. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be asked or what I’ll say. But that doesn’t particularly worry me. All I can do is say what I think and feel.

My thumb is feeling a lot better. Nail-less but also bandage-free. It looks a little odd, but so do I sometimes when I’m all dressed up.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Thumbs, nails and hospitals

Wed Feb 15, late afternoon. Ouch. My right thumb is stinging a little. But it looks fine.

The ouch lengthens along with the evening.

More throbbing than sleeping through the night.

7.25 the alarm fulfils its purpose what seems like minutes after I fall asleep.

The thumb hurts. and looks a little red. Shirt buttons become a challenge.

I resolve to visit a doctor if it’s no better at the end of the day. But i don’t want to because tonight I’m out for a meal with Tina.

Early afternoon and still throbbing. Redder. A thin white line appearing around the bottom of the nail.

No answer on Tina’s phone so I send a text to say that I can’t make the evening out. Little knowing what is about to unfold.

A lunchtime walk and I phone my daughter Katie.

Low battery bleeps the phone as we chat.

My thumb’s a bit sore. Maybe I should visit a & e (accident & emergency in UK national health service speak.

What? with a sore thumb? I sense her grinning.

I buy a snack. Partly because I am hungry. Partly to get change for the hospital car park. just in case.

Mid afternoon a text from Tina ... let me know how you are when you get back

17.45 and it’s very red. And the thin white line is no longer so thin.

A&E seems over the top, but I drive close by the NHS walk-in centre at Upton park hospital. An earlier few minutes with Google told me it’s open until 20.00.

Left at the lights instead of the usual straight on.

The pay and display meter says parking is free after 18.00 and it’s past 18.15. small mercies.

The doors open and in I walk.

OMG ... there are loads and loads of people here.

I multiply the number of people by an optimistic 10 minutes and come up with something later than 20.00.

I wave my thumb at the receptionist.

We aren’t making any new appointments tonight. But the triage nurse will see you and offer advice.

Sitting I look around at the people.

All ages and races.

18.35 or so and the triage nurse is looking at my thumb.

That must be painful.

I nod.

name. Date of birth. GP (family doctor). What happened?

I think you should go to A&E tonight.

And so ... Wexham park hospital it is.

A ten minute drive.

The car park isn’t free at any time. But at least there are spaces.

The door opens. Not many people.

I tell the receptionist my date of birth and name. She can work out the rest.

Any existing medical conditions? Taking any medication? Any allergies?

Please take a seat.


You can see the doctor in the urgent care centre. Out the door and left.

I take the folder with me and hunt out the urgent care centre.

About 9 people in the waiting room.

Now there are ten.

But some are together so maybe not really so many.

Almost 19.15 and the nurse at reception calls me over. Takes the red folder. Runs through the litany and confirms everything.

There are four patients ahead of you, so you may need to wait a while.

In my head I’m thinking ... well ... maybe 20.00?

The doctor calls people out. They come back and sit around again.

Two young guys and a girl. One of the guys goes with the doctor.

A few minutes later he gets back ... has to go for an x-ray and come back.

They disappear.

I wait.

Thumb quietly throbs.

Redder. Whiter.

They arrive back.

19.45 and there are still 4 people ahead of me.

Everyone looks well happy says the x-rayed man.

Everyone smiles and looks well happy for a few seconds.

The hand on the wall clock moves ever onwards.

The girl sitting across to the left has nicely painted red nails and nice black heeled shoes. I notice things like that these days.

Two middle aged people arrive.

Then two younger people. She has nails that are a lovely shade of pink. Flat shoes. Nice black lace ribbon near the toes.

The nurse calls them each in turn.

The sign reads patients might not be seen in the same order that they arrive.

20.40 ...  and my name is called. I wasn’t expecting to be called before the red-nailed lady.

The doctor shakes hands and then notices I was actually offering my thumb as an exhibit.

The litany again. Name, date of birth ....

That looks painful.

I nod.

Smiling to myself ... maybe I could be a doctor?

It needs cleaning out and antibiotics.

Will it stop hurting after that? I ask.

He reassures me.

Follow me.

I follow him.

Retracing steps back to A&E.

The place is crowded.

Take a seat.


Minutes later he comes back in and takes me to the inner sanctum.

I sit in a cubicle. No need for the curtains to be drawn.

He gets a nurse and exhibits my thumb. And explains what is needed.

They disappear.

I wait.

The cubicle has seen better days.

The floor needs sweeping.

MIAMI patients only says the sign on the wall.

I have no idea what a MIAMI means. Except I’m sure it has nothing to do with Miami.

I sit and wait.

Opposite a man laying on a bed asks no one in particular why he is being ignored and calls at passing nurses.

Once in a while someone asks him what he wants.

A drink.

But he is categorised as nil by mouth. So he gets no water.

But keeps on asking.

I look at the signs.

Everyone should have a GP.

Curtain closed? Think! Privacy and dignity.

A twenty-something  girl in another cubicle has blonde, green and brown hair.

The nurse visits with another nurse and exhibits my thumb. They smile but say nothing to me.

It feels like being a Franz Kafka kind of character.

A doctor arrives.

We repeat the litany.

He look as at my exhibit.

And mentions infection. Intravenous antibiotics. Overnight stay. Plastics. Drainage. Thumb nail removal. X-rays. Bone infection.

I take the yellow sheet of paper and follow the blue squares in the floor.

Another receptionist. I hand over the sheet and confirm my identity.

I take a seat and wait.

The thirsty man is wheeled in to the x-ray room.

Moments later he reappears.

A young guy takes his turn.

Then, just a few minutes later it’s me.

I make a ducks head sort of shape with mu hand. The red light lines up on my thumb.


Reshape my hand. Line up.


I follow the blue squares back towards A&E.

The thirsty man seems to be no longer nil by mouth.

I take a seat.

21.08 my phone rings. It’ Katie.

Low battery beeps.

I explain where I am.  We talk.

The doctor arrives so I have to say goodbye.

He escorts me back to MIAMI.

Spreads paper towelling onto the trolley bed and asks me to lie down.

The girl with the coloured hair is still opposite.

The no longer thirsty man.

An elderly lady who cries out occasionally.

I wait.

Receiving health care involves patience.

A single strand of cobweb dangles loosely from the ceiling.

There’s a hole in the wall blocked up with some temporary filler.

Time passes.

I phone Katie.

my phone tells  me it needs feeding.

I think of the cats at home.

The doctor returns.

Sweater comes off. Right shirt sleeve rolls up.

I know that the sight of my own blood leaking from my body makes my blood pressure drop ... quite dramatically.

I look the other way and hardly feel a thing as the needle penetrates just below the elbow joint.

Moments later he has a phial of red fluid and I have a cannula and intravenous saline.

A nurse comes and mentions ward 3 and then goes.

Another nurse arrives with antibiotics.

Do you have a pen and some paper?

Of course.

Please could you write down a phone number for me?

Before the phone expires on me I read out Sarah’s number so I can at least try from a landline later.

The antibiotics make their way into my vein and I’m asked to sit in a wheelchair and await transportation to Ward 3.

I phone Sarah ... battery needs charging ... she says that she’ll phone A&E.

I sit and wait.

A phone rings. And rings. And rings.

Nurses and doctors busily move around.

The phone rings. And rings. And rings.

And rings. And rings.

And no one answers.

I’m wheeled along to Ward 3, though I would have been happy to walk.

Ward 3 is fairly quiet at this time of night. A bed is being prepared for me as I wait in the chair.

Name ... date of birth ...

Can I use the phone?

Well ...

A patient says I’m welcome to use his mobile ... but there’s no signal.

I use the landline.

Sarah phones back and I explain what’s happening.

The bed is ready so I’m escorted to bed 11 in Ward 2 SS (short stay).

The man in bed 10 nods hello. Everyone else is asleep.

Actually there are only 4 beds on this side of the ward and one of them is empty.

The thought of car parking fees crosses my mind ... but I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Pyjamas. The nurse disappears a moment and hands me some. The bottoms and tops don’t match ... but I’m not too worried about that ... if I’d had a handbag with me though who knows J

The curtains close and I begin to get changed.

My toe nails are polished red. And the floor is cold.

I’m not worried about the red nails. If people ask questions then I’m happy to share the answers. Having said that ... I’m also aware that my red nails might cause people heartache ... so I keep my socks on ... if asked to take them off then people will get to see my nails without me forcing the sight upon them.

The nurse arrives back. Katie’s on the phone. We chat a while then back to the bed.

Some pain killers. A wrist band with my name, NHS number, hospital number, date of birth ... A sling so I can have my arm up in the air while I sleep.

Sleep ... a little restless but not bad.

5:30 or so and lights go on.

Antibiotics time.

The nurse wonders why on earth the cannula is on the same arm as the infected thumb. It would have been a lot easier to not have to unhook the sling and take it off.

A new patient arrives in bed 9.

Bed 10 chats a bit with bed 12 as medications are passed round the ward.

6:30 and breakfast orders. I opt for toast and coffee. Bed 11 wonders about a full English, but settles for cereal.

It arrives at about 7:00 with marmalade.

The beds are made.

How are you today? says one nurse to the other.

Comme ci comme ça.

Ahh .. Parlez vous Français

Well ... no.

A man from plastic surgery comes to say hello.

The nail’s going to have to go. It’ll happen in the operating theatre. Local anaesthetic ... injections here and here. An arrow is drawn in my arm ... thick black ink ... pointing towards the problem thumb. Makes me smile. Only an idiot would take of the wrong thumb nail. And I’ll be awake as well. I might need to stay the night in hospital.

8:55 ... can I use the phone to call work? No problem.

A colleague of the man from plastics looks at my thumb. Probably won’t need to stay the night in hospital.

Sitting in the chair at the side of the bed.

Chatting a little.

Bed 10 thinks the sling looks a little like a piece of armour from a star wars storm trooper.

One of the nurses is from Mauritius and does parlez Français. He explains that about half the people in Mauritius support Manchester United. The other half go for Liverpool.

The other patients on the ward are older than I am, and all I have is a sore thumb.

I know that if left untreated the thumb could develop into a debilitating thing and could get quite serious. But I expect it to get better. And I don’t have a problem in getting out of bed, or walking, or passing urine.

Hospitals are sobering places. Especially with age. Sometimes the passing of time brings good things. But in the shadows lurk things that aren’t so good.

Time passes.

Consent forms to sign with an explanation of risks and benefits.

A nurse arrives with a 2 nighties ... can’t wear PJ’s in the operating theatre. I put one on the front and another at the back so my modesty can be preserved J

11: 20 and the trolley bed arrives.

Can I manage it by myself? I do.

The porter pushes the trolley and we’re accompanied by the nurse from Mauritius who admires my sling ... its purple ... wow .. if you don’t like the surgeon ... wow ... especially if he’s a Liverpool supporter. As well as being purple it’s also made of foam ... so I decide not to use it as a weapon.

The sign on the door says we can’t get through ... so we take a detour.

At the entrance to the theatre ... name ... date of birth ... do I have a black arrow?

I need a pee ... and I’m escorted to the loo.

Back onto the trolley.

The surgeon arrives and tells me all about me.

And explains what he’s going to do and why.

Maybe I’ll have to spend the night in hospital.

The anaesthetist arrives.

I look the other way as the needle does it’s work.

The trolley is wheeled in.

Paperwork is checked and corrected.

They wonder why the cannula isn’t on the other arm. And also the wrist identity strap.

The cannula stays. The strap is cut off and fastened to my other wrist.

Stuff is painted on my hand.

I look the other way.

The anaesthetist offers to distract me and we chat as the work begins.

Let us know if it hurts.

I promise to let them know.

It’s an odd feeling ... I can feel pulling and cutting ... but it doesn’t hurt.

We talk about Frankfurt, skiing, snowboarding and the fact that we’ve both fainted at the sight of our own blood.

It’s done ... and I’m invited ... recommended ... to look at the results.

Thumb ... no nail.

Raw and red. But surreal. It looks as though it should be hurting.

The infection was at the point where the nail grows. They expect it to grow again ... but maybe not quite the way it used to. I’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Bandages and sticking plaster.

I don’t need to stay the night ... but need to call in on Monday to get it checked out.

If I feel feverish or it hurts a lot over the weekend I need to get back to the A&E department. The surgeon is on call and says he’ll head straight back to check it out.

Wheeled to the recovery room.

The nurse there says I look familiar.

Another chats. We talk about the thumb and how it might have got infected. He mentions that computer keyboards can harbour a lot of nasty things. And that some research had discovered nastier things lurking on the top of cans of soft drinks than are found in the average toilets.

The first nurse goes hunting for the paperwork.

In the background I hear her phoning ward 3 asking if they are expecting me back.

I hope they are. They’ve got my clothes. And my wallet.

I lay on the trolley. Legs crossed.

Sorry ... I’ll have to ask you to uncross your legs whilst your here. Blood clots.

I uncross my legs.

Another porter and another nurse to accompany me back to Ward 3 SS.

The door is closed. The porter manages to open it. The sign ... visible only from the other side ... says the door isn’t working and to take a detour.

Which bed? Asks the porter.

Probably the empty one smiles the nurse.

That’s the one I came from say I.

Lunch is a baked potato, cheese and baked beans. Ice cream. Coffee.

More antibiotics.

Visiting time ... and I’m pleasantly surprised when Katie walks in. I had no idea she’d be visiting.

The cannula is removed and strip of gauze taped over where it was.

I’m good to go ... with my pack of antibiotics and pain killers and appointment card for Monday.

The nurse says that security will let me out of the car park for free.

And there we go.

I haven’t needed the pain killers. Still taking the antibiotics. And on Monday things were looking good.

All in all ...

The waiting was sometimes tedious ... but never very long really.

Everyone was helpful and courteous.

Lots of people were friendly.

Everyone helpful.

Some people need to be better at answering telephones.

It’s interesting how difficult it is to know what might happen next ... it changes as time passes. But I guess that’s actually a good thing.

It’s nice that at no time did I have to think about insurance or costs.

People seemed efficient ... and the process actually went quickly and smoothly all things considered.

The food is unexciting. But ... I have no complaints.

The nail ... I’ll let you know about that.

And finally, some possibilities for the meaning of MIAMI:

  • MIAMI Money Is A Major Issue (music CD) 
  • MIAMI Metoprolol in Acute Myocardial Infarction 
  • MIAMI Marrow Isolated Adult Multilineage Inducible (biology; cells) 
  • MIAMI Microwave Ice Accretion Measurement Instrument 
  • MIAMI Modem-Based Internet for Amiga (TCP/IP implementation for Amiga) 
  • MIAMI Mafia Is After Me! I...

Friday, 10 February 2012

Finger Nails and Tea Bags

How does a girl deal with a partly torn fingernail?

Crying is always an option.

This week,though, I looked around a little for alternatives and discovered that tea bags provide a way out.

I read one description of how to do it and then found this video.

Finger nails and Tea Bags


I’ve had a piece of teabag on my fingernail for a few days now and so far it’s working fine.

Monday, 6 February 2012

A trip to Femesque

The Christmas before last Sally gave me a gift voucher for Femesque.

It’s been over a year but ... at last ... I’ve gotten round to using it.

I’ve met Lynne, who runs Femesque (and also a hair Salon), a couple of times before at the Surrey Swans ... you can read all about one of those events here.

I booked a Makeup Training lesson. That’s a lesson on how to put on makeup as opposed to a marriage guidance kind of thing.

I’ve been applying makeup for quite a few years now. But, like many people I guess, I have a tendency to stick with what I know. So I thought it would be useful to pick up some new tips.

I booked for 11:00 am until 1:00 pm and thought it would be a good plan to take the makeup that I currently use and get some feedback on that.

Friday night at about 8:00 pm I begin to prepare.

Collecting together things in my makeup bag.

Foundation. A couple of Kryolan TV Sticks that I bought from Charles Fox a while back as recorded here … and Max Factor that I usually use these days. Max Factor and Stargazer eye shadow along with some unbranded shadow and blush that I bought from Doreen’s Fashions. Kryolan Translucent powder. Rimmel lipstick and Maybelline lip paint. Rimmel eye liner. A small collection of brushes.

And then what to wear?

Short-ish skirt. Blouse. Hair. Shoes. Boobs. Underwear. Cardigan.

Watch. Necklace. Earrings. Bracelet. Rings.

Handbag. Purse. Comb. Shoes.

Still makes me smile thinking of the relative “complexity” of my life as a girl compared with that of a guy.

Saturday morning and it’s time to shower and shave and pack everything away.

An un-lady-like rucksack and a small carry case are loaded into the car.

Femesque are based in Aldershot ... about 40 minutes drive from Windsor. So at a little after 10:00 I set off in male-mode, planning to return en-femme.

The Sat Nav delivers me to the correct street a little before 11:00. I didn’t need the map that I printed out. But I have a suspicion that the day I don’t bother to print a map, is the day that the Sat Nav will all fall apart.

“Road ahead closed” says the sign. It looks like someone is doing some serious digging.

But I only need to get to the house just beyond the sign.

I drive around the sign.

No space in the driveway but no problem ... plenty of space along the roadside.

Collecting my bags I head for the door and ring the bell.

The door opens and I’m welcomed in.

People are very welcoming and friendly.

I take a seat and in just a minute or two Michelle introduces herself to me.

She’s a lovely lady from the Kilmarnock area of Scotland.

We talk a bit and I explain a little of what I’m looking for. A little like Bono and most everyone else I know ... I still haven’t found it.

We talk as I get changed.

I still remember my first ever makeup and re-reading about that brings back many sweet memories. At that time things that then seemed strangely normal in a weird sort of way, now just feel normal.

A new friend of mine, Rachel, has recently visited Femesque a couple of times. I know it was her first visit to such a place and, though she was quite nervous, she was made to feel really welcome and relaxed, just as I was. She enjoyed the whole experience enormously.

Boobs, blouse, skirt, shoes etc. in place it’s time to begin with the makeup.

Michelle is a great teacher.

Because I’m not a newcomer to makeup it’s not alien to me.

The plan is that she will make up one side of my face and I’ll do the other.

When I told Laura about this she thought it sounded like a real giggle:


“No ... not like that. It was more like ... Michelle applied some foundation to the lower right area of my face then I did the lower left. She applied some shadow to my right eyelid ... then I did the right. Taking it a little bit each in turn.” Well ... a few other things between the foundation and the shadow ... but you get the idea, I’m sure.

“Ah that’s ok then.”

And that was how it went. Unrushed and with explanations as to what was happening and why.

Michelle is a bit long sited and so put her specs on to add makeup to my face and took them off to see me in the mirror.

I’m short sighted so put my specs on to see myself in the mirror from my seat and took them off to see myself close up in the mirror.

I’m not new to makeup, but it was great to see things from another perspective and to get more of an idea about the things that work and the things that don’t work.

There’s a lot involved. These days I understand why ladies sometimes have a reputation of hogging the bathroom for hours before they go out. I know that I do.

Michelle is really good at explaining things though and taking things step by step. Making sure that I have the opportunity to try out everything that she explains and does. Checking that it’s making sense and I’m happy with it all.

The sequence is pretty similar to the sequence that I do things in. I remember in my early days I had a list of what to do and what order to do it in.

She has a whole lot of brushes and cosmetics, but since I brought a whole collection of cosmetics with me says that she’ll make use of them if I’d like.

First, something to help conceal the greyness caused by the beginnings of beard growth that sometimes can be a nuisance to t-girls. She notices that I have some non-shiny red lipstick. Paints a bit of it onto the back of her hand with a brush and then dabs a very thin layer onto parts of my chin and under my nose. The red will help conceal. I do the same on the other side of my face. I look as though I’ve been smooched.


And no. That’s not me. And the smooches were more like painted smudges.

Then some powder.

Next some of the TV Stick foundation. Again painted on the back of her hand with a foundation brush. From there onto the lower part of my face. I had two slightly different shades which get mixed on the back of her hand to produce a slightly different shade. It covers the lipstick. Then powder. Then the other side of my face.

Next comes some Max Factor foundation. Applied with a brush. It’s “thinner” than the TV Stick, but blends with it well. We tg’s typically need more foundation lower down on the face, and less further up. All part of the hide the potential beard kind of thing.

I hadn’t realised how easy it is to mix the different types and shades of foundation and have it all still work. Obvious really I guess.

Next it’s the eyes.

Michelle talks a bit about the shape of my eyes, my forehead and my brows. Different shades and patterns suit different shapes of faces. It’s about using the shades and tones to create an illusion. To emphasise some things and de-emphasise others. And it’s different for different people.

Eye shadow. Liner. Mascara. Then blush and lipstick.

The whole experience is a lot of fun and educational as well. I learned things and also was re-assured in the sense that I hadn’t been doing anything too odd myself.

Lynne called in to say hello ... it seems that next week they have a TV (as in television) crew filming a makeover as part of a programme.

At the end of February Lynne and Michelle are making a guest appearance at Surrey Swans ... with a makeover and hair theme. They think they’ll need a volunteer. I promised to be the volunteer if no one else would.

I bought a collection of brushes, so I now have at least one for every occasion.

Having arrived as a guy with a bag full of girl clothes, I pick up my bags of guy clothes, and happily set off home as a girl.

I know quite a few other t-girls that have visited Femesque over the past few years. And like all of them I had a great time!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Andrea's number one fan?

Just before Christmas, Sally arrived back from visiting with a friend named Anne. Anne had sent a gift for Andrea ... you can see it in the pictures ... one with glasses:
and one without: