Letters from London

I threw the cotton white chequered table cloth over the patio table and introduced it to a bowl of cereal decorated with walnuts and pumpkin seeds with a delicate cup of Earl Grey aside. The morning sun caught half the table bright while the other half cast in a shadow obscured by the house. A fresh morning, a fresh summer morning is something special. There is a cleanliness in the air. All the humidity from the night before now vacant and dew drops clinging onto blades of grass creating sparkles of sunlight. It’s medicinal. I didn’t feel the usual stressful “what next” but thought of “so many possibilities, what should I choose to do.”

Cereal wasn’t enough and so I dived into the fridge and recovered a raspberry French set yoghurt for the table. I’d already decided what to do. It may be mundane and functional but a clean air morning would be followed by a clean house. At least some of it. Cleanse the house, cleanse the mind. I would vacuum as much as I could around the living room, the stairs, the landing and the bedroom. In fact there would probably be a matting of my hair in the bathroom. There always is. Brushing and straightening my hair in the same place or drying it after washing my hair strands sneakily fall to the ground in foot long lengths. It only takes a couple of days and suddenly I can see hair covering the carpet. How I don’t have bald patches I don’t know.

That would all be followed by a quick cleanup of things around the house. Putting them back in their respective places. A towel for the beach yesterday that never got used would have to go back upstairs. Pens in the holder. Wash that bin that’s long overdue. I would do all that after breakfast instead of getting caught in a daydream-like stare at daytime television and get annoyed at provocative non-issues where the devil plays advocate on channel five. It would be a freeing day. A day to enjoy that little freshness of the morning before the last hot sun of August and a day to feel fulfilled and happy. I finished my yogurt. Now I’m ready for the day.

While I was doing all that promised cleaning around the house and pouring bleach down the toilet ever so carefully not to turn black linen trousers into ‘I’ve bleached my trousers – white’ there was one thought that had come to mind. Something I’d not chased in the last couple of weeks. Blood test results from London. Did I really want to disturb such a positive and inspiring day into something stressful? The thing is if I leave it to another day it’s just going to spoilt that day and if thats not a particularly good day it’ll be double stressful.

I grabbed the plastic document box that I’ve dedicated to letters from London and called the number on the headed appointment letter. To my surprise I got through first time and the polite and helpful lady at the other end said she would call me back as she had to dig through my history to find my results. I continued to clean around the house with all things not-noisy so I wouldn’t miss any call back. She did call back. She gave me a number for Charing Cross haematology department and explained that I can ask them for a copy of my results as the Gender Clinic can’t give them out.

I called this number that is new to me. A number which was answered by an automated voice informing me that this number is for Health Care Professionals only. ‘Oh dear’ I thought, ‘I’ll hold on a little longer and see what the options are. Then I was given an option, “If you are a patient, press 1.” So not just for health care professionals? After navigating a couple more options for haematolog and Charing Cross rather than Hammersmith Hospital the call rang. Then rang. Rang some more until a voice interrupted and said, “There is no voice mail for this number and no one can answer right now. Goodbye.” Click.

I’m surprised they didn’t add the sound of a phone being slammed down or “…and don’t call again!” I persevered and call a few times more navigating the options which I’d sensibly written down until eventually a voice answered, “Hello?” Just that. Hello. As if I’d rung someones home. I explained I was after some blood test results. “Oh sorry.” she said in her cross-London-Afro-Caribbean accent, “I just lost a call and thought it was the same person.”

“We don’t have blood test results here. You could call the laboratory but they won’t be able to give you any results as they only process them. We can’t give you the results from here as we just take blood.” She kindly, politely and in a sort of farcical way explained this to me about three times. She said I would have to talk to whoever ordered the test, which meant going back to the clinic who had referred me to this number. So may be this would be a morning of going in circles after all.

I called the gender clinic back and explained the whole going-in-circles situation. “Have you checked with your GP to see if they have had them yet.” It had been a while since I’d checked. Last time I spoke to the gender clinic they hadn’t even sent any letters to my GP, well apparently they hadn’t but much like I was previously told, that I would be CC’d in on my results or the letter, this was not the case and the gender clinic cannot send them to me, at least that was what I was just told. Confused yet? The lady at the gender clinic said she would speak to the manager and get back to me and in the meantime I would call my GP surgery.

It would seem the GP surgery had something. A letter received back in July. Whether my blood test results were with it they didn’t know but they would print it out for me and I would collect. The phone rang again shortly before I left the house. It was the gender clinic again. My results haven’t been sent out yet but there is a letter going out today to my GP along with the results and they would CC me in on a copy. At last, crossed wires untangled. I told her about my call to the GP surgery but she assured me the results wouldn’t be there, and they weren’t other than an interesting outline and summary of my current situation from the gender clinician.

I was amazed at how the letter captured my situation pretty accurately but, to not get too serious, one line made me smile. “Our patient presented today in an androgynous fashion –”, I suppose skinny jeans, a crop sleeve t-shirt and eye liner doesn’t cut it these days, “with long hair and shaped eyebrows.” I guess that answers my own question of whether my eyebrows I’ve been doing for a number of years are noticeable.

The trudge of administration was done and there was no point in thinking about it much further; it was another checkbox ticked. I headed to the coast with my laptop to get some work done. The sounds and heavy tourism soaking up the end of the years summer hot sun with kids getting the most out of their long summer holidays, either screaming with excitement in ice-cream-delight or in spoilt ice-cream-frustration.

So if, like me, you’re a late-night person may be swap a late evening for an early morning. Take fifteen minutes or so outside when the sun is shining with that cleansed morning air before the day starts. It’s medicinal.

Until next time.

Hannah x

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4 thoughts on “Letters from London

  1. I love a warm summer morning with the sun beginning its arcing transit of the cloudless blue sky. My garden seating catches the first few hours perfectly this time of the year then the house shadow begins to creep up the garden until the seating is in shade for the afternoon, and that can be a blessing when it’s hot. My favourite time though is the evening when a cooling breeze begins to blow dry warm delicately fragrant air gently through the windows and open door, when the local children are in bed or they and their families are away on holiday and it’s quiet. It’s just me and the breeze, it lifting the leaves of the exotic grasses that sit around the garden causing them to quiver to and fro while gently refreshing me as I look up into the clear star lit sky.

  2. Wow, they document their personal opinion on your appearance. 😮

    Well it’s great to be judged by the people treating you, why should they be any different from the rest of society. 😦

    • In context, it was one line in a 3 pages of A4 letter under a section named Presenting Issues. That said it does make me wonder why it’s mentioned. I guess out in the real world ‘presenting’ is an important thing about being identified by others as female. But this seems to conflict with the theme that GICs have changed and that presentation doesn’t come into anymore. Nearly everyone says these days that you don’t need to turn up glammed-up wearing a summer tea party dress and lipstick from the 1950’s. It also seems a bit toxic implying that appearance is important to gender identity – surely when it comes to analysing we should be digging into the core of the person and how they identify within themselves?

      I think though, on reflection, this is probably about measuring the patients comfort with presenting as the opposite sex rather than saying how you need your appearance to be transgendered. But this does show the flaw in this because what I wore that day was what many women wear from day to day. It’s a curious one.

      I certainly have a different view of the GIC since my visit. Not specifically negative but different. May be ill talk about this in another blog some time.

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