Another week, another failed promise to be phoned by a consultant.
Another week, another week in which the next appointment hasn't been arranged. Another week in which no useful information whatsoever can be given me by anybody.
Another week of chasing and pestering and talking to the gender clinic with piss all results. I have contacted the clinic every single week for the past two months. Every time I am promised that I will be called back, either the next week or the next day. Two months into the chasing and I have not been called back. I say this, and complain, knowing that the staff are very busy and that patient numbers are outstripping staff hours more and more. But I also say this knowing that my hormone dosage could be sorted in a five minute phone call and quick fax to the GP just as easily as in a one hour consultation and posted letter to the GP.
And every time my next appointment is as far away as it ever was. At my last appointment, on 2nd September I was told it would be three months. I started phoning in late November and was told it would be December. Then that moved to January. That moved to late January or early February. The current information is that the consultant hasn't dealt with the January list, that my appointment will "hopefully" be in February and that I am at the very bottom of a waiting list.
It is fair to say I am frustrated and to be honest getting quite desperate. I've already complained officially so there's no point in complaining, but I might do it again anyway.
Started self-medding again - yes, I'm back on the pill - because mentally I have to do something or go completely crazy in the process. Advice today was to keep self-medding and get more blood tests done just before the next mythical appointment so I can say "here are the baseline results, here's what they are on what was prescribed, here's what they are on what you were going to prescribe, therefore here's what is needed."
In three days I will have 18 months of what they call "real life experience". All that time has been spent working through the NHS system. According to national guidelines I can be referred for surgery six months ago. But instead I feel that I'm practically at square one.
Life as me is good. Far better than it was two years ago even with all the difficulties of that period. But the whole medical thing is as annoying as anything. Getting me down. It's fair to say that the medical frustrations, combined with certain other things, are not helping in the slightest and are slowly sending me in a direction I don't want to be sent in.
Yes, it's all getting me down. But it can't get me too down because then they'll want to sort that out before dealing with the gender stuff even though it's the delays in the gender treatment that cause these problems in the first place. I can't allow it to get me into a place where I'd need professional help. Because that would mean I wouldn't get the professional help I actually need. And that would make things worse and I'd need more professional help, further delaying what I need. In a vicious circle.
Advice: If anyone is planning on going through the medical side of transition either win the lottery and pay for it all privately or develop a level of patience that far outstrips that of Job in the Bible.
Sadly of course I'm not alone. Many people under the care of the NHS gender dysphoria services are in the same position. Some are in worse positions, with longer waits and more uncertainty. And sadly, as things stand, nothing much can be done about that. The staff, from consultants to receptionists, know this all too well and every one of them wishes that more could be done. But without more funding, without more staffing, the wishes of staff, patients and the friends and families of patients cannot be granted. Sadly at this time the situation is getting worse rather than better - because there are more patients coming forward (which is a brilliant thing) but not the funding to match the numbers.
Until that funding comes the situation will continue and people with gender dysphoria will continue to suffer. Some will develop further mental health issues while waiting to be helped. Some will end up in hospital. Some will self harm. And almost inevitably, unless every single patient has a superb support network, there will be suicides and attempted suicides. But the funding situation is most likely to continue, and perhaps - in terms of funding per patient - get worse. Much of the NHS is underfunded. We all know that. But it often seems as if mental health services are the poor child of the NHS and that gender services are the poor child of mental health services.