Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lady in comfortable shoes

One aspect of female dressing which I have sttruggled with over the past year is shoes.

I have large feet for a lady.My left foot is UK nine and a quarter (Continental 44) and my right foot is perhaps nine and a half (Continental 45) and they are reasonably wide with it.  This has meant that even shoes from the shops which offer larger sizes have tended to be too narrow for real comfort, unless they are sandals.  Size nine's are just a bit small, and size 10's generally too large.

The contrast with my previous male shoe comfort has been considerable.  I used to wear 'Dr Martins' shoes with big soles which were very comfortable.  I started on these when I worked for the railways and had to head off along the track on occasion but also be smart in meeting the public.  When they became a bit too 'loutish' for my legal practice I switched to 'Airwair' shoes which were smarter but almost as comfortable.

When I used to dress occasionally as female a tight pair of heels were fine for an evening but it all a little different when you are sloggiing from the railway station to the hotel or to the court.

The solution for me has been to go to a wonderful little company called 'Theatrical Shoemakers' based in London's Docklands.   They normally make shoes for film or theater, and so are used to 'unusual' commissions.  Want sandals for a troopof Roman soldiers?  Want boots for a tribe of dwarfs?  They can oblige.  So after having a last made, they have produced me 2 pairs of boots, 4 pairs of court shoes and 2 pairs of loafers, allin smart black leather, suitable for court wear.

Wonderful!  comfortable shoes at last!  Perhaps not as comfortable as my air cushioned soles but a great step forward.  Thank you 'Theatrical Shoemakers', I will be back next winter for a suite of smart casual shoes.

By the way,'ladies in comfortable shoes' is English idiom for 'lesbian'.  I don't know where it comes from (do send me a message if you know), but that's not me,as I continue to look at the male population with increasing interest.  Roll on 2013....

Robin Moira White

Friday, 13 January 2012

A new voice for a new life?

For me, voice is very important.  As a barrister (trial lawyer) it is one of my principal working tools.  And my present voice is very definitely male.  The mean normal pitch of male voices is around 120Hz, and for female voices is 220Hz.  Mine is 90Hz.  So low, even in the male range.  I have been working with a speech therapist on this for some time (Gary Wood of the London ENT Hospital) but my difficulty is that I need to retain power and authority in the voice for use in court.

We have come to the conclusion that I will not achieve a female voice with which I am happy without surgical intervention.  This used to be terribly risky and not well understood but matters have moved on in past years. (I am grateful to those who have gone before.) And so in February I am off for a consultation with Anthony Cheesman at the Wellington Hospital to discuss a 'Cricothyroid Approximation'.  This is an operation which increases the tension on the vocal cords and so ups the pitch, hopefully by 60 Hz or so, getting me into the lower end of the female range, and also helping with the pitch of vegetal sounds, such a coughing.

Scary?  Yes!  But I am fed up with the pause when I ring my telephone banking service or they ask me 'Are you calling for someone else?'  I want every aspect of my presentation to be female and to support the other aspects.  After all, what chap will want a girlfriend with a deeper voice than him?

Facial electrolysis is going well.  Now I am down to 45 mins a week, with the therapist spending some time searching for the next hair at times.  Today we cleared everything with only 262 insertions of the needle, which compares with over 1000 per hour (for 3 hours) when I started 18 months ago.

Thank you to those of you who sympathised with my problems over Xmas with heating and hot water at home.  It is now fixed but it did take 15 days - an appaling service from Nationwide's 'Home Emergency' Service.  I will let you know what comes of the letter of complaint.

Oh gosh, and now its only 9 months and 22 days before I head off to Thailand for the 'big op'.  Time does seem to race by.  I was looking at flights the other evening........I'll keep you posted.

Robin White

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Christmas - mixed blessings

The GOOD news this Christmas holiday was that I had my second round of hair transplants on 23 December.  This time they did 1,102 to add to the 1,742 last Christmas.  Last yea they aimed for 1,500 and this year 1,000 but apparently I have densely packed hairfollicles and so the harvested skin from the back of my head provided more than they bargained for.

Last year I can't remeber anything much after 'you'll just feel a sharp scratch....' until being brought completely round to go home.  This year I seemed to be rather more resistant to the anaesthetic and so although I must have been well out of it for the skin harvesting, I was pretty much awake later and was able to look at the technicians dissecting out the hair follicles and could feel the 'planting' process.

And the result?  It great!  Even though the 'planted' hairs are short - about 7 or 8 mm - and so feel a bit 'spikey' if you run your hand over then, they have filled in the small remaining thin patches on the crown and just behind on my head, and that's before they grow longer.  Wonderful!  A full head of hair!  Now I just need it to grow to match the rest and for it all to be down to my shoulders which is where I want it.

Thank you so much Dr May and your team at the Wimpole Clinic, Manchester Street, London!  Such a confidence boost to have a full head of hair and not to have to bother with those 'Toppik' fibres to fill in the thinning.

And the LESS GOOD news?  The boiler which provides my home hot water and heating failed on 21 December, just before I had my transplants.  I have 24 hour 'Home Emergency' cover provided by the Nationwide Building Society, so 'no problem' you would think.  NO WAY!  It is now 4 January and it is still not fixed.  A combination of poor communication and poor service and the shut downs of normal life over the Christmas and then the New Year holidays have meant me being excluded from use of my home over this period.  It might get fixed tomorrow, 5 Jan, but then I have been told that four times before and the engineer has visited twice previously, so I am not holding my breath.  Worst of all, I was expecting it to be fixed on the day that I was having hair transplants and only found out on the train home that it was not, which left me trying to sleep in a freezing cold house in quite a lot of pain.  Only through the generousity of relatives and friends have I had somewhere warm to sleep and been able to have a warm bath or shower each day through the holiday.

I am very, very angry and disappointed.  The letter of complaint is drafted, I am just waiting for the problem to be finally fixed to express my displeasure to the Nationwide.  So far I have told 32 folks about my displeasure, and now you know as well.....

Still, 2012 is shaping up to be an interesting year, with 5 November pencilled in for 'the big op'.  Do join me for the ride....


Robin Moira White