29 October 2009

Another Graduation


Today I had what will be my last appointment with Dr. Jennifer, at least for a while.

She confirmed what I've suspected: Psedomona is gone! Okay, say it again: Pseudomona is gone! Just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

Yes, that minor-but-pesky infection I had is history. And, she said, all of my major healing is complete. But she did advise me to finish my current round of antibiotics and to wait another week before getting back on my bike or getting that other kind of exercise. You know which kind I mean.

Of course this is great news for me. But I shed a few tears, too. For one thing, I was actually enjoying those visits with Dr. Jennifer. All health-care professionals should have her warmth and empathy as well as her skills. That, of course, is what I also say about Marci Bowers.

My tears today were, I feel, like the ones people shed at graduations. They are tears of joy, yes. But they also express a feeling of relief, of having arrived safely and well at some destination.

In some way, this really feels like a graduation, in much the same way having finished my session with Nurse Phyllis or seeing Marci the day after my surgery: I had "made it" through something through which each of them had guided and nurtured me.

That I learned about my body from each of them almost goes without saying. However, I now realize that my new-found education has come about because I had to trust each of them with my body as well as my spirit in ways that, earlier in my life, I simply couldn't have with anyone --partially because I never had to.

With each of them, I had to allow myself and them a level of intimacy that, for most of my life, I didn't know how to permit anyone else, much less myself.

You might say that I was experiencing, viscerally, what I had experienced vicariously when I saw The Vagina Monologues: a shared experience of having one.

As I understand it, that is supposed to be a reason for graduations: The new graduates reflect upon the common experiences of those who are graduating with, and who have graduated before, them.

So what does this "graduation" mean? For now, at least, I can, in some way, function independently as a woman. Maybe it was the logical "next step" for me. I've gotten to the point where, when people address me as "Ma'am," "Miss," or "Lady," I do not append it, even in my own mind. Although having lived as a male will always be a part of me, I no longer see it as a qualifying condition.

I have graduated again; I came home on a spectacularly beautiful fall day.

3 comments:

EdMcGon said...

I must admit to a certain jealousy of you. Mind you, it is not because I want to be a female, but rather the exciting journey you've undertaken is one which I will never know. Even for someone like me (boring straight white male), what you are going through is fascinating.

Justine Nicholas Valinotti said...

Ed, please don't refer to yourself as a "boring straight white male." I appreciate that you're interested in my journey, and you have no need to apologize for being who you are.

I know that the feelings I've had and the experiences I've been having differ from those of most people. But they don't necessarily make me special or inherently make me more interesting or valid than other people. I hope only that in negotiating my identity as best I can, I can educate, inspire or simply entertain others.

EdMcGon said...

I wasn't putting myself down. Rather, the sexuality of the straight white male is something which has been analyzed to death. There really isn't anything to say about it, hence it is a "boring" topic.

I do beg to differ with you on one thing: you are inherently more interesting than most people, BECAUSE of what you are going through.