Medical Drama

g-InsuranceDenied.widecThose who follow the Facebook page for my blog likely saw me make a post yesterday regarding the shooting and denial of medical care of a trans activist in Pakistan recently. Along with that link, I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with a lot of medical drama the past month or so, which I will discuss somewhat today. While I will be explaining why I’ve not made a post in close to a month, I’ll also go into how this is an issue for the community at large as well as some basic educational stuff. Now that the basic “introduction paragraph” that all your professors harp on you about is out of the way, let’s get on with the details! Continue reading

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Dancing with Dreams and Delusions

QuestionOn Monday, I briefly mentioned how schizophrenia and Parkinson’s are two sides of the same coin, being based on the levels (too much or too little respectively) of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Today, I want to go a bit more in-depth into this topic.

First off, let me say that I am not schizophrenic, nor is anyone that I personally know, and the same applies to Parkinson’s. However, that does not need to be the case for someone to suffer from the symptoms of one or the other. In fact, if the dosage is not handled properly, someone with schizophrenia can gain symptoms of Parkinson’s through what is known as tardive dyskenesia, and someone with Parkinson’s can have psychotic episodes brought about by their own meds. On that note, let me make something clear: the term psychotic does NOT refer to someone who is unfeeling, uncaring, evil, murderous, etc. as it is commonly used in the popular vernacular. Instead, what psychotic means is that there is something to cause a break from reality. Continue reading

Beyond the Basic Blues

GorskiMonday, I mentioned briefly how depression has a physiological aspect to it, but was rather vague about what that was. Well, the reason for that is because depression is actually one of the more complicated mental illnesses out there. Depression has a number of different theories behind the causes, and as of yet, they all seem to be right… but only for some people. To be more specific, depression seems to have a series of potential causes, and what specific trigger causes it varies from person to person. Some people don’t have enough serotonin, a neurotransmitter tied to a ton of various things: mood regulation, eating, sleep, arousal, even pain regulation. Others don’t have enough norepinephrine (adrenaline), while others still don’t have enough dopamine (tied to both excitation and inhibition depending on where it’s used in the brain). Even more complicated is the fact that there are a number of areas in the brain where any one of these being imbalanced can cause depression. And even more complicated than that is the fact that there’s actually a number of varieties of these. As I mentioned with dopamine, it can be used to excite or inhibit, depending on where it hits. Think of it this way, each of these neurotransmitters is like a master key to a series of locks. Which lock the key is inserted into depends on the effect it gives. However, with medications, we can’t copy the master key, we just have to try for individual locks. This is why there are so many different types of medical treatments for depression, but only a select few are ever effective for any one person. Continue reading

The True Toll of Trauma

Medical CareSo, late last night, I mentioned to a friend of mine an idea to do an entire week of blog posts about mental health issues, and how mental illness is also a physical illness that is just hidden from plain sight. He loved the idea. We’ll see how it goes. Today, I want to talk some more about PTSD and some of the other changes in physiology that occur. For obvious reasons, this topic is potentially triggering, as I will be discussing various forms of trauma. Continue at your own risk. Continue reading

D Cups, Full of Justice

A running joke about the new Tomb Raider reboot/prequel compared to the older games.

A running joke about the new Tomb Raider reboot/prequel compared to the older games.

Way back in December, I started a new series talking about diverse characters in gaming, with an intended particular focus on strong, realistic depictions of women, both done well, and where they are failed. I mentioned that one such example I would cover would be the case of Samus Aran, who has always been an amazing female character, done right in every game, until she was ruined in Other M. That discussion is not for today, but today I will be getting back into that series. And what better way to do so than by talking about breasts!

No, seriously, breasts are going to be a major part of today’s topic. Continue reading

Back to Writing, and a Reader Question

Miss AmericaIt’s been nearly a year since I last wrote here. It’s been a BUSY year. I had two jobs for a time, took a nasty fall off a ladder and got a concussion, adopted three cats, had two busy semesters of school, got into a major car accident, and moved to Georgia to avoid homelessness in Texas. I actually just arrived down here yesterday and am still getting settled in. I’ve also been working on putting a podcast together where I discuss all kinds of topics about sexuality, gender, and kink. It has its own blog, which will include stories as well as scripts for the episodes, and can be found over here.

However, the reason I’m back so soon after moving, and posting on a Sunday no less, is that I got a reader question. Cyrsti writes:

Hi Caitlin, just caught up with your blog and linked it to mine. I too am a trans vet and under VA care. Have you seen the survey the VA is sending around? Thanks Cyrsti 🙂

I have not seen this survey, but it wouldn’t surprise me that one is going around. I’ve seen a number of such surveys in the past, and in fact helped Laura Kiewicz try and improve transgender health care at the Dallas VA a while back via a meeting with many heads of the various hospital departments. I didn’t think it went that well at the time, but apparently, Laura got some kind of department going there, or at least a team to work on it. Is it the VA as a whole, or just your local one? Having just moved, I’m about halfway between two of them (one in Atlanta and one in Marietta), so I have to decide which to go with and so on. That’s on my list along with finding a job, transferring schools, and more. So hopefully, when I do get settled, I can get some decent care.

Speaking of, another thing that’s been happening over the past couple months is an effective hold on my physical transition, courtesy of the VA. This is because it turns out that there is a rare genetic disorder that runs in my family which leads to increased risk of early onset breast cancer. Until there is confirmation that I did not inherit this disorder, I’ve been taken off of estrogen and progesterone, lest they increase the risk. That was about 7-8 weeks ago, and though I’ve since had the blood work drawn for the test (about a month ago), the lab has still not even begun to test the blood due to a conflict of not having received payment confirmation from the VA. Needless to say, the VA is aware that I’m not too happy with them or their level of care. So, no survey for me.

On Depression and Other Disabilities

I just this past weekend finally came out of a two week long major depressive phase. I’ve made no secret of my suffering from PTSD and depression in the past, and the thing is, a lot of LGBT people suffer from one or both of these as well. We suffer from a lot of discrimination, often from our own families, and this forces us to adapt as best we can. So I thought I would talk about these some today.

One of the contributing factors for my depression was the fact that I was working on a very unpleasant topic all semester for a research project, and we were finishing everything up with it. Dori, I, and two others worked together on researching sexual assault amongst the LGBT community, and one of the articles that both Dori and I found was one titled Victimization Over the Life Span: A Comparison of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Siblings by Kimberly F. Balsam, Esther D. Rothblum, and Theodore P. Beauchaine. In it, they interviewed siblings where one was queer and the other heterosexual, and what was clearly found was that even in cases where both siblings were abused, the queer sibling had the worst of it even before they had come to accept their own identity. Continue reading