Sunday, May 1, 2011

On Electrolysis and Saving Money

"Money, get away;
Get a good job with more pay and you're okay;
Money, it's a gas;
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash."
-- Pink Floyd, Money
I had my third hour-long electrolysis session yesterday, and started genital electrolysis in prep for surgery.

The bits of remaining facial hair are being cleared faster and faster. The first session took about an hour, the second took 40 minutes, and this latest only took half an hour. Each time, everything that's visible is cleared, but since hair grows in stages, the dormant hairs have to be cleared in successive sessions. Still, it should take less and less time from here. After zapping my face, we used the remaining half-hour to do a test patch down below.

I was terrified. The pain worried me a little, but mostly I was nervous about the idea of it. I don't hate my body, but I'm not exactly comfortable with it, either. Fortunately, my electrologist has experience with doing genital electrolysis for trans women, which does help ease my mind a bit.

She gave me a fluffy skirt wrap with snaps on it, asked me to wrap it around my waist, then left the room. I followed her instructions, and she came back a few minutes later. She worked like a masseuse, using a towel and the skirt to cover everything except the spot she was working on. For some reason it seems easier to handle a little square patch being exposed. My anxiety went away pretty quickly, but starting the surgery-prep electrolysis also caused the reality of surgery to settle in a bit. After all, this is the first concrete step I've taken in getting ready for SRS.

For the pain, I've been taking ibuprofen before each session. It only dampens the stinging of each zap a little, but I think it keeps the pain from building up as my skin gets more and more tender, and that helps a lot. I'll probably look in to getting some EMLA, which is a topical numbing cream, though I'd need a prescription from my physician to get it.

The pain from the genital electrolysis was... different, and difficult to explain, but the patch she did was not nearly as painful or annoying as when she does my upper lip. Being able to talk and distract myself while she works makes it much easier on me as well; I have a hard time sitting still and quiet for very long. Unfortunately, pain-wise, the worst is probably yet to come.

Hopefully, it will only take around 10-20 hours to clear what I need for surgery. Most surgeons (including mine) do a follicle scraping of the skin graft between removing it and replacing it, but they can't get everything, so most also recommend clearing certain areas of hair before surgery. Personally, I'd rather be safe than sorry, since it can't really be cleared after surgery.

I've also been thinking more and more about cost recently. My electrologist charges $50 per hour, which is pretty average. I looked up how long it takes most trans women to completely clear their face of hair with electrolysis alone, and most sources say it takes about 200-300 hours (though some people manage it in 100, and some have taken 700+ hours). If we go with the low average and say 200 hours, that's around $10,000 on electrolysis.

I spent about $1,300 on laser. Even if clearing the remaining facial hairs with electrolysis takes 10 hours, I will have saved $8,000. Not to mention the 180 hours I got to spend doing anything other than enduring the pain of electrolysis. Even if it had only cleared 1/6th of my facial hair, I would've come out ahead.

There is a lot of heated (no pun intended) debate over the effectiveness of laser, and I know that it's not for everyone, and that it doesn't work well on every skin/hair-type. But for those who are good candidates, and who can find a good price, I think it's worth trying. Of course, take my advice with a grain of salt, as I think you should with any advice about hair removal. =)

Speaking of saving money, my surgery fund is coming along!

I crashed my car a couple of months ago, and the insurance company called it totaled and gave me a check. Since then, I've been carpooling with Erin, and I've been considering saving that money for surgery, but I don't think that's really feasible. I've made Erin late for work a few times, and her work is not very lenient with tardiness, not to mention the fact that her schedule may change at any time. The tension over sharing a ride is only mild right now, but another year of this would probably be a different story.

We've been expecting a tax return of a couple-thousand dollars for a few months now. I filed (our first joint return! =D ) back in February, but after a few weeks of not hearing anything, I got worried and called the IRS. The rep I spoke to said that due to my name change, there was a delay, and that we'd get a notice by mail if we needed to provide more information. Since then, I've been nervous about being audited, or that they'd reject it because we're both legally female, but I just checked my bank account and there was a deposit from the US Treasury. W00t!

Including the tax return, but not the insurance money, we have about $18,000 saved, with between six and nine months (six is if there's a cancellation in November) to bring that up to $22,000. Thinking of other things that money could go to is a little depressing, but it will be worth it, and I'm excited to think that we may actually be able to save up the money in time. =D

1 comment:

  1. Remember that this is all now tax deductible. Still not fair, but it should help next year's tax return.