Saturday, 3 December 2016

Being good just makes you into a punching bag

After yesterday's highly unpleasant lawyer letter, threatening me with eviction and the forced payment of large sums of money, I sent a response back, highlighting that the building owner has not seen fit to fix the outstanding issues in the apartment. The response I got from the lawyer was brief: the owner believes that everything has been fixed, has the bills from repairmen to show for it, and that I should be paying up and moving out as soon as possible.

Only problem with that is that there never was any feedback from me, or communication from the owner's side about the issues being fixed and the reduction in rent being discontinued. This leads to the stance where I can easily point out the remaining issues in the place (rusty water, poor insulation, noisy heating system, lack of sound insulation with neighbours), and where the owner insists there are no more issues, or as her representative put it: "It's an old building, those things are normal."

Long story short, I have to get that lawyer ASAP, who will hopefully make short work of this matter. I have also registered with an organisation for those who rent their apartment, house, etc. and contacted them. Hopefully they'll be able to advise me as well.

Meanwhile I have applied for the first new apartment. If I get it, I'd be able to move next month. From the description it sounds pretty decent. It's a 1970s building, but fully renovated (my current place just had the windows renewed, poorly). It's even a little bit larger than my current place and should be very comfortable. Keeping my fingers crossed there.

Of course I'm still looking for new apartments/houses to rent in or near Karlsruhe. Same search parameters still apply: roughly 80 square meters, quiet, and some place for my bicycle as well as cable connection (for internet).  Please let me know if you know of anything there that's with a reputable owner.

Moving on, this whole thing definitely brings back a whole lot of unpleasant memories and thoughts. Once again I'm being accused of being something which I am not, through no fault of my own. I'm again left wondering what it is that people have against me, and then the nagging doubt of whether it isn't actually me after all who is the problem. Maybe I'm just thinking that I can manage this 'adult' thing but I'm in reality screwing up everything.

I spent over a decade 'debating' with physicians and psychologists whether I was just a feminine-looking boy, a male to female transsexual, intersex, crazy, delusional (actual phrase used by a psychologist), or just obsessed with proving that I was right. If it's often simply impossible to prove that your own, physical body is what it is and not what they say it is, then how does one deal with more abstract matters?

When years of such psychological (and physical) abuse finally took their toll and I blacked out in what was likely a dissociative identity disorder-related episode, I was blamed for the damage to a number of objects in that waiting room, even though I never wilfully chose to damage them, or was even aware of it. Yet how does one prove DID, or PTSD? You cannot measure it (except with fMRI scans, probably), or see it, only say with a reasonable degree of certainty that the person who claims to have PTSD, or DID blackouts, is telling the truth.

In essence, I got blamed for over a decade for everything bad that was inflicted on me, from the attitude of doctors and psychologists. My attitude was wrong, the German medical conclusions were mistaken, I was just being obsessed with the thing, I should admit the doctors were right and live my life as the guy I am. And so on. The disciplinary case I brought against the Amsterdam VUmc gender team was dismissed because they had 'done nothing wrong' in their assessment of me, this even after the first surgery in Germany and my legal gender change on the basis of being a hermaphrodite.

What have I really done wrong? I always stuck to the rules, followed the advice of professionals unless my own research made me question it. By the end of 2007 I was dealing with two completely conflicting medical conclusions, between me being a regular guy, or a hermaphrodite. Who wouldn't want to get the real answer there? Could anyone live with such uncertainty? Is it wrong to keep asking questions?

A while ago I had a collection agency after me because I supposedly hadn't paid Ikea for a delivery. That turned out to be fully Ikea's fault because they had never communicated to me that the automated withdrawal from my bank account had failed, because the delivery guy hadn't written down my information properly. Instead they sent me a bill and follow-up requests for money without further explanation, never responding to my emails to support. There the collection agency admitted this, Ikea admitted this, and I just had to pay the original amount. Their fault, their mea culpa, everything was fine in the end.

I'm hoping that something like that will happen here too. I am not aware of me having done anything wrong and from the (professional) advice I have received so far it does indeed appear that the fault lies solidly with the building's owner. Of course, my experience of being right and getting proven right is somewhat sketchy based on those previous experiences. The fear which keeps eating away at me is that despite being right, I'll still have to pay a lot of money, get evicted and have this marked on some permanent file, making it a nightmare to ever rent again.

Being the 'good guy' has to be pretty much symbolic with 'taking everything the less scrupulous throw at one', while only smiling and staying polite during the process. When one sees what others can get away with, it does make one wonder whether it truly pays to be good and whether the 'dark side' isn't really way more fun.

On the other hand, I think I'd make for a terrible villain.


Friday, 2 December 2016

Getting kicked out of apartment and hating myself

So today I got a letter from a lawyer, courtesy of my landlady. I have no idea how things ended up like this, but she seems to think that I'm simply not paying the full rent, despite multiple warnings, and that the rental contract was already cancelled in September. Maybe the contact person at the company who handles the communication never passed on (truthful) information to the owner. Maybe she is ignoring the broken things in the apartment. Maybe... I don't know.

At any rate I need to get a lawyer right away to handle this for me. If anyone knows of one here in Karlsruhe, please do let me know.

The worst thing about this all is not the prospect of losing my belongings and becoming homeless again. I have been there before and it sucks, but once you're at the bottom the only way is up. No, the worst thing is the feeling of failure. Why I cannot just find a new place, why I didn't find a new place during the nearly three years that I live in this place which I hate so much. What is wrong with me that I ignore something so crucial.

Of course, these legal threats against me shouldn't have happened as I have tried to follow the law to the letter to the best of my abilities, but that doesn't excuse my failure to just goddarn do something useful. It seems like all I have done these past years has been whining and moping and not improving my situation.

Yes, figuring out my situation at work took time and effort. Yes, figuring out a medical solution to my intersex condition has swallowed up a lot of time and energy ever since I moved to Germany. But I should have done something, anything, to ensure that I would not end up in a situation like this.

I still want to just buy a house, as I'm sick of dealing with landlords and kin after basically only negative experiences. I should do something now, but at the thought of actually, actively doing something about this I just collapse emotionally. I do not think I can do this by myself. Last time I tried it - a few months ago - I nearly got scammed out of my money by an untrustworthy landlady. I'm not eager to repeat that. I want to improve my situation, but it's all just too much.

At this point I have to admit that I cannot do this by myself. The emotional pain I feel currently again is so much that I do not feel that it's worth to continue living. There is no way out. Not without help, and everybody and everything seems to be against me.

If anyone who cares about me reads this, please help?

I don't want to die, but I cannot live like this =/


Monday, 28 November 2016

The waiting game again

The good news is that I managed to make an appointment with this new surgeon earlier this morning without issues. The not so great news is that the appointment isn't until the end of February. Another three-month wait there, in other words. Any hope that my last medical issues might be resolved has pretty much died at this point. Whether there'll be a surgery next year even if everything works out is doubtful at best, I think. I'll have to wait and see.

Worse news is that the earlier mentioned bronchitis is still there. After spending a few hours on Thursday outdoors in the cold the previous progress seems to have reversed itself and I'm now health-wise back where I was over a week ago. Tomorrow I'll see my family doctor about this and see what she can tell me about what I have exactly and how many weeks I'll be out of commission.

On the bright side, I should at least be healthy by the time February rolls around and the winter should be almost over so that I won't have to travel in the cold and snow when I head to the clinic.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Ultimately others decide what my body is

Yesterday's appointment with my psychotherapist was more or less as expected. After I worked myself out of the severe depression of two weeks ago, I expected to get help arranging matters with the surgeon, which I did. Today the psychotherapist called the clinic again and an assistant called me. Unfortunately she called on my mobile phone, which I had left at home. No voice mail was left, so I'm not entirely sure how this will continue come Monday. Hopefully I'll have an appointment with the surgeon next month.

While talking through some issues, I once again realised the horrible truth that no matter what might be the factual reality of what my body is, ultimately it's all down to the opinion of a physician which determines what it can be. No matter that a surgeon cut me open and documented their findings. Another doctor is free to dispute those findings. I can find another doctor, who can also dispute those findings. And again. And so on.

This basically summarises the six hellish years I spent in the Netherlands after I found out about my intersex condition. Nearly three years during which I just had my own suspicions and the research I had performed using my own body and medical literature. Then the MRI-based evidence from Germany concluding that I'm a hermaphrodite. Then over six years of Dutch physicians doing their utmost to ignore and discredit this evidence.

Now I'm back at the same point. It doesn't matter that just over five years ago to this day I was lying cut open on a surgery table with a surgeon documenting the presence of female genitals. This new surgeon can still dismiss those findings and proclaim that nothing unusual was found on the MRI scan images. That I'm just a feminine-looking guy. A guy with perfect female dress sizes, natural female hormone levels and a regular, monthly period since the age of eleven.

Nothing matters. It's all up to the whims of others what I'll end up being, end up feeling and how I'll be living, or not.

I hope it all works out this time.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Bronchitis, or: Get some real rest, or else

The past weeks I didn't feel so great already, with fatigue and coughing, and the past days occasionally pangs of pain in my chest. I initially just ascribed it to a bit of a cold or something, but yesterday the chest pains became ridiculously painful. Conclusion: bronchitis or similar.

Today I'm feeling even worse than yesterday, which underlines the advice given for recovering from bronchitis: rest and plenty of fluids. The drinking of fluids is easy enough, with lots of water and hot tea. The 'rest' part is something I have the most trouble with. Other people seem to get along just fine with doing 'nothing' for a while, but for me I'd even get bored as a child during the few times that I was sick and had to stay in bed.

The least I can do is to stay indoors, stay warm and don't stress myself too much. Unfortunately I still have to do household chores, including cooking of dinner. I'd also freak out if I couldn't sit in front of my PC and/or at my electronics desk and work on projects. There's a reason why 'vacation' sounds like 'purgatory' to me. I have never been good at not occupying myself with a project. Or ten.

So rest it is... along with the slight worry about the impact of this poorly insulated apartment on my health during the coming winter, and the immense stress of whether I'll see any chance of getting medical help vanish forever later next week when I see my psychotherapist again. Not getting a response from a doctor who was supposed to help me is the first break in the unexpected line of medical progress with my intersex condition which started last year. It's hard not to think that it was all just another bitter illusion of hope, soon to be shattered.

I'll try not to get too worried about medical issues, or my apartment slowly killing me. Maybe play a game or two and pretend I'm 'resting'. I can do this, maybe :)


Friday, 18 November 2016

This world cannot be real

Last week my psychotherapist contacted me to inform me that she had been unable to get into contact with the surgeon. Instead she had called the clinic and they told her there that I should contact the surgeon via the general email address for the clinic. This was a bit of a setback. Writing this email (in German), addressed at this surgeon proved to be very hard. Even though I regularly write German emails for my work, when I sat down to type the email to the surgeon, it was as though I had never used German.

It took me a few hours, then with help of Google Translate I managed to formulate something resembling a proper email which I sent off. The automatic response informed me that it would take at least five working days to get a response. It's been nearly ten working days now. For about a week now I have been struggling with intense depression as a result of having to suffer through more hope.

There's a very real possibility that I will not get a response, that even repeated reminders to the clinic will just make things drag on until ultimately the whole thing kind of bleeds to death. Just like every other time before, except for this one time when it did work out and I had this one surgery which changed my life.

Yet I do not believe any more that I will get this final surgery. I do not believe that physicians, psychologists, etc. really want to help me. I do not believe that being intersex makes me anything other than a pariah in the eyes of society. Next week is the next appointment with my psychotherapist. The temptation is strong to just end everything there.

Give up on the idea of help from surgeons, give up on getting help with the monthly pains, give up on PTSD therapy. Accept the very real possibility of living with chronic pain and the high chance of suffering sepsis or cancer as a result of an untreated, largely unexamined hermaphroditic condition.

At least I could maybe build up a life. Maybe.

Ignore everything to do with intersex, LGBTI and such nonsense from now on. Stop cooperating with the media. Stop helping other intersex people with advice. Pretend to be normal. Never finish my autobiography.

Focus on the things which can change. Things which I can control.

I know it's impossible to do so. I wouldn't have suffered through the past twelve years if it had been possible to give up on getting answers. The only way I have found which allowed me to give up was by being in enough pain that only suicide offered a solution. If I really gave up on things next week, I'd basically be choosing death.

Yet to continue like this, to constantly be forced to remind physicians of their duty and their job, to feel ever more like an unwanted pariah and pest is no solution either. I'm not sure in how far I should be taking these chronic pains and other symptoms seriously, or how bad they really are. Maybe it's normal to regularly feel so sick that it feels like one is dying. I don't know what's normal.

Maybe it's normal to have chronic pain, to accept living in deplorable apartments, to be ignored by doctors, and to feel tortured by both the briefness and unfairness of existence. Maybe depression is merely the acceptance of reality.

There's nothing which I would want more at this point than to have the surgeon contact me after all, have the surgery, find a wonderful home to buy next year and leave so many horrible experiences and memories behind me. Yet thinking like that involves hope, and hope is merely the prelude to suffering.

I want to be proven wrong. There's nothing which would please me more than to be able to not feel trapped by the whims of other people any longer, to have medical professionals revealed as actual, sympathetic human beings instead of uncaring alien beings stuffed into a human shell.

I want to feel human so badly myself. Not intersex, not a woman. Just myself. Yet I do not have all the answers yet and my psyche is too shattered and damaged at this point to give me anything but a garbled look at what this 'self' may be.

My enemy is hope. My enemy is time. My enemy is ignorance. My enemies are preconceptions and bias. I cannot fight against something which is intangible, or so firmly lodged into the psyche of others. I want to be nice to others and have others be nice to me, but I feel so saddened by the thought that most others do not think that way.

There's too much strife, anger and lack of understanding in this world.

Maybe my own small story will have a happy ending, or maybe not. I cannot tell. All I can do is stay away from the dark, dangerous parts of life. Even if it means abandoning all hope of a happy ending.

I pray it doesn't come to that.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Why 3D films aren't true 3D

The big advantage of stereo vision is that it allows an individual to perceive far more about their environment than without it. One physically sees more, and one is able to judge distances and shapes far better. It is for these reasons that real 3D films have been a tantalising prospect for many decades, long after stereo photography became popular.

Over the past years I have had the chance to watch a number of 3D films, both truly filmed in 3D (Avatar) and later added with post-processing (2010's Alice in Wonderland). Even for films which were shot in 3D a number of large obstacles remain before they'll come close to a true 3D experience, such as that for example offered by Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

One of the main sticking points with 3D films has for a long time been the framerate, or lack thereof. Comparing the usual 24 frames-per-second (FPS) 3D films with the (much rarer) 48 FPS films, one can see that the latter is much smoother and more pleasant to look at, especially with panning or fast action scenes.

A few days ago I went to see my most recent 3D film, Doctor Strange, together with a bunch of friends. At this cinema they used a non-IMAX screen with active glasses, meaning not using polarised frames. Theoretically this makes for the best possible experience, as there will not be any overlap of frames per eye and not having the darkening effect of the polarisation.

The main issue with films trying to be 3D is that since they are filmed using lenses, they always have a focal point, effectively meaning a point that's in-focus in the scene while the rest is blurred. This is very disconcerting while looking around the scene as it feels as if one's vision isn't working normally. It also makes that every object that's not in focus (especially nearby objects) turns into a shapeless blob which one's mind cannot make heads or tails of.

Basically this means that you're not free to just look anywhere in the frame, but are forced to follow the focus of the camera. This is different from VR, where every part of the visible scene is in focus when you look at it. The resulting effect is of a scene which looks partially 3D and partially just like (blurry) 2D cut-outs.

One could say that this is no different from a 2D film, but the difference there is that the brain interprets a 2D image very differently from a stereoscopic one. With the former there's no expectation of it being a scene one can look around in, as it's just a flat image in which we can recognise shapes. With the latter the expectation is that it's just like our normal stereoscopic vision, but the limitations make that this is left unmet.

My personal experience is that of an experience markedly worse than the 3D effect experienced with VR and Nintendo's 3DS console. Some parts of scenes are cool due to the added 3D effect, but this is mostly when the camera has finally stopped moving and we get to focus on a close-up scene. Sadly such scenes are rare and in general I don't really feel that one misses a lot by watching it in 2D format.

Now if the FPS got upped to something reasonable (60+ FPS per eye?), and everything in the scene was in focus, then it would work. What we end up with today is kind of somewhat okay-ish at best, but nothing mind-blowing.

Especially after exposure to VR my feelings about current 3D films is that they're essentially a gimmick without a lot of added value.

Now VR... there's a topic which is truly mind-blowing. Part of me thinks that eventually VR will replace films as we know them today. I really hope it will and take films properly into the next dimension.