Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Tips on Photoshop

I'm still waiting for some of the swelling to go down from my face lift, so in the mean time I thought I would post some of my favorite links for Photoshop.

One of my favorite sites is the Photoshop Cafe. These are short, to the point, and well illustrated. There's a number of tutorials on this site. Here's some of my favorites that are especially useful for us cross-dressers:

Cast or Drop Shadow

Use of the Eyedropper


Placing a person inside an object

Masking Difficult Images

Removing a Picture from a Background

Another good site is the Graphics Software Website. There's tutorials and resources and other Photoshop links there.

A more accessible website is the Pegaweb Tutorial website by Daniel Piechnick.

One of the things I've been working on is designing business cards that I will be able to use while attending the Southern Comfort Conference. I want to use these cards when I meet my fellow sisters and brothers, so that we will be able to stay in touch with one another once the Conference is over.

Here's one of the first examples:


I used photo-stock business cards from Staples, and here is the link to a business card template for Photoshop.

In fact I have been using these lately to introduce my femme side to friends and sales associates. I keep a few in my wallet. They have worked wonderfully.

I hope next time I'll be able to post some new photos.

Till next time...Tracy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Getting Impatient! Computers to the Rescue!

I know it's going to take a while to get healed up, and things are coming along nicely according to my plastic surgeon. But that still doesn't stop me from saying, "Hey, hurry up already!"

So I'll show you how I look today:

I had some of the stitches removed on Monday. The ones under the eyes really smarted, it's a sensitive area. They (the nurse and doctor each took their turns) took out other stitches, but left the ones that were around the "puffy" areas alone. I will get those out in two days on Friday. They put steri-strips back under the eyes and in front of the ears to prevent infection.

Here's a look at all the busing under my chin:

And since I can't do makeup right now, I took that same picture, cleaned up some of the busing using Photoshop 7, this is what it looked like:

And to help my "Makeup Jones", I loaded the picture up to and fiddled with it (I added light blue contacts too, I couldn't help myself!):

Isn't modern technology wonderful? I feel so much better now!

Until next time, love Tracy

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Offical!

I had to share this. As I was recuperating I was reading an old Simpsons Comics book #74. When I came across this:


It seems to me you can't get any more religious that Flanders (you know he has a direct link to the Almighty), and if it's OK by him, it OK by me! LOL

P.S. You've got to love the pearls and the mustache together! What a hoot!

Tomorrow I get some of my sutures out. After that maybe an updated photo on my progress!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Things You Forget About

I've been able to wash my face and head three times now and I think I finally have all the gunk out. But now I remember some of the things the plastic surgeon warned me about.

I just shaved and it was weird because I can't feel certain parts of my face. It's like taking a razor to your leather purse and shaving that. Has the same feel.

And another thing he warned me about was that my beard will now be up next to my ear opening and also behind! Let me tell you how weird that feels. Yeow. Now he recommended that after my swelling settles down that I have laser hair removal done in those spots, and I'm definitely going to take him up on it. Surprise, surprise he has a laser clinic and spa, go figure.

I'm now off of the pain medicine and if I need anything I'll take a Tylenol. The swelling is the worst part. When I smile my cheeks feel stiff and it hurts. I've been avoiding comedy on the TV while recuperating, because the few times something funny has come on it literally hurts when I laugh!

Here's a picture I took today, still swollen and I didn't want to goof with any makeup so sorry for the beard shadow.


Please no "Battered Wife" jokes, I don't find that funny. The only time you should raise your hand is when you have a question or in self defense. But I still look like a mess.

It's now a waiting game, and I've got the time, so things are starting to look better!

Hugs and Kisses, Tracy

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Can't Feel My Face!

Now I understand what Joan Rivers meant! I've been told it's a temporary feeling as the nerve endings heal themselves. Maybe she just doesn't wait long enough between operations.

So I had my bandages taken off and sat under a shower to remove all the gunk. It took quite a while and it's still not totally out. I used baby shampoo so that it wouldn't be too harsh. It still feels like the compress is still on. It hurts when I smile or frown. Keep in mind this is not out of the ordinary, there was major work done. My face is swollen and busied and I can feel the sutures around my ears and under my eyes. You probably can't tell by the pictures, but the tiny sutures under my eyes are spaced out and the cuts are actually covered with steri-strips.

I'm still on pain medicine but off of the antibiotic. I'm still out of it and just don't have the energy that I normally do. This Monday I get one set of sutures out then the following Friday the rest.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel like posting a picture or two, but not today.

I want to say that my wife has been a trooper. She's helped with the icky bandages and stuff, been driving me to the doctor's office and buying me my favorite food. Basically she's an angel. I don't know how else to put it.

Till next time, Tracy

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Survived!

I Survived! It took a lot longer because of complications, but more about that later.


Yesterday I arrived with my wife early, we were supposed to be there at 7:30 A.M., we got there at 7:00. I get out of the car and turn to my wife and said, "Am I nuts?" She says, "No, you've been planning this for a while and you just realized you actually have to go through with it!"

So we're sitting in the lobby of this high-rise office building in Troy, Michigan waiting for the elevators to be turned on. I had to wear loose fitting clothes, so I chose a button pajama top and pull on sweat pants. So I felt kinda awkward in this beautiful granite and marble lobby looking like a homeless person. Then I spot the doctor walking across the 2nd floor balcony who then looks down at us and says hello, and invites us to come on up.

So up to the 11th floor we went. I gave my wife a kiss and I went off to the operation suite that was on the same floor, but around corner. I was lead into the pre-op room where I had to change into what looked like black burlap undies, the usual operation gown with footies. The black gauze underwear was there because they had to get at the adipose tissue from my abdomen to use in my face.

While I was waiting there I started talking to one of the nurses, we were both waiting on the doctor and the anesthetist. She looked at my legs and asked me if I was cold. I said no, and that I shave my legs because I'm a cross-dresser. She didn't seemed phased by this at all, and we got to talking how times have changed. I also told her how we have a GLBT organization at work, and how it helps both the company and it's employees. She thought that was a great idea.

The anesthetist arrived and put in the I.V.. She did a great job by the way, wiped the alcohol off before poking me with a numbing agent, then came the I.V. needle. I didn't feel a thing. The doctor came in had me sit up on the gurney and drew marks all over my face. He had to mark me sitting up because your face will lay differently while you are laying down on the operating table.

At 8:30 A.M. they had me in the operation room. They put me on the operating table and was trying to get me comfortable. I'm 6'4" tall so like Ned in the Dr. Seuss book (Who am I? My name is Ned. I do not like my little bed. This is no good. This is not right. My feet stick out of bed all night.) my feet stuck out on the end. They had to add an extension!

I thought the doctor would have to shave my hair but he said no. He said he hasn't done that in 25 years. He uses a anti-biotic gel to spread the hair apart and is able to cut in between the follicles . Heals faster, looks better.

I don't remember the anesthetist saying anything, but I was out. They used a twilight anesthesia though I don't remember talking to them at all during the operation. I woke up around 12:30 P.M. I remember barely coming out and having to go something awful. The next thing I know, it's we've got to go back in.

I woke up again around 3:30 P.M. I guess I had a couple of popped blood vessels and they weren't sure if it was due to me straining when I had to go or what it was. I was put under a general and the blood vessels were repaired. I believe this was near by the area behind my ears where the sutures were and the draining tubes were located. There were two tubes, one on either side draining into a small pouch that I was able to put in my pajama shirt pocket. It had to be emptied from time to time.

Well I'm sure you want to see this train wreck, as this is what I looked like when I got home.

"Don't Hate Me 'Cause I'm Beautiful!"


All I could eat was saltines and apple juice. I had an ice pack on my eyes 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off and on my neck.

The pain was the worst for the first 24 hours. In the middle of the night I had a splitting headache. This is with pain pills every 4 hours. So my wife took my blood pressure and called the doctor. He said it was to be expected because of the general anesthetic, to think of it like a hang over.

At 11:30 A.M. today I had my bandages off for a short time and had the tubes removed. This has helped reduce the pain. I actually get to shower from the neck down today!

This is what the drainage tubes and container look like:


This is what I look like today, a little less swollen and not so bloody:


The bandages come off tomorrow! Yea!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Before the Big Day

I'm excited and apprehensive. I'm at the point where I just want it over with. I'm re-reading my instructions and making sure I've got it right. I have to stop eating and drinking before midnight, but I'm going to stop sooner than that. I don't want an upset stomach!

I'm going to watch the Tigers game and go to bed. I need to keep my mind off of tomorrow.

So signing off, wish me luck!

Love, Tracy

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Plastic Surgery, the Journey

I have written before that I have lost a good deal of weight, so to reward myself I'm going under the knife this Tuesday, August 12, 2008. This is to deal with the turkey neck that is the result of losing weight along with the fact that my cheeks are now hollow. In addition, I've asked to have the bags under my eyes to be fixed.

Here's the offcial "Before" picture. I am wearing a wig and no makeup:

I've done some soul searching and wondered if I'm doing this strictly for my crosdressing and if so, am I being influenced by the fashion and media industries about how we should look. I'm sure a feminist would jump down my throat if I said, "no way". So yes, there is that influence to some degree, but keep in mind I'm in guy mode much more than gal mode, so that looking good in guy mode is important too. The main thing is when I did lose the weight I felt great. In fact I feel better today than I have in many, many years. Yet when I look in the mirror, there's this haggard looking guy looking back at me. The outside does not match the inside. This is the main reason why I want these procedures.

Many friends have asked me to chronicle this adventure as they would like to know what it's like. My plan is to write and post pictures of myself each day. I'm not sure if I will be up to it or if I can actually put a wig on over my bandages. So I'll have to wait and see what kind of pictures I can come up with. Hopefully I will be up to at least writing about it.

I've already had two meetings with the doctor. The first meeting we talked about what could be done, where it could be done and how much all of this was going to cost. It will cost a little under 12K. Health insurance does not pay for this, so I took a loan out from my retirement account.

I also chose to come out to the doctor about my crossdressing. I wanted him to understand that he did not have to preserve anything that is masculine about me, and that I did not want any feminizing surgery either. He told me he could make me look better in both my male and female presentments. This was a great relief in that he understood what I was all about. I felt it helped that I showed him pictures of me as Tracy, he seemed to understand that I was serious about how I looked. I also told him that I use 3M Transpore tape to pull my turkey neck up for some of my pictures. He said that was essentially what he will do with the face lift, and in addition, he will remove the fat that is under the chin.

We discussed where I was going to have this done. He is the head of plastic surgery at one of the best hospitals in the South-East Michigan area. He has his own "state of the art" surgery suite at his office. In fact, the surgery suite is a copy of the operating room at the hospital. He is board certified in plastic surgery (very important, some plastic surgeons are board certified, but not in plastic surgery). I chose his office because it would be a little more than $800 less expensive and it was out patient. The hospital would have insisted on an overnight stay. I figured too that he would be more at ease in his own suite. I know I would be! He told me that since he's had his own suite, he has only had to use the ambulance three times, and they were all for precautionary reasons. Keep in mind I asked other people for recommendations for an excellent plastic surgeon, and he is one of the best!

I wanted to see his pictures of before and afters, which he showed me. They looked wonderful. The people in those pictures looked like themselves only better, nothing drastic and they all looked very natural. This was very reassuring. At the end of the meeting he turned me over to his assistants where they took my before pictures and we went over the cost of the procedures. One thing I found out is that if I got the three procedures done all at once, I got a discount as I didn't have to pay for the surgery room more that once nor the anesthesia.

It took me a week or so to decide. In order to set up appointments for the surgery and the follow-ups, I had to plunk down a deposit of a thousand dollars. I had a second appointment on July 25 to go over my surgery prep. This is where they tell you what medicine to stop (usually blood thinners like aspirin) and which to start (like mega doses of Vitamin C, for better healing). It's a basic physical and checking reports from other doctors. They also gave me a personalized booklet describing the whole process and what to expect.

For the record, this is the technical mumbo-jumbo of what will take place:

BILATERAL LOWER LID BLEPHAROPLASTY (Removal of excess skin and fat from my lower eyelids)

STANDARD RHYTIDECTOMY (Removal of excess skin from my face, jowl and neck. Tightening the underlying fascia and muscle)

NASOJUGAL FOLDS FAT TRANSFER (Fat transfer to Nasojugal/Nasolabial Folds (Transferring fat from another part of my body to my nasojungal/nasolabial folds)).

On Friday the 8th, I got a call from the anesthetist to go over what medications and existing conditions I have. I asked her point blank if she liked working for this doctor. She told me she has done this type of work for 25 years and have worked the last 10 years with my plastic surgeon. She even had her two sisters that live outstate come and have work done by him. It was a frank and open discussion and really has helped in settling my nerves!

This is not a flattering picture of me, but this is the full picture of the above shot. This is what I would call "Minimalist Crossdressing" I'm wearing a wig and three pieces of clothing:

So wish me luck, the next time I write will be after the surgery!

Love, Tracy

Friday, August 8, 2008

Face Recognition, Just In Time!

I found this fun application at Load up your picture and they show you which celebrities you look like!

I decided to try the Rocker Chick photo to see who she would match:

I was surprised by the results. I didn't realize I had created such an exotic look!

I've had to look up a couple of these beautiful women:


She is a South Korean singer who performs in Korea and Japan.

Kyoko Fukada

Is an actress, model, and singer in Japan.

Tyra Banks

Well I know about Tyra Banks, I watch The Soup on the E! Entertainment Channel and they use Tyra and her show as fodder for there brand of comedy.

Ayumi Hamasaki

She's a Japanese song-writer, singer and former actress.

Lucy Lawless

Yes, Xena: Warrior Princess, wow I think that's great. That was one of my favorite shows!

I put in another picture that is closer to everyday and it's interesting how different the results are:

This is just in time because I'm going to have plastic surgery this coming Tuesday. I hope to have a blow by blow (ew poor choice of words) report of my experience.

Till next time, take care, Tracy