“So Drew, how are you feeling?” Doctor Fischer enquired.
Me, Mum and Dad were seated opposite him in a sort of lounge attached to the department, a cup of coffee in front of each of us, which I kept sipping to calm my nerves.
“Okay I guess, still a bit sore, you know, from the stitches I guess.”
“Uh huh, I wouldn't expect otherwise, it's still only nine days after all. I take it you've discussed things, come to a decision?”
“Yes Doctor, we've got a couple of questions though.” Dad replied.
“Sure Herr Bond, fire away.”
“If Gab, that is Drew continues on the contraceptives could we delay the surgery, till after the summer, September maybe?”
For me, my future it was the sixty four thousand Euro question, they can't force me to have the surgery but realistically I'm gonna have to do something and reasonably soon.
The Doc glanced at each of us in turn before answering.
“I can see by your faces that this is something important to you Drew, your cycling I'm guessing?”
“Yes Herr Doctor, if I have the op like straight away I'll be out for the rest of the year, I've been picked for the national team this summer, I might never get the chance again, especially like afterwards.”
Mum held my shoulders; she has been quiet this morning.
He nodded in acceptance of my plea.
“And you Herr Bond, Frau Bond, how do you sit with this?”
“She knows the issues Doctor, we'll be here for her.” Mum stated with a slight quiver to her voice.
“The final decision is Drew's, we had to ask the question, riding is so much of her life.” Dad added.
Doctor Fischer nodded again, “ The best advice I can give is to get things sorted out sooner rather than later, however,” he took a sip of his coffee, “the biopsy hasn't shown any cancerous cells, the drain is in place and the oestrogen dose should prevent any heavy flow. I don't think it would be wise to prolong things too much, we need to keep an eye on things of course but I think September should be okay.”
“Yes!” I gave my fist a little victory shake.
“I guess someone's happy,” the Doc noted, “am I to assume we are going with the vaginoplasty?”
“It seems to be the best option going forward.” Mum supplied.
“I don't want the op actually, but the alternatives are no go's really, at least this way I've got a chance of a normal life, even if it is as a girl.” I added the last bit to wind Mum up but she didn't bite.
He scribbled something on my notes before speaking again, “Okay I've pencilled you in for October second, we'll need to see you about mid September for a final pre surgery scan, I'll get my secretary to drop you a line with the date and so on; you live near Ahrweiler?”
“Dernau, bout ten minutes away.” Dad offered.
“I'll see if we can't arrange the scan in Ahrweiler or Remagen, I don't need to be present, might give a bit more flexibility rather than dragging you up here.
“Thanks Doctor.” Mum allowed.
“Well in that case we're done,” we all stood, “I hope the summer goes well for you Drew, hopefully I won't need to see you before September.”
“Oh, we'll need a scrip for the contraceptives.” Mum noted.
“Of course,” he pulled a pad from his pile of paperwork and scribbled out the prescription. “Here you go, get it filled here, it's a stronger dose than usual.”
“Thank you Doctor.” I offered.
“That went well.” Dad mentioned as we strapped ourselves into the Saab.
“Yeah.” I agreed.
In some ways it had, I get a reprieve, my summer's plans can go ahead, okay I need to be careful and like BC will need to know but at least I get to go. On the other hand I've got a date, a date when I change gender, a date from which day forward being a boy won't be an option. No, from October second I'll no longer be male on any level.
The drive back to the Ahrtal was a solemn affair.
"So Gab, you never did tell us what this stupendous idea was." Anna noted when we gathered for lunch on Wednesday.
"I wouldn't call it stupendous. "
"Well I would." Nena put in.
I started to turn a shade of puce that boys should never reach.
"You know about it Nen?" Steff queried.
"And me." Pia added.
"We're organising a sort of Weihnachtsmarkt for Claud." Nena told everyone with the beginning of a tear in her eye.
Pia pulled her into a hug, "You'd best tell 'em Gabs."
Why me? What should I say?
"Tell us what? and Weihnachts is months away." Brid mentioned.
"Well you all saw how Claudia was at the weekend," there were nods and grunts of affirmation around the table, Pia signalled me to continue, "she's not going to get any better, the prognosis isn't good at all."
"She's dying?" Steff saved me having to say the words.
"Quite likely she has only a few weeks, perhaps the end of the summer." Pia supplied.
This news was of course devastating in equal measure to those that already knew and those just finding out. After a bit of a crying jag and some questions later Con picked up on the original conversational thread.
“So why a Weihnachtsmarkt?”
“Well we were talking on Saturday like and I went off on one about the markets we went to last year and suggested she came with us this year, you could see how much she wanted that to happen, I only found out from P afterwards just how ill she is. I felt like a right card I can tell you. Then while I was out on Sunday it just came to me.”
“I've got the use of the cellar and Dad was on about borrowing a snow maker from the Rödelbahn place.” Pia mentioned.
“When is this happening?” Anna enquired.
“A week Saturday,” Nena told everyone, “she's going back to the Schwarzwald on the Sunday so we'll do it on Saturday afternoon and evening, that's if you guys are up for it?”
“Of course we are Fischer,” Steff stated, “so what are we doing?”
P, Nena and I spent two hours on a conference call last night, hopefully we haven't missed anything.
“Here's the programme,” I stated passing out flyers, “me an P are co-ordinating stuff, I'll try to get the Löwen involved with some stalls and stuff, we need you guys to help with decorations and stuff.”
Hopefully we could pull off everything on our list, we'd put some things on a wish list rather than do list but we'd agreed that some things were essentiall, tree, glühwein, würst, carol singing, decorations. You can't exactly recreate the stalls selling stuff and the typical merry-go-rounds and helter-skelters are a bit beyond us but if we can pull off the snow that will be ace!
Somehow Frau Dürst got wind of things and from being an ambitious job for a few friends we found ourselves with volunteers literally knocking on our doors!
The rest of the week flew by, what with training, schoolwork and trying to organise the great Weihnachts experience, time just disappeared.
“Ja, wo ist?”
“It's me, Helen.”
“Helen, in Herr Solger's class?” I couldn't really place the name.
“No you dummy, in England?”
It was one of those head slapping instances, of course it was Hel, It hadn't even dawned on me that she was talking English.
“Sorry Hel, I'm organising this thing here and I've been on the phone half the night.”
“Tell me about it, this is the fifth time I've tried to get through.”
“Sorry, how are you?”
“On the mend, I shan't be a lingerie model now but I'll live.”
“You wanted to be a lingerie model?”
“Drew! Sometimes, I was being ironic?”
“Right, yeah of course, just checking like.”
“So what are you organising?”
“Well,” I started, “I've told you about Nena's sister….”
I'm glad it wasn't my phone bill! It was great to talk to her, especially in the circumstances, we sort of caught up on some stuff, we'd be face to face in a few weeks but I felt better having spoken to her, apparently my recording had kept her amused while she was in hospital.
It felt good to talk to someone from ‘back home' without all the recent drama taking centre stage. I do sometimes miss Warsop, but whether it's people or the place I couldn't really say, the end of the call left me a bit maudlin.
“You think you are up to riding Sunday?” Dad asked a bit later when I hit the kitchen to make some cocoa.
“I guess so, not had anymore blood anywhere.”
Not strictly true, the panty liners had taken a few spots a couple of times during the week but I'm not telling Dad.
“There's a chipper at Olpe if you fancy it?”
“North of Siegen in the Ebbegebirge.”
Still didn't mean anything to me, “Kay, Roni riding?”
“Not asked her yet but I expect so.”
“Okay then, I need the ride after all.”
Saturday arrived far too soon, no girly shopping trips this week, well not for most of us. I pulled on some scruffy old stuff and grabbed a coffee while I waited for Connie and Anna to come and collect me. I didn't have to wait too long but it's still only seven thirty!
“Come on girl, shake one of those pretty legs!” Anna teased.
“ It's too early.” I moaned.”
“There's a lot to do.” Con was no help.
The ride up to Pia's felt like quite a slog this morning, when the three of us arrived we were greeted by a hive of industry. I mentioned we had some extra recruits from school right? Well Mart and Max, the Strechs and a couple of other lads were already busy chopping and sawing stuff, Brid and Pia were organising some other kids painting some boards and Herr Sebenschuh was in discussion with another chap by a large trailer thing which I'm guessing is the snow blower.
“Heya , Gabs, guys.” Pia greeted us.
The three of us parked our bikes in the grape shed as usual; someone's car was making quite a racket outside. Bear in mind its summer and shorts and T's are the usual garb, walking outside into a blizzard was to say the least unexpected!
“Over here!” Max shouted.
I, we, couldn't see a thing; it was a total whiteout then the droning engine cut off and the snow slowly cleared.
“Gaby? Connie?” Herr S called.
“You look like an ice-lolly-Bond .” Max chortled.
I felt like one, the artificial snow wasn't melting as quickly as you might think; Con and me were both well coated.
“Well at least we know that works.” Anna noted from the safety of the shed.
You couldn't be angry, it was quite funny really apart from being cold and wet!
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 14.11.2011