Excerpt taken from Chapter 12 – Indian Ocean:
It was good to be back. I was exhausted from the last four weeks of frantic organizing and goodbyes. Now I looked forward to daily immersion in the Indian Ocean. Daily work would be hard but also highly satisfying on a completely different level than what I had done over the previous five years. I was back to following my passions, trading safety and comfort for emotional roller coasters, a healthy body, and more or less calculated risk.
As a snorkel guide I started with a monthly salary of five hundred US Dollars per month. Board and lodging were included, as were simple ailments that could be fixed by the island physician. However, social benefits were unheard of in this line of work. Before arrival on Kuderudu I had been immersed up to my ears in insurance, working at a very safe desk. Now I had no insurance in a line of work immersing me in the ocean, exposing me to multiple exotic dangers on a daily basis. My inconsequential paycheck made it impossible for me to afford health insurance. I had always been healthy enough if I chose to ignore my early spastic, mysterious fainting spells due to malfunctioning heart valves, and my dependence on testosterone shots due to my gender change. I honestly wasn’t worried. All things considered, this isolated island was just as safe if not safer than anywhere else. I was thirty-four, felt healthy and energetic, happy to brave a less regulated life with many enchanting lose ends.
One thing I needed to take care of right away was learning to inject myself with testosterone. While still in highly civilized Switzerland I had shied away from injecting myself. I hated shots; a fact that had my doctor’s assistant in stitches. She looked at my extensive tattoos covering chest, shoulders, back, and legs; waved the long and very thick needle in front of my face and asked laughing, “Really, you are afraid of needles?” Absolutely, especially the very thick and long variety needed to inject the gelatinous testosterone fluid into my muscles.
Now here I was, stuck on an island far away from any doctors I knew. At the time I felt insecure living in an extremely fundamentalist Muslim country. Exposing myself to the local doctor didn’t seem like a viable option. I had been able to bring a year’s supply of testosterone with me into the Maldives, complete with syringes and needles. The gelatinous fluid functioned like a slow-releasing depot, providing my body with a steady supply of testosterone, close to regular levels for a man. For the rest of my life I needed to inject myself every twenty days. Other options were available on the market, but so far for me this method proved to be the simplest one.
Luckily Judith was a former nurse as well as an amazingly open-minded, discreet human being. I told her about my gender change over a coffee and asked her if she could teach me how to inject myself. We spent one evening in my room poking needles into my thighs and I was set. To avoid unnecessary pain it was important to relax the muscle before injecting into it. I spent minutes just trying to relax my thigh muscles every time since they were cramping up in anticipation of the needle going in. Overall however injecting myself was far easier than I had ever imagined.
As a novice needle master I did experience frequent moments of panic after I realized for example that I had neglected to expel air from the syringe before injecting myself. One time I ran over the entire island trying to find Judith, fully expecting to drop dead at any moment due to a small pocket of air circulating through my blood stream towards my heart. Judith smiled at me and told me not to worry. I had obviously seen way too many movies.