This post is only for those who are okay reading specifics about sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and recuperating from it. I have written in detail because there are some who have expressed a desire to learn, and I have some readers who are contemplating the surgery. If you do not want details, check this out: http://foundmagazine.com/
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My first visit to Dr. Gallagher was on Wednesday, April 19, eight days after my surgery. Of all of the items on my checklist, 90% came back positive. And the 10% negative? The one item that makes up that amount could be better, but is not bad.
Well, wait. There were two negatives, but one of them was only momentary. It was the removal of the catheter. As Dr. G gently pulled it through my urethra, the pain was hot and heavy. I told her and Julie that it felt like I was peeing a fire hose’s worth of water through that tiny channel.
I shrieked pretty loudly. I had to breathe hard as I recovered. Julie held my head and stroked it. Dr. G went for a cup of water. It took a few minutes for me to calm down. If I ever have to have a catheter again . . .
That negative done with, the one that I count as the 10% is the amount of swelling and bruising to the wound area. I asked how bad. Dr. G put it in the 70th percentile. Even with that, she expressed no concern. Though I look pretty rough, there is nothing unusual.
Onto the good stuff.
As I previously reported, my excellent health was an item on which several folks commented before and after surgery. At my post-op appointment, Dr. G remarked that not only am I in tremendously good physical condition for someone turning SIXTY, most of her patients are under FIFTY and are not in such good shape. Few go home after the minimum number of days—three—yet I did.
Can you see me beaming?
Before I was released from the hospital last Friday, Dr. G gave us her cell number and encouraged us to call if need be. I now asked her if she had been expecting to get a call from me. She said that of the nearly ten SRS she has performed, I am the first not to call her at least once. Yes, more beaming.
I told Dr. G that I had not been ready to look down there. I was pleased when she took the lead. “Lots of girls feel that way. Most of them tell me that in the first few days they asked themselves, ‘What did I do to myself?’” I replied that I had asked myself the same thing, and that it was primarily motivated by how lousy I felt and how long is the recovery road.
Using an implement, she touched me in a few spots. I did not feel the first two, and felt the third. She said that my amount of numbness is common. She cleaned me up a bit—I bleed at least a little, most of the time—and the next order of business arrived.
She took out a set of dilators. I was terribly skittish to begin this process, having no idea how it would feel. Would it hurt at first? If so, how badly? For sixty years, I did not have a vagina, and now I had to learn how to slide a hard plastic rod into it as deeply as possible, holding it in place for fifteen minutes, and do that five times a day for now.
I wanted to watch, so Dr. G retrieved a small mirror. Truly, I was not so sure I was going to be able to look down there—and, ugh, I am as black and blue as anything I have ever seen—but I found myself doing well with it. Besides, I needed to see this process so that I could do it myself.
Thankfully, her effort to insert the dilator went smoothly. After getting it four inches in, she was able to achieve one more, for a total of five inches of depth. That is good depth for post-surgery/pre-dilating. After surgery, she had told Julie she had plenty of material to work with in forming my new genitals.
Dr. G removed the dilator. It was my turn. Julie held the mirror as I went to work. The first trick was to get the correct angle. After that, I found the dilator to insert fairly smoothly. Eventually, I slid it in the full five inches.
Apparently, this went very well, so it prompted Dr. G to suggest trying the next larger size. I was reluctant, but did it. It went in harder, and I felt it a lot more. I only got it in a few inches. Dilating at home, I am sticking with the smallest size for now.
We had a number of questions for her.
- When may I drive? I may drive when I feel ready. Now is okay if it feels okay.
- How about mowing and gardening? I can do these as it feels okay, taking care to mind my body, not to overdo it.
- Walking? The same goes for how much walking I do.
- Do I have to keep sleeping on my back? Nope. I can sleep as it is comfortable.
- How about sitting on the inflated ring? Use it if I need it, but I don’t need to.
I ditched the ring.
Last evening, Julie and I went for a walk. Without the catheter, I could walk way faster than I was! I’ve stretched out my walks to three tenths of a mile. As feels okay, I will keep adding to it, and try to walk four or five times a day, as I have been.
I cannot imagine mowing or gardening right now. I suspect those are a week or two off.
Because my mid section is so swollen and black and blue, lying on my side is not very comfortable. When I do it, I put a pillow between my legs, at my knees. As for lying on my stomach? I don’t think so—and that’s always my first position, when I go to bed. I am pleased to report that every night I have gotten into bed, onto my back, and have not had trouble falling asleep. Whew.
As I complete this post Thursday afternoon, I have had three dilation sessions at home. Last evening, Julie was here to help, and I needed her help. It went well. This morning, I attempted it by myself, mirror in my right hand and dilator in my left. After a couple of attempts, I got the dilator in to four inches. Later in the morning, after five attempts I gave up, only being able to insert the dilator about an inch. No matter how I relaxed, shifted my body, and adjusted the dilator, it was no use. It is now time to go give it one more try before Julie gets home from work.
Finally, I am peeing on my own! After she removed the catheter, I asked Dr. G if I should be concerned about not being able to pee (though, typically, folks report the opposite, not being able to control their bladder) and, if I can’t produce, how is it treated. She said not to be concerned. Continuing, she revealed, “If you can’t pee, a smaller catheter is inserted.”
I became one highly motivated pee-er!
Last evening, as the feeling of fullness grew, I sat on the toilet. Nothing happened. By bedtime, I was trying not to freak out, still not having produced. I went to bed.
I awoke at midnight, really feeling the urge. Gently placing myself on the toilet, within seconds I felt the warm flow releasing itself. I cried tears of joy and relief.
I am pleased to report that, looking at my new anatomy, it is what I was hoping it would be. This feels correct on me, where male genitals did not. I will be grateful for full physical healing as I am very happy that the emotional healing is well under way.
Now, where’s that orange dilator . . .