All right, I’ll be honest. The past sixteen days have not been a piece of cake. But, see, I was working on this post at a time when I was in a really good mood, with my having settled into a nice pattern of all that I have to do each day and enjoying consistent healing, and I had taken out of the freezer this piece of cake to enjoy with a cup of coffee, and so, well, do I really have to say anymore in this already terribly long sentence?
Here are some of the significant goings-on that have me going on with my goings-on.
It occurred to me that when I told you I began dilation, I did not tell you why dilating is needed.
The neo vagina is formed by the surgeon creating a space next to the anus. Literally, what was taking residing in that area is pushed aside to tunnel the four to six inches in, depending on how much flesh the person possessed to create the neo vagina. Once put into place, the skin gradually grows together, holding the neo vagina in place. That takes care of the outer side, but not the inside.
Without dilation, the neo vagina would shrink and collapse. (Picture a barn, which you watch slowly age and rot and fall in. Okay, maybe not.) By placing a dilator into the neo vagina and holding it there—these first few months, I am doing it five times a day, for fifteen minutes per session—the skin is strengthened and it learns where to remain. (Sessions become fewer to where, eventually, only once-a-week to once-a-month dilating is necessary.)
Within a week or so, I will increase the width of the dilator, and there are two more sizes after that. The trans woman, who desires sexual relations with a male, wants to achieve as much width and depth as she can, so that she has a typically-sized vagina. I am not concerned about size, but I want good health so I will dilate as instructed.
Dilating five times a day means doing so about every three hours. Each time I finish, I look at the clock to determine the next one. I am a terribly time-sensitive person, so each next session is regularly on my mind. Ugh.
Not quite ready for the Indy 500
On Tuesday, April 25, I drove for the first time since my April 11 surgery—exactly two weeks post-op. Driving was not a problem—and our car has manual transmission—but sitting in that position pushed all of my weight to my center, exactly where I don’t want it. Yeah, it hurt.
Julie suggested I take a towel, form it into a U, and sit on it to take off the pressure. I did. It helped a lot. She’s a savvy chick.
Oh, and the reason for my taking Julie to work so that I had the car for the day? I returned to Barb the Impaler, so she can continue working on permanently removing my facial hair. I’ve now had eighty hours of electrolysis on my face. I am over halfway done. Do the math. I have dozens more hours left of painful pokes where the electrified needle is inserted into the follicle, zapped, and the hair pulled out.
One every five or so seconds.
In hour-long sessions.
I must be a sadist.
Call me Gumby, but not Pokey
One of the harder things about the first ten days after surgery was the lack of being able to move about as I am used to doing. Simply getting into a chair and back out was a slow, methodical process, mostly so as to avoid causing myself pain. The very thick dressing that I wore the first eight days further worsened the problem. Besides, wow, I cannot begin to describe the level of soreness I experienced, and it was constantly concentrated at the very center of my bottom.
I noticed, a couple of days ago, how I can now pop up off the couch or out of a chair, just about as nimbly as ever. I can lie on my side, sleeping that way for as long as an hour (though I’ve yet to try lying on my stomach), and I can bring either leg up to my side, bending it so that my foot rests against the knee of my other leg. Also, I can put on socks, and I can bend down and pick up things from the floor.
I feel really good when walking. And though I am several weeks from running, and I can’t walk as fast as when I do on the days that I take a break from running (as fast as 14:00 per mile), I have improved my walking from 23:00 per mile, to 21:00 per mile, to 19:00 per mile, and increased my distance to 1.5 miles.
I had been so concerned about injuring myself, and about breaking open stitches, not to cause myself a setback, and because I was so swollen, that I was leery about doing too much. That leads me to this . . .
Swelling and stitches and black-and-blue, oh my!
How does one speak of sensitive things in a way which does not cause the reader to cry out, “TMI!”?
Here is the best way I can delicately write about how swollen and ugly was the surgical area. It was eleven days after surgery before I could see my stitches.
I use a mirror to assist my inserting the dilator. Last Saturday afternoon, both the swelling and the amount of black-and-blue had receded enough that I found myself calling out to Julie, “I can see my stitches!”
I have a long way to go, but I’ve come a long way. Progress is a wonderful thing. Progress provides hope. And when we have hope, we can cope.
The nerve of those nerves
As the numbness has worn off, the nerves have been waking up. Nerves have a funny way to rise and shine. They don’t simply stretch and yawn and head to the kitchen to put on the coffee. No, they jump out of bed loaded for bear, filling the air full of lead.
They certainly get my attention.
A couple of times a day, it seems—midday and evening—they stab at me the most. They are especially bothersome in the evening, when I settle down to relax by watching the Detroit Tigers or something on Netflix. The stabbing jabs are so hard that I jerk my body. Sometimes, I reflexively call out, “Ahhhh!” and have to catch my breath. And writhe. And hope that Julie notices and gives me some sympathy,
I eat up the sympathy.
The pot at the end of the rainbow was a medicine chest
Remember how I told you that so many of the medical professionals commented on my excellent health? Post-surgery, this picture is worth a thousand pills.
Here’s the rundown of what I have.
- For my heart: aspirin.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): two daily pills and a weekly injection.
- For pain: ibuprofen.
- For the ongoing bleeding: iron supplement.
- To ease the swelling: Bromelain.
- For the granuloma (fancy talk for a growth) on my vocal cords: one pill and an inhaler.
Over the weeks, this one and then that one will drop off the list—soon, I think it will be the ibuprofen—so that, hopefully in June, I will be back to only my trusty aspirin and HRT.
Despite ongoing discomfort, and when the nerves jab the snot out of me, I feel healthy and strong and full of vigor. Age sixty arrives in a few days. Bring it on!