When I look at my reflection in the mirror and see my groin where once there was a different set of genitals, I don’t feel like what I have now is new. It feels like the restoration of something that was always there, hiding underneath. Like the last 32 years were an anomaly and now things are how they were always supposed to be.
That’s why we call it gender confirmation or affirmation surgery, not “sex reassignment” or whatever BS that cis doctors came up with. I didn’t have anything reassigned. I had them rearranged back to how they should have developed in utero. The way that matched my brain and who I actually was.
Peeing now similarly feels very “right” and natural where it always felt so unnatural and weird the old way. Sure, it’s more convenient for peeing in the woods, but it never felt right and for a long long time I didn’t know why.
Things are finally how they are supposed to be and it’s hard to describe how much of a difference that makes for my brain.
Today I had my third post op appointment with the surgeon. They were amazed at how well I’m doing. The swelling was a lot less than they expected, I was really clean, and there was barely any wound separation. Apparently I’m doing everything right.
I also got my catheter out (again) and had to do the horrible pee test. They filled my bladder with saline and in order to leave without a catheter I was supposed to pee into a bucket to measure that I got it all out. Last time I couldn’t do it and I almost thought I couldn’t do it this time. It feels so awkward to just pee while sitting in an exam chair surrounded by stirrups.
This time, after trying for an awkwardly long time, I asked to try it on a toilet seat to see if it felt more natural. So they brought one in on one of those hospital carts and I was able to pee almost immediately! My hunch was correct that it was the setting, not the swelling or learning new muscles that was the problem.
It’s such a relief knowing I’m doing things right and I’m doing so well. And to finally be free from the catheters. This week is about continuing to clean and ice and start weaning off the gabapentin. I also need to walk more which means getting to know our cute San Francisco neighborhood better.
Cleaning, dilating, douching and icing is pretty much a full time job. I’m trying to stay on top of the swelling and keep infection at bay. The pain is pretty easy to manage though my back pain has increased with all this laying in bed.
I spend all this time tending to my new vagina and holding up a mirror to it. And yet, it still doesn’t feel real. I think because I haven’t gotten most of the sensation back yet and can’t use it for what it’s meant for, it hasn’t fully connected to my brain. I can’t wait for late October when it will supposedly be healed enough to test out.
The second week of recovery is so much better than the first! Last week I could barely walk and I was drugged up all the time. This week I am mostly off narcotics and able to walk around the apartment without too much pain.
Monday I went in for my first post op appointment where they took off the horrible bolster that was sewn to my groin. The massive stitches holding that down were by far the worst part of recovery and made walking very painful. I still have healing wounds from where it attached to my thighs.
The reason the bolster existed though was to apply pressure to the area and hold in the packing in my vagina. They took all that packing out as well as the large catheter and cleaned up the area.
Next was the pee challenge. They needed to make sure I could pee on my own before I went home. Unfortunately I didn’t pass the test. It may have been due to the swelling but I also wonder if it was the pressure of trying to figure out a new way of releasing muscles while sitting in a medical chair instead of a toilet. So instead they put in a smaller catheter with a cap instead of a bag to carry around. So now when I need to pee, I just remove the cap and let my bladder drain.
Now without the pressure on the area from the bolster, this week is all about keeping the swelling at bay. It is pretty much a full time job to constantly be switching out ice packs in between dilation three times a day. I also alternate Tylenol and Advil to reduce swelling and manage pain.
Speaking of dilation. They gave me this beautiful multicolored set of dilators. I start with the sherbet orange one and three times a day I put it in my vagina to maintain depth and width of the new skin grafts. I have to hold it there for 10-20 minutes so I do it while I watch tv.
The dots are to measure depth and the bend is to help get past my pelvic bone. Eventually I can start widening by working up in size. There is no goal width other than my own usage. It’s kinda like gauging up your ears and wearing the right size to maintain the width of the piercing.
For the first 3 months I have to dilate 3 times a day. Then I reduce to once a day until month 6, then 3-4 times a week. After 9 months I go to my long term maintenance schedule of 1-2 times a week for 10-30 minutes. I also follow a similar schedule for douching to clear out dead skin cells.
As you can probably tell, having a neovagina requires some work and the healing process is long. But for me it is totally worth it. It is so wonderful to finally be able to look at my new pussy and see past the swelling to what it will eventually look like. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Right now I feel like I’m just resting in my cocoon waiting for my new vaginal form to emerge. Quite literally because my groin is sewn shut with a bolster over it right now.
Monday is the big day when I get the packing taken out and find out how it’s healing. Until then, all I can do it wait.
The waiting has not been fun because no matter what I do I can’t seem to get truly comfortable. My groin aches and so does my neck and back. Every night I get a low grade fever which adds to the difficulty of this side sleeper having to try to get to sleep on my back with a catheter tube coming out of the side.
The numbing ice helps as does the Percocet and CBD tinctures. But unlike many people, I don’t enjoy being high. I do it because I have to.
Soon I’ll get past what people tell me is the worst week and into a little bit more comfort. In the meantime, back to streaming mindless cartoons.
It’s a good thing I really wanted this surgery because recovery is no joke! Every time I have to shit I have to go through a major ordeal just to get up. And I have to carry my bag of pee with me while I waddle and try not to rip stitches from the bolster sewn to my groin.
It boggles my mind that cis people think we do this just on a whim or because of peer pressure. Or conversely think that every trans person wants to go through this (the vast majority don’t). This is a major life decision, especially for those of us with no local surgeons.
I am very glad I’m doing this and I have no regrets. But I also can’t wait to be past the worst of this recovery.
I’ve taken 5 walks around the floor now and I’ve gotten permission to discharge early. I finally am able to restart my estrogen now that I’m moving so hopefully these hot flashes will stop soon.
I can’t wait to be back at our Airbnb in a comfortable bed where I can sleep uninterrupted and stream shows more easily.
The nurses have all been wonderful here and most of them have been here 20 years which is a good sign. Pain is mostly managed but rarely drops below a 4. I’m pretty out of it today compared to the first day so I’m mostly zoning out.
I’m now the proud owner of a brand spanking new neovagina!
I arrived at the hospital this morning at 6 am and went in for my 4 hour surgery at 7:30. Took me a long time to fully wake up but all the nurses here are great and I haven’t been misgendered once.
The doctor sent me a photo of it right after surgery and it looked surprisingly good for fresh wounds. Of course now comes the swelling and healing part. I have packing inside, a catheter on my bladder, and a bolster literally sewn over my groin. I can’t feel much with all the drugs I’m on but the bolster is definitely annoying.
I just went for my first, very short, walk. I have to waddle in order to move and it’s very hard to get up. But the TV here has on demand movies and I’m in a corner room all by myself with a great view.
Visitors are only allowed for 1 hour so my wife/caregiver is back at our Airbnb. For now I’ll wait out the worst of the swelling with ice on my groin and movies while the wind whistles past my room and the fog rolls in.