Friday, February 22, 2019

Reflections

I'm at home (instead of work) taking care of my two little boys.  The toddler was sick yesterday; the baby is sick today.  Neither can go to daycare due to the fever rules, and the other momma is off at work.  With the toddler napping, and the baby either napping or sitting in my lap, I've been reposting stuff into this blog that I still hadn't moved over from my old AOL site.  That group of repostings comes around 14 years ago, in the time before and during my SRS in Arizona.  In one of the entries, I talked about never having a family, or children, or a dog.  Right now, I have all of them...a wife, 2 kids, a dog, and a house in the burbs.  Did I ever dream I would actually have this?

Probably not.

Did I ever hope I would have it?

Sure.

That was why I stored sperm back in 2002...before I started hormones.  Those deposits have lead to a long road to two boys.

It was quite reminiscent reading back through my time at Greenbaum and Donna Rose's place, along with who went along with me and all of the people I met there.  On my vaginal deepening trip in 2016, I ran into a few of the people I had seen in 2005 who still remembered me.  It was sorta like my own little high school reunion.

I read my entry from the day after SRS and remembered that Amber had stayed in my room that night to watch over me.  With my baby in my lap, I texted her, "Thanks for watching over me 14 years ago.  Seems so long ago."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

2 Months Post-Op Vaginal Deepening

It's been two months since I had the vaginal deepening procedure with Dr. Meltzer.  I've been dilating twice a day with #3 for almost a month to the same depth I had right after surgery.  That's good.

I typically lube up the end of the dilator and then any excess is used to pre-lube my vagina.  I waited about a month after surgery before I started doing this, just in case things inside hadn't fully healed.  Now, though, when I do this, I can feel the scar along both sides.  Dr. Meltzer said he would open things up along each side, and he was right.

It feels a little rough...sorta like the surface of the tongue.

I'm still trying to get the graft site fully healed.  I have about a 5mm portion in the middle of the incision that is still "open" and trying to heal.  Dr. Meltzer's office has had me put this other antibiotic cream on it besides Bacitracin.  It started out at around 40mm of an "open" area in the middle, so it's come a long way.  I'm just hoping I can get this last little portion closed up and then start working on the scar.

My mid-section above the graft site is still numb.  Some feeling has returned, but not much.  It also still seems a bit swollen in the same area that is numb.  I assume that part of the skin was lifted off and then sutured back down in order to account for the missing skin.

I was ready to start exercising just 3 weeks after surgery, but my wife said "no...not until the mid-area was healed."  I was itching to get back out for a run, though, so I went for a run this past Tuesday...almost 2 months after surgery.  When I started out, my mid-section felt tight and it felt like I ran with a slight forward lean for a while.

Wow, though, I was super sore right after the run.  I also ran about a minute slower on my 2-mile route, which seems pretty good considering the gap in working out and the moderate surgery I recovered from.

I also went for a run Friday night.  It was a little faster and I wasn't as sore right after.  My calves were tight, though, so they deserved a little extra stretching.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Post Op Day 7

The half of a pain pill that I took before bed worked OK, but not great.  I was able to get to sleep, but nothing like the warm feeling that came over me.  I woke up at 2am and dilated on the couch, washed up, then popped a full pain pill.  I felt a little warmth kick in as I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up around 7am and dilated again.  Fun stuff.

My wife slept in until 10am.  She's a sleeper.  The good thing, though, is that I get a little me-time to write or read while she is asleep.

Between the dilations, I've basically just gone for three walks today.  We haven't really done much since I'm still incapacitated from both the surgery and the timing of the dilations.

A representative from the Greenbaum Surgery Center called this morning to check in.  I told them I was doing well and that the nurses that cared for me there were fantastic.

According to Kaiser, we could have flown home today.  We decided to stay an extra day on our own dime just to be sure.  In this case of many unknowns, I feel it's better to be safe than sorry.

I'll dilate late tonight, take my pain pill, and hopefully drift off to sleep.

We fly out tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Post Op Day 6

Last night, I set my phone to wake me up just before the sunrise this morning.  Arizona doesn’t switch over to Day Light Savings time, so they are the eastern edge of the Pacific timezone.  That makes the sunrise fairly early.

Just over eleven years ago, I stared out the second floor balcony and caught the sunrise on my last day at Greenbaum.  Today, I did the same.  The sun is further north in April than it is in February, so instead of the sun coming up next to the hospital, it came up over the parking garage.  I guess that’s fitting.

I ordered breakfast by asking the person on the other end of the phone if I could just say, “same as yesterday?”  That seemed to work well.  I went back to sleep for another hour and a half before getting up to do some work and pick the place up.  My nurse came in, took vitals, and gave me my meds.  She said that Michelle would be in soon to remove the sutures and catheter, and then go over the dilation instructions.  My nurse asked if I would like anything for the visit…hinting that something to calm and help with pain would be nice.

“Sounds good,” I said, “except I’ll just take the ibuprofen instead of the hard stuff.”

“Michelle usually calls about 30-45 minutes before she comes in, so I’ll bring the meds by when I hear from her.”

“Awesome!”  The nurses here seriously rock.

I ate my breakfast and then my nurse was in with the meds.  I worked for a while; reading emails and responding when necessary.

Soon, Michelle was there with the suture removal kits, the catheter removal kit, and the set of straight dilators.

Since you have to open the package before you can see what is inside, the labial sutures had to be removed first.  It almost seems like cutting 50-pound wire holding up an 85-pound fish that you just caught.  Once those sutures are cut, you can feel the tension in the labia disappear.  Of course, the sutures still need to be pulled out of the labia, but that’s minor.

After that came probably the most difficult part of the morning: removing the packing.  It feels very uncomfortable having the gauze-like stuff slowly pulled from the vaginal cavity.  It’s kinda hard to describe, but it would sorta be like pulling gauze out of your stomach through your mouth.  It’s not painful, per se, but it’s definitely uncomfortable.

Next up, Michelle removed the catheter by connecting to the valve next to the outlet port and deflating the balloon in my bladder.  Boom…it was out faster than she could say it was out.

Finally, time for the dilators.  You could almost hear music from The Good, The Bad, and The ugly in the background.

She said that Dr. Meltzer was switching me to the straight dilators.  Maybe that will make it easier to hit the hole.

My board.
She lubed up dilator #1 for me and then I inserted it like the good ol’ days.  It slid in almost 4.5 inches before it bottomed out.  Michelle confirmed that we were all the way in.  I kept that in for about 20 minutes before pulling it out and cleaning up.  Michelle wrote my dilation schedule for the next few days on the patient board for the room.  Tonight, I have the dreaded 2am dilation.  I thought I’d never have to do that again.

As the day goes on, patients are starting to flow into the recovery rooms here at Greenbaum.  They said that Dr. Meltzer would likely be up mid-afternoon between cases, and sure enough, he showed up around 3pm with Dr. Tal in tow.  He took a look at the exterior and said things looked good, except for the blisters from the tape.  It will probably and hopefully be the last time I see Dr. Meltzer.  He’s helped me out big on two occasions…SRS and resolving this vaginal cyst discharge issue…and helped change my life for the better in more ways than most people can imagine.

My room from the hallway.
After I filled out the discharge paperwork and we headed to the elevator, I started to cry a little.  My wife saw and kinda laughed.

“You want to leave, don’t you?”

“Of course, but there is something special here that makes saying good-bye very difficult.”

She thought I was joking.  My wife is not trans, so I cannot expect her or any other cisgender people to grasp the vastness of these life changing surgeries and the loving care these nurses provide to us in recovery.

I turned my head from my wife as we drove to the hotel, mainly because I didn’t want to see her laugh or smile as I cried.  After I reached a point where I could talk, I tried conversing more with her on the topic.

My bed for nearly a week.
After we made it back to the hotel, we went back to the restaurant we went to the night before my surgery.  This time, I was able to eat.  I probably ate too much.

Tonight will be my first night not in a hospital bed.  I’ve piled up 3 large pillows so that I don’t have to lay flat and can take pressure off my stomach incision.  I’m planning to take half a pain pill around 11pm, get up at 2am to dilate, and then take a full pain pill to get back to sleep.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Post Op Day 5

Just a note...NSFW below.

I walked over to Starbucks again this morning, and, like yesterday, I was exhausted when I got back.  If I go slow, I feel pretty decent.

Well, the recovery ward is empty.  I'm the only one here, but yet, when I went past the nurse's station, there are still two nurses here.  I figure it's facility rules to always have at least two here.  At least they have a light load today and tonight, but I'm sure that surgeries will start up again tomorrow morning.

Yum...Culinary Festival!
I took a picture of how things look so far (see below).  I have the usual catheter stuff coming out of the sewn up labia, but I think the labia is sewn up to keep the packing in.  Dr. Meltzer said he was going to slice along each side of the interior vagina and then use skin from the stomach to graft into the back portion of my vagina.  You can see that my skin is very sensitive and doesn't like tape.


Fortunately, though, I was able to avoid the booty blisters this time.  They put one of those large pads underneath me, but it has a plastic layer, as well.  I think the plastic layer retains or reflects the heat back at me.  I think it is what caused my booty blisters previously and started to warm me up this time, too.  I kinda push it to the side, especially when sleeping, in order to keep my booty blister-free.

This afternoon, the wife and I walked to the Scottsdale Culinary Festival here in downtown Scottsdale.  They had some food booths out, and this one rib joint smelled delicious.  I had a small plate of ribs and they totally hit the spot.  It made me wonder if the protein cravings will kick in after surgery.

Round 2 of the catheter.
It was hot out, but we walked slow.  I took along some water because of just how hot it was, but the festival gate people asked me to leave it behind.  When I showed them the hospital band around my wrist, that I just had surgery, and that it was water to keep me hydrated, they let me in with my water.  I'll take it as a small victory.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Post Op Day 4

With my wife pregnant and a natural sleeper, she doesn't make it over to Greenbaum very early in the morning, but she does usually get me a morning tea.  This morning, though, I decided to walk over to the cafe on my own.

It took a while to get across the street and over to Starbucks, but I made it.  Doing laps around Greenbaum's second floor the past few days have definitely helped get me ready for my first big venture out again.  I was exhausted when I got back, though.

During my later laps today, the nurses have also informed me that I will be the only patient tomorrow as everyone is checking out.

It's interesting this time...I haven't really run into anyone in the recovery rooms and I only brought along my wife this trip.  My stay is also 2-3 days shorter than the average stay for SRS.  Previously, I had at least one friend here with me or chatted and hung out with some of the other people that were recovering.  This time, I haven't talked to anyone else.  It's kinda lonely since my wife only makes it over for a few hours during the day.  Surprisingly, though, the days seem to go by fast.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Post Op Day 3

I took the two pain pills right at 9pm last night and about 15 minutes later I could feel the warmth fill my body as the pain disappeared.  I figured I would sleep through the entire night with the two pain pills.  I woke up and it was still dark out, unfortunately, so I knew it was before 5:30am.  When I looked at my phone, it said 11:47pm.  Sheesh!  I barely made it 3 hours.  Luckily, I was able to get back to sleep without too much trouble, but slept intermittently until around 6.

The shift change happens between 7 and 7:30, I think, and my nurse usually comes in around 7:30am to do vitals and anything else that needs to happen.  In this case, my drains were to be removed.  I thought someone from Dr. Meltzer's office would remove the drains, but my nurse was able to snip the suture holding them in place and then gently slid them out.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.

I also didn't realize how far down along the labia the drains ran under my skin, but I think one of the channels for the drains aggravated a nerve in my right leg.  Over the past few days, if I touch my right inner thigh in a certain way or stretch out my right leg so that the inner thigh has any sort of tension on it, it feels like it lights up on fire.  Like, seriously on fire.

Now that the drains were out and I was able to walk, it was time to shower.  It felt good to wash my hair and just sit under the warm water.  Greenbaum needs to fix their shower heads, though, as they pretty much suck…at least mine did.