Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GRS: One Week Away From The Big Day


It's now just one week away from "The Big Day."  To most people, Wednesday September 24th will be just another hump day but to me it will be a life changing experience (GRS, SRS, GCS, GAS, "sex change", whatever you want to call it), simply known as The Big Day. 

I've been feeling surprisingly blase' about it although I did post the other day that I was feeling giddy, and I've have some bouts of near giddiness.  The fact that I'm really not experiencing any anxiety about this upcoming event, fireworks aren't going off and I'm not freaking out, is sort of surprising to me.  Talking to a friend tonight on Skype she remarked that I looked and sounded very happy and I suppose that is true.  I'm at least very happy but I am not yet experiencing that feeling you get as the roller coaster makes that first big, slow climb. 

I'm told this lack of over excitement is a good thing.  An even better thing is that I feel ready, although I still wish I'd gotten into better shape.  I am in pretty good shape but being in better shape might make recovery easier, we will see. Hopefully I won't get a feeling of impending doom when I am in the waiting area about to go under the knife.

During the past week I've been blessed to be able to meet with three friends who've also been to Montreal for GRS with Dr. Brassard.  Last Thursday I drove to Raleigh to meet Carla for dinner and a cocktail.  She'd only been back from Canada for a couple of weeks and that was in fact her first day out driving since her return.  She had a lot of stories to tell of her very recent experience and shared a bunch of pictures of the hospital, recovery center and some of the people she'd met.

We had a nice dinner and drinks then decided to go to one more place for dessert and a chocolate martini.  After awhile at our second stop, The Big Easy, Carla had enough sitting (a temporary after effect of the surgery).  She was feeling up for a walk though, so we trekked all over the Fayetteville Street district of downtown Raleigh and she showed me a bunch more of her favorite nightspots.  I'm just learning the ins and out of that area so I'll definitely have to go back after I make my own recovery.
The Chocolate Martini
Friday, Lisa Allyn drove from the triangle area to Rocky Mount to join Mama and I for a nice lunch and some good conversation.  Lisa went to Montreal for her GRS in December 2012.  I was really glad that Mama had a chance to meet one of my  many friends who've gone north of the border for their "big" surgery.  As a stand up comedian, Lisa kept us laughing while we sat at the table having lunch as well as answered some questions and told us more of what to expect in Montreal.  I'm glad Rocky Mount is getting a few classy, new restaurants now so that I can show them off to my friends when they come to town.  Lou Reda's is more similar to the nice places I frequent with my friends when I am in the Raleigh area, where most of them live.
My mom and I with Lisa Allyn after our lunch at Lou Reda's in Rocky Mount.
Saturday afternoon, I had one more friend make the drive down to share her experiences at the Brassard clinic.  Danielle drove her motorcycle from Durham to have lunch with me at Milton and Miles cafe in downtown Rocky Mount.  We had a nice lunch and chat in which she told me all about her GRS in Montreal last May and the long, slow recovery process. 

After lunch we toured the museum, as the cafe is located within the Imperial Center.  This cultural resource is in what used to be a tobacco factory and has a few nice art exhibits among its other interesting features.  The Imperial Center is one of the other high points of Rocky Mount that I like to show to friends visiting from cites richer in culture. 

Danielle and I talked some more about what I could expect on my surgical journey while we viewed the paintings and sculptures.  Then she took off for home on a route that would take her through the pastoral countryside of Nash and Franklin Counties.  She came back to Rocky Mount
Tuesday night for dinner with another friend, Ceri Ann, who was passing through town and stopped for a visit.
Danielle White, Ceri Ann and myself after "pigging out" on a country style barbecue buffet at Gardner's in Rocky Mount.
Meeting with these three friends during this past week has added to my insight on what typically happens at Brassard's hospital in Montreal and the recovery center next door.  I have some idea now of what to expect but I really don't have any idea of what this process will feel like, or the feelings I will experience going through it.  It is supposed to be a very emotional time and, yes, very painful.  Mentally at least, I think I am prepared for the long, tough recovery process that will likely take months and months.

Many more friends who've been through GRS with Brassard or other surgeons, have stopped by Tammy World to chat with me online, by telephone or Skype during the last few weeks.  I've really enjoyed talking to them all, even those who haven't had surgery but just want to wish me luck and show some support.  Saturday night I had my last drink before surgery with some local sisters as well as a good meal and a great time.  The long Skype conversation last night with my sisters Pam and Stephanie
from Oklahoma (who had their surgeries with Dr. Suporn in Thailand) was one of the real highlights of the past week.

I'm really blessed to have met so many great people, online and in person, since embarking on this journey.  Making new friends is a sweet icing on the cake of a journey that is motivated deep within my soul and has been more therapeutic than I'd ever imagined.

I'm also blessed to have my own small but extremely loving family support network traveling to Canada with me.  Mama and Mitchell will be there with me for three and a half days to sight see, relax, enjoy some good meals and shop (of all things) before I check into the hospital Tuesday night.  They will be there with me as long as they can to hold my hand before I go into the operating room, and be there to visit when they can after I get out.

A lot of girls go through this alone and I am so thankful to be able to take my family with me.  I've also made some contacts in Montreal who have been through this before and will be there to visit and offer some assistance.  This morning I visited on Skype with one of them, Evonne, who is going to meet me at the hospital when I check in and help me out when I need it during my stay.  I can thank my Canadian sister Stephanie for introducing us. 

I just can't say enough about all the good people that I've met and am going to meet on this journey to Canada.  For a very important, but not necessarily all fun and games trip, I am really looking forward to it.

*****

My next report in this series will be from north of the Canadian border.  Today I got my hair done with highlights and a layered cut (see photo at top) and tomorrow I'll go to the nail salon to get my gel nails taken off.  I can't have artificial or painted nails,
at least on my index fingers, while in the hospital.

I suppose we will spend the rest of the day tomorrow packing, then try to get some rest before flying out Friday morning.  The worst part of leaving will be saying goodbye to the dogs.  Two weeks will be the longest period of time that I've ever been away from Buddy and Nightingale and I have promised them that this will (most likely) be the longest time we will ever be separated.

Being off hormones for the last 8 days, and reducing my doses for 10 days before that, has not been as bad (so far) as I'd feared it would be.  I have caught myself being a little more irritable a few times and I've had some headaches and allergy attacks that might be partially attributed to a change in body chemistry, but it's been tolerable overall.  At least the dark feeling of dread that was my experience before starting HRT, has not returned.  My therapist told me that my levels wouldn't change drastically during this relatively short period and apparently she was right.


*****

As the day has passed and I realize that in one week It will be over, I am starting to get a little more emotional.  I want this to be over already but I am just going to have to wait a little longer.  This surgery is something that I need very badly in order to fully be myself and it will hopefully put me closer to feeling right inside.  So far, transition has brought me very close to that point of peace within myself and I really feel that GRS will put me even closer.  The longer I get to be me the better it gets, so please stay tuned to see how this next phase of my journey works out.....