Thursday, September 25, 2014

GRS: The Surgery

The lights came on in my hospital room at 6:30 AM yesterday as staff members came in to wake up my roommate Samantha and I.  This was the day we were both having GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) with Dr. Pierre Brassard and Dr. Maude Belanger.  Sam got in the shower first, as her surgery was before mine, and we got no breakfast that morning.

After my shower I enjoyed a visit with my friend from the bed and breakfast, Marcilene, who was lying on the hospital bed in her room fighting her pain from the previous day's procedure.  Then I came back to room to finish my presurgery blog, GRS in Montreal: Arrival and Surgery Prep, before Mama and Mitchell showed up. 

Sam was called back about 9:30, as hers was the second of three surgeries yesterday.  Soon after her departure my loved ones showed up and we visited for about an hour, until a nurse came down to tell me it was my turn.  I still find it hard to believe, but I felt like my nerves were extremely calm even after hearing those words and knowing it was my time to head upstairs to the second floor operating room.  Mitchell told me he could tell I was nervous but I didn't feel that way.

The nurse walked me down the hall to the elevator and we got in the for the short ride upstairs.  We walked into a small doctor's waiting room and I was told the doctors would be out in a minute for my consultation.  I had to use the restroom one more time (significant, in a way) and when I came out the door was open to the doctors' office.

Sitting behind a long desk were Drs. Brassard and Belanger, dressed in dark blue scrubs and surgical caps.  I was told to sit down and was asked if I had any questions.  I did have a few questions written down on a sheet of paper, but it only took a few minutes to go over them with the surgeons. 

What happened next was surreal and the fact that this series of events went down so quickly and in a nonchalant fashion by both the staff and I is beyond fascinating.  It's as if I was sleepwalking in a dream world.....


*****

Beyond the door on the other side of the doctors' office was a large room, well lit by overhead lights and long, glass windows.  In this room there were all kinds of tables, machines and many people dressed in blue scrubs, scurrying about.  The room had a magical feel to it, dressed up in a slick, shiny, sci fi package.  Everything happened so fast and in the state of mind that I was in when I absorbed it, I cannot honestly describe that room with words that will do it justice.  I will, however, attempt to describe my memory of what happened in that room. 

I was led by some of the blue clad people to a table, an operating table with blinding lights shining down upon it, where I was told to lie down in a central position.  Several people on each side of the table helped guide me into the exact position they desired.  One of the blue clad people, an older grey haired gentleman, spoke to me through his surgical mask and asked if I remembered him.  I did recall him as he was one of the assistants who woke us up that morning.

There was an almost sinister air to the man's look and words, but I dismissed it as everyone was being so nice and reassuring as they positioned me onto the table, saying things like "right here madame" and "perfect."  The French accents of the blue clad people and french language used when they were not speaking directly to me, added to the surreality of the experience.


Once the blue clad people had me positioned perfectly on the table, the anesthesiologist who'd spoken to me in the office earlier, told me to lean forward so she could place the needle in my spine.  I was being given a spinal block which would numb me from the waist down for the duration of the surgery.  Of course there were people on either side of me helping guide me to just the right spot for the anesthesiologist's needle.  As I was being guided into position, someone else told me they were giving me something to make me sleepy, as they slid the long, cold needle into my left arm.

All I remember from this point is being eased down onto my back and hearing many voices speaking quickly in French.  Next someone was leaning down close to my face and gently said, in a soft French accent, that the surgery was over.  I physically did not feel a thing at that moment but emotionally I felt a peaceful calm and I believe a smile crept upon my lips.

My table was rolled to a different part of the room and people came to stand around it and asked how I was feeling, and if I could move my legs.  I could move them but I don't believe I could feel them. One feeling I did not have at that moment was pain.

Next, I was moved from the larger operating table onto a hospital bed and rolled down the hall where people who were lined up along the walls smiled at me.  In retrospect, perhaps I was moved to the hospital bed from a stationary operating table right after the surgery.  Many of these details are a blur but through the fog I remember them as I would remember a vivid dream upon waking.

The result of my surgery was, quite simply, a dream come true. In our next installment we will cover the beginning of the long road to recovery, and I can already tell you that is going to involve a lot of pain. 

Post Op: Mitchell snapped this picture right after I was wheeled back to my hospital room after the surgery.