Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GRS: Two Weeks Away

It's Wednesday and in exactly two weeks I will have GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Drs. Brassard and Belanger work together and typically perform 2 or 3 GRS procedures a day, three days a week.  Mine will be on a Wednesday so I could very well be their last surgery of the week.  For us patients it's a one shot deal so I am hoping to catch them on a good day.

Everyone is asking how I feel as the surgery day grows closer and closer.  Am I excited?  Am I nervous?  I guess I am both of those of things but to be honest I'm feeling a little underwhelmed right now.  I am going to take it as a positive that I'm not feeling any real anxiety.  I do feel a little excitement building as the time draws nearer, and I am happy, but I think my main feeling is wanting to get it over with.  The recovery period, especially at first, is something I'm really not looking forward to.

This surgery is something I've wanted since I first heard of it but I really only started to believe it might be possible for me within the last decade.  Still, I couldn't see it happening within a reasonable amount of time until 2012 when I came out to my parents.  Finally my time is coming up.  I think I am to the point where I am already looking past it, trying to envision that day (not too far away) when I've recovered and can resume a normal, female life.

I'm a little disappointed with myself that I haven't gotten into the excellent shape I wanted to be in for this surgery, but then I have to remind myself that I am not running a marathon here.  I will be lying still while I have surgery but being in good condition really helps recovery.  My weight didn't quite get down where I wanted it but I can ride a bike or walk practically all day so I have to believe that I'm physically ready for this process.  It is really more of a process (surgery, healing, then recovery) than an event.  

The days pass quickly now.  I've got plans for each day until we leave and am riding the bike and walking more.  So I am in sort of a training mode, plus I started a 10 day vegetable juice binge today.  Healthy, healthy, that's how I am going to be, especially when I get back.  All those good vitamins and enzymes should aid the healing process.

God, I do not want to be in pain!  Let that part pass quickly, please.  That's enough said or thought about that!  Also, I've just completely stopped taking hormones after reducing my doses over the last 10 days.  I don't look forward to what that is going to feel like either, for the next few weeks.

I've got to be positive about this thing and I really can't wait.  Mentally, I do not think I could be more ready.  One week from today I will be packing and I wonder how I will feel then?  This is just installment one in my GRS series, so stay tuned.....


We are flying out of Raleigh, NC on Friday September 19th, stopping for a layover in New York, then arriving in Montreal that evening.  Mitchell and I have a room reserved at a bed and breakfast and my mom will have her own room.  The clinic is paying for my room for one night, as I am due to check in there on the 22nd and then go to the hospital on the evening of the 23rd.  Getting there early will leave me three days to tour the city and relax before the big day.  I check out of the recovery center and we fly home on October 2nd.

I plan to blog from Montreal, daily if possible, and let you all know what is going on.  My friend Melissa, who had her surgery with Brassard earlier this year, has challenged me to be completely honest and open when writing about my experience.  She thinks too many people sugar coat it when writing or talking about their GRS and it's aftermath.  Everyone I know, including Melissa, speaks highly of their experience at Brassard's clinic, but recovery is a difficult, painful process.  Being open and honest is something I do here anyway and that is what you will get from me.  I just hope I have more good things to write than bad.


For the curious, Dr. Brassard's office sent me this reminder today:

A reminder about your surgery on September 24th  2014.

-       Have your hormones stopped 3 weeks before your surgery.
-       Having stopped vitamins, minerals and natural products 3 weeks before your surgery, they can interfere with blood clotting.
-       Having stopped smoking 2 weeks before your surgery, this can interfere with wound healing.
-       1 week before your surgery, do not take alcohol.
-       2 weeks before your surgery, do not take aspirin or Advil.
-       For the hospital, bring dressing gown, pajamas, slippers and personal effects.
-       If you must take certain medications, bring them with the dosage on the bottle.
-       Do not bring your hormones, you will take them back at home.
-       No jewelry or piercing and no nail polish.
-       Bring soap Dove or Ivory unscented and a portable mirror with a foot.
-       Have shaved from the navel to mid-thigh all the way around including the testicular and perianal area before arriving in Montreal.
-       Avoid having too heavy luggage (maximum 40 pounds) for our staff.


1.    One vaginal douche keep this vaginal douche container for future refills solution of saline water.
2.    Antibacterial dishwashing soap for your dilators with.
3.    Ten tubes of lubricating gel (140g)— K-Y® or another brand consisting of a water based solution.
4.    Four packs of unscented sanitary napkins (light absorption).
5.    One box of disposable blue pads to protect your bed linens (use during dilations).
6.    Two packs of disposable non-perfumed baby wipes.

Note that only one visitor at a time is allowed per patient at the recovery center and the hospital between 1:00 and 8:00 pm.


As a bonus I am throwing in something I've never posted, a totally before picture of me. 

This photo is a comparison of 2008 to 2014.  2008 was significant as it was the first year I made it out of the house presenting as myself.  This was also the year that I fully accepted myself, knew I had to transition and began trying to come out to my spouse then get into therapy.  I'd spent a few years working on a look that would allow me to feel comfortable going out, and allow me to really "see" myself in the mirror.  2010 was my real break out year, when I came out to my spouse and went to a mall for the first time, but I first made it out the door in 2008.   After I came out to Joan things moved fairly quickly and by mid 2011 I was living as myself half the time.

In 2008 I'd lost quite a bit of weight from the year before but I still had more to lose before I started my transition.  I've gained some of the weight back since starting hormones in May 2012 and my weight is close to the same in these two pictures.  The new picture is not my best shot (but you see plenty of my photos here) and I chose this one because it sort of replicated the pose in the older photo. 

I was fairly unhappy almost all the time when the older picture was taken but I was beginning to see a hint of light at the end of the tunnel.  I kept some kind of buzz most of the time, when I wasn't working, and this looks to me like a little buzzed grin in that picture.  I probably need to do another one of these comparing 2011 and 2014 because I really didn't start making any lasting changes until the beginning of 2012.  This photo just shows where I was when the active part of my journey began and where I am now.

I've never had any surgery or "work done" but I feel like hormones have changed me a lot, especially on the inside.  Like I've said before, the feeling I have inside is by far the greatest effect of HRT and well worth the price of admission.  This GRS will not produce any change the outside world will be able to see but I feel it will bring me a sense of peace and completion that will be like icing on the cake of what has so far been an fabulous transition.  Where will my transition and life go from here?  You will have to stay tuned to find out, but one thing is for sure.  I won't be going back!

Life's Transformation:  2008-2014

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