Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2 Months Post Op, A Thanksgiving

I cannot believe it's been 2 months since I had gender reassignment surgery (GRS) with Dr. Brassard in Montreal.  Actually, it has been 62 days as of today and 9 weeks tomorrow.  Quite a lot has happened since my last update, at 6 weeks post op.

I'm now walking both of my dogs at the same time, which means that except for rainy days (like today) I have 2 helpers making sure I get out and get some daily exercise.  I haven't been getting enough exercise though and have been eating way too much (like everything in sight, including boxes of cookies) so I've gained about 8 pounds in the last couple of months.

My nails have been in terrible shape since having to remove the gel before surgery.  Finally I decided it was time to have them done again, so I went back to the nail salon and got shorter gel french tips.  I also got my first pedicure and brow wax since leaving for Montreal and it was great to get back into my maintenance groove.  I've done a lot of eyebrow plucking during this time, but it was really awesome to get them shaped again.

At Exotic Nails in Golden East Mall waiting to have my nails and brows done.
Last week I also got my hair done (or "did", as the saying goes) for the second time since coming home.  As you may recall from one of last month's posts, the last time I went to the hair salon in Raleigh I was with Lisa and Teri.  I was only three weeks post op then and that day and long night out on the town was wayyy to much for me at that time.  I suffered a setback and ended up having to see a doctor in Raleigh for post op care and to treat a condition called granulation that I developed that day.
Leaving Total Hair Salon in Raleigh after getting my root color again, practically a monthly chore.  I've been going to that salon for 2 years now and a couple of the stylists always rave about my hair and how far it's come in that time.
The treatments have been going well (I've had 2 now) and healing continues slowly but surely.  I was a little down after my doctor's appointment last Monday so I didn't post an 8 week update as I had intended.  Not being my surgeon, she couldn't answer a couple of questions I had about my new anatomy.  At one point I was afraid that I didn't have a clitoris! 

I've since gotten the nerve to explore my body a little more and am convinced that everything is alright.  My roommate and surgery sister from Montreal told me that her clitoris isn't prominent either but she is able to achieve orgasm using a vibrator.

Hearing that and wanting relief from my own anxiety I decided to get out my own small vibrator and take some time to explore myself before and during my afternoon dilation yesterday.  Let's just say that I got relief from more than my anxiety.  Wow, just wow!

Speaking of dilations, last week I finally began using the #4 (orange) dilator.  My schedule now calls for using all three dilators three times a day.  I was two weeks behind schedule starting this regimen, that will last two months.  At that point I will be blessed with only having to dilate twice a day, so a more normal life can resume.  You can see this schedule and have access to all the other information I was given in my last post, The Vagina Manual.

My dilators.  I am now using all three, 3 times a day.
Overall, I had to say that my post op pain is down.  It's not quite gone but it is way down.  Some report not having any pain after leaving the hospital but I have to admit to being extremely sensitive to pain, especially "down there."  Any twinge of pain is magnified in my mind and can also cause worry and anxiety. 

Next Monday I will see my post op doctor in Raleigh again.  In the last 24 hours I've gone from planning to tell her how worried I was about myself, to feeling very good about my healing and situation.  I just have to hit myself on the head every so often and remind myself that this is a slow process.  Sometimes (most of the time) I want recovery to be over and be 100% right now.  That's just not how it works.

I still worry about some things and questions always come up, so I will keep seeing my doctor and sending off emails to the nursing staff in Montreal.  I am waiting for a response to my latest email now.  Everything always seem to be okay, but I just need that reassurance.

With pain down and my energy level up, I am starting to resume more of my regular activities.  I'm not having to lie around all the time like I did after the granulation first started.  I'm staying home a lot but am able to sit for longer periods without discomfort.

I'm still having to deal with a little spotty blood about half the times that I dilate.  I think it's due to using the large dilator and still having granulation.  I find very little (usually none) on my panty liners when I go out.  Soon, maybe soon (hopefully soon) the blood will stop appearing.

Out to eat at Chili's in Rocky Mount with Mitchell last weekend.  When he isn't here I am so lonely and bored, but when he comes home from work on the weekends I am alive.

With American Thanksgiving upon us, I realize that I have a Lot to be thankful for this year.  I have 2 dogs that love me unconditionally, and (more importantly) two wonderful humans that also love me unconditionally.  We are a small family but they accept me just as I am and I know how fortunate I am to have Mama and Mitchell in my life. 

I'm also really, really fortunate that this year I was able to achieve my dream.  I was able to achieve womanhood, if you will.  My body and mind now match as well as they possibly can, which is pretty fine by me.  I feel more normal than I ever have and I'm feeling a lot more confident too, in some ways I didn't expect.  Soon, I will have to expand more on that thought.

I also want to thank all of You for reading my blog and following my journey.  Hearing from all the people that have gained inspiration or knowledge from reading this blog is a Big inspiration to me to.  I have a Lot more of my story to tell, so please stay tuned. 

And Thank You!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Vagina Manual

My vagina came with a manual.  Yes, Dr. Brassard gives us a manual to go with our vaginoplasty and I thought I would share mine with y'all. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

6 Week post Op Update

This week has brought some excitement mixed with the boredom of forcing myself not to do too much during recovery, here at the 6 week post GRS mark.

Last Sunday was Mitchell's birthday and I was so happy to get a chance to spend some time with him on his special day.  He came in about 5 that afternoon so we were able to go out to a nice dinner at Outback Steakhouse, then we went over to Mama's for a little birthday party.  To him, she is Mama Matthews and to me she is just Mama.  No birthday would be complete without a celebration at her house even though there were just the three of us this year.  Our family is small but we have Big love for each other.
At Outback after taking Mitchell to his birthday dinner, my treat this time.
My baby about to dive in (literally) to his cake that I had special ordered for him from our favorite restaurant.
Mitch had to leave for work very early Monday morning, so early that I was able to go back to sleep for a couple of hours.  Monday was also my day to go to my new doctor and get my first post op check up.  It's always a good idea to have a local doctor, preferably one experienced with post op trans patients, perform regular check ups after GRS.  I was lucky to find this doctor in Raleigh even though it took me a couple of weeks to secure an initial appointment with her.  When I saw her Monday I was 40 days post op.

Dr. Keelee MacPhee bases her practice in both Raleigh and Durham, NC, but my appointment was at her office at the Women's Center at Raleigh's Rex Hospital campus.  I actually arrived a few minutes early (what was wrong with me?) but had to drive around the parking deck searching for an opening.

There was an SUV in front of me as we climbed level after level of the full parking deck.  Coming around one last corner I saw that we'd reached the end of the lot.  The SUV stopped and I stopped at a normal following distance behind her as I contemplated having to turn around and head back down to see if anything had opened up at a lower level.  She began to back up and I didn't have time to move out of the way.  I managed to blow my horn and laid on it for a few seconds thinking she would hear or see me before we made contact, but alas she didn't.  She made a nice little bump into the front of my car before coming to  a stop.

The other lady got out of car about the same time I did and my first reaction was to loudly say, "What did you do?"  She seemed upset and very apologetic but within a few seconds I gave her a hug.  I've done things like this before so I could certainly relate.  She said this was the first time she'd ever had an accident and by her reaction I believed her.  We both had appointments at the Women's Center and she said she was late for hers.  Maybe that explains her impatient driving, I don't know.  With no injuries and only minor damage to both cars, I decided just taking a few pictures and getting her insurance information was sufficient, so she apologized again and after another hug we went our separate ways.
The damage to my car from the parking deck fender bender.
Dr. McPhee has a very large, upscale office and, on this day at least, it was not crowded.  After finishing the paperwork you always have to fill out at a new doctor's office, a young woman in a dark blue uniform came out to get me.  At first I thought she was a nurse but then realized this was Dr. McPhee herself.

We went back and talked for awhile.  She is experienced with transgender patients, as we are a large part of her practice.  She performs breast augmentation, facial feminization surgery and a host of other procedures as you can see here on her website.  Remarkably, she has been trained by renowned trans surgeon Marci Bowers to perform GRS but she has yet to perform her first solo sex change.  She is brand new at GRS.  She told me she is ready but the hospital isn't quite ready yet.

I was referred by my friend Carla who has been seeing her for post op check ups.  Carla also had GRS with Dr. Brassard in Canada, about a month before me.  Dr. McPhee actually said she has seen quite a few of Brassard's patients, so post op treatment is not new for her.

After asking me lots of questions and me telling her about my communications with the nursing staff in Montreal, it was time for the doctor to examine me.  Any modesty issues I had over having my genitals examined have been cured by both surgery and my experiences in Montreal, so I took my skirt off and got on the examination table.

The doctor said she doesn't like to use the stirrups so I just laid back, but she does perform an "interactive" exam and wanted to show me what she was seeing, so she handed me a mirror.  She thought that overall I was healing well for the 6 week mark but she did confirm a small area of (hyper) granulation tissue.  She treated that with silver nitrite, which was basically a wooden stick with the active substance on the end.  This treatment took only seconds and was basically painless.

There will not be any lasting effects of this hypergranulation tissue.  Even though I seem to have a mild case of it, it's made things like sitting a dilating a little more uncomfortable so I am glad to be getting treatment.  We made another appointment for November 17th, 2 weeks away, and I do look forward to going back.  I like this doctor a lot.

We had yet another birthday in the family this week.  Wednesday was Mama's birthday and this year it was kind of mellow because we celebrated alone.  We both really miss Daddy and I know it was hard for her having a birthday without her husband of 54 years. 

The dogs and I did spend most of the day with her.  We had small cake and opened her presents after a lunch that I brought in from KFC (her choice).  That evening we had an nice, early dinner at Cracker Barrel.  After dinner we went to Cato and a couple of other stores for a little mother daughter shopping.  Most of the time (when Mitchell isn't here) Mama and I are all each other have and I am really happy to be able to spend a lot of quality time with her.  Things have gone so well with us since I came out, although we got along well before too.


This week I had another correspondence with nurse Anne, of Dr. Brassard's staff.  She seems to be handling all of my emails, even though I had one response from head nurse Patty.  They appreciate me sending pictures every week as that is the only way they really can check on you from afar. 

Apparently my recovery is going smoothly with the only issue being the hypergranulation.  Many of my friends have mentions pieces of skin sloughing off in the weeks after surgery.  I haven't noticed anything like that and as that seems to be normal, this was one of the questions I had for the nurse.  She said the hunks of skin peeling off is from parts of the vaginal skin graft not adhering.  Even though this is normal, for me it is a good sign of healing that I have not yet experienced it.


Life continues to slowly get back to normal.  I had an orthodontist appointment this week and in the next few months I'll be winding down my long treatment with Invisalign braces.  (This will have to be the topic of another blog).

I'm still not walking the dogs unless I have someone to help with Nightingale.  The next time I see my doctor I am going to ask if it's ok to start back walking both dogs, as I feel ready (or nearly ready) to get back to our normal routine.  The dogs are certainly ready right now!  It will be awhile until I get back on my bicycle though.

Seeing the doctor seemed to help me mentally and perhaps the treatment she gave me is making me feel better physically too.  When you are worried that something isn't right it's hard to be in a good mood.  Feeling better physically means I am not having take as much medicine, even though I'm still taking Ibuprofen for low level swelling and mild pain.  I'm also able to sit more now and move around much better with less discomfort.

Caution is the biggest reason I am staying home most of the time and laying around a lot.  I certainly don't want to overdo it again like I did a couple of weeks ago and mentioned in my last blog.  The biggest thing I am looking forward to this coming week is starting to use the largest (orange #4) dilator.  That is going to be big news for sure, so stay tuned for next weeks update to see how that goes.