Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 Months Post Op Update

This week I hit the 5 month post op (GRS) mark.  Fascinating!  In a way it really doesn't seem like it's been so long but in another way it's becoming harder to remember how life felt before this life changing event.  I am still in the stage where my recovery dominates much of my life but am far enough along that most of my life has returned to normal.  I also have to admit that I'm quite frustrated that in a couple of ways I have not recovered as much as I'd hoped to by now.  The truth is, something is wrong.

I have not posted a true post op update in quite some time.  Honestly, it's been hard for me to write about a situation that is mostly very positive, but has some lingering negative undertones.  It's quite the paradox really. 

I am happier, a little more confident, a lot more content with myself, quite a bit more comfortable with my body and just as positive as ever about my bright future.  Things have never been more right in my world, especially with regard to the way I feel about myself, inside.  Yet there is a little cloud of doubt hanging around and a tiny hint of fear creeping up on the horizon.  I am afraid something is wrong.

I've started wearing jeans again sometimes, with some level of discomfort.

So what's the skinny on my recovery at this 5 month mark???
Right now, I'm dilating twice a day and only using two dilators each time, the medium (green) and large (orange).  The green is supposed to stay in 5 minutes at full depth and the orange stays in 15 minutes.  I usually go a little longer than the recommended times and this is really neither a painful nor pleasurable experience, for the most part.  It's still more of a chore.  People who think we are playing with sex toys are dead wrong and people who think its sheer misery are quite wrong as well.

The dilation process takes over an hour twice a day when you consider preparing everything, taking awhile for the dilators to actually go all the way in, dilating and cleaning up.  No they don't yet just slide right in and I take that as a good thing.  The dilators have to be sterilized and I like to at least take a semi shower when I'm finished, as lube is involved. 

One of the things a lot of people worry about before having this surgery, and I was no exception, is how will things feel when we heal.  Dr. Brassard told me that it can take up to 2 years for sensation to fully return and I know people who went to various surgeons and really have not had adequate sensation return, even after a year or two.  Thank goodness that hasn't been a problem for me.

I have to say that the physical feelings I have are amazing, quite a bit better than before.  I'm told this might get even better over time but even if there's no more change I can say I am very satisfied in this area.  Being satisfied with being satisfied is something that brings me quite a bit of satisfaction, often over and over again.  Perhaps one day I will post more graphic details as I get a lot of questions about this, but I think you get my drift.

Aesthetics wise, I am very happy except for the surgical scars which are finally starting to fade.  The surgeon says that it takes a year for the scars to fade, but he says that about almost everything.  I know I have a tendency to scar, or have scars hold redness, more than most people.  For example, I scratched my hand back in November and it's still somewhat red.  So I know these will go away, for the most part anyway, eventually.

We're told to massage the scars, possibly using some type of oil or cream containing vitamin E.  My doctor in Raleigh even told me to pinch them as well as rub them.  Overall this is not unpleasant but I think this pinching and aggressive massage might have contributed to a new and mysterious problem that I am experiencing.


I think at this point, all things considered, I am about 80% recovered from surgery as far as my general healing.  As far as vaginal healing I will say I am maybe 50% recovered?  It's really hard for me to say because I never had a vagina before (that was one of the big things I was missing) so I am not sure what 100% recovery will be.  I am told the healing takes a year, and I am almost halfway there, so for now I will go with the 50% estimate.  Still, something is wrong.

The granulation I spoke of in previous updates, having first reared its ugly head in late October, persists but continues to gradually improve.  I've been seeing Dr. Keelee Macphee in Raleigh every 2-4 weeks for silver nitrate treatments that seem to slowly chip away at this problem.  I know others who've had much worse cases of granulation, often taking a lot of time and treatment to heal, but yet most of us do not experience it at all.  I guess I am one of the unlucky ones in this regard but it could be much worse, or I could have even more serious complications, so maybe I am not so unlucky after all.

So this brings us to the (possibly) new, mysterious problem I am having.  I've mentioned here that something is wrong.  I wish I knew what it was but at this point I do not.  At the end of January my right labia majora (feel free to look that up) became swollen and quite sore.  The swelling only lasted few days and was gone by the time of my next doctor's appointment.  I did mention it to Dr. MacPhee, but it was like having a car that's acting up and when you take it to the shop it's doing fine.  If it's not broke don't fix it.

A couple of weeks ago this problem reappeared, though seemingly not as acute as the first time.  This time I was able to show the doctor the swelling and it has caused a bit of concern for both of us.  There's often quite a bit of discomfort associated with this but no real pain, at least as far as doctors define pain. 

Monday (March 2nd) I am going to get an ultrasound to try to determine what is causing the swelling (if it is indeed swelling) and try to figure out what can be done about it.  Technically, I'm going in for a bilateral groin ultrasound.  It sounds very scary and weird but I have to believe it's not going to be that serious.  Alas, for now it is a great mystery. 


At the end of the day I have to say: surgery sucks, recovering from surgery sucks.  Still, it was not as bad as I thought it would be and not nearly as bad as I feared it could be.  The recovery is just taking longer than normal, with a few more difficulties than I'd like, and now that nasty element of mystery.

While I wished I didn't have to have surgery (in order to be myself) there was never any doubt that it was necessary and it was never a choice.  People who say it is a choice do not understand what it is like (to be in the wrong body) and people who struggle with the "decision" of whether or not to have this surgery may need to look closely at whether they really need it or not.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with my results although I could be happier with my recovery at this point.  I try not to let it bring me down, and most days it doesn't.  It's only been 5 days since my doctor told me I needed this ultrasound, so I'm still digesting the situation. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, right before this last bout of swelling, I experienced a brief few days of pure bliss.  My granulation issue was better and not worrying me so much and physically everything was feeling soo good.  I really felt like I was over the hump and I was on the brink of being fully healed.  Then this new problem arose and I started worrying again. 

Now I have to practice what I preach and believe that everything will be ok.  Deep down inside I feel it will be.  Lots of people have to have revisions (minor surgeries to correct some problem) and if that's what I have to do so be it.  Maybe it will be almost nothing.  Something is wrong, but maybe it will be almost nothing after all.


I've got to tell you that even though I am a little concerned about a couple of things, I'm extremely happy these days.  Content might be a better word, but if you take the mysterious worry out of the equation, there's no better description than happy, fabulously happy.  It's an incredible feeling, after an incredibly wrong feeling for the vast majority of my life.  Things are just taking a little longer (to heal) than expected.

The happy times get happier..
Out with Mitchell on Valentine's night.

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