Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Monday was March 2nd and my day to head to Rex Hospital in Raleigh for an ultrasound test.  Mitchell had been home with me since Wednesday evening, but he had to follow the Monday routine and drive back to Virginia for work.  He'd arrived just an hour or so ahead of the big snow that caused a (4 hour) power outage Thursday morning.  He also brought a cold with him so he spent the 4 days with me at home resting, while I walked the dogs in the snow and cooked for him in the evenings.  All of this was a nice distraction from thinking about my problems, the coming test and finding out what's wrong with me.

The dogs rode with me to the hospital, as it was cool enough for them to wait in the car while I went inside.  We were to meet up with Joan later for a walk in the park and a quick dinner. 

Rex is a big hospital but after a good bit of walking I finally found the area to check in for the ultrasound test.  When they called me back to admissions I felt as if I was being checked in for an overnight stay in the hospital.  I had to fill out paperwork, show my driver's license and insurance card and then got a regular hospital wristband.  It sure is nice to have all the ID and paperwork match who I am, and with all that and a good presentation I am confident I passed fine.

Now it was time to take the long walk down the long hall, with seven turns, to the ultrasound area.  The nice man who'd checked me in escorted me back after first asking me if I was up for a walk.  I guess I could have opted for a wheelchair, but I certainly didn't need it. 

While we were walking back I did see one woman in a wheelchair and another in a hospital bed being pushed down the hall by a couple of orderlies.  My mind flashed back to my own time in the hospital last September.  I noted how big and scary this hospital was compared to the cozy little Metropolitan Center for Plastic Surgery where I stayed in Montreal.

I saw several pregnant women standing in the hall and it sort of made me jealous that I missed this in my life.  I missed the opportunity to have kids.  At the same time it made me feel good to finally be in the place I am in life, to fully be a woman, not just mentally, but socially and now physically.

The Ultrasound machine
When I finally got to the ultrasound room I was greeted by a petite nurse who asked me a few questions and showed me what she would be doing in the procedure.  One of the questions she asked was where was the swelling.  She asked if it was along my bikini line or on my labia.  I told her most of it was on my right, lower labia but some did extend out, so she was going to check the whole area. 

She told me to pull my pants down to my knees, but I didn't have to take them off.  I thought to myself how great it was to be able to take my clothes off and still be seen as me.  I can now pass with my clothes off...:) 

The lights in the room were dimmed for the tests and from my position on the bed I couldn't see the screen of the ultrasound machine.  The nurse lubed up a probe and slowly ran it around my entire groin area, on both sides.  I don't know what type of lubricant she used but it was warm, as she said it would be.  The test only took a few minutes and when it was over she gave me a towel to wipe off, turned on the lights and asked me to wait while she went to ask the radiologist if they had what they needed.

They got it, so I was off through the expansive maze of hallways, following signs back to the Main Entrance and across some parking lots to another part of the campus to see my doctor, Keelee MacPhee.  She only had a few minutes with me before taking a conference call and she wanted to give me another granulation treatment.

The results of the tests were not available yet, but one of the things she was concerned about was inguinal herniation.  This can sometimes happen as a result of surgery and is a protrusion of part of the intestine.  I didn't feel like this was what was wrong, but it is certainly a cause for concern especially because it requires a minor surgery to correct.

When she examined me, Dr. Macphee seemed thrilled that the granulated area at the bottom of my vagina looked much better.  I felt the slight burn of the silver nitrate stick as she gave me one more treatment while noting that the swelling on my right labia had subsided some, but was still present.  I took some solace in the fact that everything seems better and today's tests went quickly and easily.  I'll come back next Monday for a full report.

Rex Hospital's own "snow doctor" melts outside in the 60 degree heat.

Results of the Test:
I got a call today (Wednesday afternoon).  I didn't recognize the number so, as usual, I didn't answer the phone but the message said it was Keelee and she was calling with the results of my test.

Apparently the tests showed that I do not have an inguinal or any type of hernia.  My worst fears (something like cancer) were also ruled out.  The tests did show a lymph node on the right side that was swollen.  She said that is not unusual, even at this stage of recovery from surgery, and could be present because of the granulation.  I probably also aggravated it when massaging the scars.  This place now has the same feel and consistency of swollen lymph nodes I've had on my neck, so this makes sense.

I go back in Monday for a full examination and a full report.  I have to say I feel quite a bit better after getting these results.  I really didn't want another surgery right now, even a minor corrective one, although you have to be prepared for that when you have a major surgery like GRS. 

I know i have a lot more healing to do and it looks like it's going to take the whole year, just like the surgeon said.  Sometimes hanging in there and being tough is what it takes to get through this.  That's something that hasn't been my strong point, but I am learning....

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