Seven months ago and one week ago today,I was up early in my room in the Centre Metropolitain de Chirurgie, the hospital owned and run by Dr. Pierre Brassard in Montreal, Quebec, Canada . I didn't have breakfast that morning as I was patiently (not really nervously) awaiting my surgery later that morning. I was finally going to my gender reassignment surgery (GRS) that would (physically at least) complete my journey from male to female.
Out of three surgeries that day mine was to be the last. Another girl named Ava went first and she was to have her trachea shaved as well as GRS. About 9:30 AM they came for my roommate Samantha and as the nurses walked her upstairs to the operating room I found myself alone for a few minutes. Soon Mama and Mitchell would arrive to keep me company until my turn to ride up the elevator.
The feelings I was experiencing were similar to those I've had in the morning before going to work at a new job. Not exactly sure what to expect and just wanting to get it over with. I never experienced any moments of doubt from the minute I scheduled this surgery, nor any great apprehension. It was just something that had to be done, something I desperately wanted done, so I was just going to follow fate and let Drs. Brassard and Bellanger take care of business. My job was easy. I just had to lay there and take a nap.
The months since seem to have gone by slowly, maybe because I have generally not been as active as I was before surgery. The first 5.5 months involved some degree of pain and daily bleeding during dilation from the granulation complication I developed, which has now completely cleared up as I reported in my last update. In the last few weeks I have become more active physically as I try to lose the extra pounds put on during recovery. Almost everyone gains weight after this surgery and I was lucky mine wasn't too severe.
Now I am hit by this Bell's Paley which is again slowing me down and keeping me close to home. It's not related to my surgery or my transition and I believe that this too will pass, hopefully soon. I will tell you something though. My mindset now that I am post op is better than it has ever been. I'm experiencing a peace of mind and confidence in life that I really didn't think was possible. This mental rejuvenation will hopefully help me deal with any setbacks that life throws at me as well as allow me to maximize the experience of the rest of my life.
I think not enough is said today about the psychological benefits of GRS for many trans people. The dark cloud I felt hovering over me all these years was partially hormonal, as I came to fully understand when I killed the testosterone and added female hormones, but it was largely based on having the wrong genitals. This phenomenon is not as widely discussed a it used to be but it is the reason that SRS (GRS) was developed and has been such a successful tool in gender transition. This surgery is rightly credited with saving lives by clearing the mind and aligning the body with the brain.
I believe that transition in general saved my life, but now that I have post op awhile I can see that the surgery is instrumental in creating an inner peace that allows me to feel complete. It is a sense of relief and joy. Now I feel totally comfortable with myself, a feeling I'd never experienced before. Now I can experience life the way it should be, unfortunately only for the last half of it or so. That's ok because I finally feel normal.
Yes, mentally this surgery is having a huge positive effect on me. Physically, I am now coming into my own as a woman. Recovery does take a year or so and I am not all the way there yet, but I feel like my long period is over and this is a relief.
My schedule has just gone from two dilation a day to one. Something else I am doing when I am in the mood and have time, is doing much longer dilations. I may dilate for an hour or so even though the schedule only calls for a total of twenty minutes, 5 with the smaller and 15 with the largest dilator. Yes, I've found ways to make dilating enjoyable now now that the pain is gone. If I need to because of time restraints, I will stick to the schedule and be done in less than half an hour. Reaching the point where dilations no longer dominate life's schedule is nice, but it is a still a vital part of recovery.
Without getting too personal, I will say that I am finally getting to the point I can enjoy a normal sex life as a woman for the first time. I am very fortunate to have a loving partner I can experience this with and I believe having a strong emotional connection makes all the difference in experiencing love and not just sex.
One thing that most people facing this surgery are concerned about is the ability to have orgasms after the operation. I've alluded to it before, as I experienced my first orgasm 61 days post op, but at this point I have to say that this aspect of my life is much, much better than it has ever been. I am sort of amazed that I can achieve this sensation so easily, so many times and often so intensely. I am very satisfied with my ability to be satisfied.
My surgical scars have been problematic, as I do scar easily and redness shows on my fair skin, but they are now starting to fade away. Dr. Brassard said that it takes a year for scars to fade and the aesthetics to fully express themselves. I believe with me it will take every bit of that year but right now things are starting to look really good. I have been told by someone special that my vagina not only looks and feels like the real thing, it is the real thing.
It feels great to be as real as I can be. It feels great to be myself and I needed that. That's all anyone can ever ask for isn't it? Most people take being themselves for granted but for those few of us (trans people being a prime example) who do not feel comfortable within themselves, life is too much of a struggle and unnecessarily difficult.
Physical and (more importantly?) mental changes from hormones make a huge difference. Living as yourself and not hiding who you are makes it possible to feel some normalcy and comfort in everyday life, although in many cases it can open up its own can of worms in how others react to you. Surgery, especially GRS, is a very personal part of the journey and is the icing on the cake for many of us. I'm glad to be able to share my journey with you appreciate all the love and support I have received along the way.
I just want each and every one of you know that I am pulling for You! Whatever it is in life that you need to be, know that it is possible. Allow yourself to believe in yourself and never let go of that belief.