GRS Post-Op Day 28 – Bittersweet surrender

It’s 1 a.m. and my bags are essentially packed and ready to go. There’s a little final stuff to be done when I get up at Zero Dark Thirty to dilate and put my face on. Not sure if I’ll try to get a few hours of sleep, or whether I’ll be able to. Regardless there’s plenty of time to sleep on the plane. Six hours from Bangkok to Tokyo, a brief layover and then another 10 hours to San Francisco.

Like most patients who can afford it, I’m flying business class. Expensive as fuck, but the seats that lay down into beds are worth every penny after genital reassignment surgery. You really, really, don’t want to be sitting for 16 hours.

Hard my final check-up this afternoon, and Dr. Suporn pronounced me healthy and healing well. There’s some stitches are pokey and uncomfortable as they come out and can make it ouchy to walk at times, and there’s some dead skin on the inner side of my labia (which is normal and will slough off in good time). Dr. Suporn asked if I wanted to see photos from my surgery, and being the medical nerd I am, I said I did. Didn’t particularly freak me out, even though I thought it might. The clinic actually send you home with a USB drive with photos and potentially some video. Not sure I need to see that though.

Someone asked me to summarize my experience in a word. It’s difficult because there’s some many complex emotions, but I finally settled on “intense.”

It’s emotionally intense when you arrive, the surgery and the recovery are both physically and mentally intense. But there’s also an intense bonding that occurs with your fellow patients, especially those whose surgery dates are close to your’s, so you seem them for most of the month that you’re here.

Sisterhood is a word that’s overrated, but it’s applicable here. We’ve shared a unique and grueling experience, and that leads to some intense bonds. Realistically, I may never see many of my new friends in person again — Dr. Suporn literally has patients from around the globe — but I do plan to keep in touch online. I suppose it’s a tiny bit like being in combat — you can talk about it to others, but it’s different with someone who’s actually been through it themselves.

It’s a bittersweet parting of the ways.

An appropriate soundtrack for my mood right now:

GRS Post-Op Day 27 – Pee-chievement Unlocked

TMI…. bodily functions
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One of the things about genital reassignment surgery is that you literally need to re-learn how to pee again. Not only is the urethra now in a difference position, but the muscles you use to control your pee are very different.

It’s a really good thing the toilets here have a spray-nozzle bidet (why, oh why do we not have these in the States!) because immediately post-op you tend to spray everywhere.

But I realize this morning, I’ve finally learned pretty good control over the stream. Achievement unlocked!

The other not so fun thing about recovery is that the pain killers make you constipated, really constipated — which when you’re sticking an 8-1/2×1-3/8 medical dildo inside you to dilate can make things very crowded to say the least. Let’s just say I have a pretty good idea about what double-penetration must feel like — but this is definitely *not* the fun kind. Last night I was almost crying because it was so painful.

So it’s great when the laxatives actually kick in. Almost feel like we patients should get a gold star with “I pooped today” on it. 💩

GRS Post-Op Day 26 – No More Static in the Attic

One thing that’s been lovely here is watching some of the other patients really blossom.
 
One of them was almost manic tonight on the chat app we use here, gushing about how, after being Spock-like all her life, she’s finally able really feel emotions, and make connections to people.
 
It’s nothing to do with the surgery itself — albeit, she no longer has any testosterone in her system — rather it’s surgery seems to have unlocked something in her psychically.
 
Probably a combination of no longer having the constant “static in the attic” that comes with gender dysphoria, plus being in a place where she can truly be herself. (While there’s some official discrimination against trans people in Thailand, the Thai people here truly don’t care whether one is transgender.)
 
Not to mention being with others who’ve been through a difficult and intense experience, and come through the other side tends to cause some rapid bonding. We few, we happy few, we band of sisters.

GRS Post-Op Day 26 – To The Pain

The down side of rapid healing and the nerves waking up — OMG this evening’s dilation really hurt. The medium size was OK, but I ended up having to cut the time short for the large size (although I was still able to make the minimum time needed). But I was almost ready to cry by the time I called it quits.
 
Doesn’t hurt that I seemingly busted an internal stitch earlier today — nothing serious, it happens during the healing process — but yeah, that made things extra sensitive.
 
Ironically, when you’re having trouble dilating, the properly response is actually do to *more* sessions, albeit shorter ones, until things loosen up again. So I have I’ll have to try to do four sessions tomorrow.

GRS Post-Op Day 26 – Post-Op Care at Home

Someone asked whether, after returning home, I go back to check-ups. And the answer is, no you don’t, due to the distance involved, but you can send the clinic photos and status reports as needed.
 
Dr. Suporn actually doesn’t want other doctors looking at things because his technique is so different that even doctors in the States who do genital reassignment surgery don’t necessarily understand his technique and how it heals. (Obviously if there’s a medical emergency, they will have you see your local doctors.)
 
I’ve heard a horror story about a patient who was in an auto accident, and when she was taken to the ER the doctors there attempted to “fix” what they thought where problems down there — and completely ruined her GRS. 😱
 
After a year, you can return to Thailand for revisions. The revisions themselves are free, but you need to pay for your flight and hotel.
 
Typically revisions are things like correctly asymmetrical labias, or labias where there’s been a small detachment (which leaves a small hole), or issues around the urethra. Sometimes it’s also cosmetic things — Dr. Suporn intentionally leaves as much tissue as possible in case of tissue necrosis (so that there’s remaining tissue he can work with), but the trade-off is that some patients end up with really large labia, which they don’t like from an aesthetic POV (and yes, I know cisgender women have labias of all different shapes and sizes), but it bothers some people.
 
Some people also have him do the posterior commissure of the vulva (where the outer labia join behind the vaginal opening toward the perineum). Dr. Suporn doesn’t do this initially because dilating would just cause it to tear. He’ll only do it if you can skip dilation for about a month, and one trade-off is that it does make your a bit tighter (since the reconstructed skin isn’t quite as stretchy as the factory-installed tissue). It’s one of the “tells” that someone’s had GRS, but honestly I doubt very many cisgender people notice. OTOH, we trans women can be extremely self-conscious about a variety of things that cisgender rarely notice.

GRS Post-Op Day 24 – Mall Rat afternoon

Mall Rat afternoon at Chon Buri’s Central Plaza mall, just for a change of scenery — and of cuisine. The third floor here is mostly restaurant, and for some reason there’s lot of Japanese restaurants. So bento box with sashimi!
 
This particular mall is pretty “Western” — except in lots of ways that it’s not. The ground floor looks a lot like your standard mall, but you get further back, there’s things like what appears to be auto dealership selling cars in the middle of the mall walkway.
 
The second floor is home to 40+ stalls (I lost count) selling cell phone accessories. Not sure how they all stay in business, but evidently there must be enough.
 
Basemen floor has lots of little stalls (like 6×6) selling clothing. Lots of cute stuff, but sadly I’m not Asian-sized, so almost all of it is too small.
 
But it’s enjoyable just soaking up the atmosphere. I’ve not had an overseas trip for a vacation in a couple years, and this makes me realize how much I miss that. There’s something about being in an unfamiliar environment and culture that’s very stimulating and rejuvenating for me.

GRS Post-Op 24 – Crash Out Time

TMW you have a complete post-surgery energy crash. I got back from the mall this afternoon and planned to take a short nap before dilating — and work up hours later, only because I’d set an alarm for when to take my next round of pain meds. Otherwise I would’ve probably slept all night.
 
I’ve reminded people about the good advice I got before my facial feminization surgery: only do 20% of what you think you’re capable of doing, since you’re running on reserves.
 
Obviously, I wasn’t good about following my own advice….
 
I think it was due to a combination of a couple long walks in the past few days, plus the continued sleep deprivation, since I’m usually waking up several times a night due to pain, or the need to take pain meds. And being outside the last couple days have meant I’ve missed my afternoon nap.
 
Clearly tomorrow needs to be more of a rest day, although the only thing on the agenda is a two-hour Thai massage.
 
But good lesson to remember when I’m back home.

GRS Post-Op Day 22 – Not Your Average Tourist Destination

Aside from being hot and muggy, and walking being difficult at times, another reason I haven’t done much exploring is that the hotel and clinic are along the main highway that runs through downtown Chon Buri, which is pretty urban and gritty.
 
The highway is so busy that the only way you can cross it is via the pedestrian overpasses every half kilometer or so.
 
So not exactly a place for a relaxing stroll.
 
Consequently, it’s mostly been resting at the hotel, visiting the clinic for check-ups, going to the mall occasionally for a change of scenery, as well as short trips in the area surrounding hotel to go out to eat or take care of errands.