Mi Cara Cara

Even though I haven’t posted much in the last couple days, I’ve been doing well. Worst of the swelling peaked on Sunday as predicted. Now they have me massaging my face to get the swelling out. I look a bit scarier now, with lots of yellow bruising.

At Monday’s follow-up, the doctors thought I was healing faster than expected, so they’re removing the stitches from my eyelids tomorrow, a day earlier than planned.

Getting stronger each day, and getting out of the apartment for a bit. Good thing, because I was starting to get cabin fever. Per a friend’s wise counsel about not risking overdoing it, I’m only doing 20% of what I think I’m able to do. But I managed to do two walks of 15-20 minutes, albeit punctuated by stops at the parks and for afternoon coffee. Will do another shorter walk in a bit to go out to dinner. I was hoping to go to one of the major art museums today, but they’re closed on Tuesdays. So that’s on the agenda tomorrow.

Hopefully, by the weekend, I’ll have more stamina for some longer trips via either bus or taxi to other parts of Palermo. (Palermo is a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, but it’s got a population of 250,000, and there’s several sub-neighborhoods. Palermo Soho is the trendy shopping area that’s supposed to be reminiscent of Soho in NYC. So that would make a fun day trip. Sadly, I’m sure there’s nothing in my size.

Then Monday, it’s back for the second round of surgery. This time I’ll be smart and take my cell phone, so I’m not bored to death when they hold me overnight, like last time.

The enforced downtime has been a good thing. I’ve been pushing myself far too hard for far too many years. People kept telling me they didn’t know how I did it. Well the answer was that I was not only burning the candle at both ends, but in the middle too. Add transition on top of that, and the past years, and especially the past three months, have been the most stressful in my life. So there’s a lot of accumulated burn out.

I think no matter how much you say you’re not going to let transition take over your life, it still does. Admittedly, I did things concurrently, like electrolysis 3x/week and planning facial feminization surgery that people often spread out over longer time periods. Having to do a last-minute scramble changing ID didn’t help. I’m just so thankful my bosses were willing to give me abundant flexibility before I went on medical leave because I was running around doing ID stuff and getting the necessary pre-surgical tests done.

When I get back, I definitely need to take a look at better life/work balance. Unfortunately, many of the same challenges are there. In Silicon Valley, 40 hours/week is a part-time job, and trying to have a performing career is also time consuming. Not living in San Francisco or Oakland also means I spent a lot of time driving up there, whether it’s for my shows, other people’s shows, or to visit friends. Trying to build up some friendships with people who aren’t 30 miles away will be one of my major goals for the year.

Anyway, is FFS worth the time, money and hassle? For me, so far the answer is definitely yes. I was fortunate to not had a particularly masculine face, but I never thought I had a particularly feminine face either. Through the swelling, I’m starting to see the contours of mi cara cara, and it’s exciting. My jowls, which I’ve hated for years, are gone. My jaw is less square, my chin more pointed. I can’t yet see the cheekbones clearly, but I can definitely feel them. And we’re only half done. Next round, we’ll subdue the hated hairline, although it’ll take a follow-up hair transplant in March to fully fill that in. But lowering the hairline and filling in the corners a bit will definitely help solve one of my major hair styling challenges.

Some people have a bit of a freak out after FFS (or other facial plastic surgery). There’s something about changing your face that can touch something primal. Not me (at least so far). It’s more like the reaction I had after going on hormones, and in the weeks since going full-time — it just kind of feels right. It’s me, but just more so.