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.
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: