Thankfully, my nurse practitioner had no problems renewing the pain medications I’d gotten from Dr. Suporn. I figured it would be OK, but I wasn’t sure, given the crackdown on prescription opiates.*
I’d brought “my Thai boyfriends” to show her if needed (i.e. “I’m having to put these really large things inside me to push against scar tissue formation”), but she said the description on my dilation routine was enough to make her cross her legs involuntarily.
Not a moment too soon, because the nerve re-awakening has begun in earnest. Not fun.
Didn’t help that yesterday I went to an after-work happy hour for a co-worker who’s leaving (before I return to work), and the bar stools were very hard and small, so my pillow wasn’t that much help. During the hour or so that I was there, I ended up having to stand several times — although I suppose that’s not entirely bad, since if people were paying attention, it was clear why I need more time off. Hopefully, I’ll be better able to sit for longer periods of time by the time I return to work.
*Albeit Tramadol is the weakest of the opiate pain meds, and it also helped that she commented that I’ve shown in the past that I’ve been conservative about my use of any medications. We spent a bit of time talking about dosing, and at my suggestion, she intentionally wrote me prescription for lowest dosage per pill, so that I’ve got more flexibility in using the minimum needed to keep me out of pain.
BTW, for those who are about the suggest CBD, I’ve already got CBD pills from Highland Pharms (legal in all 50 states because they’re hemp based) that I’ve used in the past for pinch nerve pain, so I’m experimenting with those as well. Unfortunately, they are a bit pricy, whereas Tramadol is covered by insurance (and has more predictable dosing).
Good news: I definitely have genital sensation.
Bad news: I know this because as the nerves are reawakening, and it’s hurting like hell. My clit in particular feels like it’s on fire whenever the pain meds wear off.
Unfortunately, this is a normal part of the healing process. With Dr. Suporn’s technique* months 2 and 3 post-op are the most difficult, since that’s when nerves that were temporarily deadened by post-surgery trauma start “waking up,” and when the internal scar contraction really starts kicking in — hence the need to dilate 3x/day (or more) to prevent scar contracture from causing you to lose depth.
Admittedly, it’s not helped that due to some scheduling mishaps I’ve been sitting far too many hours during the last two days, which puts pressure on the genital area. (Although it was useful in confirming that there’s no way I could return to work just yet, since I’ve got a desk job where I sit most of the day.)
Just gotta embrace the suck.
*Don’t know about the recovery from the more commonly used “penile inversion” technique.
TMI, dilation stuff….
TMW you’re rinsing yourself out after dilating and think you see a spider in the shower — and then realize it’s just a wad of stitches that came out.
And before anyone worries, this is a normal part of the healing process, since the labia stitches are designed to work their way out as the incision heals.
In fact, it was a Good Thing, since it involved some stitches that had been poking out and were really uncomfortable.
Oh holy mother of Maude, the first dilation after returning home hurt like hell — even with the much more powerful painkiller I had leftover from a prior surgery here in the States. 😱😱😱 Far worse than the first dilation I had after being discharged from the hospital.
Took almost an hour to get to depth — it had only taken 5-10 minutes at most before I left Thailand — and I’m not sure I actually got there. Then it was the normal 15 minutes of “push and stir.”
Didn’t even attempt the second round with the larger dilator, with Dr. Suporn’s blessings. You can regain width later, but at the moment it’s crucial to not lose depth.
Probably multiple reasons why it was so tough — first dilations after returning home notoriously are.
First, with all the travel I’d gone 24+ hours without dilating instead the normal 8-hour interval. Probably made worse by my body healing quickly, and thus it was busy trying to close what thinks is a ginormous puncture wound.
Second, even traveling business class (to get the seats that convert into beds) was grueling and really uncomfortable on the surgical area. So my body is still pretty tense down there.
Being intensely jet lagged probably didn’t help get into the right frame of mind either.
Unfortunately, when you’re having difficulty dilating, the only solution is to actually do *more* dilating, to gradually loosen things up.
So once I finish dinner, it’ll be time for another round. 😭😭😭
O you who know what we suffer here, do not forget us in your prayers.
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:
TMI…. bodily functions
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. 💩