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The last day finally arrived. Again, Dr. Schrang was later than usual, but not as late as Monday. It was about 10 am when he finally came in. I made sure that he took care of my roommate first. She had been waiting for a whole week, and it was her turn. I was ok with waiting. All he had to do for me was remove the vaginal packing. One thing I have to say about Dr. Schrang is that he has the bedside manner of a car salesman. He doesn't beat around the bush. He just goes at it. He also likes to sell you on it while he's doing it. When he pulled out the catheter and such, he was saying "You're going to have a great result...great result" the whole time. Tuesday wasn't much different.

He basically just grabbed the external end of the gauze packing and started pulling. Talk about your strange feelings...again, my eyes went wide, particularly when the gauze caught on a stitch. I felt like a clown car. I could see the gauze as he was pulling it, and it just kept coming. After it was finally all out, it was time for my first dilation. He showed me how to do it, which again, was a strange feeling. He started with a smaller one and moved up to a larger one. I then had to sit there for a half hour applying constant pressure inwards and downwards. Apparently I'll lose what I have if I don't do that.

I remember when the dilators came in the mail. I looked at them and saw the big one. I just remember thinking "I'm never going to be using that one, it's just too big." Turns out Dr. Schrang wants me to move up to that one. That surprised me. Once I was dilating, he left. My parents arrived at the beginning of all that and walked in while I was covered with a sheet during my dilating. That was a bit uncomfortable. Then, about five minutes later, my best friend Seth and his girlfriend Hannah arrived. They walked in, realized what I was doing, got uncomfortable and decided to wait outside with my parents. I was grateful.

Finally after the half hour, I was done. I cleaned up, put my clothes on, and got to go home. On the way, Seth and Hannah went with my parents and I to Perkins for some decent food. The waitresses saw I was from the hospital and gave me a free cookie. After that, we all headed home. It was so nice to be in a familiar place again. I spent most of my day dilating, since I had to do it 6 times a day at least. We also went to the store to get maxi pads and some prescriptions. By then I was exhausted again. Just being up and about was very tiring. We ordered pizza for dinner that night, and I went to bed early. It was very hard to sleep in my bed, because the home instructions dictated that I had to sleep elevated on several pillows and on my back. It was not comfortable and I woke up a lot. There was also a lot of bleeding. So, it was just difficult. Eventually that changed though...That's it for the hospital. Now we move on to the recovery.

Luv,

Jess

Day 7 was really really dull. My parents came to visit and I got a call from Beth, my friend who teaches at the local high school and runs the queer group. It was nice to hear from her, especially when I was so bored. Aside from that, the day was uneventful.

Monday finally came. I was so excited. I woke up around 7:00 or so. The nurses informed me that the doctor is usually there fairly early in the morning. So, I was patient and waited. Eventually I decided I was sick of waiting and ordered breakfast. That came, I ate a little of it, and continued waiting. The nurses were surprised he didn't come yet. Usually he's not that late. But, we also figured out that he was about to go on vacation and had no new patients. So he eventually showed up around noon.

Before he actually came in the room, the nurse removed the water from the catheter bubble. The inflated bubble is what holds the catheter in securely. So, after she did that, there was some major discomfort from the tube that was now freely sitting in my urethra. Finally Dr. Schrang came in. Instead of removing the catheter right away, he decided to take off the tape that was holding my boobs in place. It was like a corset, only made out of duct tape. The thing is..."took off" is not the phrasing for it. "Ripped off" is a better choice. It hurt like hell. After that he took the catheter out and the drains and removed the big gauze roll. All I can say is that my eyes were wide throughout this entire process. The only thing that I remember that sticks out in my mind is Dr. Schrang saying "If you can't control your bladder, we'll put a temporary catheter back in." I just thought to myself "I'll be able to pee....no matter what". Turns out, I had no problem with controlling my bladder. No more bedpan for me.

Anyway, after that, they got me out of bed. It was slow going getting up, and it was astonishing how much stronger gravity felt than it used to. I was able to walk about half way down the hall before I was too tired to go any further. I turned around, and pretty much passed out for an hour or so. Finally I had the energy again to try to walk again. This time I walked all the way down the hallway. I sat and looked at the helicopter for a while. Amazingly, just sitting was tiring. After about 15 minutes, someone came to check on me. I was practically asleep in the chair. So we went back to the room and I took a nap.

After the nap, I felt up to taking a shower. So I did. It was probably the most exhausting shower I've ever taken. I washed my hair three times. By the time I finished, I didn't have the energy to dry off. I had to sit there on a chair and try to slowly dry myself off and get dressed. Eventually I made it back to my room and again passed out for a while. A while later, I had dinner and just felt so energetic. The rest of the night I spent walking around the hospital. I felt great. When my parents came, they were amazed. I also got to visit the girl that was down the hall. Her name is Kate. She was a little older than me, but very down to earth. She seemed very cool. We talked for a little while. It was good to get away from my roommate. I also talked with my two cool nurses that night, Melissa and Anna. Anna gave me twizzlers. That was great.

I slept pretty well that night. I was still excited for going home the next day. Up to that point, everyone has said my results are great. There's no visible bruising, which is rare. That made me happy. I was just looking forward to when my strength is back and I'm healed. The pain hadn't been bad, but it would still be nice when the pain is gone for good. Almost time to go home...

Luv,

Jess

Today was a loooong day. No visitors and only two phone calls. Lauren checked in on me, which is good. The first time she called was the day of surgery and I wasn't really capable of talking. My first memory of the day was a crappy one though. Each day of the week I woke up and watched the nurse rip the previous day off the calendar. On Saturday morning, the nurse did that and I saw that it said "Aug 7/8" meaning I would have to look at that the whole weekend. It was just a reminder of how long the weekend actually was, since on Monday I was going to be able to get out of bed finally. I was stir crazy by Saturday afternoon.

My roommate was going through a rough time. She was 51 and came from a pentecostal christian househole. She found out that her wife of 29 years wanted a divorce now that she went through with SRS. She cried a lot and I really didn't know what to do for her. I do know that it is partially her fault. She didn't get the Harry Benjamin required therapy. She aparently went to one doc once and got her letters for SRS. She also had this notion that everyone was just going to accept it and be happy about it. Her bubble was effectively popped. I think if she had gone through the required therapy, she may have handled things differently. Things may have worked out better. She also seemed more focused on shaking her hips and being pretty than she was about just being a woman. I think it was a big possibility that she made a mistake. I really hope things work out for her.

One more full day before the catheter comes out...that's all I could think about. At least I slept ok that night. The past few nights before my kidneys had been aching like crazy. The ibuprophen seemed to help a lot. I was thankful. I like sleep.

Jill had yet to visit or call. I wasn't really expecting her to though. From past experience, I just didn't expect she'd be comfortable with seeing me. I wasn't sure I would be comfortable with seeing her either. The hospital is not the best place to meet people. I looked like hell since I hadn't had a shower in so long. There were things in my hair, and it was just bad. If she did visit or call, it would have to have been Sunday or Monday since Tuesday I got discharged.

The best part of Saturday had to have been watching Justice League Unlimited. My roommate was asleep or using her computer or something. So the TV was all mine. I loved it. I can't get enough superheroes. It really brought me back to reality too. I needed the memory of being some place other than the hospital. I also got to see my favorite heroine, Wonder Woman. :) I'm such a dork. Damn proud of it too. That was pretty much it for Saturday though.

Luv,

Jess

On the fifth day I was finally off of the demerol. Instead, they gave me prescription strength Ibuprophen. It's bad for my kidneys, but I figured since it's only a few days, what the heck. It wasn't even remotely as bad as the demerol was. The nurses were very nice. I've had several. My favorites were Melissa, Anna, Ryan, and Amanda. They're all very nice, and also attractive. I can't complain about that. I do have complaints about other things though...like the food. It was ok, but by far not the greatest. I was also limited to a low residue/low fiber diet. So all the good stuff on the menu was not an option. I was pretty much eating the same things each day. I got so sick of the food that I didn't eat a full three meals a day. I ate maybe two. I just couldn't stomach it. The best part about that is that I wasn't feeling hunger. The anesthesia was still affecting my system so I couldn't feel my stomach.

I'd have to say the most humiliating thing about being in the hospital was using a bedpan. Throughout the week, they would ask us if we were passing gas. That's a good sign I guess. Eventually, on the third or fourth day, the bowel movements finally happened. I was given a stool softener so it would be easier, but still....ugh. Because of the skin graft, I couldn't push. So if it happened, it happened. Just...I never want to have to use one of those again.

I learned in the hospital why doctors tell guys to turn their head and cough during physicals. I had no idea how much of the body was used to cough, sneeze, or laugh until it happened during that week. Sneezing hurt the most. Thankfully it was rare. But still, ouch.

A friend of mine, Miriam, also stopped in for a visit. I met her at a seminar Dr. Schrang gave. She spoke about her SRS experience with him. She's been very nice and has been trying to give me advice on how to make things go smoother. It was nice to have her stop in and say hi.

I waited a few days to look at my new vagina. I had been asked several times if I wanted to see it, but I turned it down because I wanted it to heal a bit first. Finally I took a look and was very surprised at what I saw. It looked nothing like I expected it to. There was this thick black gauze roll towards the top of it that was soaking up a lot. There were stitches and tubes and such everywhere. I wasn't really sure what I was even looking at. It was a bit of a shock. Over time, that would change though. The nurses were telling me that in three months, it would look like I never had anything but a vagina.

Other than that, Friday was pretty dull. There isn't much to do laying in a hospital bed. I just looked forward to Monday, when the catheter would come out.

Luv,

Jess

These two days are a blur. I had several visitors, but I'm not sure which days they came. I'm fairly certain my older sister came on day 3 and my aunt and cousin came on day 4, but I could have that backwards. It was great to see family come and visit. I have such a loving family. My aunt and cousin brought a single red rose in a vase. It was beautiful and bloomed so perfectly. It lasted the whole time I was in the hospital. I also got flowers from Lauren and a gift balloon from Robyn, a friend from college. It was hard to crane my neck around to see them on the table beside my bed, but it was great to know they were there.

Still, there were several days until the catheter came out and I was allowed back on my feet. On day 4, they finally took the IV out. No more liquid demerol for me, but they gave me the pill version. That was actually a lot stronger than the IV. I took that and fell asleep pretty quickly. I didn't like the effects of that drug so much though. I couldn't focus on anything. I had brought a whole ton of books, and I couldn't read worth a damn. I'd read a line, and none of it would actually sink in. I could read it ten times and wouldn't remember it. I eventually gave up on reading. I had also brought a gamecube, but they didn't have a TV that worked with it until after I sent it home. It was also a good thing I didn't have a laptop, because there was no internet access anyway.

Boredom set in pretty quickly. There wasn't much on TV, and I had a direct view of the clock and calendar. My roommate proved to be a huge annoyance too. She arrived on Day 2 and immediately established herself as a bitch by insulting both me and my parents. She also had this attitude like "no one's better than me". She made a point to brag that she drank all of her laxatives. Her surgery happened on my third day in the hospital. There will be more about her later on... Anyway, that was my third and fourth day.

Luv,

Jess