I have been working on an entry for a few weeks. I’ve just been struggling with depression and anxiety lately. It’s made me not really want to do anything. Going to work has been a major endeavor. I have to sit in my car and just kind of psyche myself up to it. So writing has taken a back burner to mostly lying on the couch and also hiding in the dark.
Despite all that, things have been progressing in other ways. First, I switched from oral estradiol via pills to intramuscular injection. Basically I’ve started stabbing myself with needles once a week and injecting lady juice right into my muscles. I’m a doper. I’ve officially moved from the gateway drugs to the really hard stuff. I never thought it could happen to me. I couldn’t help but think of my own kids and the “I learned it from watching you, dad!!!” commercials. Let’s hope it never comes to that. But if it does, so be it.
Since the switch, I’ve noticed that my boobs have been having periods where they hurt continuously. Sometimes they just ache off and on. However, at this point they’re pretty much tender all the time. This is usually a sign that they’re growing. At least I hope they’re growing. I’m probably a solid A cup currently and have been since back in August. Since then, they’ve largely remained the same. I’m hoping that this will jump start them into growing and providing something a little larger. I make due with fancy push up bras, but with my torso, I really need something a little bigger to kind of level things out.
The biggest news though is that on the evening of my last entry, I received a call from Dr. Bowers’ office saying that they had a cancellation and they wanted to offer me the appointment for surgery. Of course, I have accepted. My new date for surgery is May 3rd. My original date was 2/8/2017. So this is a big shift. Originally, I was hoping to have surgery with Dr. Schechter on 3/29, but you all know what happened there. My new date is still slightly tentative due to hospital scheduling and other things, but I should have a firm commitment in the next couple weeks. At that point, I can go ahead and start booking travel arrangements.
So, we’re about 58 days out and I’m alternating between a few different emotions, including but not limited to: “omg omg omg”, “it’s never going to come”, “oh shit, this is like next week” and “what the fuck did i get myself into?”
I’ve never had any major surgery. The most was having my wisdom teeth removed, all four of them being impacted and angry. I remember being loopy as hell from the general. I also remember going out to dinner that night, driving myself while on pain pills. Probably not the best idea. This is considerably more severe and invasive. Of course, the idea of correcting what most bothers me about my body is comforting. Being able to jettison some unwanted cargo, if you will. However, the reality of the situation is a bit more worrisome. There’s a lot of complications that could happen. Lots of risk. So you have to balance the eagerness to correct what’s wrong with the nagging concern that you could make things worse. I don’t think any transwoman goes into the operating room excited about the actual procedure. They go in with the expectation and a hope for a better, more comfortable future. At least, that would be my guess.
Possibly TMI stuff beyond this point….
Because a lot of people have asked me about what all this actually entails, I thought I would give the broad strokes. The procedure itself is supposed to run about 3-5 hours. It will be performed by Dr. Marci Bowers in Burlingame, California. The actual surgery is referred to as single stage penile inversion vaginoplasty. It actually involves a number of different procedures like Orchiectomy (removal of the testicles), Vaginoplasty, Labiaplasty and Cliteroplasty. For the purposes of insurance, some surgeons bill for Penectomy, although almost the entirety of the penis is reconfigured. Despite what most people think, they don’t really cut anything off. Aside from the testicles. Those will go in the trash or maybe in a jar full of formaldehyde. Everything else is sort of a waste not, want not kind of situation, like the Native Americans did with the Bison.
The first part of the surgery is to remove the testicles. The penis is then dissected. The vaginal canal is fashioned from the skin of the penis. The skin is turned inside out and the end sewn shut, hence the “inversion” part of the name. The clitoris is formed from the tip or glans of the penis maintaining the nerves and blood supply. Even a portion of the erectile tissue is retained, in order to engorge when aroused, causing the clitoris to become more exposed. The urethra is shortened and the vulva and labia are fashioned from the scrotal skin and surrounding tissues. SCIENCE! The vagina is packed with gauze and in some cases a stent, to maintain the structure. Surgical drains along the incision site and then a big fancy surgical dressing. All the stitches are dissolvable.
After surgery, I get to spend 4 days, 3 nights in a luxury, all-inclusive hospital bed. During this time, I’ll be fully packed and will have a catheter in place to give my newly shortened urethra time to start healing. Assuming no major complications I should be up and walking within a day or so. Discharge is on the 3rd day. I’ll still have the catheter at this point, still stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey. I’ll spent 3 or so more nights at local hotel.
Six days post-op, I should be back at the surgeon’s office to have the packing removed. I have nicknamed this experience the “magic scarf trick.” This is based on discussions with other post-op ladies who say they they start pulling and it just keeps coming out…. foot after foot. Heheh. They’ll also remove the catheter at this time.
At this point, they’re going to teach me the finer points of zen and the art of vagina maintenance. Namely, dilation. Dilation is something I’m going to be doing a lot of. As in, three times a day for the first 3 months. It’s kind of like getting your ears pierced. You need to make sure the newly formed “neo” vagina doesn’t lose any of it’s depth or diameter. So for 15 minutes, thrice daily, I’ll insert a dilator and just kind of let it hang out for 15 minutes while I watch tv or something… Ponder world peace… Whatever girls do when they’re very full of Perspex. After 3 months, I can go down to twice daily until 9 months and then once per day. After the first year, most ladies will go down in frequency, especially if they’re sexually active with penetration. Intercourse is not a perfect replacement, but it serves it’s purpose in more ways than one. If everything goes well, I should be in California between 11-12 days. Flying home should be exciting. Remind me to make sure I have plenty of pain meds and the rubber donut for that flight.
My primary concerns are, and in no particular order: infection, loss of depth or the vagina itself due to graft complications, nerve damage, loss of the ability to orgasm, and/or urinary problems. There’s also a small risk of death. Which I guess, you know, could happen. If they were to nick or penetrate the bowel, I could end up with a colostomy bag and a very botched set of genitals. Nothing to worry about, right?
Statistically, based on Dr. Bowers volume, major complications seem very unlikely. I’ve only read a few people who were displeased with her results. There’s a reason that she runs a waiting list that’s nearly 2 years long. She’s sought after. The only surgeon in the US that had a longer waiting list was Dr. Metzler. The two of them are pretty much the rock stars when it comes to store bought vaginas. The win out for Bowers is one, she’s a woman…. and two she’s a transgender woman. I think that ultimately, she probably knows what I want more than I do at this juncture in my life. Who better to help me? Plus she has a good sense of humor and her jokes are both somewhat crass and sarcastic.. which is kind of my thing.