Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Good things happen to us, bad things happen. Life washes over us and we move from one event to the next. Some events are momentous and life changing; graduating High School, coming of age, partnership or marriage, the birth of a child, moving state or country to somewhere new. I've done all of them. They often mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of something utterly new.
When I began my blog it was with the intention of looking at my life and exploring the events that influenced my journey towards transition. Now it seems, with incredible suddenness, I'm there. I'm left at the end of the chapter with only one page to go, reviewing the events that lead to that sudden change.
A looming event about which you are nervous can seem to hover on your horizon, absorbing all your mind and stressing you incessantly. You rehearse things out in your imagination. You draw on everything you know from friends. Sometimes the reality when it arrives s a little different.
I travelled down to London on April 9 on my way to surgery. I arrived at the same time as another Trans woman and enigmatically we were told there was no room at the inn: Charing Cross had no bed for either of us on Marjorie Warren Ward that night. We were whisked away in hospital transport to Hammersmith Hospital where we were accommodated in neighbouring studio accommodation. We spent the evening walking into East Acton and eating out in Lebanese restaurant. Even so, I slept very very little. We had been told to be outside waiting at 5:30 am when a taxi would take us back to Charing Cross Hospital. By 6.15am there was no taxi!
We got our own taxi and by now it was late and time was ticking fast. In a whirlwind of activity I met my anaesthetist and was rapidly told what would happen. I met my surgeon; he in cycle shorts. Enema, stuff my things rapidly into my bedside locker, gown, remove jewelry....I didn't have time to turn around and think. I was walking out of the ward when my nurse spotted my heart necklace; a Mother's Day present from my daughter. It was a brief hiccup. I had expected to be wheeled up to theatre. Instead I walked up with a nurse, taking the lift to the tenth floor. Within a few minutes Mr James Bellringer himself was fitting my cannula, I was hearing about risks from the anaethetist, I was agreeing to my irreversible op, my anaesthetist was counting......
Coming round in recovery I was glad at first of Patient Controlled analgesia; a shot of morphine every few minutes. Not long after I found that it made me incredibly sick. Through my haze, I think I spent that whole day with a huge smile on my face; aware and relieved that I was the other side of a watershed; one which had dominated my life for so long. I simply couldn't sleep and chatted to my Ward Buddies; the most amazing Trans ladies like myself and a dear older lady whose catchphrase 'Lovely Jubbly Gorgeous' resonated through the bay were we all lay in bed.
Over the next few days I haemorrhaged a good deal. Compression bandages went on top of compression bandages. I was wrapped up like a Christmas present but felt very little pain. It became upsetting to see my Ward Buddies have their bandages removed and begin to mobilise whilst I had to take yet more bed rest. Soon I was the only one left in bed and more than a little low. The talk between us helped pass the time; hearing each other's stories, discussing catheters, leg bags, constipation and yes, farts. Recovery is a messy icky business yet full of emotional uplift at where you are now.
The journey from Wednesday, the day of my operation to Sunday when they removed my bandages seemed so long but it was well worthwhile. After they removed my catheter and taught me to dilate on Monday I was told to go douche and shower. Gazing in the mirror and seeing the new me naked for the first time I began to tear up and cry and cry. I just couldn't stop. It seemed so right and such an incredible relief after many years of longing. It was hard to believe that I'd arrived at my final stop :D
Except, as we all know it isn't quite like that. Huge changes are often new beginnings and involve hard effort to make them work. I'm home now and on my 4th week post-op. Dilation of my new vagina is for life: not the 3 times a day I do now but certainly once or twice a week for keeps. Dilation is essential. It keeps your vagina from shrinking and contracting, it safeguards all that careful surgery for good. Staff suggested I think of it in terms of orthodonture; dilation and your stents are your 'retainer'!
Recovery is an ongoing and continual process. It is one of gradual healing, cleansing, caring, dilating, douching and restoring balance; of learning like a teenager about your body; marvelling at how it all works as sensations return and intensify. It's proved like that in my life too. Having reached this point I realise, with a little regret, how I've had to live a life feeling numb; hating sensations which others found sensual and at odds with a body I felt had let me down. Paradoxically, some of the cutting and self harming I did down there to help me cope, hurt far more than this does now. I can only observe that pain with no hope of release sucks; pain and rebirth hurts infinitely less because there is pain but also joy and achievement. I'm home at last.
So what of my Blog now? I've reached the end of this journey, fast rewound my life and started over. Do I start a new Blog? I'm considering it already. My concerns now are life, love and relationships. I find the idea of sex and intercourse scares me a little because it is the new unknown. I feel more than a little vulnerable. It won't stop me going there though......so wish me luck.
Hugs, Jane xox