This page is intended to be able to share experiences with others of what it was like for me to go through transition. Sometimes I have found it hard to find out in advance what others went through, to be able to learn from their experiences. So I have decided it is important to share my own experiences. Hopefully others may chose to also add their experiences to the Transition section of T-VOX.
My name is Jennifer Emily and I transitioned on the 27th of March 2005. Up to that point I had been very nervous about the whole process, not least because I considered myself to look undisputedly male, and had a very male-sounding voice. I started seeing Psychiatrists back in 1997, though through a combination of a lack of access to support groups, and a lack of courage, I never transitioned at University despite it being a golden opportunity. Throughout the period 2000-2005 this was something I deeply regretted, so when I was finally prescribed Hormone replacement therapy in February 2005 it was only a matter of time before I made the big leap of faith. In many ways I finally felt it was time to make up for what I considered to be the five wasted years of my life where despite having a promising career as a radio presenter and freelance writer/researcher, there was no real direction to my life as I struggled with the underlying Gender Identity Disorder that had been with me since my earliest memories.
By March 2005 I was making the preparations for the big move. My parents had known about my transsexuality since 1997 when I first came out to them, but it was something that had been never properly talked about since. So I found myself faced with telling them a second time that it was for real and not the ‘phase’ that my Mother had always claimed, and told them that I was going to transition. I had decided that to remain living in Manchester doing the work I was doing was not something that would allow me to transition; I knew it would be far too stressful. I handed my notice in to all the employers, and recorded a few extra programs to provide some degree of continuity for the Saturday morning breakfast radio programme I had, and left. Renting a room in a house of a friend 150 miles away in Durham where I had been at University, I loaded up my Father’s transit van and made the move.
My biggest fears had always been how society at large would react, and whether I would find myself ostracised and isolated. Luckily in Durham I had a lot of very supportive friends who had known about me since University. Many were not surprised that I had transitioned and some even expressed that their only surprise was that it had taken me this long. I was also worried about my voice. Undeniably male, I felt that this was going to be the single biggest thing to overcome. How I would pass was of a lesser concern, as I knew that through University there had been times that given the effort I was able to (as long as I kept my mouth shut!)
On that first day I wore a skirt in public for probably only the second time since being at University. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a scary thing, and I walked with pride into Durham from the house knowing that finally I was able to be me. I did get a lot of stares, but it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it could be. Over the weeks, as the laser hair removal continued, I became more confident, though sometimes I did have to make myself get out into the outside world. One of the things I was especially mindful of was that without a job, I would have to make sure that I didn’t slide into an insular way of life. So I made a point of going out every day, and spending it sitting reading books in the café of the student union. Here at least I could meet and talk to people I knew, and it was a far more tolerant attitude than I might have found elsewhere.
I applied for many jobs. Unfortunately much of my previous experience was not worth much as I could not apply for broadcasting jobs under my new identity when all of my demos and track record were to all intents and purposes, of some-one else. So I viewed my time in Durham as a temporary respite from my career as I sorted out the single most fundamental issue of my life. Interviewing as Jenny was hard, especially the first couple of times. My voice was not so hot, though helped my my keenness to learn from techniques available on the internet. Luckily I was able to master the stopping of chest resonance and lightening the voice early on, but speech therapy is not something that comes immediately. I remember one interview the interviewer spent the entire time talking incoherently at my breasts, because it seems she could not understand how they belonged on me! Strangely, I got offered that job, but I turned it down because despite having advertised a pay scale, they refused to honour anything but the lowest grade which was nowhere near enough to live on. Gradually things got better, and by the June I was offered a job with the civil service on a measly but liveable on (just!) wage and I took it, starting on the 28th of that month.
Working as Jenny came far easier than I imagined. The people in the office had been told that I was transsexual and so that removed a lot of the potential problems. I agreed to them being told in advance, because at the time I did not pass the best, so I figured it was better than having Chinese whispers go around. The people seemed to be very accommodating at first, treating me as ‘one of the girls’ with apparent readiness. I hated the work, but it was something that had to be done to get through the real life test.
Unfortunately despite the fact that both my voice and my appearance were changing, work was not without its difficulties. These issues dragged on for two years culminating in a court case which I won. I have learnt from others though that harassment, victimisation and even discrimination against trans people is rife within many workplaces. It is a sad fact, but hopefully perceptions of transsexuals is changing. The actions of a few thoughtless individuals can quickly ruin any transitioning trans person’s time.
Luckily legislation is in place to help people in a similar situation, and it is possible to fight back against bullies, harassers and injustice.
After the first few weeks living en femme has been remarkably easy. It just feels right, somehow. I am now able for the first period in my life to look myself in the eye in the mirror – something which prior to transition I was never able to do. Despite my original very masculine appearance, I do now pass almost all of the time. I do not get taunts in the street, and I do not get any kind of abuse. People see me as female, and react to me as such even when I speak. The changes have been long in coming, and at times seeming very hard won, but they have come nonetheless. Apparently I now look similar to my older sister, whereas before we were very much different.
Passing has been something that many people may look upon as being a black art. I have found it quite contrary. Things such as makeup have been something that have come with practice, and by observing other women I have grown to know exactly what works and what doesn’t. It’s all a case of try it. My feet shrank thanks to the hormone replacement therapy from a size 12 to a size 10 which has meant that footwear has not been such a big problem (Evans, amongst others do up to this size) and shops such as Dorothy Perkins, Etam, New Look and BHS do cater for women of my height (6’1″).
The following is an extract from my diary, written over the period of my surgery at the Sussex Nuffield Hospital in May 2006. It was written first hand in real time. Any gaps are as a result of not feeling up to writing anything immediately post-op! I felt it was important to record some kind of first-hand record of what it is like to go through mtf SRS.
The Diary of my surgery in May 2006
I’m going to keep a few quick jottings whilst I am in the hospital. They shall be short and brief and may be lacking though early recovery, but I feel that it is important to keep some kind of a little record at this time.
I arrived in Brighton without too much of a hitch. The journey flashed by in an instant, which helped. I did some work on the train, as I had a floppy disk of the tribunal stuff sent last minute after Zoe scanned it. It gave me the idea that I can post my response back to her using the disk and a jiffy bag.
The weather is wet and very windy here. I looked over a few shops in Brighton including one seeing antique toy trains – doing a little scouting on values before my Father and I sell up most of our collection. I also managed to find the last three items on my list that had proved so elusive: toothpaste, and two flannels. My bags were rather heavy, so I caught a bus to Woodingdean, getting dropped off at the Post Office just down the road from the hospital. I wanted stamps and an envelope so that I could mail to Zoe a copy of the notes I have made on the laughable response from the department in this tribunal business.
Checking in was a surreal experience. It’s rather like a hotel here, and the food is exceptional. I’m still on normal food, so I have had two rather fine feasts. I’ve had blood tests done and talked with the nurse, but really I am left to my own devices now. I have that floppy disk to post and then I shall go for a wander. Apparently there is another trans girl coming tomorrow who I shall get to meet. She has her operation the same day as me.
I am nervous, but not too bad. Just the same as the two other times that I faced surgery. Maybe I’ll get more stressed later on, but I have had a couple of snoozes and watched some Frasier and some Blackadder. I’m looking forward to Zoe telephoning later on. Nothing much else to tell – this laptop keyboard is not the most user friendly, and that makes it hard to write too much. I shall put some shoes on and go for a wander.
Yesterday I was strangely chilled. I suppose you have to be really. I got up at 6:45am and had a lovely hot bath. Getting dressed in tracksuit bottoms for the first time since I transitioned, I think I may have actually almost looked cute with no make-up and my hair semi-done. It always seems to look okay if I can let it dry naturally, and it just falls into a lovely position. I watched a few DVDs, then later on was introduced to a girl who was in for a three year post-op check up, and her friend – also trans – came in later. That made a welcome distraction having them to talk to. The girl had come through seeing Mr Thomas in 2003, and was very happy with the results, which was very good to hear seen as I’ll be having the same job done today. Her friend saw Dr Reid for the first time five or so days after me, so was almost the same length of time on HRT. She hasn’t plucked the courage up to decide if she wants to go through the operation, and I told her that I felt that not everyone needed to feel they had to. She was worried about the lack of donor material so I let her into the secret that I was none too big either. Sounds like we were about the same size – though my circumcision won’t help me. We also chatted about shrinkage of feet and passing and other transgender-related stuff.
That made the day fly by, and I hardly noticed 12:00 midday pass when I started the horrible stuff to flush out my insides and stopped eating solids. It is weird stuff, but it worked really well. It’s disgusting though! My last meal was tuna mayonnaise sandwiches with a little peppers and lettuce salad. I shall remember it fondly, especially over the next five days until I can start solids again.
The two girls left at 6:30pm and I went on to snooze and watch DVDs, before having an injection and being measured for surgical stockings (both were to help prevent DVTs). Then later on it was time to meet the surgeon and talk a small amount about the operation, and sign the final consent form. Then I was left to my own devices to take phone calls from Mummy and Daddy; Granddad called too. Then around 9:00pm I called Zoe. She had been in Manchester on a job interview all day, and I got a text to say everything went well, though her phone battery failed. We talked a lot, and she sounded a lot happier than the night before which was a great relief. We are both missing each other greatly, and made arrangements for her to come and visit on the weekend of the 10th of June -I am really looking forward to seeing her again.
This morning I have had my final meal. There was no point in getting up early, so I had a lie-in until just after 9:00am. It is strange to have sorbet and oxo cubes dissolved in hot water for breakfast, but they were the best of what I am allowed to eat. Later on I shall have a long luxurious bath, and will lose my belly piercing because that has to come out and I don’t really think I shall be able to get it back in. Earrings have to come out too, but they should be recoverable. At 2:00pm I have to stop even drinking water, and at 4:00pm I get wheeled into surgery. Am I nervous? A little bit, but who wouldn’t be? In the grand scheme of things I am actually strangely chilled and still adamant that this is the best way to sort out this long-standing birth defect.
There is another girl coming in today, who is having surgery tomorrow I think. It will be nice to meet her, and maybe we can talk for a while before I head off through. I am sure it will be good to have some-one else going through the same thing here.
Unless I update just before I head to surgery (I might if I remember) this will be my last update for a few days. It’s going to be while before I am up and about and have the concentration. I have visitors coming anyway on Friday and Saturday, and possibly Sunday who at the moment I only know through Live Journal. It will be good to finally meet them in person, though it will have to be forgiven that I shall not be looking at my best 🙂
So I am finding the time to write a little something. The two girls from yesterday visited again briefly, and gave me a good luck card – that was very much appreciated. Time is passing quite fast now, and it seems like only a moment ago I was getting up this morning. I am a little nervous – who wouldn’t be? I have been to the loo more than a dozen times, such are the nerves. I’ll be on a catheter for a good few days from the op, so it’s pretty much the last time I shall be peeing through a willy.
There is a lot of apprehension, but certainly neither doubts nor dread. I have to do this; the alternative is a life as an in-between that I personally could not cope with. So this is the only option left to me after many years of thought. I still am finding it a little hard to believe I really have made it all this way. I have the surgical stockings on, and have taken the pills to prevent nausea and to lower blood pressure. Not more that an hour to go, and I feel fine.
To distract me I shall return to watching Frasier episodes. This will be the last entry before the operation, so good-bye until the other side somewhere. I hope all will go well, as there is always a little fear of complications. The worst I suppose that are the biggest fears are prolapse and the one where the bowels are damaged – that I really could not deal with. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday to Sunday
During this period I was not feeling up to writing anything. The operation left me very tired, and because I was confined to the bed and not allowed even to sit up, writing on a laptop that I couldn’t properly see the keyboard was hard. The following is from memory of the event written several months afterwards:
I had an uneventful surgery, being collected shortly after the last entry. They wheeled me down to the prep room and I was injected with something that made my arm not feel like mine. The World felt like it was wobbling as I watched very distantly the drip lines being put in. The people bustled around me and talked, and I remember Teddy – who had accompanied me down – was taken away with a promise that he would be by my side when I came around.
Next thing I remember is the recovery room, and being very cold. Teddy was returned as promised but I have few memories and no concept of the passage of time. Later on I remember being wheeled into my room and nurses bustling setting up drips and heart monitors. I had an oxygen mask put on, but it was annoying and dried my throat making me want to cough. Coughing after surgery is bad, so that was probably the most pain I had. I was glad when the mask was removed. I remember having a sore throat – caused I later learnt because of the respiritor you go on after the anaesthetic kicks in.
I was too frightened to touch anything, so remember clutching my breasts with my hands, not daring to move them lower. I was aware of the catheter and the drains from the surgery site. Occasionally there were stabbing pains, and a feeling that I could only describe as sunburn which my brain said “tip of penis” when trying to locate. This was of course the new clitoris. The stabbing painsd are normal, and are caused by nerves remapping themselves and repairing. They continued intermittantly for several months afterwards.
I slept in spurts overnight. Nurses checked in frequently, and I again had no concept of time. At some point the following morning the girl from the room nextdoor who was going for surgery that day came through and we chatted briefly.
Most of my time was spent sleeping or watching DVDs on my laptop. For some reason Doctor Who Seeds of Death sticks in my mind from this period. I also made and received quite a few phonecalls.
On Friday the drains came out. They gave me a gas mix with a mask from a cylinder and I felt no pain. The drains feel, well, odd when they come out. Not painful, just a strange sensation of movement from within. It left me in a little shock. After that I got a wash in the bed by the Nurses and got to wear something other than the hospital gown on my top. It felt good to start to become human again. Later that day I had a bunch of visitors, and it was good to have people around to talk to and pass the time. By the evening though I was getting quite tired, and pain briefly returned. They gave me Tramadol (an opiate) and a Volsaid injection. Unfortunately they reacted together and I hallucinated in the night. I remember forgetting I had had surgery and kept trying to get out of bed; only the twinges of pain as I did so reminded me in time. The Nurse recommended watching TV to keep my mind distracted, and I ended up watching The Truman Show because it was on late night TV. It is a very strange film when tripping out. The Pink Elephants I was with enjoyed it too.
By the morning I felt so much better. The visitors from the previous day came back and stayed throughout the day, and I felt a lot better. I seem to remember that they started to get me to sit up in bed to ‘bring my blood pressure back up’. I felt dizzy at first but got better.
Throughout this time I experienced a lot of trapped wind. I felt like a need for the loo. Something in my mind stops me from trying to go to the loo in bed – I suspect all people have the same. I had a huge fear of soiling myself. The Nurses solved this by intermittantly bringing a bed pan and I felt more comfortable on that, allowing me to get rid of the wind. My fears of ‘follow through’ were unfounded. During these days in bed Sorbet and compot became my Nemesis. I hate sorbet now after having it for every meal for just around five days – you aren’t allowed solids and that includes even milk.
At this point the diary written at the time whilst I was in hospital continues, as I had recovered enough strength and concentration to write my experiences:
It has been a while since I have had the energy to write here – since before the operation in fact. Today the padding has come off and I am wearing those strange disposable knickers. I am still in bed, and have been since the op. Tomorrow I get up for the first time after the packing is taken out. I must admit that I have been very scared of complications all through this, but those fears finally seem to be unfounded. I saw my new bits for the first time on Friday when the drains came out of the surgery site. They give you anaesthetic gas, but it was still a weird experience I am not eager to repeat. Hopefully that is the worst experience over with. It isn’t that it hurt (there are other tingling feelings that are normal healing pains associated with major surgery) but the sensations are all new and therefore weird. I’ve had a few ‘phantom limb’ type feelings, but that’s quite normal I am told. I worked out what the clitoris is made from through them!
I tire easily, and until now have been unable to sit up which makes typing impossible. Even now it is hard because the laptop is at the side of the bed. Therefore my reports are likely to still be short and infrequent. I think it is however very important to try and document what it is like, as first-hand experiences written at the time by people who have gone through this are hard if not impossible to find.
I have been told that I have made a very good recovery, with little swelling or bruising. Until the packing is out tomorrow and I start dilation I can’t really be 100% certain all is okay – not wishing to tempt fate. But I can say they have said it does not appear to have been at all bad. I shall try and keep more regular updates now, but the hot flushes ans fatigue make it hard.
I have had quite a few visitors which has been very welcome. They came both Friday and yesterday and I really truly appreciate it. It was also nice to finally meet a number of the people off my friends’ list on Livejournal in person, although they did not catch me quite at my best, hehe! I have also received a lot of cards from friends and relatives, and two big bouquets of flowers, from my parents and sisters, and from Zoe’s parents – they take pride of place on the window sill of my room. I don’t know whether anyone else is coming to visit, so I shall wait and see. Everyone has been most welcome. Today however I note the Monaco Grand Prix is on, so I shall endeavour to slake my need for speed and treat myself to watching it for once – I rarely get the opportunity to do so these days so that will make a welcome change.
Any regrets? None save that I didn’t have the guts to face up to my gender issues and go through this sooner. All I did was postpone the inevitable. At least it is sorted now.
I have just watched the Grand Prix. It is rather nice to be back on real food after just liquids since Tuesday lunchtime. I’ve been thinking about Tuna-Mayonnaise sandwiches and sausages for two days now, and the sandwiches were like the Amber Nectar. Guess what I have asked for for my evening meal…
All the worries about this morning and the fears of complications have lifted. Now that I am over the first big hurdles of recovery and am feeling so much more well, I can sit and think a bit more about what this all means. Well, it does mean a lot. I only wish I had had the courage to go through all this sooner. Looking on the positive side though, at least I did it before the gender issues killed me – and they nearly did many times. At least my lack of courage that pushed me back for so long made me thoroughly examine all the alternatives so that I was 100% certain that I really was transgender. That is something that everyone must do, even if it does take a little longer. Doing this and facing the surgery through is something that must be undertaken with absolute certainty. It is not reversible, and cannot be considered lightly.
I had another visitor. Gosh, I am popular! It was very nice to have another – three days in a row is pretty good. I cannot say how grateful I am for these people to come, because it does help the time pass. I shall also be returning the favour by attempting to visit when they come for their surgery. My parents are booked into the hotel just down the road in Woodingdean, so it is looking good for them to be here Tuesday evening, ready for the great drive home. I am not looking forward to that, but anything must be better than the drains coming out on Friday. To be honest, I am not looking forward to tomorrow’s removal of the packing. Hopefully it will not be as bad as Friday’s delights, but they wheeled the gas cylinder to the door of my room, whilst claiming ‘it was nothing to worry about’. So if it isn’t going to hurt, why the anaesthetic gas I ask?
Sensations are still weird, but getting better and more bearable. I sat on the bedpan again, and took another look in the process. It still looks okay and doesn’t freak me out, which is a very good sign. Also the sensation as I had my bottom wiped was more bearable. The first time was very weird as the tissue brushed my labia. I still feel it, and I must point out that it still isn’t pain, but it didn’t feel quite so weird the second time.
One thing I did notice and asked the nurse about was that my panty liner when they took the knickers down to sit on the bedpan had three small drips of blood on. Apparently this is normal, and is absolutely nothing to worry about so another big phew there.
I would also like to take this opportunity to talk of something else that struck me today. The girl in the next room – who is a day behind me in terms of the operation – was some-one I spoke to an hour or so before she went to her op. I was but twelve hours post-op then, but was glad to reassure her that all was easier than expected. I’ve received updates that she is recovering well via nurses, her friend and her boyfriend, and I will hopefully wander through tomorrow once mobile all going well. She has come all the way from Malta to do this, and I do admire her courage in coming overseas to a strange country to make this big step. The thing that struck me was how great a person her boyfriend must be. In a way I saw exactly what I had discovered in Zoe, there in his eyes; the understanding that it is the person that matter, not the physical genitalia. That touches me that there are at least some good people out there who are open-minded and not bigots and prepared to accept people as people, not a container with certain genitals. I admire him for being a good person as much as I admire her courage at travelling so far for this big step. I wish them every success in life and hope they live long and prosper.
Time for another DVD. Doctor Who I think; maybe a bit of classic Daleks and Colin Baker.
Monday 29th 9:40am
I had quite a tough night, brought on by acute soreness around the top of my legs. I had been wearing those strange disposable hospital knickers, and whilst they had been okay all day, at about midnight it started to feel like sunburn. What didn’t help was that it was incredibly hot and humid, and I was getting hot flushes intermixed with cold periods. Then there were the terrible cramps in my heals and my left arm (I can still feel the remnants). The up-sum was that I could not get comfortable at all and only got to sleep finally after around 4:00am after being given more of the spacey painkillers. This morning I don’t feel so great, but am a lot better. The painkillers are still leaving me a little woozy.
The trolley has arrived ready for the pack coming out, and sits taunting me. I’m told though by the nurse that it is not as bad as the scare stories that go around. We’ll see first hand at about 12:00 midday. My bowels feel like they want to move again. They have been doing this intermittently since Sunday but it has always turned out to be wind. But sooner or later it has to be real. I was hoping it would be after the pack is out. This maybe another false alarm, but it is bedpan time again just in case.
The pack came out, and I have to say that it was far less worse than I could ever have imagined (I am a worrier). They gave me the gas, and it didn’t hurt at all. A strange feeling, then ‘thunk!’ and it was gone into the medical waste sack. The surgeon couldn’t get the largest dilator in but the next size down went in to full depth. Now there is another weird feeling! 3.5 inches, then I held it in for a while before drawing it out. More weird feelings! I shall get used to them, but for now it is stuff I have never truly felt before. Whilst it was going on the phone rang – must be family, because only they know the most inconvenient time to call. The nurse told them to call later.
Getting out of bed was slow but easy enough. No light-headed spells. We paused a while sat on the edge looking at the view, then I stood up. For the first time I stood up post-op. No dizzy spells or pins and needles or nausea. Just a feeling of weakness and as if the gravity had doubled. Then to this chair to sit down and write this.
The bath was wonderful. I wasn’t allowed to wash my hair just yet in case of soap contamination but it feels wonderful to be clean again. Then I was shown how to douche which was very easy, and it was dry and lie back on the bed for the real dilation. I went twenty minutes with mostly the smaller one, but a couple of inches of the big one went in and I was told that as the swelling goes down that I should be able to get that one in. It’s a bath, douche, dilate routine that now happens three times a day for 12 weeks. Gosh. I didn’t realise it was that much for the recovery period. I guess it will quickly become routine. Such a regime is necessary to ensure depth and width. The first few weeks especially are critical.
I’m mobile again, and my bowels have jettisoned a lot of fetid smelling wind. Still no solids ejected, but they can’t be far away. I am tired out as I have been to visit the girl nextdoor twice – before and after tea. She is doing really well too, which is good as I last saw her just before she went into her operation. She is one day behind me. We did the usual transgirl thing and showed each other our new bits. Well, we were excited. Both look good and similar. She is looking forward to having her pack out tomorrow and I reassured her it is not too bad.
I went to the loo again on my way back, and managed to accidentally pee around my catheter resulting in urine dribbling over my bottom. It didn’t hurt, and the Nurse assured me that was okay. Hopefully it means that when the catheter is removed tomorrow that peeing will not be an issue, and I won’t need to go home with a catheter in.
I am missing Zoe, and am thinking about her a lot.
For the first time this morning I actually felt quite good on getting up with no problems in the night. I haven’t even needed painkillers over and above the paracetamol I seem to frequently get. I’ve gone through the hygiene and dilation routine on my own for the first time today. Dilation was hard at first, but maybe some of that is the need to build up confidence and an understanding of my new body. There were still problems getting the larger dilator in, but now the smaller one goes in all the way quite easily showing me that miraculously I have around a shade under four inches depth. The larger dilator is a painful struggle, and the surgeon had a go when he came around on his daily visit. It was too painful and he stopped when it was clear the pain was too much. I have been given the warning that it needs to be made to go in within one week, otherwise it is unlikely I shall ever be able to get it in. Bah! Sometimes I wish I had had a bigger penis before. It would have made things easier. The problem I am told is getting past the pelvic muscle, and it could be to do with the difficulty of relaxing. I might ask for advice on what might be good to relax muscles. After the surgeon had gone and with his warning in my ears, I kept trying for a further twenty minutes with the larger dilator, and succeeded in getting around two to two and a half inches in. It just hurts too much to force it further at the moment. At lunchtime I have been told that the dilation session then I will be given gas/air mix to nuke the pain whilst we go for broke. I am not looking forward to that, but sooner or later I have to get the bigger dilator to go in. I just wish it could be as easy as the smaller dilator is at the moment. I would be sorted if it was.
I was about to write that the catheter hadn’t yet come out, but then the Nurse came in and took it out. Ever since the last time I had a catheter inserted in hospital, I have had a healthy fear of them being taken out. Back then the Nurse didn’t deflate the balloon that keeps it in place entirely, and that was not nice. But this time the sensation, whilst there, was not bad just strange. I have to pass urine three times to not have to be refitted with the catheter for a further week. Me being me, as soon as it was out I went and sat on the loo and downed a big glass of water in one. Two minutes later I was peeing – apparently a new record. Whilst it sprayed down and mostly dribbled into the cardboard thing set up to collect it, it was there and did not hurt to pee. Initially some blood comes with it, but this is normal. I have two more attempts to make, but they may take a while longer. Apparently it is normal for it to take up to six hours for the first pass, so I’ve got a while yet. When I washed the urine off using the shower attachment in the bath, there was a big scab breaking loose but which did not fully detach (I am not about to pick it!). I am told that there is a big clot around the urethra/clitoris area so I am guessing that that was what it might be. It may also explain the spraying. The spraying could take up to four weeks to stop, so we shall see.
Moving around now is a whole lot easier, so I may go for another quick wander to visit the girl nextdoor. She is where I was yesterday, so it will be nice to see how she is doing. My strength is returning reasonably quickly, though I know it will be at least a couple of weeks before I can probably consider myself fully independent. The after care regime still remains daunting, especially with the difficulties with the larger dilator, but they can’t be that bad because everyone else copes.
I am going to call Zoe, because I love her and want to hear her voice again. 🙂
I’ve done four lots of peeing now – the last was a monumental effort seeming to go on forever, but there is at least now no blood seeming to come with it. It stings ever so slightly, but so long as that gets better and not worse it is okay. Dilating went well at lunchtime, helped by the catheter having gone. Despite only having to go for fifteen minutes, I was going for nearly forty, partially because I had nothing better to do and partially because I really wanted to try again with the larger dilator. The gas/air stuff didn’t arrive, but I kept going anyway. Try as I might I measured that the large one stubbornly stops at two or so inches. Maybe given more time – this is an area that I know little about, although I remember hearing of some girls having to work up over time to larger dilators. My donor material was pitiful before, so I have done quite well on depth, and it has to be said that despite my disappointment with progress with the larger dilator, it has a girth slightly bigger than what my penis had when fully erect. It seems to be the pelvic muscle causing the issues, and maybe as the swelling goes down and I learn to relax more then all will improve.
The enormity of what I have been through has finally hit me. This has been an intense journey over eight days testing mental and physical stamina to the extreme. I said goodbye to the Nurse a few minutes ago as she went home, and for the first time realised that the treatment is at an end. All that is left is down to me, to follow the after care regime and I will be fine. There is nothing left to do at the hospital except be issued with the medications and other ancillary stuff that I need in the morning. With everything going well I should be discharged at 10:00am. For the daunting five hour plus car journey back to Bolton. How strange that I now feel this emotion welling. It is like a chapter in my life just closed. I had been expecting it, but it still feels unexpected nonetheless.
With my hair washed for the first time post op there is nothing left to do tonight but await the arrival of my parents. It will be strange and yet comforting to see them again after this monumental journey. I made the trip here stubbornly on my own energies via train as the last true independent statement of an old life. Now I must accept help in a new life to go home.
Wednesday 31st, very early in the morning
The day came, although this is only a few minutes past midnight. The first post-op anxieties hit big time. Despite it seeming like success in so many areas against all odds, there is still one thing that is getting to me. That bastard large dilator still stuck at around two inches or so. I can’t get it past. I have until next Monday, before too much time has passed and I am stuck with a decent depth but crap width. The small dilator is too small to allow me any real opportunity of penetrative sex if that is all that goes in there. If a penis won’t fit, I doubt a vibrator will. If the clitoris doesn’t work out, then that’s me sexually frustrated for the rest of my life.
I tried and tried but there was nothing but excruciating pain if I pushed hard on the large dilator. I find it odd, as the small dilator can be pushed quite firmly at the very bottom without any real pain. So I can stretch it deeper no problems, but not wider. How am I going to fix this? One option is strong painkillers, and then shove and hope. In the morning I may ask for some to help me try. I shall also ask other transgirls on-line to see what they might be able to suggest.
I suppose on the good side of things my bowels finally moved all on their own tonight. Everything checks out ready to head home tomorrow, except that pesky dilator. Maybe I just worry too much. I do seem to. Perhaps I will muddle through somehow. I rang Zoe and spoke to her for a while on the phone. I just needed some-one to speak to. It did help, but I still feel the anxiety in me. Funnily enough, I can also feel where that damn dilator kept stopping too – there is a sore point inside.
I suppose this is the real Wednesday. I was still feeling a little down when I woke up, but I soon busied myself with sorting things out for dilation and that before my parents get here. Peeing was strangely more difficult than yesterday, and it took far more concentration to squeeze the pee out. But it came, and subsequently the surgeon tested placing pressure on my bladder to make sure it is really empty, and it is. Maybe there was nerves, and maybe I just didn’t need to go quite so bad as I thought I did. I also called for the Nurse and asked for some painkillers to see if they might help the dilation to overcome that pain barrier. They were duly taken when they arrived -I guess if anything they will assist the early stages of the car journey too.
I cried a bit in the bath, viewing this huge slope of recovery and dilation regime to climb from the wrong angle (that is, looking up from the bottom). But the douche went in okay and I was soon on the bed and had a Frasier DVD on the computer to help both make the time go, and keep track of it. The smaller dilator was a little hard at first, but once it was in, I left it pressed firmly to the bottom for a good fifteen minutes. Then I started trying the bigger one again. Despite the painkillers, there was still no way of getting it beyond that two or so inch mark. Maybe I just won’t ever make it. I lubed up my finger and had a little feel around to see what there was down there. At the very top of the vaginal opening there is a lump at the urethra side – I’m told this is normal and to do with the urethra itself. Further down I can feel the stitching, and there’s a hard ring which feels like it is the pelvic muscle. I guess that’s where it is getting stopped. Funnily enough there was no pain in pushing against it with my finger. The vagina is not straight, however, and that may be making things a little harder. I am wondering whether it is possible to get slightly flexible dilators, just to wriggle their way down, maybe just to open things up pending getting the real dilator in? It is another thought.
I kept going, alternating between the smaller dilator and the big one for nearly two full episodes off the DVD. This was partly because I know that with today’s long journey there will be no chance to dilate until late on in the afternoon, and partly because I am really trying to work at this larger dilator. Maybe after a few days of an hour’s dilation, three times daily I may start to make some progress. If anything it makes me feel better.
The surgeon turned up just as I was finishing up and putting the healing cream on the stitching lines. I told him of my efforts, and of my worries and he lubed up his finger in a glove and had a probe around to check. Apparently everything is normal, if a little small down there. There may be a little swelling that will go down making things easier, but he said just to work at it. I am beginning to wonder whether the ‘one week’ prophecy was to try and shock me into overcoming the pain barrier more than anything else.
So now I have got dressed in proper clothes for the first time since I arrived last Monday. Today is the final day; my parents will be here in an hour or so and then we will be off. The journey daunts me less than it did, although I am still a little worried about if we have to make bladder stops. I still spray everywhere, and it drips off my bottom. At the moment I dab down with tissues and have a quick rinse in the bath, but that isn’t possible at motorway service stations, and I am scared about subjecting myself to public hygiene standards. Snobby me, but for once I could be justified. There were times pre-op where the ability to pee standing up were an asset still.
It was a daunting process to look upon from before the start, but all I can say is that it has been easier than I expected. The first five months of transition were the hardest, but after them I look back with admiration of how far I have come. Whatever the case, this has certainly been a journey that has been far easier than living the lie of being ‘him’. I could not have continued living the façade of being male. At least now I can be proud of who I am, and be comfortable living as me. Society now accepts me as Jenny, and it has been worth it.
Since I wrote this article, I have become mostly stealth. It wasn’t something I planned to do, but rather, it just happened. I suppose eventually it happens to most transpeople because they do pass well and find that their transexuality is no longer an issue and nor do they want it to be. We grow to like being treated as a normal person of the gender we present as, and we eventually just stop dropping any clues as to our past.
I’m mcertainly not deep stealth, and I think to be so would cause far too much fear and hiding. Instead I just don’t draw attention to my past. Anyone who really wanted to might find out about my past, but really it is a non-issue now. Society is changing, and on the two occasions that some-one has found out about my past they tend to approach with awe that I had the courage to go through such a thing rather than anything else.
I am still an author, and as I write this have published six books with a seventh being written; doubtless there will be more. It’s nice to just be able to live my life as me and not him now. Occasionally I see pictures from his life, and I find myself so changed from then it really does look like another person. I actually see him as the brother I never had.
Some pages of particular relevance to my own experiences as detailed in the account above.
- speech therapy
- Gender Reassignment Therapy
- Gender Identity Disorder
- Grievance Procedure
- Employment tribunal
- List of transgender-related topics
- Laser Hair Removal
- Sex Reassignment Surgery (MTF)