My Transition Diary


January 15
I'm in San Francisco, one day post-op. This is the first time I've had the energy and motivation to write, and it seems like a good time to do it. My partner's asleep and D, who came along to nurse us, is resting; we just finished watching X2 on DVD on D's laptop. I am propped up in bed, sore but feeling OK, 24 hours after arriving back at the hotel post-op.

We flew out of Logan Airport at 11:30 am on Monday, changed planes in Chicago, and were settled in our room by 6:30 pm Pacific time. (Jet lag is affecting us even now.) On Tuesday we hung out instead of sightseeing like we planned; my partner especially was sore from all the walking and hauling luggage and stress of travel. It felt good to take it easy. We did go out to buy a new charger for my partner's cell phone (he'd left his at home) and a few other essentials. At 4 pm we took a cab to Dr. Brownstein's office. He gave us some papers with information about the surgery, showed us what the drains looked like, and looked at each of our chests. He was easygoing and friendly, and I liked him even more than I had when I met him at True Spirit 2002. We met his dachshund Frank and I was very impressed by the huge, plush, yellow and purple throne that he uses as his desk chair. The whole meeting took maybe 20 minutes, and then it was back to the hotel. We ordered delivery from an Italian restaurant and went to bed early.

On Wednesday my partner and I were up at 5, downstairs at 5:30, and in the cab we'd called the night before at 5:50. My partner needed to be at the surgery center at 06.15 to prep for his 7:30 surgery. We got there just before 06.00; the door was locked, but a security guard let us in. We signed in at the registration desk; when they called my partner, we gave them the checks for the surgery center and anesthesia fees, and my partner signed a couple of things and they gave him his hospital bracelet. We waited for a little longer and nurse Bob (a very nice, rather gay young man) brought my partner back to get changed and settled in his hospital bed. They let me come back once he was settled, and we hung out until it was time to go. Dr. Brownstein, the anesthesiologist, and another nurse came one at a time to talk to my partner, get his medical history, etc. When they wheeled him off to surgery, I went back to the waiting room.

Maybe ten minutes after I came back out, they called me to the registration desk. I gave them my checks, signed the papers, and got my bracelet. I sat for perhaps 15 minutes after that before nurse Bob came to get me. He said they might as well get me prepped now.

I followed Bob back to the changing room, where he took my medical history and gave me my new outfit - gown, cap, paper booties, and tight stockings that went from my hip to my toes and are supposed to promote circulation. After I changed, Bob took me to my bed, which was in the same spot my partner's had been in, and started me on a sugar IV. He brought me some magazines since I'd be there a while.

I must've been reading "Reader's Digest" for over an hour - my watch was in my jacket pocket and my curtain was drawn, obstructing the clock, so I have no idea - before Dr. Brownstein came in. He told me that my partner was fine, and had me sit up so he could draw on me with blue marker. Then he said he'd see me in the room, and left.

Soon the anesthesiologist came in and chatted with me. She said they'd have to put a mask in my mouth to help me breathe, but only after I was unconscious. She said it might give me a bit of a sore throat.

Not long after she left, the other nurse came to see me. She double-checked my medical history and made a note of the red bracelet they made me wear, which indicated that I'm allergic to Ceclor (an antibiotic). She started me on a new IV, which she said was just to relax me. I asked what time it was and she said it was 10:05, and that my partner had woken up, looked around, and conked right out again. That's my boy.

The nurse started wheeling my bed out, saying that we were going to the OR and I'd need to scoot over onto the operating table, and then they'd start the anesthesia into my IV. She stopped at a big door and went to enter a code - and that's the last I remember. Guess I jumped the gun a little. Whoops.

When I woke up, I was sitting in a recliner, essentially, with a blanket on my lap. I was sore and groggy, but not nauseous at all. The anesthesiologist had said that she'd give me something in the IV to prevent nausea, and it worked like a charm. I had no sore throat to speak of, either. A nurse brought me some crackers and Sprite and a pain pill; I wasn't hungry but it was okay eating them since I didn't feel sick.

They wheeled my partner over in a wheelchair, and D came in (she'd taken the bus from the hotel so she could have a lie-in). They instructed all of us in how to empty the drains and measure their contents, and then they got me into a wheelchair and wheeled me out to the street, where a cab was waiting. My partner had to go to the bathroom so D and I waited in the cab, and then we drove back to the hotel. Once we got to our room (it was about 2:30), we conked right out.

The rest of my top surgery diary is here.

January 24
Doing well. I discovered this morning that I'm numb between my incision lines and my nipples. Not surprising really. My nipples are scabbing over nicely, and I'm not afraid of showering now I've done it once. It's not bad at all. I can't wait until next Thursday (the 29th), when I can take this damn binder off. I'll probably continue to wear it at night for a while, but it's making my soreness worse so I'll be more than glad to be rid of it during the day. Drain holes are scabbed over very nicely. My chest seems to have recovered almost completely from the trauma of having drains in; now it's just about recovering from the actual surgery, which is well on its way. I can't wait until the scabs fall off.
January 29
No more surgical binder! My binding days are officially over!
February 4
Such small pleasures. I'm currently wearing an a-frame with a plain white T-shirt over that. My shirts haven't fit me properly in ten years. I could cry with the simple, amazing, beautiful joy that comes from seeing myself in a T-shirt the way it was meant to hang on my body. Such a feeling can never be put into words. I can't believe this is my body. I got out of the shower this morning and looked down at my feet - such a little thing - and again I wanted to cry. There was nothing obstructing my view, nothing protruding from my body. Unless in front of a mirror, I can choose whether or not to look at my chest - it does not stick itself out into my line of vision. I don't know if I ever really believed I could be this comfortable, this at home in my body. I can only imagine how amazing I will feel when my internal female reproductive organs are gone and there's nothing in the way, my mind, body and spirit finally becoming one. To recognize yourself in the mirror, and like what you see, is truly the greatest gift anyone can have. It is without a doubt the greatest gift I could ever give myself, and I am eternally grateful for it.

About half the tape has fallen off of my incision on the right. The scar looks good and I put Neosporin on it after my shower today. My left nipple has the tiniest bit of scab left on it, but the bottom half of my right nipple is still pretty well crusted over. Hopefully that will fall off within another few days. I discovered this morning that Dr. Brownstein missed a stitch on my left nipple - no worries, he said that might happen. My body should eventually reject the thread on its own, or maybe it will dissolve - not sure if it's the right kind of thread for that. I'll just keep an eye on it. I cut it as short as possible so it wouldn't stick out and look odd, and now I can't see it at all unless I pull the skin a bit and look for it. I'm still wearing gauze on my nipples and will continue to do so until the scabs are entirely gone - I don't want my clothes rubbing them and making them fall off prematurely. I put Neosporin on both nipples - except where they were scabbed over - after my shower as well, and looked rather silly with gauze hanging off my chest so as not to waste the tape I had already applied, waiting for the Neosporin to absorb so it wouldn't stick to the gauze and be gross.

February 7
The scab fell off my left nipple a few days ago. There's just a bit left on the right. I discovered this morning that the scab has fallen off of my left drain hole - good times. The one on the right is still stuck on pretty firmly. About half the tape has come off my incisions on each side - from nipple to armpit on each side. They look good. I emailed Dr. Brownstein to ask about the nipple gauze, and he said it's no longer necessary. Woohoo!
February 11
My incisions feel tougher to the touch today, like some real scar tissue has built up. I'm still putting Kelocote (from the sample Dr. Brownstein gave me) on the incisions, drain hole scars, and nipples, but only the incisions have that real noticeable toughness. Today is the four-week mark, so in another two weeks they'll be at their red angry stage, and after that they should start to widen and soften and fade.
March 25
Okay, so thigh injections were a bad idea. Last night I yelped so loudly that my doctor said she wants to switch back to injecting my butt, because she doesn't like hurting me like this. We've tried squeezing the muscle to relax it, made sure my foot was flat on the floor, tried clenching my fists and tensing other muscles instead of the thigh, but to no avail - it hurts deep in the muscle every single time. The good doctor said that she has a nurse who is good at teaching people to self-inject, once I readjust to the fact that butt injections don't hurt. I feel a complete wuss but it really does hurt in the thigh. Everyone else I know does thigh injections - self-injections, mostly - with no problem; who knows. I don't mind doing the butt as long as I can learn to self-inject there eventually, but I do feel bad for anyone who has to look at my increasingly hairy self.

My nipples are STILL raised, ten weeks post-op. My partner's have been completely flat for the longest time; interesting since we thought he was going to have all the recovery issues and I'd breeze right through. I can't tell if they've flattened out the slightest bit or not. I'm trying to not wear a-frames anymore in case they're irritating the grafts; such a nice feeling to wear a loose T-shirt without having to make sure it's bagging out enough in front. Been a long long time since I've had that sort of luxury. I've been using cocoa butter every day since the Kelocote samples ran out; my scars are a bit softer than they were a month ago.

No new pictures ... the webcam hates the desktop and the laptop's still busted. I took six-week pictures but they're trapped on the damn laptop. Sorry, y'all.

May 2
I had my shot last week, but missed it the two weeks before that because my doctor was MIA (broke her ankle in two places, it turns out) and I couldn't find anyone else to do it. I really need to learn to self-inject. On Thursday I'll go to New England Medical before Compass and register so I'm in their computer, and then I'll make an appointment. My doctor says she has a nurse in her office who can teach anyone to self-inject. Here's hoping. Fortunately I suffered no physical ill-effects from missing two shots in a row (knock wood), although I was less than a joy to be around.

I'm nearly 16 weeks post-op. My scars are still quite raised, although they're flat in little areas - the low-stress areas, I assume - and my nipples and areolae look more like they've been stuck onto my skin than grown out of it. I emailed Dr. Brownstein, thinking my body might be rejecting the grafts, but he said it's part of the healing process and not to worry. He suggested using silicone sheeting on the scars, but they cost over $30 at CVS for a 12-week supply. I don't have that kind of money right now. Hopefully in a couple of weeks after I've done some babysitting I'll feel justified in spending that much. If only there were silicone sheeting for the nipples and areolae as well - I should write the good doctor back and ask if I can do that or if it's a waste of time.

No new pictures ... the webcam still hates the desktop and the laptop's still busted. I'm saving my money so Lace can build me a new computer, then there'll be pictures galore. Donations always welcome.

May 5
Finally got the camera working today. New pics are up here.
May 9
My scars are hypertrophic (not keloiding), so at Dr. Brownstein's recommendation I bought some silicone sheeting at CVS ($35 for the Neosporin brand, which doesn't stick well in the area near my armpits). I cut the sheets in half lengthwise to make narrow strips. Too soon to tell if they're doing anything; I only got them two days ago. I asked him about my areolae, too, which are still very raised and look hypertrophic also, but he said it's just part of the healing process. I'm going to write him back and ask him if I should put bits of silicone sheeting on them as well - not on the nipples themselves, just around the edges of the areolae.
May 10
Dr. Brownstein says that keloiding is exceedingly rare and he doesn't think that's my issue; just hypertrophic scars. He said it would be find to put the sheeting on the areolae. I'll start doing that tomorrow. He also gave me the name of the paper tape he uses to put the gauze on your nipples after surgery, which works far better than the medical tape I have. I'll pick some up at CVS today or tomorrow. The strips by my armpits keep falling off and I need to tape them down.
June 9
It's been nearly five weeks with the silicone sheeting and my scars and areolae seem to be flattening slightly. I'm just about out of the sheeting - got a week's worth left - because I have to use three at a time to cover both scars and both areolae. It's expensive as hell - $35 for a box - but I'll have to get more pretty soon.

My scars and areolae itch, but I figure that's just the fact that they're healing coupled with the minor irritation from the medical tape. I put hydrocortisone on them when I change the sheeting.

I need a shave about every two days now. Except for the occasional random hair along my jawline or above my lip, it's all concentrated on my chin and above my voice box. All I want is sideburns, damnit.

October 6
I finished with the silicone sheeting back in August, after 12 weeks of it and about 30 weeks after surgery. The scars and areolae were flat for a couple of days, but then parts of them started to pop back up again. I'm not sure if the sheeting helped at all, but I think parts of my scars did flatten out more than they would have without it. It's just frustrating that a few spots went right back up again once the sheeting was off. I'm not worried, though; I had the same thing happen with another scar on my back, which is now over 8 years old and starting to noticeably flatten. Its discoloration faded ages ago, though. And I don't have a big problem with visible scars.
November 30
This has been going on basically ever since top surgery: I get a feeling in my breastbone sometimes like it needs to crack, the same way my knuckles do. I can crack it by arching my back and pushing my chest out, but occasionally it doesn't want to crack and becomes a bit painful. I assume it's adjusting to its freedom after years of compression from binding and slouching, and will run its course. I'm worried about long-term damage to cartilage, though, and what that might mean. I've not yet brought it up with my doctor - I don't know if X-rays or some other sort of test might help.
December 10
I just gave myself an injection for the first time ever.

It wasn't T, it was vitamin B12, and the needle was 27 gauge and half an inch long (my T needles are 25 gauge and 1 inch long), but it's something.

Looking away helps (read: is imperative for a wuss like me).

I did the super-fast way, which helped a lot, and did it so hard in my nervousness that it felt more like I had punched myself in the butt and I didn't feel the prick at all.

December 21
I just gave myself a T shot for the first time. I should've used half-inch 27-gauge needles from the beginning. The T didn't come back out at all and there was just a tiny drop of blood; I put pressure on for a minute to be sure. And injecting the T through that tiny needle really isn't difficult and doesn't take a long time; I'm not sure why folks complain about it. Maybe they're expecting to be able to just push the plunger down all at once and have the whole quantity of T spurt into the muscle instantly. I don't know.

Guess my partner gets all my old T needles then, and I can get myself a new prescription for these little ones. About damn time.

My doctor told me when I saw her on the 17th that I didn't really need the B12 shots, I was borderline for needing them, but she made me take them because she hoped that would help get me to self-inject. It worked, and the extra blood test I had done confirmed that I don't really need the B12 shots, so I'm off those now. Thanks, Elizabeth.


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