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Like with my previous surgery posts, some disclaimers apply (these are modified from the ones in the last post):

  1. I like to be open even about things many people consider private, and that means I'm okay with writing about intimate details about my body and my sexuality in public. I'm okay with sharing these details with anyone who might stumble upon them. But you may not be comfortable with reading about them. I'm expecting this will mainly apply to people who know me in particular contexts.

  2. There's actually both less gore and less sexy stuff in this post than in the previous ones. But if you're really squeamish or don't want to know anything intimate about me, still don't read it.

  3. Just because I'm sharing these details doesn't mean it's okay to ask any other trans person about surgery they've had, surgery you think they may have had, surgery you think they should have, anything else about surgery, or any intimate details about their bodies that you wouldn't ask someone who wasn't trans who you knew only casually. So don't do that! We're not all alike, and I am not going to be the one who gives any cis people an excuse to ask other trans people invasive questions. In fact, there are a lot of situation in which I don't want to discuss the contents of this post, even with people who I'm comfortable having read it: in the office, in church, on VTA Light Rail, and so on. So use the same judgment you'd use when bringing up any other sensitive topic.




The story so far: Back in February, I had metoidioplasty and scrotoplasty. In July, I went back to have my scrotal expanders removed and one of my permanent testicular implants replaced. Normally, I would have had both implants placed at that time. But since I had some trouble finding the expander ports -- which were under my skin -- I wasn't able to get the right side of my scrotum expanded enough, so the plan was for me to come back and have the second implant put in. That's what this surgery was for. For more details about the story so far, see my previous surgery posts.

When I had surgery in February, it was (IIRC) the last week that Dr. Meltzer was using expanders with internal ports. If I'd waited a week longer, I'd have been able to get the external ports instead. In retrospect, I should have waited, because then I would have only needed two surgeries instead of three and would have saved a few thousand dollars. Oh well?

Fortunately, the external port that I got put in in July was much easier to deal with. Instead of having to grope my own mons to find the small, hard hexagon of plastic hidden underneath to inject into, I had a tube hanging out of the right side of my mons with a small, nickel-sized port on the end. I just had to stick a needle into the port, which I could *see*, and inject sterile water in, 10ml at a time. After the first two times, this would actually hurt, since my skin was stretching, but it was manageable.

The thing I was looking forward to the most with this surgery, actually, was getting rid of that expander port. I'd finished expanding long ago, and living in a clothing-optional community (as I do) I felt awkward about showering in open showers and going into the hot tub naked with it hanging out of me. Of course, it's clear that I have a trans body anyway, but somehow I was particularly afraid of people asking awkward questions about what that tube hanging out of my groin was. Nobody actually did, though. I also declined to go to a sex party that I was invited to just because I didn't want to feel awkward about sitting there possibly naked with the expander hanging out.

But compared to the first surgery, recovering from the second one was a breeze. No infections, no complications, and I was back into action much faster.

So, fast-forwarding to December, I decided to drive from the Bay Area to Arizona due to a combination of not wanting to deal with airports, and wanting to drive somewhere. After a fairly uneventful drive, I got to my friends Jasper and Dori's house and managed to only get about 6 hours of sleep before I had to get up to go to Dr. Meltzer's office. I had to be there for the pre-op appointment at 9am but surgery wasn't till 3:45 (with a check-in time of 1:45), and let me tell you, spending all that time when you're exhausted and can't eat or drink is not much fun. I ended up going to the public library in between and looking at road trip books to try to get ideas for my trip back... didn't really figure anything out, though.

I got to the hospital at the appointed time and one of the first things I noticed when I was getting checked in was that my bracelet said 'F' on it for the sex marker. I didn't remember it saying that on previous occasions, but I did remember getting a fundraising letter from the hospital addressed to "Ms. Chevalier", which didn't make me want to give them money. I didn't say anything, though, because I thought maybe there was some policy reason for it and I didn't feel up to having an argument. But then when I went to the registration desk, Kirby, the nice guy who had actually also registered me both other times (and had said how much he liked Firefox when I said I worked for Mozilla) pointed out to me that the bracelet and all the other labels had the wrong gender on them. He explained that last time, they had to change my gender to 'F' in order to code the surgery because the system wouldn't accept it otherwise, but "very rudely" -- his words! -- they didn't change it back when they were done. Then he went and printed out a new bracelet and a whole new set of labels, and re-labeled all the paperwork. It's always nice when someone does something like that without being asked to!

After not too long, I got called into the back where I went through the usual routine of getting my blood pressure taken as well as peeing into a cup to make sure I wasn't pregnant (never mind that I haven't been near semen in about 10 months); I'd already peed, but fortunately (the nurse claimed) "we just need three drops". Then I got to put on the awesome gown with the built-in heater, get into bed, and watch TV, which is what the ritual seems to consist of. For whatever reason, I like watching crappy court shows when I'm in a hospital (even before the drugs kick in), but the only one on was "Judge Judy" and that got hard to tolerate after a few minutes. I watched "Futurama" for a while until the episode that was on turned into a rape joke. I also had my phone, though, so all in all, I was perfectly content with the amount of time I had to wait before I got taken in for surgery.

While they say you're not supposed to remember anything that happens during conscious sensation, I have memories from all three times. This time, I mostly just remember feeling pain and yelling "ow" a bunch of times, which felt like late in the process, though I don't know how I would know. As before, I also remember getting my crotch shaved at the beginning; the previous time I was lucid enough to notice that it was Dr. Meltzer who was doing that and not a nurse, which surprised me, but this time around I wasn't that aware at that point.

Then, all I remember about the recovery room is drinking what wasn't *quite* the best ginger ale in the world but was pretty good, then Jasper picking me up and after that it's all pretty much a blur; I think I passed out on the couch around 7:30 PM, woke up at something like 1 AM, took meds and such, and went back to sleep till 10:30 AM. Today: sitting around with cold packs in my underwear, taking Percocet (have only needed one at a time, though), working on writing, trying to plan an exciting road trip back but giving up on it given how much time I have and defaulting to only a mildly interesting route. And stuff.

As before, lots of swelling in my penis, and that strange sort-of-numb-but-not-quite feeling when I touch it; looking in the mirror, my scrotum looks good (more rounded out on both sides) but of course I can't tell how much of that is swelling and how much of it reflects what it's going to look like. When I got the first implant back in July, I was supposed to massage it starting two weeks after surgery to bring it further down, which I did, but I didn't feel like it was having much effect, so Dr. Meltzer said that this time he was going to anchor it lower. It's hard for me to tell how much difference that made, since my crotch is too sore to touch much right now. I guess we'll just wait and see.

Hoping that I'll be fine to start driving back to CA on Thursday, but I think so -- 800mg of ibuprofen can do miracles, and that's safe to take when I'm driving.

In conclusion, I feel like this makes me slightly unusual, but I actually like the process of having surgery. There's something nice about giving up control of my body to other people and knowing they'll take care of everything (for a few hours). The main thing about it that I'm happy to be done with (for... a while) is the disruption to my life (having to find pet-sitters, travel time, time away from work, and so on). But in my experience, there hasn't been a lot of pain involved (that's what drugs are for) and even when I had the infection and uncontrollable bleeding back in March, well, that was over eventually, albeit with a very negative effect on my bank account. All in all, though, I'd rather use my vacation time on actual vacation :P And, insha'allah, I'm done with surgery for a long while. I might want to get a hysto at some point, but I'm telling myself that can wait at least a year. Both phalloplasty, and urethral lengthening without phalloplasty (so I can pee out of my cock instead of sitting down as I've always done most of the time; I haven't yet bothered to figure out an STP-adapter solution that will work without my balls getting in the way, as it hasn't seemed worth the effort) are surgeries I'm still considering in the back of my mind, but again, definitely not for a year if not longer. The complication rates are much higher with both of those surgeries than with the surgery I had, and I'm perfectly happy to wait a while to see if technology improves and the complication rates go down. Mostly, I just look forward to seeing what it's like to live in a body that's both closer to what I want it to be, and not under construction!

ETA: As of 2013-06-09, I made this post public, and screened all the comments retroactively since the commenters may not have wanted their comments to be public. New comments are not screened.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

December 2018

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