Please remember that my SRS was the first major surgery of my life, the first time I had ever been under general anesthesia, and the first time I had to spend even one night in any hospital, much less six nights. Because I had never been through anything like this before, some of these new experiences before and after my surgery did frighten me, and I was more likely to feel afraid than would anyone who had been through any significant surgery before.
I have read many dozens of essays pertaining to SRS experiences. Most women write of their relief immediately after waking up when they realize that their surgery has been completed and they had no complications. I had looked forward to waking up and realizing my own surgery was complete, and the relief I would feel. But a misunderstanding in communicating with the nurses, and my lack of knowledge because I had never been an overnight patient in any hospital caused fresh anxieties for me. For eleven hours I would be denied the knowledge and relief that I was OK and my surgery was finished.
After I made it through that difficult first night, I realized not only relief and joy, but soon I had a newfound appreciation of my new genitals. I had believed that I would be happy just to get rid of my despised male parts, so I was surprised when I felt an appreciation for what I had gained, and began to cherish everything Dr. Kamol had given me even before I could see what I now had.
……I found myself in a chilly and unfamiliar room, lying on my back, with my head turned to my left. Something in this room was beeping. I did not feel nauseous, but I was dizzy. I knew I had been through surgery, but I wondered if I had made it through OK. I slowly turned my head toward my right, and this seemed to require so much effort. I had never felt so weak and tired in my life.
That beeping noise was caused by a pulse monitor, which had been clamped on one of my fingers. In addition, they had also placed a blood pressure cuff on my right arm, which activated about once every hour to monitor my blood pressure. A monitor screen above me displayed my vital signs, including lines that appeared to be EKG. On my left side I was still on my IV, and I saw another line connected to my IV. Later on I would learn that this was a morphine drip. I had an oxygen line on my nose.
I felt only moderate pain, but I felt a terrible discomfort on top of this pain. That terrible discomfort I felt was my catheter line. I felt like I so urgently needed to pee, yet it seemed that I could not pee or relieve myself at all. Was I going to feel this way for six days, needing to pee so urgently yet never being able to go?
I felt afraid again. Up until yesterday, I had never needed to be on any one of these things I was now connected to in that CCU. So it was startling when I found myself on all of these things at once. Was all of this routine after surgery, or did they connect me to all of these things because something was seriously wrong with me? My 38 years of good health and good fortune were working against me tonight. My inexperience of these things magnified my fears. If I had ever needed even my tonsils removed, I might have known that all of this was routine, and it would not have scared me so badly.
Did I make it through my surgery? Was I OK? My surgery had started after 4PM, and Dr. Kamol had told me he would take 6.5 hours to perform my SRS, so it should be close to midnight already, or maybe a little later. I could not believe it when I found the clock. It was 9:20. Something unexpected had happened. Was it already 9:20 AM of the morning after? Was there a complication that caused my surgery to take up to 16 hours? Or was it 9:20 PM on the night of my surgery, which would mean I had been out for only four hours and my surgery might be incomplete? Did Dr. Kamol finish my surgery? Did something go wrong, that the doctor was unable to finish my surgery?
I could not tell if it was night or day, whether it was PM or AM, if my surgery had taken four hours or 16 hours. I looked around for outside windows, but I could not see any from my bed in CCU #4. I did hear frequent and loud thunder, and even this deep inside the hospital, I could hear torrential rain pounding on the hospital building. It sounded like there was a terrible thunderstorm outside. Jaruwan would later tell me that Bangkok indeed had torrential thunderstorms with street flooding this evening.
Maybe I could look and see if my surgery was completed. But dressings covered my entire genital area, and I could not yet determine what was under those dressings. I could feel pain along a line near below my tummy, near the top of my dressing, so I was pretty sure Dr. Kamol had taken the skin graft, and I felt a small dressing on my neck where he had performed my trachea shave. But did he finish my genital surgery? I felt some pain in the genital area, but that pain would not tell me how much of the surgery had been performed.
I tried to call a nurse to find out what was happening, but my voice and throat felt so scratchy. I coughed up some yucky stuff from my throat. I did not yet know if the anesthetic had caused this, or if that was from my trachea shave. How long would I sound like this? Would I regain my voice before I had to return home and go back to work? No nurses could yet hear my scratchy voice, and I had to wait for a short while until a nurse walked in to check up on me.
Once a nurse did walk into my CCU unit, I tried to ask her some of my questions. My first mistake had been not asking enough questions before surgery about where I would be immediately after surgery and what would happen there. For all of the questions I had about my surgery, I had asked very little about what would happen immediately after my surgery. While I tried to navigate the language barrier with this nurse who spoke only limited English, I made my second mistake. These two mistakes caused so much unnecessary anxiety for me during my first post-op night.
A day or two later, Jaruwan would explain to me that most of their nurses understood the word ‘operation’, and if I had asked them if my operation was OK, they could have told me that everything was OK and relieved my anxiety much sooner. But the nurses did not understand the word ‘surgery’, and that was the word I used when I tried to ask my questions. They tried their best to communicate with me, and unintentionally gave me frightening illusions in the CCU.
I asked, ‘Was there a problem with my surgery?’
The nurse, not understanding my question, told me ‘Yes.’
What was wrong with my surgery? She told me that Dr. Kamol would see me tomorrow. Did this mean that I would need more surgery?
Someone had brought all of my luggage down to my CCU as if they planned to keep me there for the rest of the week. I asked when I would go back to my room? The nurse told me ‘tomorrow’. If it was already past 9AM, then I was going to be in here for quite a while. So I asked if it was night or day outside. She told me it was night. My catheter felt so uncomfortable, was there anything she could do about this discomfort? The nurse seemed to not understand, but I doubt she could have done anything about my catheter anyway.
So this is what I believed for my first eleven hours post-op: I had been in surgery for only four hours, probably because something went wrong, and my surgery was probably incomplete, that I would somehow go back to my room tomorrow, but I would either have more surgery or I would leave here a mid-op.
For now there was nothing I could do about my perceived predicament. I would have to anxiously wait through this frightening night, until Dr. Kamol or anyone else told me exactly what had gone wrong. Then I would have to determine what I needed to do, or if I could do anything.
I tried to sleep through this anxious night, but I was too worried and too uncomfortable. In addition to my discomfort from that catheter, I felt too cold, especially on my lower extremities. I usually sleep with my socks on because my feet get cold so easily, but I did not have this option tonight. I should have felt sleepy after four hours of anesthesia, but my discomfort, cold, and anxiety kept me awake. After the few times I did doze off, that beeping pulse monitor would invariably wake me up in several minutes or less.
Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
My anesthesiologist finally visited me shortly before 9 AM. He knew enough English to understand all of my questions, concerns, and fears, and I finally learned the reassuring truth from him. I had turned out to be one of those fortunate patients whose surgery required less time than usual, Dr. Kamol did indeed complete my vaginoplasty plus trachea shave in only four hours, I had no complications, and very soon they would wheel me to my room. My surgery had merely been completed sooner than expected. Everything had gone so well that I thought something was terribly wrong!
Relief flooded through me. I would not need any more surgery. I was going to recover from this, and I was already beginning to recover. The catheter still bothered me, but even that did not feel as uncomfortable or urgent as it had ten hours ago. My voice was also improving, although for now my voice still felt like Diana’s in the “V” Original and The Final Battle mini-series of more than 20 years ago (the aliens’ voices do not sound different in the regular V series; you will have to watch the preceding mini-series to hear what I mean). Others were already telling me my voice didn’t sound that bad, but I certainly felt like my voice sounded like those aliens. The anesthesiologist told me that the anesthetic tube had temporarily affected my voice, and this would clear up in time.
My life dramatically improved over the next six hours, even as I enjoyed the relief from my surgery being finished and successful. My long night had ended, and it was turning into a joyful day for me.
Two nurses served me broth for breakfast. I had not eaten for 24 hours now, yet I did not feel hungry, but I did not feel nauseous either. I ate breakfast and did not feel sick afterwards. I was only anxious to leave this CCU. At 9AM, they wheeled in a gurney for me, and a cart for my luggage. They were going to move me out of here and to my own room again! I was not allowed to stand or walk until next Sunday, so the nurses had to move me from one bed to another by means of a white plastic board. We weren’t quite as excited as we had been on my way down here yesterday, but I was still joyful that I was leaving the CCU, and everyone was happy for me. I think somebody pressed a wrong button in the elevator, because we momentarily ended up on the 12th floor. Soon I was on the tenth floor where I belonged, and they wheeled me toward my room.
The room numbers ascended as they wheeled me through the corridor. Wasn’t I in room 1006? I must be going down the wrong corridor, but the nurses seemed to know where they were taking me. I think the hospital was a little short on rooms, and my room was needed while I was down in the CCU, so I was going to recover in room 1024 instead. This explained why I found all of my belongings with me in the CCU last night. More reassurance. Again the nurses lifted me into my bed, where I would be confined for five more days. Someone set a sign on my TV that read ‘Absolute bed rest’. But they helped me set up my CD player and other belongings so I would always be able to reach my comforts from my bed.
One or two nurses, or sometimes several at once, would frequently enter my room to check my temperature and blood pressure, deliver my meals, give me a bed bath, or clean the room. When the nurse took my vital signs, she would often comment ‘no fever’, or ‘normal’. These responses frequently reassured me during my six days in the hospital.
I was back in my own room, able to eat again, and well on the road to recovery. My voice continued to improve, and by late morning I was almost able to talk normally, although others would tell me that my voice still sounded like it was cracking.
Then I received some apparent bad news. When two of the nurses checked up on me again late this morning, one of them told me that my IV was leaking and wasn’t any good, so they had to remove it and re-insert it. Not again! I had a very unpleasant experience receiving my IV yesterday, and I was hoping I would never have to go through that again. Worse, they had already tried my left hand twice, so now they were going to put it in my right hand. If it failed there, where would they try to put it next?
Dr. Kamol visited me. He confirmed what the anesthesiologist had told me, told me my surgery was completed and successful, and that I had over five inches of depth. I asked him when I would no longer need my IV, and he told me when I started eating solid foods. I did not feel hungry, but I desperately wanted to avoid having another IV line placed in me, and was more than willing to try eating something solid if that would prevent the nurses from putting another IV in me. I soon learned that I could request a western salad, so I asked for one.
Jaruwan arrived for her almost-daily visit just before noon. Not only did she bring me flowers, but she also brought Sherry Marlene with her. Sherry already wore an IV on her hand, and she was now only two hours from her SRS this afternoon. I was so happy to see both of them. The bad IV in my left hand had been removed, but it seemed to take my nurses a long time to bring my salad, and I worried about the nurses replacing my IV line if I didn’t get solid food very soon. A nurse did bring me lunch, but she brought me more broth as if I was still on a liquid diet. I asked Jaruwan for help so I could eat something solid and not have to go through the ordeal of another IV line again. She communicated to the nurses for me, and I eventually received my salad at 1 PM. I ate this and had no ill effects, so I never had another IV put in me for the rest of my hospital stay. Later on, another nurse asked me to choose my next several meals of solid foods from the hospital menu.
Sherry Marlene had to leave me at noon so she could finish preparing for her surgery. I wished that I could go down with Sherry Marlene to be there for her as she went to the operating room for her own surgery. I tried to reassure her that no matter how miserable she felt when she woke up in the CCU, that things were going to get better from that time forward, so stay focused on how she was going to feel in the future.
Jaruwan returned and asked me would it be OK if one of Dr. Kamol’s patients from Taiwan visited me. Soon, I met a new friend, and Jaruwan bridged the language barrier for us. The Taiwanese told me that I looked pretty. She was leaving the hospital today, and would soon go home.
After I finished my salad, I took a nap for a short while, but two nurses woke me up when they came in my room at 3PM for my afternoon bath.
Another nurse brought me my dinner at 6PM. At 6:30 another nurse told me that Sherry Marlene’s surgery was successfully finished, and she was leaving the operating room. Both of us made it! This nurse had a tray full of medicines and syringes. I had a brief moment of anxiety when I saw that tray, which looked like one of my nightmares. Did I have to take all of that medicine, and receive all of those shots? No, only one of those cups containing two small pills was mine. She had set all medications for every patient in the tenth ward on that tray, and that is what I saw.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2005
Jaruwan visited me again late this morning. She informed me that Sherry Marlene made it through her SRS OK, but she was still in the CCU. And I thought I had done hard time down there. Her surgery had started at only 2PM, and based on my own duration in the CCU, I thought they would bring her to her room very early this morning. Why were they keeping her down there? Jaruwan assured me that the tenth ward had no rooms available at the moment, so Sherry Marlene was merely waiting for a room to become available.
A room finally became available, and Sherry Marlene returned to the tenth ward at noon. Almost immediately, she called me, and we let each other know that we were OK, but sore. They had taken her to room 1002, on the other side of the ward. Although we could not share the same hospital room, we could still talk with each other almost whenever we wanted, and be there for each other. I had mostly recovered my speaking voice, but Sherry Marlene told me my voice sounded like it was cracking on the phone.
I did not see Dr. Kamol at all today, and no nurse changed my dressings. Wasn’t somebody supposed to change my dressings every day? Occasionally I would feel something warm oozing under that dressing. Was I bleeding? Or worse, was my catheter leaking contamination all over my healing vagina? I worried that if nobody changed my dressing, then an infection might ruin my new vagina. I hoped nothing would happen to my new genitals.
Wait a minute, what did I just think? Hadn’t I always felt that any quality of SRS, or even a mere removal of male genitals without any effort to create any female parts, would be a vast improvement? I still had not seen whatever those dressings covered. But I knew that I had something female down there, and whatever it was, I wanted to keep it, and prevent any harm from coming to it.
I used to consider having only external surgery to remove my male parts and not bother creating female parts, or maybe having only penectomy and labiaplasty without creating any depth. Other transsexuals had worried that I might later regret not having depth, and told me I could not know how having a vagina and being physically complete would feel until I had the complete surgery. I already knew what they meant, and I was only two days post-op. I was even relieved and happy that I had chosen to take a skin graft from my tummy for additional depth, and now I knew I had made the correct decision when I let Dr. Kamol take that graft.
Not only was I happy that my male parts were gone, but I had ceased to be among the small minority of the population who did not like the genitals they had. Dr. Kamol had cured me of being TS. Now I was correct, and cherished those yet unseen genitals I now had. If an infection or anything else ruined my new vagina, I was going to be upset! Because I now had it, I wanted to keep it. I hoped that Dr. Kamol would visit today and change my dressings, or at least make sure everything was OK. But I did not see Dr. Kamol at all today.
Thursday, October 6th, 2005
When Jaruwan visited me again, I asked her when Dr. Kamol would see me again. She did not know, but we were both wondering why I had not seen him yesterday. I wanted to know that my healing vagina was OK.
Our catheter bags and drain bags need to be emptied several times each day. Even more frequently, a nurse took my vital signs: temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. Despite their limited English, my nurses made quite a bit of effort to keep me reassured. Almost every time one took my temperature, she would tell me ‘no fever’, and after taking my blood pressure, she would say ‘normal’. I was going to recover from this, and I looked forward to returning to the hotel on Sunday.
They gave us two bed baths daily, and two or three nurses would also come twice a day to clean the room and mop the floor. The nurses fed us four times daily: breakfast at 7:30, lunch shortly before noon, afternoon tea at 2PM, and dinner shortly before or after 6PM. They would also return after each meal to carry out our dishes and give us our medicine, which we needed to take on full stomachs after our meals. I cannot compare Piyavate hospital food with any other hospital, because I’ve never been admitted to any other hospital, but some patients say that the food here is better than at hospitals much closer to home.
As you can imagine, nurses frequently visit us. Seldom did a whole hour pass during the day or early evening without at least one person visiting us. Even a quiet and shy person like myself benefits emotionally from being frequently visited by friends and those who take care of us during our recovery. I don’t know how it is in Thailand’s factories and other blue-collar workplaces, but employees here and at the clinic always seem happy and content. Indeed, we were in the Land of Smiles. I always expressed gratitude whenever a nurse came and performed any task in my room, even if she were only sweeping the floor. These are happy and smiling people, and they do appreciate verbal gratitude.
The hours passed, and Dr. Kamol still had not showed up even by mid afternoon. Was I going to wear this same dressing until I was six days post-op? Sherry Marlene was also anxious for Dr. Kamol to visit her. She had not even seen him ever since she had come out of surgery.
At 5:30, Dr. Kamol finally showed up! He was going to change my dressings. When he removed my own dressings, I looked down and tried to see my results. There was no hint of my former male genitals. I could only see the upper part of my new genitalia, the upper suture lines along my outer labia, and something dark on my upper labia. At this time I thought that was my clitoris. But this was actually my right inner labia, and post-op swelling was causing it to protrude for now. I asked Dr. Kamol why my clitoris was so far on my right side, and he told me it would settle in place once my swelling diminished. He also told me that I was healing OK.
As Dr. Kamol examined my healing vagina, I could not believe how sensitive everything felt. I had mistaken my right inner labia for a clitoris, but that still felt sensitive. In fact, the entire genital area feels so sensitive. Oh, please be very careful! I had the feeling that my new genitals were going to be functional. I didn’t see much tonight, but I sure felt quite a bit down there.
Sherry Marlene was also worried that she hadn’t seen Dr. Kamol. I dialed her room to give her the good news that our doctor was here to see us, and would certainly come to her room very soon. Then Dr. Kamol arrived in her room, and informed her about her own surgical results.
How does a patient sleep with all of these visitors? One or two nurses would visit shortly after 9PM, empty the bags, and take our vital signs one last time. Then they would leave us alone until 5:30 the next morning. Still, it is difficult to sleep in a strange place with some lingering discomfort from my tubes, drains, a dull pain from the surgery itself, and butt sores from lying down day and night for almost a whole week. I would fall asleep shortly after the nurses made their last round shortly after 9PM, but I would wake up only a few hours later, and then sleep only occasionally for the rest of the night. By mid-week my body had finally adjusted to Siamese time, and I avoided afternoon naps, but I just could not get a full night of sleep in the hospital.
Friday, October 7th, 2005
I did not see Dr. Kamol today, but a nurse did change my dressing at 10AM this morning. This time I had my hand mirror ready, so I could really look at my new genitals. Almost everything was still bruised violet, and there seemed to be something under my clitoris. No, that wasn’t my clitoris; that must be one side of my inner labia protruding because of the swelling, my clitoris is under my labia. My entire right side appears much larger than the left. For now my new genitals were swollen and bruised, and it was hard to imagine how things would appear once my swelling subsided and the bruising faded. I would just have to wait for a little while.
It is tricky to stay comfortable during six days of bed confinement in a hospital. I only had three choices of positions lying down, either on my back or either of two sides. I may also have the head of my bed inclined so I am sitting in bed. Women who have BA surgery along with their SRS may be even more limited in their ability to lie in different positions. Both Sherry Marlene and I had to endure butt sores. Sometimes the pain from constantly lying on my butt exceeded the pain from my surgery.
On top of this, I struggled to keep the room comfortable. Most of the time I either froze or sweated. Our hospital rooms were air conditioned, but room temperatures still varied. The morning sun would cause my room to feel warmer from 6AM until noon. Whenever it rained, our rooms would suddenly feel chilly. This would have been quite difficult even if I were not still suffering from hot flashes for not being on HRT since September 3rd.
Our nurses did make an effort to keep us comfortable, but this seemed to be a lost cause. If a nurse observed that I felt chilly, she would adjust the thermostat. But she might unintentionally adjust it too far and have me sweating in a few minutes. If a nurse happened to notice I was sweating whenever I suffered a hot flash, she might adjust the thermostat so that when my hot flash had ended, I would freeze for a while.
I would usually freeze whenever the nurses gave me my bed bath. One morning they prevented my chills by turning off my air conditioner. This did keep me comfortable for the duration of my bath, until the nurses finished and forgot to turn my air conditioner back on. Soon, I was sweating again. This was one of the very few times I pressed my call button for a nurse, so I could have my air turned on again. They were already making quite an effort, and doing so much for me during my recovery, that I felt badly about bothering them. Besides, I just would not be able to find comfort until they released me on Sunday. The nurses continued to turn off my air conditioner for bath time, but after that one occasion, they always remembered to turn it back on.
October 8th, 2005
I’ve made it through five days of my mandatory bed confinement. I can’t wait for tomorrow!
Bed confinement means that you have to use a bedpan instead of walking to the toilet. I was hoping that I would not have any movements until my sixth day post-op, but today was only my fifth day, and it came. I don’t want to describe this gross experience, but when it was over with, the nurses changed my sheets, opened my window to air out the room with hot Bangkok air, and gave me a clean hospital gown. Besides, it was time for my afternoon bed bath anyway.
Some SRS surgeons fear that letting patients out of bed early even for a few seconds jeopardizes the scrotal or skin grafts, and insist on six days or so of bed confinement. Others are more concerned about blood clots or thrombosis, and encourage their patients to walk a little bit, in some cases even the day after surgery.
Dr. Kamol is one of the absolute bed confinement surgeons. If you opt to have SRS by only penile inversion without a scrotal graft, he will let you out of bed a little sooner. But penile inversion without the scrotal graft would have resulted in almost no depth for me, so I had to accept both a scrotal and skin graft, and six full days of absolute bed confinement.
I believe that I was in a good hospital. Even the hospital food was good. But no hospital is a pleasant place to stay, and bed confinement is not fun. Bed confinement does not mean bed rest. Post-surgical pains, my catheter, drain, sutures pinching me, butt sores from continuous lying down, always feeling too chilly or too hot, and being in a strange place all prevented me from getting a good night’s sleep.
I listened to my CDs during most of my hospital confinement. I had brought Enya, Neil Diamond, Carly Simon, Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, and lots of calming new age music. I talked with Sherry Marlene on the phone. The hospital TV had only a few English speaking channels. Sometimes I did watch CNN news. Today I was hearing early reports about the devastating earthquake in Pakistan.
Each afternoon a nurse would ask me to choose from my menus for tomorrow’s meals. I chose my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, and afternoon tea just in case I ended up staying late. Then I tried to assure my nurse that I would be released tomorrow sometime before dinner, and left the dinner page blank.
Sunday, October 9th, 2005
OK, Dr. Kamol said six days in bed, and I had done his bidding. I hoped he would come for me early today. I knew that having all of that packing and tubes pulled out of me wouldn’t feel pleasant, but I very much looked forward to being without them. Mostly I worried about not being able to urinate, and needing to have the catheter re-inserted while I was awake.
Today was Jaruwan’s day off. I would miss seeing her, but I was happy that she finally had time for herself and her family. She did so much for me and Dr. Kamol’s other patients. Angela was going to come this afternoon to drive me back to the hotel.
I remained in bed for breakfast and lunch. Finally, a male nurse arrived with a bed, which he folded into a wheelchair, and asked me to walk over to it. I felt a pins and needles sensation as I stood on my feet for the first time in six days, and the nurse had to help me a little bit. Then he wheeled me down to the ground floor.
Dr. Kamol was in one of the small rooms, in the area where I had first changed into my hospital gown and received my tests when I had been admitted last Monday. I walked a few more steps to his table.
I felt nervous as the doctor began to remove my packing and everything else. Mostly I felt pressure, and removing the tubes and packing felt more weird than painful. Removing some of my external stitches was more painful. He did not remove all of my stitches today. The catheter felt different from everything else. I was relieved that it only took five or six seconds to remove the catheter, because that hurt, and I screamed.
Another nurse asked me to sit in a wheelchair, and she wheeled me back up to the tenth floor. She started to take me back to my room, but then she abruptly turned me around and wheeled me in the opposite direction. She was taking me to visit Sherry Marlene!
Sherry Marlene and I had talked on the phone since she returned to her room last Wednesday, but now we saw each other for the first time in five days. Dr. Kamol came up to her room while I was there and removed her drain. We looked forward to Sherry Marlene’s release tomorrow.
Eventually, I let the nurse wheel me back to my room. I could have taken a shower at this time, but I wanted to be ready when Angela arrived to drive me to the hotel. So I just changed into my own clothes for now. I had been released from bed confinement just in time to avoid another gross experience with the bedpan, and I went correctly. I was able to urinate too, and was surprised that it didn’t seem to take too much effort. I already felt relieved that they would not have to reinsert my catheter while I was awake. My afternoon tea snack arrived before Angela did, so I ate this from the couch in my room. Another nurse came in while I was packing my things. She sent me off with several bottles of soda and bottled water, and even the thermometer she had been using to take my temperature.
Angela helped me look around the room to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind. But I had to ride out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I went to the department of finance on the first floor to reclaim my cash, cheques, and passport. The same Chinese woman who had arrived in Bangkok one hour after me was also released today, and Angela drove both of us back to the hotel. She still did not talk to me.
I took my first post-op shower in my hotel room. Mot of the discoloration of my new genitals had already faded, but they were still quite swollen. I was never married, so I had never truly looked at a vagina before, but with my legs together, I somehow felt that outer labia already resembled an approximation of how female genitals should appear. To see my corrected body in the mirror, and feel corrected, was worth all of the trouble and stress I had endured to accomplish this.
Those genitals were feeling sore, because I had been standing for too long and I needed to lie down. I didn’t eat much dinner that night, because the hospital had fed me so well, and I still felt full. I was tired. I had not had a good night’s sleep in almost two weeks. Now I had my first night in almost a week without drains or a catheter, and I felt more relaxed in my hotel room than the hospital. I feel asleep for a long time tonight.