I had a graduated recovery plan, in which I would gradually transition from total bed confinement to being on my own and back to work in six weeks:
1st week: confined to bed, nurses do practically everything for me.
2nd week: mostly confined to my hotel room and the clinic, but I can take care of myself (taking a shower, purchasing food, etc.)
3rd week: remained in Thailand, still have help with dilation, but doing sightseeing and shopping.
4th week: left Thailand and all of the nice caring people there, but stayed at a friendís home.
5th and 6th weeks: back home, doing everything for myself except going back to work.
With my surgery and the difficult first week now behind me, I had almost nothing to be afraid of.† Sherry Marlene was released the day after I was, and we recovered together in our hotel room.† We were both relieved to be there for each other.† We met two more patients from Florida, and the Chinese patient finally opened up to me.† After we had recovered sufficiently during the second week, Jaruwan let us explore Bangkok, take care of business at the embassy, and took us to a few places.
Monday, October 10th, 2005
Sherry Marlene Is Released
I was a little concerned about something today.† Jaruwan was going to drive me to the clinic twice today, but I was not going to begin dilation until tomorrow.† I could not help recalling what I read about a couple of post-ops of a different surgeon whose dilation was delayed indefinitely until they had almost nothing to dilate.† But Sherry Joanne, I thought you were not concerned with vaginal depth.† Well I didnít feel concerned before my surgery, but now that I had a complete vagina, I cherished it and wanted to keep it.† But I decided that I would hold my peace for today, because they did say I would dilate tomorrow.
The reason I needed to go to the clinic today was so the nurses could clean my new genitals, douche, and remove more of my external stitches.† While I was there, I met the two patients from Florida who would be having their SRS and BA surgeries tomorrow and Wednesday.
I also used the clinicís computer for the first time since my surgery, read my E-Mail, and let my friends know that I was OK.† One friend from the east coast had tried to send me flowers, but Dr. Kamol didnít have the correct hospital listed on his website, and she was unable to send the flowers to my hospital room.† I informed her that I was now in room 928 at the Town In Town Hotel.
When I returned to my hotel room, my phone was ringing.† My friend from the eastern US had already read my E-Mail and she was already trying to call me.† We had met several years ago when I was still living in Arkansas.† Unfortunately our conversation was shortened when I had visitors knocking on my door.
The Florida women told me that they were on their way to a mall, and offered to take me with them.† I wasnít sure I would be OK if I rode taxis, and shopping malls meant lots of standing and walking.† Jaruwan would tell me that I should wait another week before I went to any mall.† Besides, I had asked Jaruwan to take me with her when she went to the hospital to get Sherry Marlene and bring her back to the hotel.† But I did let them buy lunch from McDonalds for me.
Sherry Marlene was released today, but because of a mix-up, I didnít meet Jaruwan when she stopped at the hotel for me, and I missed my ride to the hospital.† Sherry Marlene returned to our hotel room just before my afternoon session at the clinic, and I told her, ďYou will sleep good tonight!Ē
The Florida women went out again tonight, and brought Pizza Hut back to the hotel for us.† One of the patients worried about being cleared for surgery because of chronic high blood pressure, and she felt very anxious tonight.† We all hoped that she would be able to have her surgery on Wednesday.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2005
Angela picked us up at 9AM for our short ride to the clinic.† A nurse removed the last of my external stitches.† I still had dissolvable stitches that would dissolve over the next several weeks.† After another cleaning, she inserted my first and smallest (one inch) dilator in me.† It took ten to fifteen minutes to completely insert it, and then she held it there for 50 minutes.† I was relieved, not only that not dilating yesterday had not affected my depth, but that I would not lose any when I did not dilate during my long flight in two weeks from now.
When we returned to our hotel room, we found beautiful flowers sitting on our table.† My east coast friend had tried to send flowers again, and this time she was successful.† I felt so grateful for everyone who had expressed well wishes and concern for me at the time of my surgery.
One of the Florida girls had already left the hotel for her surgery later today. The other one visited us, and was ecstatic and relieved because Dr. Kamol had cleared her for surgery tomorrow despite her high blood pressure.† There was good news for everyone today.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2005
Dilation felt a little easier today, and insertion only took five minutes.† Once the dilator was inserted, the nurse let me hold it in for an hour.† I watched the clock to see how long it took to prepare for dilation and then clean up afterwards.† In addition to the one hour of actual dilation, it took ten minutes to prepare and insert the dilator, and then ten more minutes to extract the dilator and clean up.† So I should plan on one hour plus 20 minutes for each dilation session, and for three months I will need to dilate twice per day.
I pretty much ate only western food during my stay in Thailand.† But Sherry Marlene loves Thai food, including the hot spices that the Hispanics back home would call Ďpicanteí.† She said that she could not find authentic Thai food back home.† Today Jaruwan and Angela took her to an open air Thai restaurant, and she talked me into coming with them.† I only ordered rice with pork, and without those hot spices.† The restaurant did give me a full plate, and even with a Coke, my meal cost only 50 Bhat.† Even if it wasnít my favorite food, I still greatly enjoyed my time with the three of them.
Sherry and I ate dinner at the more expensive hotel restaurant tonight.† I ordered western food and Sherry Marlene tried more Thai food.† Both of our friends from Florida were now post-op and recovering.† I hoped we would be able to visit them in the hospital.
Thursday, October 13th, 2005
404íd in Bangkok
The 13th day of the month fell on a Thursday, but today seemed more like an unlucky Friday the 13th.
I took my first ride in a Bangkok taxi this morning.† Someone else at the clinic needed to use the van, so Angela had called a taxi cab and picked us up in this.† Our ride from the hotel to the clinic was very short, but it was long enough to scare us with some of the Bangkok traffic.† Our taxi briefly drove on the right side (meaning the wrong side) of the road and spooked us.† To our relief, Dr. Kamol loaned his own car to Jaruwan so she could drive us back to the hotel.† After my morning dilation, Jaruwan gave me an elephant from the clinic.
Sherry Marlene and I spent lots of time on the computer this week.† You would think that spending hours on the internet would be a horrible waste of time while in Bangkok when we could be going so many places.† But the clinic didnít want us to be tourists just yet, not until we had recovered a little more.† The only walking we were allowed to do this week was from the hotel to the clinic, and the market whenever we needed to buy something.† Aside from the time spent dilating, I think we spent almost half of our free time on the clinic computers, and the rest of our time lying down in bed.†
When one of us was using the guest computer, the nurses would usually make a laptop available for the other person.† Angela and Jaruwan sometimes expressed concern for us when we did even that much walking.† They did try to keep us from getting bored during our restricted second week of recovery.† Besides letting us use the computers at the clinic, they would sometimes take us out to eat at the open-air rice restaurant or somewhere else close by.
Today was not a good day for computer use.† The main guest computer did not work today.† I was able to use the laptop this morning.† Sherry Marlene walked back to the clinic long before the time for our afternoon dilation, but she found that all computers were down.† We were finally able to connect online early this evening, but not for long.† Thunderstorms arrived, and they needed to shut down the computers to protect them from lightning.† I had lost a monitor last year when lightning hit a tree just outside my apartment building, so I understood too well their need to shut down the computers.
But we had to also cancel plans to eat out at an open-air Thai noodle restaurant because of the storms.† Sherry Marlene did buy noodles outside the market, and I bought a few things inside, but we felt like we had been 404íd all day, and not just on the computer.
Friday, October 14th, 2005
Dr. Kamol Reassures Me Again
It continued to rain in Bangkok overnight, and we heard more thunder as we woke up this morning.† I hoped that today would not be like yesterday.† In spite of even more thunderstorms this afternoon, today was a better day.† Today the clinic gave Sherry Marlene her elephant.† I guess the clinic gives an elephant to each patient when they are ten days post-op.
We used the computers this morning and made up for our missed time yesterday.† Then we spent the afternoon at the hotel.† We watched more clouds build up, and thunderstorms again threatened.† I donít like to be caught in thunderstorms, and after a stormy August back home, I didnít want to hear any more thunderstorms for the rest of this year.† But I did take a few pictures of the clouds developing over Bangkok.† The heaviest rains barely missed us this afternoon.† I was relieved when the storms had passed by just before it was time for our afternoon dilation appointment at the clinic.
Dr. Kamol examined me during my afternoon dilation.† I told him that I was worried because I seemed to have an awful lot of swelling, and I didnít yet have all of my voice back.† I could talk normally, and would have no problem going back to work with my voice as it was now.† I was really missing only the falsetto ranges.† But I loved to hum songs and tunes, and I could not do that right now until I recovered all of my upper range.† The doctor told me that it would take some more weeks for my voice to completely recover, and even longer for my genital swelling to subside.
My right inner labia was still much larger than the left side, and the right lip of inner labia still protruded instead of covering my clitoris.† Dr. Kamol explained that because I am a thin girl, and had didnít have much fat down there, I was prone to swell up more than usual.† I had first realized how prone I was to swelling when I had my first session of facial electrolysis at the E2000 clinic in Texas five years ago, and now I saw this immense swelling in my genitals.
Saturday, October 15th, 2005
I woke up at 4AM with nausea.† I felt like I would vomit if I so much as sat up in bed.† I waited for a short while, hoping that this nausea would go away, but it would not.† I think I had food sickness.† Last night I had eaten at the Pizza Town with Sherry Marlene, and instead of pizza I had decided to try their lasagna.† I somehow just felt that this lasagna was causing my sickness.
Somehow I did not vomit when I finally did go to the bathroom, but I had nasty diarrhea.† Going to the bathroom gave me partial relief from my nausea, but it came back, and I had to keep returning to the toilet again and again for the rest of the night.† I did not go downstairs with Sherry Marlene for breakfast this morning.† Fasting seemed to stop the diarrhea, but it took a few more hours before I felt well again.
Even though I did not feel quite right, I had a pleasant time at the clinic this morning when I went for my morning dilation.† While I was on the computer, the shy patient walked by and attempted to communicate with me.† She was finally opening up to me, and she had chosen another shy person for reaching out to.† She had BA surgery with her SRS, and I think she was curious whether or not I had also had BA.
I felt even more excited when Jaruwan told me that she would take Sherry Marlene and I with her for her daily visit to the Florida patients at the hospital.† Both Florida girls were now several days post-op.† On our way over, Jaruwan stopped at a convenience station to put fuel in the van.† I went in the store to buy something to eat.† I was feeling perfectly well again, and now I was hungry!† I found a sandwich and a cup of jello for only 13 Bhat.
Both of the Florida women had BA surgery with their SRS, so they had felt more pain and discomfort than we had last week.† But both were well on the road to recovery.† They had ordered Pizza Hut delivered to their hospital room, and bragged that they also had the phone numbers for McDonaldís and Kentucky Fried Chicken.† They would be released next Monday and Tuesday.
I was still hungry enough to accompany Sherry Marlene and Jaruwan for another meal out at the open-air Thai restaurant where I had eaten rice a few days ago.† As we ate, a woman offered lottery tickets for sale.† I normally donít play any lotteries back at home, but I thought I would buy two tickets at 40 Bhat apiece just so I could say that I had played a foreign lottery.† The grand prize was two million Bhat, which would be about $50,000 US dollars.
The Chinese patient visited me again during my afternoon dilation again, and she was interested in my results.† A nurse helped clear some of the language barrier.
Sherry ordered pizza to go from Pizza Town.† I bought food from the market.† I knew I would eat pizza from Pizza Town again, but not tonight, and I would never eat more of their lasagna again.
Sunday, October 16th, 2005
Today was my momís birthday.† I usually call her on her birthday and Motherís Day, even though she does not accept my transition and will not call me Sherry.† But today I had second thoughts about calling her.
Mom would not have a happy birthday if I called and ended up disclosing that I had SRS.† I decided that it would be better if I pretended that I forgot to call her on her birthday this year.† I know I will have to contact her again someday, but I donít know if I will ever tell her that I had SRS.† Why give her news that would only disturb her even more?
Jaruwan was off today, so Angela took us to and from the clinic.† Today the nurses let me do most of the work dilating, and I inserted the dilator myself for the first time.† Otherwise, our Sunday was uneventful.
Monday, October 17th, 2005
We Were Now Tourists
I met the Chinese woman again on my way to my morning dilation.† Angela took Sherry Marlene to a Thai restaurant again.† Meanwhile, one of the women from Florida was released from the hospital today.
Jaruwan finally released us from hotel confinement, and we were now permitted to be tourists.† She would take us to the Royal Palace later this week.† Tonight we would go to a five-story mall about half an hour from the hotel.
Two of the nurses rode the taxicab with us to the mall.† At first we had lots of fun in the mall.† We shopped in a CD store, where I bought a CD by Air Supply, and Sherry Marlene found the double CD by the Bee Gees which I already had back home.† We ate at a McDonaldís inside the mall.
Sherry Marlene started to feel sore.† I lasted a little longer, but when we were ready to go back to our hotel, we got lost in the mall.† After we finally found our way to the front exit, and caught a taxi, the driver got lost and took a wrong turn away from the hotel.† We both returned to the hotel very exhausted.† Jaruwan and Angela had cautioned against us going far from the hotel last week, and now I was glad that I had not tried to do this a week ago when someone else had invited me to.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
I Am A Winner!
Angela instructed us to try using the second dilator.† Dr. Kamol provides a set of six dilators in 1/16th inch increments.† Our smallest is 16/16, or one inch, and our largest is 21/16, or just over 1 ľ inches.† Angela told me to insert the first one for 15 minutes and then use the 17/16 for 45 minutes.† This afternoon I used the number 2 dilator exclusively.
We would soon receive our clinic letters that would verify our successful SRS so that we could have our government agencies back home change the gender on our birth certificates, passports, and other documents.† Jaruwan researched the process for having our surgery letters notarized.† She asked me to compose one letter in my own words to present with the surgery letter at the embassy.
The other woman from Florida was released from the hospital this morning, and now both of the Florida women were with us at the hotel.† One of them was healing so rapidly that the clinic was going to start dilating her tomorrow.
Jaruwan gave us our post-surgery letters from the clinic after our afternoon dilations.† Sherry Marlene and I planned a ride to the US embassy tomorrow morning.
I used the clinicís computer again this evening.† On one mailing list, the posters were commenting on a lottery back in the USA.† I remembered those Thai lottery tickets I had purchased last Saturday just for fun, and thought I might as well check the results.† I asked Jaruwan to look up the winning numbers, and then went back to reading mailing lists and E-Mails on the computer.† But I soon heard some joyful shouting from the office.† Jaruwan came back and informed me that I had won the 1000 Bhat prize, and because I had purchased two tickets with the same numbers, I had won 2000 Bhat.† This was worth about 50 us Dollars.† Thailand assessed only a two percent tax on my winnings, so Jaruwan would turn in† my winning tickets and give me almost 2000 Bhat in a couple of days.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2005
Pioneer Women Explore The Embassy
We woke up at 5:30 AM this morning, and ate breakfast as soon as the breakfast buffet opened at 6AM, so we could get to the embassy early.† We arrived when the embassy opened at 7AM.† Jaruwan told us to not worry about making it back to the clinic by 9AM, and that it would be OK if we were a little late for our morning dilation.
I had brought with me a mailing list post written by someone who had been to the embassy many months earlier and had gone through this process.† Iím afraid that the process here might have changed since then, because this post seemed to be obsolete.† If you are reading this in six to twelve months from now, you might find that my own account of our ordeal in the embassy is no longer applicable to your efforts to have your surgery letters notarized.
We had a moderate wait before we passed through the security.† From reading that long ago post, I had expected that the people in security would ask us why we were here, and then direct us to wait in the correct line.† But they told us nothing, and just sent us through.
Now we found two lines.† One sign indicated American Citizen Services, but to me this seemed to point at one of the two lines rather than around the side of this part of the building, where nobody seemed to be going.† It took us more than an hour to reach the front of that line.† Sherry Marlene was feeling terribly sore, and she thought something was bleeding.† When we finally reached the front of this line, we were told that we were in the wrong place, and we had to go to a different room.† We had waited a long time, and Sherry Marlene had endured misery all for nothing.
We found the inside room full of people.† Now I saw several long lines leading to different windows?† Where were we supposed to go?† And where was Sherry Marlene?† I actually saw Ďwindow 13í, where the author of that post wrote that she had obtained her notarizations.† LED screens indicated numbers being served, but where were we supposed to draw our numbers?† I started to look for somebody to ask for directions.
Jaruwan seemed to appear from nowhere.† She directed me to a window in a smaller front room where the American Citizen Services now was.† Sherry Marlene had already found this window, and was now being helped.† Jaruwan disappeared as quickly as she had appeared to materialize.† I mentioned to Sherry that I had seen Jaruwan, but she told me she had not.† Today was Jaruwanís day off, and even if it hadnít been her day off, I would have been surprised that she would have the time to come to our embassy, wait in line to get through security, and then find us.† Had I really seen Jaruwan?† She was certainly a godsend, and I am grateful for the many times she has gone out of her way to help us.
Please keep in mind that this advice could be out of date by the time you go to Thailand:
As of October 2005, when you are a post-op seeking to have surgery letters notarized, you first need to wait in the outside lines to pass through security.† A short distance later you will see two lines within a courtyard, but do not wait in either of these lines.† We wasted an hour here, and because we were recovering from recent surgery, we suffered discomfort in the process.† You need to take the walkway well to the right of these lines, and you will enter a front room.† There will be a larger room beyond this anteroom, but you do not need to continue to this larger room yet.† First, as you enter this front room, you need to look for the American Citizen Services to your right.† A clerk will receive your letters, and direct you to a certain window in the next room where you will pay your notarization fees.† You do not need to wait for window 13 anymore.
It will cost $30 US Dollars to notarize one letter, plus $20 for each additional letter.† This can be paid in either US Dollars or an equivalent in Bhat.† After you pay, you will return to the front room and show your receipt to the clerk.† Then you will need to wait for a short while as they notarize your letters.† When they call your name, you will pick up your notarized letters, and then you will be done.
Several days after we had left Thailand, Jaruwan informed us that the two Florida women had easily found their way through the embassy and had their surgery letters notarized with little hassle, and thanked us for pioneering the way.
For now, we were both sore and tired.† We let the taxi driver charge extra fare so he could take us on the expressway and drive us back to the clinic earlier.† We did not go far from the hotel or clinic again today.† After our ordeal this morning, we did not feel like going for any more sightseeing or tourism today or tonight.† The nurses invited Sherry Marlene for a Thai lunch at the clinic on the third floor.† We played card games with the women from Florida this evening.
Thursday, October 20th, 2005
Ivan The Terrible
Sherry Marlene and I felt a lot better today, and we let Jaruwan take us to an even larger mall and then the Royal Palace.† Going to that mall was a little trickier, because we had to take a cab downtown, negotiate a shopping center to reach the Skytrain, board a Skytrain, and then switch Skytrains once on the way over.† The mall Jaruwan took us to today had seven floors.† Regretfully, we could not stay there for very long if we wanted to make it to the Royal Palace.† We went on a guided tour in the palace.† They do not permit pictures inside the palace, but we were able to take many pictures outside.
The Florida girls have been asking me how I will name my dilators.† I like to study the weather, so I decided to name them after infamous hurricanes that have hit the USA in the last three decades.† We tend to use male names for dilators, so I picked seven major Atlantic hurricanes.† I decided I would not use Allen because that was my stepfatherís name.† So from smallest to largest, I chose Dennis, Ivan, Frederic, Charley, Hugo, and Andrew.† If I decided to buy even wider dilators back home (I have up to 21/16, some girls use up to 1 Ĺ inches), I would use the names Mitch and Gilbert.
After we returned from the Royal Palace, I had my late afternoon date with Ivan the Terrible.
Friday, October 21st, 2005
Another Shopping Night at the Mall
Today was Sherry Marleneís last full day in Bangkok.† We decided to go back to the mall that was close to the hotel.† We had to settle for the mall close to our hotel, because we didnít think we could find that large one downtown on our own.† The two women from Florida also wanted to come, and we decided that we would eat dinner at the Sizzler restaurant inside the mall.† We came to the clinic a little early for our afternoon dilation to make more time for the mall this evening.
Our cab driver took a longer route, and he actually got us to the mall more quickly because he avoided some of the worst traffic.† We did eat dinner at the Sizzler, but the Florida women decided to return to the hotel early.† Sherry Marlene and I went to several stores, and we were able to stay on our feet longer than we had Monday night.† I purchased a couple of trinkets at a stand outside the Sizzler.
Saturday, October 22nd, 2005
Sherry Marlene Left Bangkok
Sherry Marlene felt sad because she had to leave Thailand today, and I felt sad for her.† After our morning dilations, Jaruwan had our pictures taken with the staff.
I called McDonalds and asked them to deliver our lunch.† Sherry Marlene wanted to put clear polish on my nails.† At first I declined, because I usually donít bother with make-up or nail polish.† But then I let her do it, mostly to take our minds off of her impending departure.† My CD player had started to skip, so we tried to fix that too, but to no avail.
I had asked to ride along to the airport so I could be with Sherry Marlene as she left us.† Regretfully, Jaruwan needed to drive the van somewhere else after taking Sherry Marlene to the airport, and I would not have a ride back to the hotel if I came along.† I offered to have a taxi take me back to the clinic, so I was able to come after all.
Sherry Marlene had to enter an area in the front of the airport where only passengers were allowed.† We waited outside this area for Sherry to check her luggage.† She was then able to meet us for a last few minutes.† It was sad seeing her go, and also knowing that I would have to follow her process in less than two days from now.† Toward the back of the room, she paid her 500 Bhat airport tax, and then gave us hugs before entering the passport control area where non-passengers could not enter.
Then I sadly rode a taxi back to the hotel.† I had caught one of the taxiís with the sign ĎI love farang (foreigners)í indicating that he knew English.† He was playing American music.† I think he noticed my sadness, but misinterpreted the reason, because he asked me if his music was OK, so I let him know that I did like it, especially the John Lennon song ĎImagineí which had just aired.
Dr. Kamol examined me one last time when I returned for my afternoon dilation.† He removed a tiny amount of necrosis from the tip of my clitoris.† I worried that I might develop more necrosis, but Dr. Kamol reassured me that I should not have any more.† Aside from this, Dr. Kamol believed that I was healing quite well, and he again assured me that my genital swelling would eventually subside, but it would take months.
As I walked back to the hotel, several young Thai men admired me as I walked by, and one of them yelled, ĎI loves you!í
I already felt lonely in my hotel room without Sherry Marlene.† I visited the Florida women.
Sunday, October 23rd, 2005
My Last Full Day
Today was my own last full day in Bangkok.† I wanted to take a shower and epilate my legs just before I left Thailand, and I decided to do those things early today so I could enjoy the afternoon in Bangkok.† This was made more difficult by a power outage.† I had heard occasional booming noises early this morning, but there were no thunderstorms this morning.† Then I suddenly heard one loud boom, and many dogs barking right after the power went out for about an hour.
I told the Florida women that I would spend my last afternoon here at the mall again, and wanted to buy a few more souvenirs.† One of them wanted to come with me.† I also purchased two skirts that stretched at the waistline so that I could fit in them, plus several more trinkets for souvenirs.† We ate lunch at the Pizza Hut.
After my second dilation, I gathered my six dilators, and all of the cleaning supplies.† I had purchased some more cleaning supplies so I could take a full kit back home with me, and hopefully not have to go shopping as soon as I returned to the USA.† I merely bought a sandwich and cake from the counter for dinner, but I ate it with the Florida women.
Because Dr. Kamol had given me many dilation and cleaning supplies, and I had purchased a few souvenirs, I could not fit everything in my two suitcases.† I had to leave something behind.† I decided to jettison that CD player that was malfunctioning.† I had won this CD player in a drawing at work three years ago, but I doubted that I could have it repaired, so I decided I would leave it and then replace it after I returned home.
Monday, October 24th, 2005 Part I
Trail of Tears
I woke up just before 2AM so I could perform one dilation before the long flight.† Because the clinic had not let me dilate the day after I left the hospital, I was not worried about losing depth or width before I arrived in Tulsa.† I had many other reasons to worry and be emotional today.
Jaruwan came to my hotel room after 3:30 AM with another woman from Kamolís staff.† I checked out of the hotel.† Sherry Marlene had generously paid her share, and I ended up with a little refund.
I had to leave Jaruwanís company for a short while as I checked in my luggage.† When I was near the front of the line, someone directed me into a curtained area.† Had I been selected for extra screening again?† This time they seemed more concerned with my checked luggage.† They opened both suitcases, but they seemed focused on one little box.† After they found, opened, and looked inside this box (which contained one of my trinkets), they concluded their inspection and zipped my suitcases shut again.† I think they wanted to make sure I wasnít smuggling drugs.† Jaruwan told me she was not surprised that they had checked me like this.
Jaruwan was allowed to join me again after I had checked my luggage. †She took me to a currency exchange window so I could convert my extra Bhat (including my lottery winnings) to dollars.† I kept a little bit of Bhat for souvenirs.† Then we went to the window where I paid my 500 Bhat airport tax.
Now came one of my most dreaded moments.† Jaruwan could not accompany me past this point.† She had helped me and reassured me so many times, and had done so much for me.† Best of all, she was a very good friend.† I would miss her so much.
I was on my own for at least the next 24 hours.† I didnít get lost in the Bangkok airport this time, but going to the gate on my own was still unpleasant.† I passed through another security checkpoint, this one for my self and carry-on luggage, but there was no extra screening.† Besides, I was post-op now, and did not fear a closer screening of the body.
Instead, I was afraid of not making it back home OK.† Actually, I wasnít quite going home today, because I was going to return to Tulsa where I would spend almost a week convalescing at my friend Aprilís place.† I had met April three years ago, and she was one of those friends who had seen me transition before I had moved away from that area.
But to get there I would have to endure two very long flights, a third flight after that, and hope that I made my connection in Tokyo.† My scheduled layover in Tokyo was less than an hour, and I remembered that on the way over they had moved the departure of my next flight twenty minutes forward.† There would be very little room for error.† What I feared most today was that I would arrive in Tokyo too late to make my connection.† I had been told that in this event, Northwest would place me on another flight without additional charge, but I did not look forward to the possibility of staying overnight in Tokyo, thousands of miles from anyone who knew me.† Being that far from either home or my friends in Bangkok overnight would have given me anxiety.
I did not suffer from much physical pain.† I used my rubber donut to ensure that I would not become too sore while sitting down, and I felt very little pain until a couple of hours before I arrived at Minneapolis.† Even then, my physical pain was relatively minor.† Waiting until I was three weeks post-op instead of departing after only two weeks made quite a difference in the amount of physical pain I had to endure.† Most of my pain today was emotional.
Our pilot announced that we needed to wait in Bangkok for a short while because excellent tail winds would otherwise take us to Tokyo too early.† I hoped that the pilot was correct about this.† Skies were mostly cloudy throughout our flight.† I had taken the advice of several post-ops and reserved aisle seats for all three of my flights back to the USA.† So I saw very little scenery, and only caught a couple of glimpses of wilderness in eastern Thailand and Laos between the clouds.† I was on an airbus again, and screens constantly displayed our flight path and location.
I was feeling anxiety again.† This was the same anxiety I had felt on the way over, because I was far from home and friends.† I hoped that our flight would avoid mainland China.† I got my wish.† In fact, our flight barely went over the southern end of Taiwan before finally turning towards the north.† But I continued to have anxiety and crying spells anyway, because I was leaving all of the friends I had made in Bangkok.† I was going to leave a trail of tears from Bangkok to Alaska.
We did in fact arrive in Tokyo early.† This was a good thing, because my flight out of Tokyo had been moved forward 20 minutes just as it had been on my way to Bangkok three weeks ago.† I felt partial relief after I had boarded my next flight.† This was not a flight from one foreign city to another foreign city, but a flight back to my own home country.
Time had advanced two hours between Bangkok and Tokyo, but now it would soon retreat a whole day.† Although we took off from Tokyo only a little after 3PM local time, the sun set very soon afterwards and the skies quickly darkened.
Monday, October 24th, 2005, Part II
Not only had we left Tokyo a little early, but we would arrive in Minneapolis even earlier.† We had strong tail winds again.† I was relieved that I had not chosen to go to Thailand today, because I knew that todayís steady head winds might have messed up my flight times and caused me to miss the connection in Tokyo and arrive in Bangkok late.
I had tried to sleep on this long flight, but I caught no more than a few minutes of sleep.† Somewhere over Canada, the sun rose for my second time this Monday.† Breakfast was a disappointment.† They had run out of omelets and other breakfast choices, so they were just serving some type of noodles that werenít very good.† From my aisle seat, I was able to catch a few quick glimpses of lakes in Manitoba, and I think I saw part of Winnipeg.† A stewardess handed out custom forms for all US citizens to fill out.† I felt better now because I would soon be with caring friends again.
US customs in Minneapolis wasnít as bad as I thought it would be.† Everyone did have to reclaim their checked luggage, and when we were done we did not have to wait in order to recheck our luggage on another belt just inside customs.
I did have one anxious moment while waiting in the last line in customs.† A woman approached me and asked whether I was called Sherry or Joanne.† For a minute I feared that I was receiving extra scrutiny again.† But she merely told me that my friend was here at the airport, just downstairs from the next room, and she was waiting to meet me.† I wasnít home yet, but I was back among friends!
My friend held a cardboard sign with my name on it, and she too was excited to see me.† We went to one shop for food, but decided that was too expensive, so we went down another floor where I found a cake and soda for a more reasonable price.† My friend had many questions about the surgery.† She wanted to take me outside, but after three weeks in the tropics, I did not have clothing for the climate here, and it was a cold day outside.† She had hoped to have her SRS next year, but had suffered some agonizing setbacks.† I hoped life would soon improve for her so she could soon be where I was at now.† She was only 5í2Ē, one of the shortest MtF transitioners I have ever known, and passed excellently.
I called April to let her know that I had made it to Minneapolis, and should not have any trouble making it to Tulsa this afternoon.
We actually had a little trouble because our flight time to Tulsa was shorter than expected.† Those tail winds were pushing us again.† After we landed in Tulsa, we had to wait for a little while until our gate was vacant, and someone could tow our plane to the gate.† It wasnít as cold as Minneapolis, but those north winds that had caused my flight to arrive early now kept the afternoon temperature down to a dry 60 degrees.† After three weeks in muggy Bangkok, 60 degrees felt chilly!
One of Aprilís friends met me at the airport.† She drove me to Aprilís house, where I received flowers signed by April and two other friends, ĎCongratulations, itís a girlí.† April had many happy tears for me.† I felt tired, but I also felt relieved, happy, and complete.
I have literally seen the sun rise twice today.† And my long transition and SRS have given me a second sunrise in life.† My first sunrise had been followed first by sadness and incongruency, and then a darkening night.† As I had progressed through my slow transition, my life had brightened again in the new twilight before my new dawn.
My life is not perfect.† I will still have trials such as stressful workdays, issues with my former family, and all kinds of miscellaneous occurrences in life, but I will now deal with these things while a bright and new sun shines on my new life.
My week at Aprilís was a transition from my three weeks in Thailand, where Dr. Kamolís staff had done so much for me and wanted to do even more, to being completely on my own during the fifth week.† April set me up in her one bedroom so that I would be able to dilate privately.† Most of my other friends in Tulsa were busy with work, and one had moved away for employment, so I didnít quite spend as much time with others as I had hoped.†
April looked after me as I continued to recover from my surgery and re-adjusted to American time and climate.† One nurse, who had her SRS by Dr. Preecha, looked at my SRS result and reassured me that everything was OK and agreed with the assurances which Dr. Kamol had given me, that my swelling would subside.† It was a relief to hear this from someone who had SRS by somebody besides my own surgeon.
April drove me back home the following Sunday so I could let my HRT doctor examine me next Monday.
My HRT doctor examined me on Halloween morning, dressed as a giant spider!† EEK!† She expressed concern about my swelling, but said that I was otherwise healing well and had no infection.† I set an appointment for November 10th when she will give me letters to verify my successful SRS for the Social Security Administration and other government agencies.† I should also be released to return to work on November 14th, when I will be six weeks post-surgery.
I miss Sherry Marlene and all of my other new friends I made in Thailand.† I make sure I go somewhere every day, even if I only walk a little bit on the park trail.† Iím not yet doing the long six to ten mile walks I used to do before surgery, because I think I should allow myself some more recovery first, but Iím walking a little bit again with little discomfort.† The whole idea is not to be too lonely while I am away from work.† Even a quiet girl like me greatly benefits from seeing other people while recovering from a major surgery.
My SRS experience was not perfect, but I believe that it did provide me with good results.† Although I had a frightfully confusing first night after surgery, my overall experience was wonderful.
I do know that Dr. Kamolís staff took very good care of me when I was so limited during my first week, and continued to look after me long afterwards.† Jaruwan was always quick to comfort and reassure me at any time, whether I had completed a long and anxious flight across the Pacific, or needed to endure an unpleasant procedure at the hospital.† Every person on Dr. Kamolís staff went above and beyond the call of duty, and went so far out of their way for me.† They did so much that I had to worry if they were doing anything or taking any time for themselves.
I canít really compare my experience with other surgeons, because I will never need to have SRS again.† I could however recommend Dr. Kamol to those who are trying to choose a surgeon for their SRS.