Friday, 16 January 2015

Surgery recollections

Three days ago I had my gender reassignment surgery. I said at some point I would be back to write about although wasn't sure when I would be able to do so or want to. My recovery has been amazing and I surprise even myself with how well I have done. The big day is still very clear in my mind and I am very keen to write about it.

I slept surprisingly well the night before, getting probably 5 hours. I got in a last minute black coffee before I was nil by mouth and then it was wait out the time to surgery. The anaesthetist saw me quite early and went through my medical history. He was happy with my health and left. Mr. Thomas and Liz Hills arrived just before 8.00 and I signed the consent form. Very little was discussed, I had no questions and that was the formalities over with. At no point was I actually asked if I was sure that I wanted this surgery; it didn't worry me but did surprise me.

9.00 came and in came Vicky who was going to be looking after me the whole day. Her first job was to administer a phosphate enema which would clear out the bowel and remove the need for toileting during the bed rest phase. She applied it gently and told me to hold it in for as long as possible stating 5-10 minutes was good but some manage 30. I did just over 15 and decided I needed to go. I sat on the toilet and expelled a good quantity and thought I was done. Suddenly though, the world starts spinning and I nearly pass out. Sweat is pouring off of me and I was really close to pulling the emergency cord in the bathroom. I sat there for another 10 minutes emptying out and slowly losing the symptoms of my shock. I emerged from the bathroom and Vicky had reappeared. She looked at me and realised straight away that things were not good. 

I improved quickly though and then I had to shower with a special sponge to disinfect my body. A gown was put on, I got on my bed and waited to be wheeled down to theatre. Vicky arrived just after 10.00 with someone from theatre, my name and date-of-birth were checked and then I was wheeled out of the room and off down the corridor towards lesser frequented parts of the hospital. I took in every moment of this journey and I remember smiling all the way. We get to theatre and I am greeted inside by the anaesthetist. He points to my signature on the consent form and asks if this was me? I agree and he starts preparing whatever cocktail he is going to use to knock me out. The cannula is placed in the back of my hand and he starts injecting away. The process is surprisingly slow and I could feel the anaesthetic creeping up my arm. When it got to my shoulder, I then felt it's effects and gently drifted off, a smile firmly fixed on my face.

I wake a little while later, somewhat disorientated but eventually I realise where I am. I was in little pain but could feel a dull ache down below and well aware of all the dressing between my legs. Vicky was there with the recovery nurse and I asked how it went. It had gone well and I had got about 5 inches of depth. Such measurements were unimportant, just hearing it had gone well was enough. To be finally rid of that unwanted genitalia was enough for me, depth and outcome were for later.

I was soon wheeled back to my room with the same smile on my face but I felt very serene. My anxiety had completely gone and it was finally over. I get to my room, drinks are placed in front of me and I am told to get as much into me as I can (they took 6 litres out of my catheter bag by next morning!). I am also given some exercises to do to reduce the risk of clots in the leg (DVT's). This was to supplement the special boots I was wearing that were inflating and deflating to massage my legs.

I was then left and I spent a good 15 minutes crying.The realisation that I had finally got what I needed, a body congruent with my mind, was overwhelming. I just stared out of the window, tears streaming down my face and I felt so good afterwards. All of the anxiety gone and the pain of the depression seemed much lessened.

2 hours post-op
The rest of the day passed slowly and mid afternoon Mandy arrived with my friend Susan who was looking after her while I was recovering. This gave us an opportunity for a post-op photo and nothing shows the happiness more than these photos. I have seen others photos in the past and the peacefulness in them is evident. To see it in my own face was very satisfying.

The rest of the day went along smoothly, the nurses were very happy with my observations and how much I was drinking. I was now on a clear fluid diet so by the evening, I was finally greeted by the Brighton consomme. Everyone says how awful the stuff is, but I found it ok.

My pain was ok, although it was building a little in the evening. Vicky gave me some morphine but to be honest, it did very little for me. It was no massive issue as my pain was very low anyway.

The night was very difficult however. I was getting backache from lying on my back and the night nurse, Tracey was very kind and caring. She worked very hard that night and got me through it in the end. We did try some more morphine in the early hours and this made me drowsy enough to get a couple hours sleep. I also had a couple of injections; antibiotics and something else designed to help the op site stop oozing.

Morning came and even with the rough night, I felt pretty good. The curtains were drawn back and I looked at a new day dawning. Whilst I do not see this as any kind of rebirth, it is however a new dawn in my life and it feels pretty amazing at the moment.

I'll be back soon with more.


  1. Wonderful news, Lucy, and it's great - really great - to see you smiling.