Yesterday saw the arrival of the ten week mark since my surgery and this meant it was time for my post-op check-up at Brighton. We decided when I received the appointment that we would drive up and back in the same day so our friend Susan was roped in to help share the driving.
We set off mid morning and because the appointment was in the evening, we enjoyed the ability to set a very easy going pace. Typically there was no serious traffic and we enjoyed a very straightforward drive all the way. In fact the biggest issue was what to do for the afternoon whilst awaiting my time. We parked up in the centre and managed to waste away the afternoon drinking coffee and wandering around the shops. It also showed a return of my strength with me pushing Mandy around in the wheelchair.
Prior to my appointment, I actually found myself visiting someone who had had their GRS very recently. She has just started blogging and her experiences can be found here. I was dropped off at the hospital and made my way to see her. It was a strange feeling walking back into this place. I remember last July and leaving the place in a fit of rage and then leaving in a very good place in January. To return for the final time as a patient was a slightly upsetting experience, the finality of the evening was starting to hit home.
I visited my friend and found it a profound experience being able to chat to someone going through the same thing. I knew where she was in the process, what was happening and almost jealous of what she was about to experience.
An hour flew by and I said my farewells and proceeded back downstairs for my own 15 minutes. I checked in properly and went along to where I was directed. Liz Hills greets me with a hug and remarks how well I am looking. I am shown into the room and there is Mr. Thomas. I have remarked before how I have found him to be an enigma of a man. There are usually few words and this has made me ponder greatly on why this is. Regardless of past thoughts, this evening was very much different. I am asked straight away by him how things are going and I state just how good things are. "This will be different", he jests as if this is something unusual! Bloody hell, a sense of humour, I thought.
I am given a couple of letters and they are for the gender recognition panel to prove that I have had my surgery and that it is irreversible (as if I didn't know that!). I am then asked a few questions such as how my vagina has healed and how I am coping emotionally. The former I explained about my suspicions of granulation internally and the latter, I was managing to work through my emotional issues and why I though they were troubling me. He seemed happy and then asked about dilation to which I said I was sticking to it religiously. Depth was discussed as well as work issues, which aren't for me!
Liz then shows me into the next room and it's strip off below the waist for my examination. I was ready for this having discussed it with other people prior to this. There is a great lack of information about this examination but I can reveal that this will be my first experience of a speculum.
First though, Liz has a good look and exclaims how good it is all looking. She says she can't believe the level of healing I have had and that she does not see many at this point with such an outcome. I suspected that she says this to everyone, but she states that she only says such things if she feels it is genuine. I credit Mandy for doing the cleaning work early on, she says I will have no worries further down the line and it will look indistinguishable eventually from a cisgender woman's vagina. She says to get some Bio-oil onto the suture lines to help them fade from the purple that they are.
She bangs on the wall and in walks Mr. Thomas. I am given a mirror to view everything and first up is a quick inspection. He says how good it looks externally and then opens up the clitoral area. He is then straight in with a silver nitrate stick on to the granulation I have next to the clitoris. It is a strange sensation, not painful but very very tingly. I can see it fizzing away and I am warned it will be a bit messy for a time.
Then, without any warning, the speculum is thrust inside. Now I am grateful for how well I have persevered at my dilation and it is not in any way uncomfortable. He starts moving it around and Liz shines a powerful lamp up there. He finds the problem at the back end and then he is in there with another silver nitrate stick. In the end he uses two of them and thankfully, I can't really feel this too much. I am warned that I will have a brown discharge for a time. I ask about dilation when I get home and he says to just shower and douche that night. I was struck at this point about how relaxed I was even being probed about in this manner and that I could continue with a normal conversation.
Mr. Thomas is finished and Liz helps me to clean up. He leaves and then I am asked by Liz if I was willing to let her have some photo's so that she can show others when they come for their pre-op's. Because I have had such a good outcome she feels she can use that to encourage others to try to do everything right. I agree and I am asked if I can take one every few months to show how it progresses.
We return to the consultation room and there is a little more to discuss. I was asked about intimacy with my partner, and I reply that I was waiting for the 12 week mark as explained in the discharge notes. There is an element of surprise at this, as if I am the first to even read those notes. I am told that I can start exploring that now, but it may bleed a little because of the silver nitrate treatment so I am advised to wait a few days until that has gone over.
I ask about when I can start running and I am told that I can start as soon as. In fact I am given a clean bill of health and can start to resume normal activities. I then get ready to leave, and thank Mr. Thomas for what he has done. I shake his hand and then thank Liz saying that I would do it all again, the eight days I had there were so amazing. I mentioned how fantastic everyone had been and then I burst into tears. Mr. Thomas is quite shocked at how moved I was with everything and he comes over and shakes my hand again, a big smile on his face. I hug Liz and say my goodbyes. Liz sees me out and her parting words were, "go off and live your life now".
I walked back downstairs and out the doors with those words firmly in my mind. It was sad to say those goodbyes but my life is now in front of me and it's time to start moving onwards. There are a couple of issues to confront, one I discussed in my post "trying to unpick my emotional issues" and after discussion with my GP it seems I may have mild PTSD. Now my transitioning is over, I have felt more able to deal with the issue that has caused this and I have since referred myself to the mental health team in an effort to help myself.
We drove back, a fairly quick run back and I douched as was suggested. It was very messy and this has continued today. My dilation is a little less painful though although there are streaks of blood on the tips when I remove them at the end. I was told this will get better so I just have to bear with it for the moment.