Monday, 13 July 2015

6 months post-op

***Content Warning*** 
Discusses matters of a sexual nature
Please click away if this is likely to offend.

So here we are, at the 6 month mark already. It is hard to believe that time can go so quickly but it has and this is the 6 month update. 

I would also like to make people aware that this update concerns me and my own journey. It has become apparent from seeing many of my friends having their own GRS, that not everyone will have as smooth and quick a recovery as me. What I write should only be taken as guidance and individual recovery rates vary drastically. 

Physically, it has gone really well. I have been working on the external scars with the Bio-oil and they are fading really nicely. I wasn't too bothered about the scars initially but they were a reminder that I needed a procedure to give me a vagina and as time has moved on, I have felt more like I would like them gone. So, on initial looking at the whole external area, it just looks amazing; there simply is no other word to describe it. Apart from those faded scars, there is simply no way to tell it apart from a birth vagina unless you really know what to look for. Perhaps the give-away might be how perfect it does look, it is really tidy and looks like a designer one. I removed all the hair a couple of months ago, and this just contributed to it's overall look.

I had a small amount of external granulation, and some internal, return after Mr. Thomas had done his work with the silver nitrate stick and after taking advice I approached my GP with the hope that she would treat me herself. She agreed and we proceeded to acquire some sticks to do this. The last few months have seen me visit her three times to treat this. The small piece of external granulation went with the first treatment but internally, I have just had the third treatment by her (the fourth in total). I have had more specula inserted into me in the last 4 months than many cisgender women have had in their lives! However, we think this might be the last treatment as the two patches I have in the far end of the vault of the vagina are now very small (5mm in diameter) and not standing proud any longer. In 5 weeks she will have a look and hopefully sign me off as fully healed.

The clitoral area has healed really nicely, with the hood sitting nicely over the clitoris. When I had my post-op check in March I was advised that I could now start exploring myself in a intimate way and for the last three months, I have been trying. This has been a very frustrating experience and I have just ended up tearful and upset every time. No matter what we (Mandy and myself) tried, we could not get anything to work. Toys, tongues and fingers were utilised but to no avail. I had been advised to wait 18 months before giving up but a few weeks ago I was ready to write off that side of my life. Perhaps it was better to give up and try to move on then keep upsetting myself with failed attempts. 

Interestingly, during a particularly bad bout of PMT a few weeks ago, I found myself suddenly feeling aroused. Speaking to other women who have PMT, it seems this is a very common occurrence and I think it is down to the body realising that it is at this point it is most fertile (in cisgender women). I was alone in the flat, and decided that rather than wait for Mandy to return home (and risk the moment going away), I would just go for it. This was a very much different feeling than I had had before and I just acted on impulse. Because of the arousal, I knew what felt right for me and with some effort I managed to finally achieve an orgasm for the first time since my surgery. 

There were a few tears afterwards and I finally felt complete. It might seem a trivial thing to some, and the risks of losing it are something we all understand before surgery but to finally achieve that moment with the right anatomy was very satisfying indeed. I needed that arousal to teach me what was right because it was in contradiction of anything I have learnt from the (very few) women I have been with in the past. Going for the clitoris itself did not work and I used an area just above it which was more on the pubic bone.

Dilation continues to go well, although just before and just after my granulation treatment, it can be a little painful particularly when I insert the dilator the last inch. I have now settled on the largest dilators, now using a 35mm and a 40mm. I am still twice a day but from today I can drop to once according to the paperwork I was given. Instead of this, I am going to ease myself down to once over the next few months. So at the moment two days a week I only dilate once (in the morning). Every month, I will knock another day off and by December this will put me at once a day. I still need to say that dilation is not a problem for me and I use the time as relaxation. There is still much negativity about dilation and how it takes over your life but I have found that by embracing it, it has not been like this at all. That said, it was very nice to drop to twice a day and those two days of once a day at this time are also welcome. We have also just had our water bill for the last 6 months, and all that extra showering has increased it by 50%! That should be the most expensive water bill we ever have though.

Urination continues to be a random affair. Sometimes it comes out in a nice direct stream but often it becomes a bit erratic and it has been known to shoot out over the top of the seat; thank goodness we have a wet room! Most often though, it points to the left and gets the top of my leg wet. Again, this was a known factor going into surgery and I accept this might be the case for the rest of my life.

Emotionally, and this ties in with hormones, things have changed drastically since before surgery. PMT, I reported about at 3 months and also mentioned above with regards sexual function. This has become even stronger still and I have had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with it. It does not help with the fact it ties in with Mandy having hers and this flat becomes a bit of a melting pot. My main course of support is to talk to friends and I now know who I can call when this is the case. I am also much more sensitive generally and this feels much more aligned with who I always was. That battle with the testosterone is now well and truly gone and it all seems so right. I have a much calmer attitude, I keep control in arguments better and just seem generally very settled in my mind. I seem much more able to walk away from confrontation and having the last word, even when I know I am right, is not important any longer. Even my mental health seems better, the problem I had with minor PTSD seems so much less of a problem now; I am able to let worry go far better than before. Typically, this new attitude has coincided with my starting CBT to deal with worry and I am struggling with that as the exercises I am given do not work because I seem unable to worry to the same degree as I used to.

Physically, my whole body is unrecognisable from January when it was suffering from the ravages if the testosterone. The acne I had is now almost gone with just an occasional flare up. My skin all over is now the softest ever and this is coupled with my coarse body hair being about 25% of what it was 6 months ago. My breasts have grown nicely, but gently which is good for long term gains. My body shape is also changed with hips growing, again in a gentle fashion. My facial shape is also better than before and I hope to see more changes in the next few months.

All in all, I am very satisfied with the outcome of my surgery. In fact, it has achieved even more than I thought possible. I knew roughly what I was going to end with because I was shown photo's on my pre-op but in reality it looks even better and more real than I could ever have imagined. I struggle to even remember what was there before and I think this is because of the reality of what I have now. It sometimes feels like I have always had this and the physical dysphoria of old is now starting to become a distant memory of the past. Anyone that thinks the NHS wastes money with this surgery needs to think again, it has truly fixed me and I am more able to go about my life as a congruent person thereby costing less money in the long term. I am one happy customer.

My GRS time-line :

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