Friday, 15 July 2016

18 months post-op

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

It is unbelievable that time can go so quickly, but two days ago I found myself realising that I had had my surgery eighteen months ago. It seemed an insignificant milestone at the time, I nearly didn't realise it occurred, but on reflection it was more important than I realised.

It is quite good that I didn't actually do a twelve month update. The changes that have occurred between six and eighteen months have been incredibly subtle. Reaching this point has made me realise that it has taken all this time for the surgical site to properly heal.

I have had granulation issues internally for all this time and it is literally the last few weeks that have seen the issue disappear. Even so, I don't think it is fully gone but the pain and small amount of discharge it was causing seemed to have lessened greatly. Ironically this issue made me approach my GP and we embarked on a path of getting gynaecology to deal with the issue. They refused, saying I needed my original surgical provider to deal with it. This was not possible as we were outside of the window that the Brighton Nuffield were responsible for my care. 

There are many stories of Trans Broken Arm Syndrome and this was a classic example of this phenomenon. I wont belabour this update with the details, it would make a good write up of its own, but suffice to say that I embarked on the warpath with our local hospital and they did back down. I did not need them in the end, as the problem had lessened but it highlighted to me that even someone like myself with a GRC and a hide-able history of being Trans, is still likely to encounter problems. I am convinced Transphobia was displayed here too, but it would be difficult to prove. 

Dilation had moved on a great deal in all this time. I am now just using the 40mm on its own, straight in and for twenty minutes. I brought out all my dilators the other say to show someone who had never seen them and seeing the might 40mm against the tiny 25mm that I started out with was startling! I have now moved to dilation once every five days although the guidance says I could go to once weekly. I have taken dilation very seriously since I started out and I feel that is too big a step so I am adjusting it over time to get it to that once a week. It is hard to imagine that I was doing this three times a day!

I mentioned at six months how I had had my first orgasm. I have continued to explore this side of things and found there was a learning curve attached to it. I have found that the more that I utilise my sexual function, the easier it gets. Not only that, it gets better too! I remember orgasm in my past life and they were nothing compared to now. It's a completely different experience, a much more all over body feeling as well as an emotional satisfaction. It sometimes takes me as much as five minutes to come back down to Earth! Very little has changed in my approach six months ago, vibrators and such like do nothing and it is simply a finger rubbing approach to the clitoris that works. 

This makes me realise how little guidance we are given for something that is very important and I am painfully aware of how many post-op ladies never manage to have an orgasm. The only guidance I had was to get a vibrator from LoveHoney (seriously, this is what the post-op guidance says) and yet that was my biggest mistake. When I realised how easy it was with just my fingers, I started to think how many others are making the same mistake by following the guidance and then giving up. 

I have some sensation internally but not enough to bring me to orgasm. Sometimes it can enhance a clitoral orgasm but rarely do I get much more than that. I have used vibrators/dildos, fingers and even the occasional penis (yes really!) but they just add a nice feeling to what I already have. Mandy and myself have had to completely revisit our sex lives since my surgery, but we both agree that my transitioning has made things even better. It is less frequent than before but so much more satisfying.

It is also important to think about everything emotionally since my surgery. I have seen more developments in myself as a person since this event than during transitioning. I have reflected a great deal on why this was the case and feel it is down to the removal of the reminder of the past me. Now that I feel truly complete, I can explore properly who I am.

There has been a great deal going on in the last eighteen months. My work at the Laurels has been a massive influence on who I have become. It has given me the confidence the examine my future and realise that counselling is the way to go. I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do and taking it to the next level feels like a massively exciting challenge. 

Just over a week ago, I was voted Chair at our local Independent Advisory Group to the police. I have been a member of this group for over two years and to have the support of the members to elevate me to this position is very rewarding. It is quite apparent to me that there is a lack of women in such positions in Avon and Somerset, let alone anyone with a Trans past. This is another new challenge in my life and helps me develop my skills with interacting with people as well as helping me hone my organisational skills; I have lost track of the emails I have sent in the ten days since taking on this role!

In addition to all this, I have been working with the Avon and Somerset police raising awareness of Trans issues. I have addressed a couple of groups recently, one as large as 35 people and this has boosted my confidence greatly. I just talk about my life, my transitioning and the difficulties of the people that I work with. It is enlightening to know that people want to listen and learn but it is also sobering to realise how much ignorance and misinformation there still is amongst cisgender people. There is still a long way to go in helping society understand about us. That is how I like my approach, enabling cisgender people to understand our lives and how they can support us without being patronising or condescending.

This eighteen months have been a monumental roller coaster of a ride and the next few years seems equally exciting!

My GRS time-line :