(no subject)
rosa
elfsparkles
March 10, 2014

Had my final pre-op doctor appointment this morning at my primary doc’s office with the PA I usually see. He’s really chill, funny, competent, and we randomly have music and body mod interests in common (he likes hardcore), so appointments with him are pretty chill. He did a minimal exam, mostly just updated my medical record, skimmed over my cardiology report from last week, checked what bloodwork needed to be done, etc. He seems excited for me that I’m having top surgery since he knows I’ve wanted / needed this for a long time :) And he’s gonna give me a new prescription for T in April once it’s okay to restart it after top surgery and he put a note about that in my record, which is great. (I can’t restart T, St Johns Wort, or aspirin until 2 weeks post top surgery.) I feel better knowing I’ll definitely be getting T again soon.

The phlebotomist was really funny and nice too, and super good at drawing blood from my tiny veins (well, only one). I told her that normally it takes phlebotomists multiple tries to find a good vein in my arm and she said “Nah, I don’t really feel like doing that. That sounds too much like work, and it’s Monday, blehhhh.” Hahaha.

Pre-op appointment with Shannon @ Dr. Fischer's office
rosa
elfsparkles
March 10, 2014


Okay, so. Pre-op appointment with Shannon last Thursday: got there a bit early but went to a cafe’ first cuz the office didn’t look like it was open yet and my dad & I were hungry. Apparently the cashier/waiter dude was checking me out a lot and I didn’t notice until after my dad mentioned it, haha. Awkward. He walked past me like literally 4 times and kept talking to me for no reason.

Anyway. This old lady came into the office shortly after I did right at my appointment time and she was kind of a mess because she’d just had facial surgery 2 days earlier, so Shannon had to deal with her first and that took a long time, like over half an hour. I had lots of paperwork to fill out anyway though. A bunch of stuff needed witness signatures so it’s a very good thing my dad came with me (although if I’d been by myself, probably one of the nurses could’ve signed them?). Dr. Fischer even did a draft of a letter to a Notary Public about my top surgery saying that I should be legally recognized as male. I don’t know if that will be enough to change my birth certificate or not because I was born in DC and I forget what the law is there but I think some places require at least a hysto if not also genital surgery. I filled some stuff out wrong but it was just minor stuff that doesn’t matter that much cuz it’s just going in my file with Dr. Fischer.

So eventually Shannon finished up with that old lady and took me and my dad back into the room with the couch and all the photo albums and a table. Shannon had a whole folder for me of copies of the paperwork I’d filled out, prescriptions from Dr. Fischer, and info sheets about pre-op stuff, surgery, and post-op stuff, plus info about what OTC pain meds I can’t take because of bleeding risk (NSAIDs) and for how long, and a little pamphlet thing about the drains. I’m glad the stuff is organized.

Shannon also had the new nurse (who was there to listen in) go get a sample drain to show me what it looks like and how it works (it uses suction). It’s a closed, sterile system so I don’t even have to rinse it out, just squirt the post-op fluid into the toilet. I only have to start recording the amount of fluid from day 3 to day 7 after top surgery. The drains totally look like clear plastic hand grenades.

I asked lots of questions (or I feel like I did) and she answered all of them thoroughly and patiently, which I appreciated. We talked about pain meds because I had to let Shannon know that Dilaudid made me incredibly nauseated last year which overshadowed however much it helped with post-op heart surgery pain, and that my dad & grandpa have mild allergies to Codeine. (So far, I do not have an allergy to Codeine.) Dr. Fischer wrote me a prescription for generic Vicodin (Hydrocodone), 30 of them, which seems like a lot. Vicodin’s a pretty heavy opioid, so I don’t know if I’ll like it or not since I hated Dilaudid and I was unconscious on morphine. We’ll see. Shannon said to take it if I need it for pain, and “Don’t be a hero because we have too many of those around here.” Other than that, I can take Tylenol, but no Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs til I think 2 weeks post-op :\ As for gardening, I can’t till any soil or anything else with lots of upper body movement. All I can do at the beginning of planting season this spring is plant & cover up the seeds (and I have to still wear a surgical binder for that so my chest will be more protected). I should be able to help out more with gardening toward the middle or end of growing season, once I’m better healed.

The restrictions for top surgery post-op are pretty much what they were for heart surgery last year: can’t lift anything over 15 pounds until after 4 weeks post-op; sleep on my back only; walk around; no pulling or pushing or reaching for things behind my reach; no arms over my head while still healing. A big difference though is that I can’t shower until I think after the first week (or after whenever I get the drains out), I can only do baths but my chest can’t get wet. After I get the drains out, I can shower but the water can’t spray my chest directly because it can hurt the nipples I think.

I think my dad only asked Shannon one question, and it was about what the typically general level of post-op pain is. She said it varies a lot with the person, and some guys manage without any pain meds, other guys need pain meds only sometimes, some need more. I have a pretty high pain tolerance. We’ll see.

After all that, then it was time for her to take pre-op pictures of my chest for Dr. Fischer, and then I had to try on a surgical vest. I wasn’t expecting either of those things, so it was a surprise, and I hate having my chest exposed and even more I hate having my chest touched. The photos didn’t involve touching, obviously, but unfortunately putting the surgical binders on did. Kind of a lot of touching. I don’t know why Shannon didn’t just have me put it on myself since obviously I know how to put a binder on. I would have said something but I was pretty triggered and when I get triggered I don’t usually speak, and I was already overwhelmed by the whole appointment (not in a bad way.. just lots of paperwork, lots of information, lots of feelings / processing the fact that top surgery is actually fucking happening for me). So that wasn’t fun at all. Shannon didn’t do anything wrong or inappropriate, it was all just medical stuff but unfortunately, 1) I’m autistic so I often hate being touched anywhere because of that, 2) I have PTSD so I also hate being touched because of that. I could have told her those things (they’re in my surgery letter from my transition therapist, actually), but I was triggered and wasn’t speaking much. The size small surgical vest was a little loose even with me pre-op, but the extra-small fit like a binder so that’ll probably be fine post-op. She’s gonna give both to Dr. Fischer just in case. I’m gonna have to wear the surgical binder basically 24/7, it sounds like, even to sleep, which sucks. Hopefully it won’t be tight enough to hurt my ribs like my binders do.

Anyway, so that whole thing was overwhelming. I went home and had a meltdown from being overwhelmed, exhausted and triggered. I wasn’t just triggered from her touching my chest, but 3 other people (two nurses, and my doctor) touching my chest at my cardiology appointment the day prior to that to do my heart check-up stuff. Normally nobody touches my chest except me. Ugh.

All medically necessary stuff though. Glad it’s over with.

(no subject)
rosa
elfsparkles
March 7, 2014

Two pre-op doctors appointments, two days in a row. Cardiology yesterday, pre-op stuff at Fischer’s office today. Four different people touched my chest - 3 yesterday, 1 today. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I didn’t realize I was triggered by that until today, this evening, because I didn’t know what I was feeling. I’m also just really overwhelmed because top surgery is finally happening, I have all the paperwork, I’ve signed papers, and this is real. It’s a lot to take in.

I’ll update more thoroughly later I guess.

(march 3, 2014) one year post open-heart surgery
rosa
elfsparkles
March 3, 2014

One year post open-heart surgery #2 today. That was one of the scariest days of my life. Glad I was only dead for 30 seconds, didn’t come away with any more brain damage than I’d already had beforehand, and my surgeon avoided my Black Flag chest tattoo :) Also, being in the hospital with those teams of nurses & having my email to my surgeon’s nurse in my record saying what my sensory and other needs were & having pretty much everyone respect that while I was so vulnerable was amazing & helped my initial recovery so much. That was the first time I’d really advocated for myself as an autistic person (though I wasn’t claiming that yet) and had people actually respecting that. Amazing. The pain was horrible for months and there was a lot I couldn’t do, and it was tough dealing with being manicky when I had physical restrictions, and tough not sleeping, etc., but I got to watch and feel my body heal and see that I’m resilient, and that was really important for me.

(no subject)
rosa
elfsparkles
March 1, 2014

Getting some post-op top surgery care tips from trans friends :) The general agreed upon idea so far is that no, I will not be able to and therefore should not try to deal with my drains myself, and I should let people do most things for me. Lots of things I already know how to do from heart surgery last year because I had similar upper body movement restrictions, so I’m not too worried. Mostly I have to think of things to do to keep myself entertained that don’t involve too much arm movement.

Pre-op appointment at Dr. Fischer’s office on Thursday!

(no subject)
treeswindblur
elfsparkles
February 28, 2014

I have to figure out how to tell my mom that I don’t want her there when I have top surgery. My top surgery that is a month away. I haven’t really been talking to her about top surgery stuff, but I guess she’s just been assuming that she’s going. This is a problem because we don’t have a good relationship and haven’t probably since I was a child, we just tolerate each other, and she’s really awful to me (and/or has been awful without apology) in a bunch of different ways: my abuse history, my mental health, having learning disabilities, being autistic, being gay, being trans, etc. I want top surgery to be a positive experience, so she needs to just not be there. I tolerate her and put up a front for my dad’s sake because he asked me to, but I haven’t had a big open talk with her about this stuff, and I need to. Ugh.

(no subject)
rosa
elfsparkles
February 19, 2014

Shannon from Dr. Fischer’s office called today. She spoke with Jacquie, who spoke again with somebody at Carefirst, and now the situation is the Carefirst is not going to pay the surgeon’s fee, but will pay for the anesthesia, operating room, and if I have to stay overnight (which I shouldn’t, but ya never know). So the surgeon’s fee is gonna have to be paid up front at my upcoming paperwork appointment on March 6. It’s $4,200, which I think is about half of what her usual fee is (unless the usual fee is inclusive of O.R., anesthesia, etc). I’m glad that my insurance is supposedly gonna cover everything else. Still a lot of money though.

Also, U of Md Hospital changed my surgery time. It’s at 7:15AM now (instead of 11:30AM), and I have to be at the hospital at 6AM. Definitely gonna have to stay in a hotel near the hospital then, otherwise I’d have to get up before 4 in the morning to leave my house on time. 6AM is not too bad really; I’m not a morning person, but I don’t sleep much at night, so I’m used to being awake early. I likely won’t sleep the night before top surgery anyway because I’ll be excited, just like I only slept for 30 minutes the night before my heart surgery last year because I was scared.

I still need to collect post-op stuff (and get whatever I don’t have), go shopping for a few button-up shirts & zip-up hoodies / figure out how to unshrink my favorite button-up shirt, loosen my muscles, wash my heart pillow, etc.

(no subject)
rosa
elfsparkles
February 5, 2014



All my ducks are in a row now with top surgery with Dr. Fischer: all my pre-op appointments (cardiology check-up; paperwork / pre-op appointment with Shannon; primary doc pre-op check-up plus blood work) are scheduled for March.

Only 7 weeks and 2 days to go!

The things left to do to prepare for top surgery are:

- gently stretch my stiff back and chest muscles that are still sore from heart surgery

- take vitamins / avoid sick people / sleep as much & as well as I can / eat & drink things that boost immunity

- taper off most of my meds

- talk with Shannon about pain meds

- check otc meds from heart surgery and see if they’re still good

- get whatever first aid stuff I need (gloves, medical tape, gauze, bandages, medical scissors, scar treatment, etc.)

- buy more button-down shirts & another zip-up hoodie

- reinstall the detachable shower head thing in my shower & make sure it doesn’t leak

- figure out who’s taking care of me post-op (my dad & maybe one other person?)

Hung Jury (book review)
rosa
elfsparkles
February 5, 2014

So, a few months ago, I bought myself a copy of the book Hung Jury: Testimonies of Genital Surgery by Transsexual Men, edited by Shannon T. Cotten. I got it because I didn’t feel like I knew enough about bottom surgery in terms of the details and guys’ actual experiences, I was tired of trying to ignore my body dysphoria about my junk, fed-up with being misinformed about bottom surgeries by the ignorant negativity perpetuated about them so frequently in the trans male community and ashamed of myself for having participated in that out of envy, insecurity and ignorance.

In my opinion, Hung Jury is a really good, necessary, informative book overall, although I found that the information (mostly the surgical details) did tend to get a bit repetitive — which is to be expected, since the details of the surgeries only tend to differ so much. One of my favorite parts of the book was the chapter about Lou Sullivan’s transition through his own journal entries and things he published in the newsletter FTM International (which he helped start), especially his experiences transitioning in SF and being in the gay scene there as a trans guy. Another favorite part of the book was the chapter by a black trans man whose name I think is Toyneo because I’m mixed (black, Jewish, Cherokee) so my body is different than it would be if I were just white, and my experiences are different. That was really helpful to read.

However, I do have a major problem with how some guys in the book refer to pre-op (and non-op) trans guys’ cocks as “clitorises” and I think (I can’t remember exactly) referring to pre-op (and non-op) trans guys’ genitals as “female” because both of those things disrespect our rights to body autonomy and consent since they ignore other guys’ right to decide how our bodies are referred to, and there’s no fucking way that they didn’t know a lot of trans guys would (rightfully) have problems with that. That gave off a really snotty message of “Well, I’ve had bottom surgery, so I have a penis now. If you haven’t had bottom surgery, then your body isn’t totally male.” Fuck that bullshit so much. I do not have any problem with a trans guy referring to his own genitals however he wants to, but I have a serious problem with trans guys just deciding for themselves how to refer to other guys’ bodies (or anyone else’s bodies) without permission because that’s oppressive. I haven’t had bottom surgery yet, but that doesn’t mean I have a “clitoris” - I have a penis and that’s all I’ve ever had, regardless of my hormones and surgical status at any point, end of the fucking story, goodbye.

I guess I will say that I cautiously recommend the book to other trans guys (and anyone else) who want to know more about bottom surgeries, especially other trans guys’ experiences with them — but I’d warn about the nonconsensual technical terms / misgendering, as well as gory details, lots of stuff about body dysphoria that may be triggering, etc. Also, there’s a bunch of writing that the partners of the trans guys featured did that’s in the back of the book after the trans guys’ essays, but I haven’t actually read those yet, so caution about those as well, I guess. There also may be other stuff in there that’s shitty that I’m forgetting. Oh, I also wish that more gay trans men had been featured.

Overall, I really liked the book and I’m glad I read it.

(no subject)
rosa
elfsparkles
February 5, 2014

The more research I do on metoidioplasty, the more I really, really want to go to Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic in Belgrade, Serbia. I really like that he does it all in one operation, he’s a urologist and a reconstructive surgeon, etc. I also like that Djordjevic isn’t terribly expensive (although the travel and hotel costs probably would be), around 15K US I think.

Dr. Curtis Crane in San Francisco also sounds well-trained and I like that he’s a reconstructive urologist as well, and that he’s trained with Dr. Djordjevic as well as a member of Dr. Monstrey’s team in Belgium. He does very good metoidioplasties as well from what I’ve seen so far. He doesn’t seem to do everything in one stage though, so if I went to him, I’d have to go back for scrotoplasty later.

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