I’m writing this as an exercise in writing (in the sense that I have always been an on-again off-again blogger and right now I’m on again) and also as an exercise in learning how posting using Hugo (the software I use to generate this website) works, etc. But as well as these things, I’m also writing because I’m in pain right now and I think writing that down’ll help.
I’m currently recovering from the second surgery I’ve ever had, both on the same site - namely my
genitalia (this isn’t going to be a post where I give too many NSFW details but, you know, I’m just
flagging that here on the off). My first was in early 2019, when I had a vaginoplasty, to transform
my unwanted appendage (viz.: cock) into something more appealing (viz.: cunt) and
dysphoria-alleviating. That surgery was broadly successful - I say broadly because I did suffer some
complications, primarily (a) the failure of a bunch of stitches in my
perinium taint and (b) a big hematoma (giant fuck-off bruise-clot) in one of my labia with
some partial labial tearing.
This can happen; it’s far from the worst that can happen in this surgery; I was lucky that I got a a fully-sensate clit and neovagina out of it and other than a weaker bladder no urinary or medical-word-for-shitting issues out of it. In time, it healed – it took longer than I hoped – and then in the meantime I decided I wanted to do something different, that I didn’t want to be stuck in the technical writing job I was currently in, well-paying as it was, and that maybe I should look into a PhD… but that’s another story. The point is, after a long and lonely few months, I finally had an NHS-issued cunt.
And it was very NHS-issued - you know, it did the job, but it wasn’t the prettiest thing. Well, I mean, it was never about the aesthetics, but it did get me down sometimes - I didn’t really mind surgical scars, but it was really quite lopsided. My surgeon was a nice enough man, but he wasn’t one of life’s artists. More annoyingly, I had quite a bit of tightness around the entrance, and (relatedly, though I didn’t know it at the time) I was experiencing some issues when weeing: namely my labia were catching wee quite often, meaning I’d often find myself standing up only to need to go again. (I also had an issue with brown discharge when I came - which turned out to be a prostate thing that resolved itself.)
I eventually got bothered enough that I asked for a referral back to the surgery unit (I’d said I was fine at the discharge, falling into the typical compliant transexual subject role when faced with a stern surgeon who looked like he blamed me for his work not beoing perfect).
So that was in late 2019. You… may recall that early 2020 took a turn. As such, it wasn’t until two and a half years later – by which time I’d moved cities twice from my original recovery, had entered a relationship with my partner N whom I now live with, and survived (mostly) a pandemic (well, or I’m still in one, depends how you count) – that I actually saw a surgeon. By then the GRS units in the UK had got totally reconfigured (this happens sometimes because fuck you trannies) and I was seeing a doctor (or surgeon) who I think was relatively new to the gig but was very knowledgable. In the end, it wasn’t her who’d be my surgeon, it was Miss Tina Rashid, who is well-known in the field so I don’t mind so much putting her name online.
Anyway, this other practioner (who was also great) listened and examined me, and concluded, actually, there was a simple problem: I had an extra skin flap, like some kind of lizard (this wasn’t how she put it), which was interfering both with “dilation” (OK, they said dilation on the surgery forms, but really the issue was uncomfortable fucking) and was causing the wee issues. Solution - do an episiotomy (which is a surgery they normally do on people with vaginas to widen the birth canal) (unless it was an episiectomy: which it might have been as it was a cutting-out) to remove the extra skin flap and bob’s your uncle. Also, while they had me there, they could check out the neovagina and see if it was stable (it was!) and do some labial revisions.
So that’s what I had a week ago. It went very smoothly and I’m mostly feeling back at 90% now. It was a pretty simple surgery, with only one night in hospital, and I’ve had N around as well as two of my parents to help me out. And I’m off work for two weeks! Grand. Only problems are - had some issues with stitches again (they basically expected this, as far as I can tell stitches Just Fail in this area very easily because there’s just a lot of… tension… and unless you move very very carefully…). So I now have two surgical wounds which are open and healing. They are healing, however, that’s the good news: one at the top of one of the labia (where they’d re-hoicked my fabric, as it were) and one at the bottom where they’ve done the cut and slice. The slice seems to have healed, but the cut hasn’t. Bugger! (As it were.)
What this means is: no extra time off work, but I reckon maybe an extra month to heal, based on my experiences last time. I’ve had some advice from the wonderful Nurse Manjit T—, who has been the very patience surgical nurse for both my surgeries and is a wonderfully unflappable person (if you get her involved in your GRS, in the UK on the NHS, really can’t be clear enough that I think she’s a safe pair of hands and a decent sort): I’m to dress the wounds with a poultice of medical honey and gauze, which sounds amazingly old-school but apparantly it really does help in terms of giving your body the chance to heal.
I bloody hate healing from surgery – it was hard last time and it was hard this time – especially on such an intimate area. It can be really isolating and a bit humiliating. But I’m lucky enough to have a really supportive partner, and a good environment in which to work, so it could be worse. My mantra last time was “healing is magic, but slow magic” – and it really is true. As I grow older, my body acquires more scars and wounds (I had a bad fall last year and scraped my knee in a way that took three or four months to properly close up, for instance): but the body wants to live. It wants to live, and it pulls itself together, and what was once a pristine form becomes the scars of living, but they are a testament to living. I shan’t give up.
I think – I thought often last time, and I think now – of the prayer Asher Yatzar, which one ought to say (if one were an Orthodox Jew, which I’m not, but I am a Jew all the same) every time one goes to the loo, but which I think has a really profound meaning for me here too.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה, וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים .גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֹדֶךָ, שֶׁאִם יִפָּתֵחַ אֶחָד מֵהֶם, אוֹ יִסָּתֵם אֶחָד מֵהֶם, אִי אֶפְשַׁר לְהִתְקַיֵּם וְלַעֲמוֹד לְפָנֶיךָ אַפִלּוּ שָׁעָה אֶחָת. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי, רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשׂוֹת
Baruch atah Adonoi, Elohainu, melech ha’olam, Asher yatzar et ha’adam b’chochmah, u’vara vo n’kavim n’kavim, chalulim chalulim, galui v’yadua lifnai chisei chvodecha, she’im yipatei’ach echad maihem o yisataim echad maihem, ee efshar l’hitkayeim v’la’amod l’fanecha afilu sha’ah achat. Baruch atah Adonoi, rofeh chol basar u’mafli la’asot.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, who formed man with wisdom and created within him many openings and many hollow spaces. It is obvious and known before Your Seat of Honor that if even one of them would be opened, or if even one of them would be sealed, it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You even for one hour. Blessed are You, Adonai, who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.
Within me are openings and hollow spaces; right now, I’m a bit more “open” than I might like to be, but I will heal. It is in the nature of the flesh of our bodies to heal. It is in the nature of the work of God to heal; I am made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. Blessed am I, the transsexual Jew, by Adonai my God who heals my flesh!
Some spiritual words there to close this off. I think I will write again giving an update on how things are going, but I’m going to sign off for now. At the weekend, I’m off to spend some time with N in the Peak District, at a secluded location which is very special and dear to me. Perhaps I’ll write about that in future.