The operation site itself is starting to look very tidy. The sutures lines I described last week as being an open semi circle (I liken it to a smiley face!) is now almost completely healed apart from a 5-7mm long part at the very bottom. I had been having problems when wiping after toileting, particularly the end of the day, when I would aggravate this wound and it would start bleeding. This hasn't happened in a few days and the healing is accelerating. I am guessing at a few more days and there will be completely unbroken skin on the eintirety of the external site.
Moving up to the clitoral area, there is still the wound on one side but Mandy reports that this is healing very well. It is very hard to see this progressing myself because it is further away and I am looking in a mirror but she can observe closely and says every sinlge day when she cleans it all down, it looks better. The sensation in the clitoris is lowering a little, although it is still super sensitive. The lowering sensation gives me hope that it will be usable down the line for pleasure purposes.
I have had some soreness in some of my suture lines but it is short lived. First I had a problem with a small area of one side of the labia majora. A suture had protruded and was causing irritation around the area. I had the option of trimming the suture but this would have severed it and then the two ends could have disappeared back inside the labia possibly causing further irritation. In the end I left alone and because the wounds were dry, I put some Sudocrem (nappy rash cream) on it which seemed to do the job. Lately I have had the same soreness on one of the labia minora which causes a little more aggravation. There is little I can do for this, the wounds are still wet and I am reluctant to put anything on them. Because it is closer to the opening, you can feel it when dilating but not enough to make it difficult.
On the subject of dilation, this is getting easier. I was given a schedule when I left Brighton and it advises that if you feel it is easy, you can reduce the number of times a day sooner - 6 week being the advised time and I am at 3. I am still keeping to three times, simply because I have time to do this. We have Susan visiting us this coming weekend and this may be the time when I allow for a little flexibility but I will be very careful about this. Something else that I have changed is that I have removed the need to use the 25mm dilator. I can now start with the 30mm with very few issues. The first one of the day requires slower insertion but it is still effortless. This means I am now using 30 and 32.5mm dilators 3 times a day now. Soon, I will be getting the 35 out of its packet, sterilising it and very gently seeing if I am ready for it.
I am very pleased at the easiness of the dilation and it is something I am very grateful for. Speaking to many others, they seem to encounter pain for a great deal of time. Some, I know have not followed the schedule rigidly enough but I have also talked to some who have and I trust what they are saying. Further talking seems to reveal that it is down to the size of what you had before and although obsessing about sizes of penises is the ultimate masculine past-time, it seems this is one area where I was more than adequate. It also seems that managing to avoid testosterone blockers and being able to suppress my testosterone with oestrogen alone was another major factor. Shrinkage of the appendage is very common and this is something I never really observed. I do also wonder if those 6 weeks of erections whilst enduring testosterone did benefit me too? Liz Hills at the Brighton Nuffield said it didn't, but I am not so sure now. I still would have had that injection and not endured that nightmare but I like to also think I did get something from it.
Toileting is becoming a bit more routine. My direction is getting better and initially the flow is forward but down slightly, the perfect direction. Towards the end of the void, it starts to slow and then I get dribbling round the labia. Mandy reports that this happens with her so I guess I am normal now in this regard. This I am greatly relieved about because many/most experience spraying everywhere and I have not had any of this. I mentioned consumption of toilet paper last week, but it really is greatly increased. Admittedly, I am trying to drink lots of fluids to keep everything well flushed and of course when the hormones start to work, my need to go may increase even more. Luckily I anticipated toilet paper consumption and we have lots of it ready.
With regards the hormones, I restarted a week ago and there has been little change so far. Originally, I was led to believe that the hot flushes and night sweats cease within a few days. I was then surprised to find they actually started getting worse for that time. This led to some worry about whether my dose was now correct. I got to the weekend and then found that the hot flushes had stabilised. It is hard to say for sure, but they have possibly improved although evenings and nights still seem to be difficult. I have recently spoken to someone who confirmed that their flushes lasted for a couple of weeks and Mandy has spoken to someone who said the same. I will be glad though when they are over, they are quite intense when they do happen and I find I have to shed clothes to cool off. 5 minutes later, I find myself cold and needing to wrap up again.
Pain, I am still maxed out on paracetamol at the moment. There is little pain in the overall area but sitting anywhere is still an issue with pain behind the whole clitoral area. It's not intense but I am using the paracetamol to keep on top of it, which in turn reduces swelling and as a side effect helps me reduce my temperature and ease the hot flushes a little. The stabbing pains are few and far between although there is still a touch of phantom limb sometimes. This is coupled with that damn itchy foreskin, and that is quite annoying!
Emotionally, this is still a difficult area. I wrote about this in more detail last week, here, and I am finding it still very up and down. It is cyclical and a moody period will be a few days long followed by a stable happy period. The two low periods I have had so far have been at weekends but I think this is just coincidence. I also think my situation at being stuck in this flat and unable to go anywhere is a massive contribution to the problem. Susan is here on Thursday, she will accompany me on my first drive that day and then I am free to do what I want any day I wish. I am not expecting this to eliminate my blue days, but I really hope that having some freedom to go out will help me through them. I also spoke to someone yesterday about this on Skype. Having a conversation with someone who has had the same made a massive difference. We both understood the difficulty of dealing with being unhappy when you feel you should be happy and this is perhaps the most difficult element of it all. There is almost a guilt attached to this unhappiness, I have everything I need and this is more than some others, and yet I sometimes feel down. We also feel it's definitely hormonal, I have just had 9 weeks of no oestrogen as well as 6 weeks of testosterone (she didn't have that) and now there is no testosterone at all (or very little) and I am trying to re-accustom to the oestrogen again. It seems that this may go on for 3-6 months so I need to keep at the coping strategies and ride it out.
In general though, it's all going really well. Even with the emotional issues, the little bit of pain and the hot flushes, I would say there are no regrets whatsoever and I would go through it all again. To have what I have now is very special and I am so glad this surgery is even possible. The result looks fantastic and is more than I ever thought possible. At this time of finishing this post, 4 weeks ago I would have been comfortably anaesthetised and well on the way to becoming complete and this is still very hard to believe.
I think it is time to finish the weekly updates as the progress is now slowing. I'll update when I feel there has been more change, probably in a couple of weeks now. I'll be hopefully writing other things so feel free to keep checking back.
My GRS time-line :
- Surgery recollections - The day of the surgery itself.
- Bed rest - The days following surgery and the critical resting phase.
- Vaginal pack removal and first dilations - The day I saw my vagina for the first time and started dilating.
- Catheter woes and first solo dilations - Catheter comes out, goes back in again! I also dilate without supervision for the first time.
- An adventure of a lifetime - Getting back home and reflecting on the whole experience.
- 10 days post-op - Getting back to normality and bad smells!
- 2 weeks post-op - Catheter removal and successful toileting.
- 3 weeks post-op - Healing well and advancing dilation.