Comic 866 - Four weeks post-op update

23rd Aug 2016, 8:05 PM in SRS Hiatus
Four weeks post-op update
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
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Author Notes:

Jocelyn 23rd Aug 2016, 8:05 PM edit delete
Jocelyn
Made this dinky little image so I could share this. XD

So, I'm four weeks post-op. As you've seen, I've been drawing again. Sitting up still isn't necessarily easy, but I'm doing what I can because I WANT to draw. It's important to me. And part of recovery means pushing yourself a little each day if you want to return to normalcy sooner and healthier. So slowly but surely, I shall do just that.

Please note that I am NOT overdoing it. And if anyone tells me NOT to draw, I will honestly start blocking people. Three surgeries later, that has proven only to be extremely discouraging and upsetting for me, and I just don't need that kind of negativity in my life. So thank you for your understanding and encouragement. ^_^

But how do I actually feel? Well... good, honestly. Very good.

I think I've said this before, but considering the nature of this surgery, I find myself surprised by how little pain I'm actually in. Especially considering that previous surgeries had far less visible results that still hurt way more four weeks after the fact. Do I still experience occasional twinges of pain? Yes. But they're actually incredibly tolerable, and most of the time I can wait them out without having to take anything for it. I'm pretty impressed by that.

This next part might be a little TMI for some of you, so read on at your own discretion. This is just something I personally find fascinating and wanted to share.

A very common question I've seen posed towards post-op trans women (and I've asked it myself a few times in the past), is "how does it feel to just have it like this now?" Well, the fascinating thing is that it's just as I've always been told: it looks completely different, but it feels about the same. Just, you know, without the external dangly bits. I mean, if you know how the surgery works, the penis isn't necessarily removed (just moved). Otherwise it would be rather hard to keep all the nerves intact.

But those nerves are interesting. As I said before, I occasionally get these twinges of pain. And even though my parts don't look the way they did before, I could perfectly pinpoint and describe where - in it's former shape - that pain would've occurred (if that makes sense). It's just that it's all inside now. The location is ultimately irrelevant, but it proves that even after surgery, the nerves still work. There is still feeling. So, those twinges, albeit currently unpleasant, might be a sign for considerably good things in the future.

I dunno. I'm just kinda blown away by this whole thing in general. Again, it's nothing I haven't been told before. But somehow, when you're going through it yourself, it's surprising to find how true it is. It's like reading a story with heavy foreshadowing. It feels so obvious, that you find yourself bracing yourself for an inevitable fakeout. And then everything plays out exactly how it was building up. So even though you knew what to expect, you're still a bit surprised. At least, that's where I am right now. XD

Anyway, I don't know if I've said this here or not, but I want everyone to know that I want to be incredibly open about everything. I know too well how frustratingly difficult it is to find information on this stuff. So I'm happy to offer my experiences, especially if they can be useful to anyone. And that means, if you have any questions (and that goes for anyone reading this), then you can ask me anytime. I might not necessarily have all the answers, but I'm always happy to help if I can.

Take care for now, Rain Beaus! ^_^
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Comments:

Zii 23rd Aug 2016, 10:41 PM edit delete reply
Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Four weeks already? Wow. Time really flies!

I have a lot of questions, but they're also kind of personal in nature, so I'm not sure what's a respectful question. ^^;

I may as well ask anyway, and feel free to decline to answer if they're too personal.

How is the function? Has it changed anything about you, how you feel about yourself, or your experience with your body? Has it helped with dysphoria? Any downsides? Any unexpected upsides? What is it like to dilate? What is it like to urinate?
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 2:40 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Zii

Just about any question is going to be personal considering the subject matter. But I'm saying that's okay. Don't go around asking every post-op gal you meet or anything (not everyone will be this open), but I have no qualms with answering questions. ^_^


"Has it helped with dysphoria? Any downsides?"
For a very brief period during the second week, it made my dysphoria worse. I was not good at dilation at first, and I felt burdened by the hassle of having to do it so often (as opposed to the nothing I had to do previously), and I was experiencing pain and discomfort a lot. I had this very brief period where I was concerned that I made a mistake, and that maybe I wasn't "as trans" as I thought. Thankfully, it passed. Dilation is still annoying, but it's more a minor nuisance than anything. And as I said above, the general pain is very tolerable now.

For what it's worth, temporary feelings of depression/regret are actually fairly common following ANY surgery. In this case, it might have just been a phase. I don't feel AT ALL like that anymore after all.

Apart from that, I've been more or less content. I haven't experienced dysphoria in weeks.


"Any unexpected upsides?"
So far, the upsides are what I expected. Like not having to look at a body part I don't feel belongs there anymore. I definitely appreciate that. There may be more, but I think it could be too soon to tell.


"What is it like to dilate?"
Being honest, I don't want to scare anyone, but the first time I dilated was unbearable. It hurt so much that I was scared I wasn't going to be able to do it. The nurse kept telling me I had to be calm and relax and I just couldn't comprehend how that was possible. I'm too much of an anxious person to relax.

That said, I kept doing it as instructed. Four times, everyday. Even if I couldn't get it in as far as she wanted me to at first, I kept doing it and it got easier (I think doing it on my own without anyone watching or judging helps, to be honest). It went from "painful" to "unpleasant" to now where it's just kind of a mindless chore. As long as I'm watching something, it's really not that bad. I wouldn't say I enjoy dilation or anything (I don't think anyone would), but it doesn't hurt anymore, and it's only been three weeks (and the hurting stopped way before now). At this point, it's just me looking at the clock again, and being like, "Welp, I guess it's that time again. Let's get this over with." Not good or bad. Just... a thing I have to do.


"What is it like to urinate?"
Peeing is just bizarre. If you've been doing something one way for thirty years, it's naturally going to be really weird when you suddenly have to do it in a completely different way. It's not even just a matter of, "oh, well I have to sit from now on". I could sit before without it being weird. But now the plumbing is different, and thus the experience is a bit different. It's not that it hurts or is uncomfortable or anything; it's just not what I'm used to. It doesn't bother me as much now, but especially at first, it was really strange.

There's a lot to adapt to in a lot of ways.
RyuJenn 23rd Aug 2016, 10:48 PM edit delete reply
Hooray for only having to dilate 3 times a day now instead of 4!!!
VDani 23rd Aug 2016, 11:08 PM edit delete reply
That is a fascinating thing that you described how you can tell where it would've hurt before surgery. How long do you think you need to 're-map' yourself to the new - I'll call it 'configuration'. Have you started to get accustomed to it already?
VDani 23rd Aug 2016, 11:08 PM edit delete reply
Forgot to say: sorry if I'm too nosy or intruding.
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 2:46 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@VDani

Not nosy at all. I welcome the questions! ^_^

I think I've already started getting used to the new setup. It surely is a process though, and I think adapting to it will happen, little by little, over the next few months.
Rowan 24th Aug 2016, 6:33 PM edit delete reply
I'm so exited for you! Love love LOVE your work! I'm not old enough to get an operation, but I hope you're doing well!
guest 24th Aug 2016, 2:27 AM edit delete reply
Ssqueeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I haven't stopped by here in awhile. Much huge congrats on GRS! Wish I was getting mine as well except I wanna hold out a li'l longer when when a more advanced option becomes available. (With recent advances I don't see why it's not available already. What's the holdup?)

Good to hear you're doing so well and even managing to sit at your work desk for a little bit. Since you'd like to get more drawing done, couldn't you use a laptop computer and a few extra pillows to do some artwork while laying in bed? Hope that's not too stupid of me to ask.
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 2:57 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@guest

If I may ask, what kind of advanced option are you waiting for exactly? It's all pretty advanced already. My surgeon mentioned using a fairly new technique (weeks old, she said) that supposedly helps it heal faster. So four days after surgery, she told me it appeared as though I was a month post-op already. I don't know the details (she explained, but it kinda went over my head), but that sounds pretty amazing to me.

As for lying in bed in drawing, it's not really an option for me. Lying down and standing up - or sitting in some other position - tends to affect the quality of my art in a negative way. It's much better for me if I just practice at being able to sit up so I can return to working as I would in the past. ^_^
Tilyene 24th Aug 2016, 3:31 AM edit delete reply
Ok.. For starters, I have been reading Rain for a LONG time. I want to thank you for it, because It has helped me figure out a bit more about myself. I didn't really know "gender fluid" was a thing, and I thought what I was feeling was somehow wrong, but now I know, and I feel so, SO much better and happier ("how can I feel like a guy some days, when being a mommy is all I have ever wanted, and bring pregnant gives me so much joy?" well, now I know)... So thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.

Second, Congratulations!! I am so, SO happy for you. I am sorry that it brought about worse dysphoria for a bit, but I am glad that it is getting better!

Lastly, an awkward question... what about lubrication? biological women produce it... do you? And if not, wouldn't that chafe, and cause soreness? Doesn't that hurt?
leXie1337 24th Aug 2016, 3:58 AM edit delete reply
Judging by what I've read from other post-op folks, lubrication depends in part on how intact the previous plumbing was, and a larger bit on which procedure was used.

As for chafing and soreness (I assume you're talking about during certain activities like dilation), that's what OTC lube is for.
Guest 24th Aug 2016, 8:19 AM edit delete reply
actually, I meant every day walking around. I didn't know that about the plumbing. My friends who've had the surgery done haven;t been very open, and I've respected that. thank you =)
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 4:44 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Tilyene

I've heard mixed things in the past. Some say that post-op women can eventually produce their own lubrication, whereas others say we just don't have that ability. That might be dependent on the surgeon.

I have DEFINITELY needed lube for dilation though. At least, so far.

Walking, not so much. I haven't personally experienced any chafing or soreness from walking around or anything. Admittedly, I haven't taken any particularly long walks though. I do some light walking sometimes and generally feel fine when it's over. But perhaps if I took a long, strenuous walk, it'd be another story? Sorry to say, I don't have enough data to properly answer this yet. As I get stronger and am able to walk more though, perhaps I could get back to you on that.
SaraDroxyGarcia 24th Aug 2016, 3:56 AM edit delete reply
SaraDroxyGarcia
Glad to here your feeling better! I read its "customizable" when they talk to you about what you want to do for it or something?
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 4:36 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@SaraDroxyGarcia

I've never heard that before, to be honest. The surgery results could be "customizable" in the sense that different surgeons have different techniques which prioritize, for example, looking more authentic or being more functional. But I've never heard of a surgeon offering options, per se (doesn't mean it's untrue; I've just never heard that before). I might recommend those seeking SRS should just want to go for the surgeon whose technique best suits their interests.

My surgeon (Dr. Rumer) claims to excel at both, and while it might be too soon to vouch for the full extent of the functionality, I will say she's got the look down incredibly well.
BillycannotFly 24th Aug 2016, 11:55 AM edit delete reply
I'm a trans guy, and I know that being trans is different for everyone, not just for different genders, but do you/did you ever get dysphoric looking at guys? Because I look at girls and it starts to freak me out how people would want to have their chest be there, so other people can tell you have one, even if not on purpose, and I was wondering if that's just me or if anyone else feels this way? I could be binding and passing to my hearts content, but seeing a feminine girl makes me end up being dysphoric. (Which is one reason why I'm not even trying to figure out what my sexuality is at this point in my life.)
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 5:10 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@BillycannotFly

Yeah. Especially before hormones - before I accepted myself - guys gave me a lot of dysphoria. I never understood men's parts being such a source of pride. To me, I always just saw it as being horribly inconvenient, unsightly, and just plain in the way. And the fact that I couldn't appreciate it like "other guys" made the whole thing so much more confusing for me. And still trying to deny my feminine side at the time, I would think, "I'm not a girl because of my body. I'm supposed to be a man so why can't I just appreciate what I've got?" It gave me a lot of grief.

Obviously, I've since gotten past that. But it took a long time, and was not easy.
j-eagle12212012 24th Aug 2016, 2:51 PM edit delete reply
j-eagle12212012
You are an inspiration Jocelyn. If I may ask, How long is the expected recovery? You are 4 weeks post-op and you said everything is going well, but how much longer do you have to do dilation? How soon before you are considered fully recovered?
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 5:18 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@j-eagle12212012

I'm pretty sure dilation is forever. Any long-term post-op women who want to chime in and correct me if I'm wrong may do so, but I'm relatively certain I'll be dilating for the rest of my life. I've heard from one woman who had her surgery years ago that she only has to dilate once a week. And I've heard from many women that eventually, sex can be used as an alternative to dilation.

So from the sounds of it, dilation becomes far less of a hassle in time. It may be for the rest of my life, but it won't necessarily always be such a burden.
RyuJenn 24th Aug 2016, 8:43 PM edit delete reply
Dilation is forever. after a year it goes down to once a week and that's how it is for the rest of your life. However, that being said, if you are having regular sex (i.e. at least once a week) then you won't need to dilate.
Layn 24th Aug 2016, 5:28 PM edit delete reply
That sounds like an incredibly good recovery! I remember still having pain even 4 weeks in (obviously not as much :P). Maybe i forgot, did you mention where you went?

btw. the feeling does eventually change, so that's definitely going to be interesting and makes it even better.

Dilation really was the thing i wish people had told me more about before i went for surgery, but in the end, pah doesn't really matter anymore. Now it's just time you have once in a while, where you've got to force yourself to relax and maybe watch something fun.
LuckyNobody 24th Aug 2016, 5:57 PM edit delete reply
First off, thank you for sharing all of this. My surgery is still over a year away (a year and six months, but who's counting) but I recently followed someone else explaining their experiences after the operation, and it has been helping me a lot in preparing for it mentally. And since it's a complicated procedure, with risks, everyone has unique experiences that I might face. Being too optimistic or pessimistic about it can hurt, hope for the best and fear for the worst I suppose.

Did you do something to mentally prepare? Or do you have any suggestions now that might help?

Best of luck in your recovery! =)

P.S. Your comic has also been helping me deal with my lack of a past, so thank you for that as well while I'm at it.
Reimi 24th Aug 2016, 7:58 PM edit delete reply
Reimi
Why did you choose Dr Rumer over other, better known surgeons like Bowers or Suporn?

How do the before and after images on Bowers site compare to what you were shown in your consultation? (since there are no images on Rumer's site)

What was the wait time from initial contact to surgery date?

How is Dr Rumer's technique compare to Bowers'?

What was the final cost before and after insurance? (my current insurance does not cover trans related care)

I personally have Bowers at the top of my short list (hence my targeted questions :P), mainly because of well documented history, and very good results posted on her site, and her hybrid technique is very appealing to me, but her absurdly long wait list is a problem since I have no idea how long it could be before SRS even becomes an option to me thanks to shitty insurance.
Jocelyn 24th Aug 2016, 8:32 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Reimi

I never even looked at Bowers. Finances were a huge issue for me, and having to travel to the opposite end of the country pretty much wrote her out immediately for me. And then there's the wait list. A friend of mine set up her surgery date with Bowers the very same week I did with Rumer. My original date was within three months (although I did have to push it back an additional two months due to my aforementioned money issues), and hers isn't until the beginning of 2019. I'm in my thirties; I didn't want to wait any longer than I had to.

Since I didn't actually look into Bowers much, I can't really speak on how Rumer compares to her. All I know is that Rumer uses a one stage technique that requires no follow ups, and promises excellent depth, function, and sensation (and absolutely looks like it should). Furthermore, she's the only surgeon I've seen that doesn't require genital clearing before the procedure.

I don't remember what the cost was off the top of my head (I can dig it up though) because I did have insurance that covered it. But because I was concerned about my coverage at first, my primary doctor brought Rumer to my attention because she's cheaper than most other SRS doctors. Also, she actually TAKES insurance. My first pick was actually McGinn. But she doesn't accept insurance, instead expecting to be paid in full upfront and have insurance reimburse me. That was never going to happen, because never in my life will I have that kind of money.

As an aside, I didn't know this ahead of time, but my hospital stay after the surgery (as well as the recovery suite she offered after the hospital) was wonderful. I have never been so well treated by hospital staff. Dr. Rumer's administrative staff can be a little absent-minded about returning calls, but overall, the experience was wholly positive.

In the end, I have no idea why Rumer isn't as well known as someone like Bowers. She did a fabulous job. Her samples were also amazing. Every testimony I've read is positive, and she performs 70-100 MtF bottom surgeries a year. Perhaps it's because she's a plastic surgeon and doesn't focus SOLELY on trans matters. But I hardly see how that's relevant. She's been doing this for a long time and clearly knows her craft. I'm personally very happy that I went with her.

I mean, I speak only after one month post-op here, but so far... yes, I would absolutely recommend her. :)
Reimi 24th Aug 2016, 10:14 PM edit delete reply
Reimi
Yeah, that wait list is my biggest holdup with Bowers, but her sample images are damn good looking. I don't know if my insurance will cover SRS at any point, I work for the state in a decidedly conservative state and I don't see them offering coverage if not required by law. Cost would be a big factor for me in that case. Either surgeon would be a 2+ hour flight (plus 2 hour drive home) so distance is equally rough on me.

That wait time though is just amazing, bumps her up the list. I might send her office an email asking for some sample images and a basic cost overview in my case.
guest 24th Aug 2016, 10:48 PM edit delete reply
Aaaagh. Horrid shades of Jerry Springer! I only ever call it GRS or at the very least GCS.


What I was referring to above as to the advanced option for GRS ...

www.thestar.com/life/2014/04/11/vaginas_and_noses_can_be_grown_from_cells_studies_find.html

“We cultured, expanded and seeded epithelial and muscle cells onto biodegradable scaffolds,” the study states. “The organs were constructed an allowed to mature in an incubator in a facility approved for human-tissue manufacturing.”



There's no reason they couldn't use the same process to grow cervix and uterus from a patient's own cells. Possibly even fallopian tubes and ovaries as well.

If not that then there is another process where they take a pig's bladder and strip all the DNA out of the cells. That tissue is then shaped to what is desired to be grown. Then placed within the patient's body in the appropriate location. The patient's own stem cells are drawn to the structure to grow the desired organ or tissue. ~~ Discover magazine July/August 2010


Damn it! I want to be a mommy!

I might also need to have new adrenals (maybe kidneys also but not necessarily) and perhaps another organ or two grown to have some organs in youthful state so as to assure resiliency and optimal physical condition.
Lyn the Mysfortunate 25th Aug 2016, 1:41 AM edit delete reply
Just want to wish you good luck and a speedy recovery. I also want to thank you for sharing your experiences. They won't affect me personally, as I'm bio-sex female, but I think they will and already have done a lot of good for a lot of people. I'm genderfluid and pretty much have to educate everyone I meet on what it means, so I know educating people can be exhausting, and I'm really greatfull that you chose to take on this burden to help others. I also really love your webcomic. I've been reading for years and it's still by far my favorite comic in any medium. I've reread it at least ten times and do so anytime someone says something transphobic or otherwise ignorant because it makes me feel so much better. Thank you again, for Rain and for everything else.
Jenny 25th Aug 2016, 10:30 AM edit delete reply
I just wanted to thank you for this. I found this a couple of months ago.

Asperger's so social stuff is kind of hard for me to wrap my brain around...and re: trans stuff re the general public? That's relatively recent. I'm young enough that you'd think I'd know about this but no.

Finding resources is hard enough....resources written to have figured out accessibility issues...yeah, no.

Then I found your comic and thought you might look to know that I've been using it to sort of home-community-college myself on intersection stuff - as a social story.

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