Is that what I do now? Well it fits well with the rest of the transition narrative I suppose, what between the time from referral to first appointment, assessments for HRT and then for surgical opinions. I’m up past the two and a half year mark on that front and still going now I’m onto the next phase of proceedings.
Not going to lie, the past couple of months since my appointment was kicked back has been hard. It’s pretty much been a long, drawn out anxiety attack really. When I’ve had three appointments and two of them have been affected by someone cancelling and rescheduling months down the road I get very anxious that it’ll happen again. Navigating the run up to Christmas is hard enough for me without this extra thing going on in my head.
The week before my appointment was where things got really fun. First off, I get knocked on my back for a full three days with the flu. Secondly the car decides it’s had enough and starts giving up, by way of a massive coolant failure which resulted in the car doing it’s best impression of a kettle. The car, luckily enough we managed to replace, the flu however was reluctant to shift. Well, flu or no flu I was going to London. A meteor strike couldn’t stop me going so a damn stupid virus had no chance.
(Meet the new car: Includes mod cons such as working heating and stereo)
Anyway, Rebecca and I did our usual, got up, got ready, drove to the station and got the train to London. Thankfully it was an afternoon appointment so no rush hour to deal with and tickets are half what they cost at peak time. Things were going ok until we got to the tube. As you all know I despise the thing. At the best of times I struggle with the noise and closeness. Air quality is another issue. Between my asthma and fairly low lung capacity it doesn’t take much for me to get out of breath at the best of times. Off the back of the flu? It was grim, especially on the Victoria line where I swear the trains are coal powered. The air is so smokey down there it’s alarming. I got so out of breath Rebecca was having to hold me upright while trying to keep herself upright on a horribly jerky train. At some point the jolting does something to my left leg. By the time we get to Baron’s Court I’m wrecked. I had to sit down at the station for 10 minutes trying to get my breath back. A trip up the stairs reveals something in my leg isn’t right. It’s agony trying to bend it. I suspect sciatica, especially how it carried on coming home later.
Things are determined to try and get in my way this day. Even so, we set a new record for turning up to one of our appointments early. We were there three hours early. This sounds insane, but Rebecca and I both hate turning up late to places so allow a silly amount of time for incidents etc. It was something that was hammered home when we got to CHX and registering. Some poor guy who came in just after us had trekked halfway across the country and was 2 hours later for his appointment thanks to a broken down train. Luckily he was able to be seen and got what he needed but even so. The day they finally get a centre opened in Wales so people don’t need to trek all the way from there to London for care can’t come soon enough.
After getting some lunch we return ( I’d gone in and registered earlier on so I could stop panicking that the appointment wasn’t on) and while sitting and waiting we end up having a chat to other people there for appointments. A young trans man and trans woman spot they’re both massive Harry Potter fans and get chatting away in between questions about various experiences we’ve had while transitioning. An older trans woman tells of how her brother’s disowned her over what’s going on. I sit there thinking I’ll miss these moments, chatting, giving people not so far along advice and reassurance about things. I don’t get to think for long as I get called in 10 minutes early for my appointment.
Much like my previous appointment the first 10 minutes is spent catching up on stuff, how things are going, how’s family been, etc. Got asked a couple of questions on how I felt things are going and how long I’d been transitioning for, if I’d had any regrets, etc. The question of grief counselling comes up again after talking about dad again.
Medical history was touched upon. I fill the clinician in on my asthma and medication, get asked the usual questions on drug and alcohol usage (No, and barely drink these days, thank you).
After this we start talking about surgical options. This is pretty brief as I already know what I wanted and had my notebook to hand already. Seeing as I’m going down the penile inversion route talk turns towards that and what’s needed. I was asked if I was circumcised (I’m not). This is good as it’s more material for the surgeon to play with and because of this there’s a good chance hair removal down below is not needed. Once the referral is done and a pre-surgery appointment is completed, hair removal is usually the biggest hold up as there’s not much of a waiting time for the surgery itself at this point.
and various risks and drawbacks that might arise, how depth and sensation can vary (or be non existent), surgical complications such as prolapse or the rare but very nasty one where the bowel gets nicked during the operation and what’s needed to be done about that. Basically there’s a chance this could happen, a fistula forms and bowel fluid gets into your nice new vagina. This results in an operation to isolate the bowel and the need for the use of a colostomy bag while things are repaired and healed. After this, things are reattached and hopefully things will continue as normal. This isn’t a shock to me as I was paying attention back when I attended the orientation lecture a couple of years ago and I’m well aware of possible issues.
Aftercare is also discussed, dilation and generally looking after yourself until you’re ready to go back to work. I learned that I might not have to stop HRT before surgery. Most surgeons get you to stop for six weeks before surgery and wait three week after before going back on it as it helps lessen the chances of blood clotting occurring. Apparently one of the surgeons doesn’t insist on this though, not that I was told which one it was. Interesting to know because I’d rather avoid a menopausal hot flush mess if I can as I’m not that great at regulating body temperature as it is.
I’m asked what surgery would mean to me. For one it means I’d feel comfortable having some level of intimacy with Rebecca because things down there would be right. Peace of mind knowing I won’t ever have to worry about tucking and hoping things aren’t giving the game away ever again. Truthfully, it’s mainly peace of mind, being able to look in the mirror while dressing or undressing and not having a ‘Damn, it’s still there’ moment. I’m pretty happy with what HRT has given me after two years and nothing else gives me any real dysphoria these days.
Swimming was discussed, that classical thing a lot of trans people avoid because of dysphoria, and getting changed. I promptly joke about my terrible swimming ability. I swim like a brick and I get so out of breath after a couple of minutes I usually don’t go again for years.
And after that little ice breaker I get the news I’d been hoping for: My second opinion. It’s like an early Christmas present, and a massive weight is lifted. Talk turns towards where I’d like to go for surgery. I’d decided long ago I was heading for Parkside. If I’m honest I’m not too fussed who gets to work on me: So long as things down below look alright and do what they need to do I’m not even that bothered about the look of the thing. I know this sounds weird and probably blasé too, but that’s me. Parkside got chosen for geographical convenience. Why tramp halfway across the country for something when it can be done 25 miles or so from home?
Thanks to the vagaries of the admin system, Charing Cross GIC can’t make direct referrals to Parkside, only to Nuffied in Brighton, or Imperial College across the road. For Parkside, they go through Imperial and they do the referral. Another vagary is the fact that in spite of the fact the report will be written up the same day, it’ll take six weeks for the GIC to sent the referral out to across the road. basically if I don’t hear anything by March I can start badgering people. Meanwhile, I do have a contact for a nurse at Parkside to discuss things, which I shall do in the new year. I mean, what’s a week or two on that front after all the time I’ve waited thus far.
Anyway, on that note, I hope everyone has a good time over the holidays and hope the new year brings good things to you all xxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Once again my wonderful Rebecca’s by my side and being awesome)