Hello Dear Readers!
Please do forgive me for not posting for a while, things have been rather hectic for me back home in the Bay. That said, I can now say with pride and dignity that I am a post-op transgender woman, and I am so proud to be able to say that! It's been about a week since my surgery with Dr. Marci Bowers (who is awesome and gives great hugs btw, along with great vaginas)! Even though surgery results look their worst about a week out of surgery, I am very pleased with my results, and I love my vagina so much it's crazy. I wanted to share my experience with you dear readers, so that you may gain some answers if you are trying to have Gender Confirmation Surgery yourself, or are interesting in learning more about GCS as well. So without further ado, let's go on a journey, shall we?
I applied for my surgery at the beginning of July, finally having the time to think about it because I had recently resigned from my job at Old Navy over legal issues that I found the company to be violating. But that's a story for another day. It was in mid-august that I got my call from Robin at Dr. Bowers' office, and in that call I got my requested surgery date of mid-October. I only had two months to prepare for surgery, which was nuts. What was even more nuts was that my insurance, Anthem Blue Cross of California PPO was going to cover over 90% of the $23K cost of the surgery. How was I able to accomplish this? By bending two laws to my advantage: Because I was under 26, I could still be a dependent on my mother's insurance under Obamacare, and she has excellent insurance through her work, so I lucked out there. The only law that I was able to bend was a new law just passed in California earlier this year requiring insurance companies to cover Transgender bottom surgeries, which is super kickass! So I used those two laws to my advantage.
At least through Dr. Bowers' practice, there are three primary payments that one must pay, in addition to the $500 deposit you pay when you apply for surgery in order to reserve a surgery date: One to Dr. Bowers' personally, one to the Anesthesia Group, and one to Mills Health Center, which was where the surgery was going to take place. Insurance covered the Mills Health Center and Anesthesia Group payments, leaving me only having to pay what amounted to $2000 all in all for my surgery: the $500 surgery deposit, the $900 payment to Dr. Bowers, and several tests and fees that aren't covered by insurance. For example, there is a pathology test for tissue excised during the surgery (to test for diseases, tumors, etc), which costs $150. So all in all I paid $2000 out of $23,000 for my GCS. Super kickass right?
Now onto surgery prep: I knew that because of my short time limit before surgery, I would only be able to get a few laser sessions in on the surgery site. I was able to get two sessions for pretty cheap (100 per session) through a local laser clinic deal at Aesthetic Laser Concepts in San Francisco. In order to make it before surgery, I had two laser sessions spaced three weeks apart, since Dr. Bowers doesn't want any laser done on the surgery site two weeks before surgery. So time is of the essence. In terms of laser, what is zapped is the shaft of the trans clit (aka penis in old male terms) out to the beginning of the thighs next to shaft, then down to the entirety (more or less) of the ovarian sac (read: scrotal sac). Then going down in a V formation, ending at a point just one inch or so above the anus. You can look here for an idea of what I'm talking about a bit: http://www.marcibowers.com/grs/removehair.jpg
When it comes to buying supplies for recovery, what is most important is Surgilube for dilation, bed pads, and Overnight-strength pads, since your vagina will be bleeding for a while after surgery. Also, for bathroom times, get non-alcoholic baby wipes. It may burn when you wipe for a while, but at least you stand a less-likely chance of getting an infection when using baby wipes as opposed to toilet paper. Also, be really serious about wiping front to back. It actually can take time to retrain yourself to wipe as a post-op woman. It'll make more sense once you have the surgery. Also, Neosporin, as you have to apply an anti-biotic ointment several times a day post surgery for a while as you heal and recover. Now ladies, when it comes to the lube for dilation, make sure at the very least it is water-based, as silicon based lubes can weaken the vaginal lining. I believe this is also true of cis-gender woman as well.
Pre-surgery prep is gonna be one of the banes of your existence. As the bowel prep you have to drink the day before surgery to clean and dis-infect your colon will make you sit on a toilet for hours. Now it is important to note that whether you get a penile inversion technique vagina or a colon transplant technique vagina, you will still need to drink the bowel prep. I could only drink 2/3rds of the four-liter jug they gave me at CVS. Yea it's that much you have to drink and it tastes like ass and will trigger your gag reflex. So drink lots of water in between chugging those 8 ounce glasses of BP every ten minutes (*shudders*). Also, if you're a fan of Ginger Ale like I am, buy a lot since it makes the BP easier, along with dealing with some pressures and issues in the first week of post surgery since Ginger Ale helps calm down the stomach.
Now onto surgery itself: I arrived at Mills Health Center at 6 AM this past Wednesday for a 7:30 surgery appointment. It's a 3.5 hour surgery so you will be knocked out. I remember cracking jokes with my anesthesiologist and several of the nurses in the surgery room, while the anesthesiologist injected something into my arm. The next thing I remember, I wake up in recovery at 11:15, fifteen minutes after surgery. Now you may experience a slight psychotic break for a few seconds, since your consciousness literally transfers you from the surgery room to recovery in less then a second. One could say it's kinda like being roofied, except you wake up with a brand new vagina, a lot of catheter pain, and a slight hangover. The most painful thing off the bat will be the catheter and the pressure it builds in your bladder. Now if you haven't had a catheter before, basically all you feel is being constantly full and like your bladder is about to burst. But there isn't much urine in there since it is being drained by the catheter to your urine bag. You have that in you for 6 days, which seem to last an eternity but actually goes very quickly.
Be prepared to be stuck in your bed for the first 48 hours of your hospital stay, so bring magazines, stuff to listen to, etc. On your third day you get to walk around, which feels amazing after being stuck in bed for so long. On the morning of the fourth day, you leave the hospital, albeit tugging around a pee bag for the next couple of days. Be careful when showering and be careful not to touch the surgery area.
Moving on to day six of post-op recovery, where I finally get that painful ass catheter removed and the vaginal packing too. You will immediately feel a helluva lot better after getting those removed. First dilation experience is amazing, it's like everything you ever hoped for, tingling, a bit of stretching and pain, but you feel the stent go deep inside you. It's such a trip and I love that feeling so much! Is it weird to say that I like to dilate? Now dilation is messy so put a towel on top of a bed pad before you dilate as lube will inevitably drip down from the vagina towards your butt, which is messy and not that fun, but its a small price to pay for dilation.
All in all: I love my vagina! It makes me so happy just to see it, despite all the pain, and all the swelling, and how crazy things look after one week post surgery (where they will look their worst, but at least it that's the worst it looks!) I am so happy and I feel free and more complete and whole now then at any time previous in my life.
With that, I hope you have learned a thing or two about GCS. If there are any questions I would be more than happy to answer them.
Till then, take care and stay fierce and fabulous readers!
The ODST Girl