Part 4: Post Surgery (from “The Surgery”)

Myself, my mom, and Rich who is my caretaker for the week.

First Assessment

With everything removed and functional, I can finally do an assessment of how things feel. It all feels a bit strange but somewhat familiar. Scientifically I had previously learned that we are all mostly made up of the same parts. So why would it feel any different than before? Surprisingly, it still feels like I have a penis, but it feels like it is all bundled up like a super tight tuck. Looks wise, there is nothing in resemblance of what was there previously. I mention it to my doctor and say it feels all a bit too “dick’ish”. The bundled up feeling is not too far from the truth, in that all the nerves are left intact but are now longer than necessary, so they are bundled up and placed behind what is left (the head) — which is now formed into a clitoris. Later on the sensation of getting a hard on returns and I am expecting to see a little clitoris standing erect down there…but when I look….nothing. So, feeling and reality are now a little bit different. (This would change with time.)

The oops!

On one outing for dinner, when getting back to the hotel, I momentarily forget what was just done to me. It feels like a normal day out, like I hadn’t recently had a surgery, and I am just on another outing with my girlfriend. My friend has a small SUV, but still has a high step down to the pavement to get out. We are in mid conversation as I slide across the seat to get out, my labia catches the edge of the seat as I am getting out. The angle was perfect, and I can feel it tear open several stitches as I step out. I immediately reacted — Oh Shit, that wasn’t good! I get into my room at the hotel, I go straight to the bathroom and view the damage. I tore open a small area about a half inch long at the bottom of my left labia and it’s bleeding, but not too bad. I change the pad and lay on the bed hoping it doesn’t get any worse. I know I have messed up….this is what they were concerned about and I was pushing things. I don’t think its bleeding bad enough to rush back to the hospital. Since the nurse is coming tomorrow, we decided we will let her assess it then and see what needs to be done if anything.

The release from the Hospital Area

The end of my third week post op brings another follow-up visit with my surgeon. While I am not riding in cars much any more, they are upset with me when the topic of exercise comes up. I’m proud as I am up to walking 5/6 miles a day already. It comes as a complete shock to them and is way more than what they wanted me to do. We get into conversations about the definition of what is considered light exercise. One living a more athletic lifestyle, I consider walking 5/6 miles as light. Its barely raising my heart rate, I’m not sweating or getting out of breath — this is nothing! They said they were expecting no more than walking the hallway in the hotel, or maybe around the building; nothing measured in miles. They have overestimated what that would mean to someone who is more athletic. (I get an impression and ask myself if all other trans people are couch potatoes? Surely I know a bunch that are even more athletic than I am and this complaint/conversation has never occurred. But I do find the athletic restrictions to be extremely hard. I know it will be hard to resume my lifestyle when I am allowed to get back to it….)

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Christine Penn

Christine Penn

Trans woman, parent, cyclist, software engineer, author, chef, and many other things.