The Hospital Stay, II

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I had initially planned to stay with my aunt the night before surgery. She lives in Amsterdam, and it is close to the hospital where I´d be operated. However, my aunt – who suffers from the same disorder I do – was having a bad day and could not take me in. Instead, she arranged an hotel for me.

The hotel must have been in a hurry to fill the room, because the price was ridiculously low for such a luxurious establishment. I had a giant room with a giant bed, silk sheets, old-timey designer furnitures and a fantastic shower featuring cliché Dutch tiles, each of them showing a typical Dutch thing.

My aunt had invited me to have dinner at the hotel restaurant at her cost, so I went downstairs and had a quite awkward yet awesome meal, surrounded by pretty much nobody else and with a few people at the bar gazing in my general direction, possibly wondering what I was doing there by myself.

Up to that point I hadn´t given the surgery much thought – on purpose – but at around 12:00 AM I was starting to get nervous. I couldn´t sleep. I called my (other) aunt in the US, the only one I could be sure was still awake, due to the time difference. I can´t remember any of what she said now, but the talk helped make me feel at ease.

The next morning, I took the tram to the south of the city. From there I walked to the hospital and was greeted by my uncle, who had agreed to be around during and after surgery (a promise that he did not live up to, unfortunately). We had a talk with the anesthesiologist (we were both so handsome, she said) and then I went to my room.

Nothing feels more awkward than wearing those cardboard kind of dresses. God it was awful. I took the pill they gave me (tramadol) and awaited further developments. They asked me to get into bed, I waved goodbye to my uncle and from there they took me to the prep area to get me ready for surgery.

This post continues in Part III.

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The Hospital Stay, I

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In Top Surgery (NSFW), I showed you pictures of my recovery and gave a brief account of the healing process itself. However, due to a whole array of challenges, I never actually got to tell you about my experience in the hospital. My experience was actually quite intense, so in this post I´ll take you along for the ride.

I can´t quite remember if I mentioned my worries concerning PTSD before. As someone with complex traumatic experience, there´s a few symptoms I haven´t yet managed to get rid of (and it is unclear if I ever will). Usually, I can manage these symptoms by simply staying in a comfortable situation.

My previous room with  the nut-job landlord was far from comfortable, which resulted in  me being on the alert 24/7. Assessing, from moment to moment, if there is any danger and whether I should brace for it, or not. In the hospital, the same thing happened. People were going to poke at me with sharp blades, after all.

My way of trying to prepare for this challenge – asking the hospital staff if they would discuss the situation with me – totally went down the crapper. The message was: “we have these facilities, we are not prepared to deal with trauma, either you accept it or you pass“. This statement of zero lenience had me considering cancellation.

Except cancellation was not  really an option. Because if I canceled, I would just have to reschedule – and no doubt the same scenario would ensue. Also, if I canceled, I would have to live with breasts for another unspecified amount of months (the staff had no idea how long it would take).

So, I said: fack it. Let´s plunge into this anyhow. I made a semi-conscious choice to ignore my own trauma – which put me in a dangerous position – but I was unwilling to wait any longer. The chaos I ended up in, was unlike anything I could have imagined – and it didn´t just involve me.

More in Part II.

Top Surgery (NSFW)

One thing I discovered after surgery, is that “bad” pictures of top surgery recovery are hard to come by, if nonexistent. In total, I found two men who had (outside of any locked social media group) been willing to document their recovery from top surgery. Because of this, I am going to share with you pictures from my recovery.

My recovery has been difficult and the photographs you are about  to view are explicit in their depiction of the complications. Viewing of the photographs occurs at your own risk. You may keep the photographs for reference or to discuss with your own surgeon – please do not share on-line or in groups without my permission.

GSFX2659Upper left corner, pre-operative, 18 months on testosterone. Both hormones and taping reduced my breast size some.

To the right, about 9 hours after surgery, with a circle to mark internal bleeding that was corrected.

Bottom left corner; two days after surgery. Internal bleeding, was rushed back to the hospital.

The bleeding was corrected and the nipple (removed to let the blood drain) reattached. The first four nights, I was kept under observation in the hospital, and had a mild temperature (38,5-39 C or 102,20F). My temperature went up and down within that range for about  a week.

In the second week, the wound started oozing fluid as seen in the first picture (below). The surgeon asked me to remove the dressings (a haunting task). My left side was looking normal. In the pictures below these, you can see how the stitches eventually broke, leaving a gash between my nipple and surrounding skin.

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I was told to shower shortly everyday and rinse the fluid from the nipple. Then, I´d cover it with a special non-stick gauze pad, given to me by the surgeon. At this point I was frightened that the nipple would either die off or come off – and my anxiety was quite bad. Looking at it or touching it made me feel messed up.

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The nipple did not die nor fall off (thank God), but instead started filling with new, healthy tissue as seen in the picture (left) above. Tearing loose did cause the nipple to slouch, which has caused the nipples to be different shapes. I am thinking of having it corrected through medical tattooing.

Where to Start?

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Hey everybody, dear readers, awesome followers; it´s been a while, a long long while. It started with the move; from the center of the city to a town nearby; and it ended with the discovery that somebody died here from a heroine overdose. In the first week alone, I had a confrontation with the landlord, and it went downhill from there.

In the first weeks, I got yelled at to pack my things and leave; fellow house mates “borrowed” my couch and trashed it before I could sell it; and my landlord has entered the premises several times without my permission while I was away. It was so freaking awful, I ended up calling my grandma to see if I could stay with her before surgery.

In the week before surgery I stayed at my grandmothers´ partner´s house; from there to my grandma´s house, and then the night before surgery at an extremely awesome hotel in Amsterdam. It´s not going to suffice to write one post about it; I´ll have to dedicate several to the whole experience and to the whirlwind of different emotions.

I was operated 15 January. On the 17th of January I had a hematoma on the right side, and was rushed back to the hospital. My right side was operated again and the blood drained, after which I stayed in the hospital four nights – to make sure everything was okay. I had mild fever (38.5 to 39 C) for a few days.

The wound oozed for the first week, the wound opened along the incision line and my nipple looked like it was about to fall off. It was incredibly freaky and very, very scary. I had several incidents or little confrontations with my grandmother, partly due to stress and partly due to our opposing personalities. So to sum up, it wasn´t easy.

My wound is healing now. It still looks freaky but now I can trust that everything is going to end up well – the scar might be a little bit bigger at first, but I don´t think it will be a problem later on. At this moment, I have yet another priority in life – which is to move out of my room and find a new place as soon as possible.

Waiting it Out

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I haven´t been writing much recently. This is because most of all, I want to pretend that these months aren´t really happening. Ideally, these months will fade into next year, and by then I will have surgery, which is my Top Destination at the moment. In a way it´s exactly the same as when I was waiting to get testosterone.

Also, I don´t particularly want to focus on my own anxiety, or on anything negative or bothersome at all, for that matter. My last breakdown has been three weeks or more. I was freaking out over top dysphoria, and scared that I would hurt myself again, I went to the ER. After the appointment, I sat outside in the cold (it was night).

A woman from the emergency staff came outside and smoked a cigarette with me. She asked why I was sitting there, so I told her I was cooling off after an anxiety attack, and we had a talk. She´d also had anxiety attacks, she told me, and done EMDR. It had helped her a lot and she suggested that I try it (which I have, actually).

People have been great and I don´t really have that much to complain about. So I´m decided on being as patient as possible with myself, until the day comes for that general anesthesia. I´ve been keeping busy fixing stuff, small things like a desk lamp and the desk drawers, to making a table from scratch.

I´ve been hiking, running, getting together with friends, and staying out of stressful situations. So far, I´m three months in and four to go, and seeing that countdown getting smaller is rather satisfying. To anyone else waiting, I´d say: try making the best of what you´ve got, and stay cool. Time´ll pass quicker that way.

Hormonal see-saw

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Remember when I said that sustanon helped me get rid of shark week? Oh, what a beautiful time I had, thinking that it was over. It stayed away for seven weeks or so, which is something that never happened before. However, after my second shot of sustanon, things kind of started to go downhill.

I felt strangely emotional and lethargic, and once again developed a bad case of mental fog, which is something I used to have a lot before I started testosterone, and which much exacerbated my mental health problems. When in the fog, I can´t think clearly. Any emotions that get into the mix pretty much have a free pass.

A week after my second shot I once again got full-blown PMDD, complete with depressive and suicidal tendencies and self-harm. Nasty thoughts bubbled to the surface and I just felt too lethargic to do anything, so I mostly sat around. Not good for my knees, or for my mental well-being.

I figure that my testosterone ranges must have gone down rather than up, considering that I take these shots every three weeks as opposed to guys who take them every two weeks, or even every week. However, I don´t have enough vials by far to get me through the following months with that kind of frequency.

So I decided to mix with gel. At this point my transition pretty much boils down to just experimenting around and seeing where that leaves me, which kind of blows, in light of the mood-swings I get when hormone levels drop or rise. As long as the therapist does not okay me for testosterone, I won´t get an endocrinologist. Ridiculous world.

I´ll do the shot, then combine with 50 mg sachets of androgel in the second week, and 75 mg in the third week. See how that goes. I really, really wish that the shitty shark week just went away, but most of all, this inhumane PMDD stuff needs to go. I have no use for emotions that induce self harm randomly.

Self-Administering T

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Considering that yesterday, and today, I was starting to feel strange mood swings – lots of feelings that I usually don´t have – I decided to do my shot one day early. That, and I also really wanted to just get it over with, because this time, I was supposed to do it by myself. I was nervous about it and with good reason, because I tend to get shaky.

For readers who are also preparing to do shots themselves, it really helped me to watch different videos on YouTube by guys explaining how they do their shot. This video in particular helped me because he first shows how it´s done, and in the second part he talks about anxiety and about the different ways you can handle the injection.

The idea that I did not have to stab myself with that sharp thing, but take my time, really helped, and also the advice (elsewhere) that you need to breathe throughout the process. So I injected slow, while breathing normally and then went to lay down on the couch with my legs and lower back on a pillow and my head low.

I felt a bit nauseous, but allowing the blood to return to my head in this way, made it considerably more bearable. If you tend to get nauseous too, I can recommend it, and take something with you to distract you, something that is enjoyable, like a mobile game (Fallout Shelter for me). After fifteen minutes I felt normal again.

For the injection I used a twenty-two gauge needle, as the pharmacy did not have anything smaller in stock, but you can also use a twenty-three to twenty-five gauge, although I recommend not going too small because then injecting will be very slow and possibly more difficult. To draw up the testosterone itself I used a twenty-one gauge.

In the future I might switch to subcutaneous injections, which I have read can also be done with sustanon 250. They are less painful and from what I gathered, just as efficient. I will keep you up to date, and if you are planning on doing injections yourself, don´t fret, it´s really not as frightening as it can seem.