Sunday, 18th January, 2004 - The flight out
Once again my journey begins in a bar - the same one as last time (Parallel, in the Departures area of Terminal 3 at Heathrow). It's a crowded, noisy and intrusive place, and if there was a reasonable alternative I'd definitely go there in preference. Unfortunately there isn't - Parallel is the only bar, and I really didn't fancy killing time at Burger King.
Airports are pretty stressful places at the best of times, and sadly Terminal 3 is no exception. As soon as I arrived I was confronted by a sea of people, all looking stressed out and miserable. I don't feel at all comfortable here - perhaps more so because this time I'm travelling alone.
At least I won't have to undertake this journey as a patient again - barring potential complications, once my FFS is done I shouldn't require any further surgery. Looking back, everything now seems to have happened so quickly...a year ago I certainly never dreamt that by now I'd be not only post-op but about to undergo facial feminisation surgery. Incredible.
Today has been a day of farewells and preparation. I awoke later than planned this morning, and unfortunately had to cut my dilation short by an hour to allow me to get to Church at 10:30am. That's not something I like to do, but with this being my last chance to attend a Service before I fly I decided it was worth it. After the Service I was prayed for and then said my farewells. They really do care for me there, and it's so uplifting to see and feel such compassion and love.
After leaving the Church I went home. Although I made a start packing several days ago, there was still a lot to do, and to be honest I wasn't particularly relishing the prospect. Once the bulk of it was done, I settled down to dilate for two hours - partly to make up for cutting my dilation short in the morning, and partly to help offset the effect of missing a dilation during the flight to Bangkok. My next dilation is likely to be about 12 hours late and I know it won't be comfortable. That said, it can't be as bad as the one I did after returning from Bangkok last month.
After dilating and getting dressed I finished packing while I waited for my friend Julie to arrive to take me to Heathrow. Once again I found myself feeling butterflies while driving to the airport. This time however, they didn't subside when I arrived - maybe because I'm travelling alone. Check-in was routine and I'm glad to say that their were no problems with baggage. I did have one surprise though - the girl who pushed my wheelchair when I flew back last time was behind the desk! Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to say hello and she didn't recognise me (not surprising considering how many people airport staff must encounter each day).
Back to the present. I'm feeling profoundly uncomfortable sitting here in this bar, and I can't wait to get out of here and on to the plane - at least there people smile at you. A Smirnoff Ice helped with the butterflies, but I can't help wishing Susie was here with me. Being away from her for the next month is going to hurt horribly.
I'm on the plane, and we should be taking off in 15 minutes or so. It took ages to get through security this time and I was rather embarassed to find that one of my bags was searched as I'd left a small pair of scissors in with my dilation gear! At least it shows that the airport security is working I suppose!
Once I was through security I headed for Gate 27, and just before I arrived I managed to get through to Susie on the phone. Although it was wonderful to hear her voice, I also felt so sad because she couldn't be here with me. I love her so much, but at the moment she just doesn't feel able to return that love in the same way. It hurts, and even thinking about it makes me want to cry.
At least I'm in less physical pain than the last time I flew, though I think I prefer that to the emotional pain I'm feeling right now.
We've just heard an announcement from the captain informing us of an "indefinite delay" as a Virgin Atlantic plane is stuck on the runway. Great. He did say that the weather was clear and they would try to make up the time...and that the temperature in Bangkok is 33°C. Normally that would cheer me up, but not right now.
We've just heard from the captain again. In his own words "The Virgin has been cleared from the area", and immediately afterwards we started moving.
We're finally in the air (40 minutes late) and I'm looking down on the outskirts of London by night. It's a breathtaking sight as always. The cloud is quite low and the ride bumpier than last time, which isn't really surprising as it's now January.
Monday, 19th January, 2004
I've just finished watching an in-flight movie - "Radio" starring Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jnr. It's a truly heartwarming story about a young man with severe learning difficulties who's befriended by the coach of a school football time. We could all learn a thing or two from that story.
We're nearly 3 hours into the flight now and crossing the Black Sea, with another. 4458 miles to go. We're predicted to arrive in Bangkok at 3:41pm local time. I'm not feeling sore which is a blessing, although sitting here on the rubber ring is getting uncomfortable. The healing over the last 5 weeks has made a huge difference.
I've just freshened up a little and now I'm torn between resting (I'm starting to get a bit tired) and watching another movie. I should really rest, so I've taken a 5mg valium tablet to help make my mind up - which should also make my next dilation slightly easier as it will relax the PC muscle.
The valium lost. Just as I was thinking about dozing off another move started - "The Medallion" starring Jackie Chan - and it was absolutely hillarious!
We've just crossed over the Caspian Sea. Tehran is to the south and there's 3282 miles to go - 5½ hours. Outside I can see the first hints of sunrise on the horizon. It's a truly beautiful sight.
I'm going to try to sleep now. Honest.
1:40pm Bangkok time (6:40pm UK time)
I've been out for nearly 4 hours! We're 1058 miles from Bangkok, and have just flown over Calcutta. Ahead is the Bay of Bengal - and then we're into Thai airspace.
We should be landing in 25 minutes. By rights I should be feeling euphoric about the prospect of seeing all my friends in Thailand again, but sadly my joy is tempered by grief at being separated from the one I love above all others. I can only hope that one day we'll be truly together again.
A lot has happened since my last entry.
We finally landed at 4:10pm, slightly later than expected as although our captain was as good as his word and made up the time we were put onto a holding pattern over Bangkok. While we were circling I got chatting to the girl sitting next to me, who was heading for Tapei. Although we'd not talked at all prior to that, it turned out that she'd "read" me immediately - and that she has a friend who's agonising over whether to transition in the opposite direction. We seem to crop up everywhere.
Once we landed the first hurdle was passport control. Unlike last time (when Kazzy arrived in a wheelchair, and we literally sped through it) I had to queue for ages. After reclaiming my luggage I was met in Arrivals by Wannee, who was all smiles as ever! It was quite simply wonderful to see her again. As we drove to Chonburi we talked at length and I was flattered to hear her describe me as an angel, and a sister. She's truly someone special.
By the time we reached Chonburi it was 7pm, and darkness had set in. Rather than check in to the hotel first she took me straight to the back gate of the clinic, and once inside I had a very emotional reunion with Aoi, Aey and Fai. Dr. Suporn was as enigmatic as ever, but I did get a smile from him!
Soon it was time for my consultation. This time it consisted of him pointing out features in my face and describing what he thought could be done in each case, while I held a hand mirror and looked at the areas he described.
- The brow bossing in the lower centre section of my forehead
will be shaved off.
- Dermalive injections will be used to remove the furrows in
the bridge of my nose and forehead.
- My scalp will be advanced slightly at the front, but
slightly more at the temples.
- My eye sockets will be shaved, and a small section of skin
removed so that the skin fits the new shape well. In doing this
I'll probably lose a scar (which I obtained in a swordfight some
years ago) above my left eye.
- My nose will be reconstructed to remove the bump it
currently has, reduce its height and make it less bulbous.
- My chin and jaw will be reduced and re-profiled. The work on the chin and the jaw is done intra-orally, although a small incision will be needed on either side of my neck below the rear of the jaw to insert drains during the surgery.
While we were talking he drew sketches, took measurements and made notes to illustrate what he was going to do, and (presumably) for his own use during the surgery.
Once the consultation was over he examined my genitals. I'm now over 9 weeks post-op, and very well healed by comparison with the last time he examined me. He seemed very well pleased, and once he'd finished he took quite a few pictures and then inserted a clear speculum into my vagina so he could get a better look at what's happening. I was given the hand mirror again so I could watch - and quite frankly the view was amazing! Everything inside looked so natural, and there was no hint of any hairs inside the vagina. Wow!
He also told me I had a "new design" of clitoris - the details of which I'll try to find out later. From my own inspections I already suspected as much...
After the examination one of the girls from the clinic (whose name I don't know, unfortunately) took countless photographs of my face, doubtless for the clinic's patient records, before Wannee took me to the Mercure Hotel to check in. As we left, the clinic was locked up behind us (they'd kept it open to wait for my arrival). Being alone this time, I've a double room (324) to myself. It feels strange not having Kazzy or Susie here with me to share this experience.
When I was cleaning myself up on the plane earlier, I realised that in my rush to pack yesterday I'd somehow managed to forget my foundation - which I really need if I'm to execute "the cunning plan" tomorrow that I hatched when I was here last time. So, after checking in I went walking down the high street looking for a shop selling cosmetics. The fact that the last time I walked here I was so unsteady and lacking in stamina really brought home to me how far I've come in the last few weeks. My strength and stamina has largely returned since my reassignment surgery, and it was a wonderful feeling to see the contrast so vividly.
Mind you, two days from now I'll be laid up in hospital and very likely feeling thoroughly miserable...
Ironically, Boots turned out to be the place. The assistant there was very friendly, and although they didn't have my usual brand (Maybelline) she helped me find a reasonable alternative (No 7 Matte Perfect Foundation in Vanilla, if you're interested), and also gave me a discount and a free gift. Although it was probably a running promotion anyway, she made me feel like it was just for me. But then again that's the Thai way - the West could learn a thing or two from Thai culture.
Afterwards I carried on walking down the road to the Forum Plaza -as I didn't manage to make it that far last time I thought it was about time I had a quick look! After that I wandered back to the hotel, where I dropped in on a couple of the other girls that Wannee had told me about, before eventually heading back to my room to grab something to eat and drink, and of course dilate.