Monday 26th January - 5 days post-op
I didn't turn in until 3am this morning, so I really should catch up on some sleep today. I rather suspect I'll end up dozing off partway through the dilation which I've just started.
After the tears finally subsided last night I was still wide awake, so I spent a couple of hours replying to emails (I had over 300!) and writing a new entry for my journal. I was late starting my dilation, but as I was so awake that didn't matter too much. In the event it took me far longer than I expected, so I did a 3 hour dilation!
It was after that things took an interesting turn. Since my reassignment surgery on 14th November (10 weeks and 3 days ago) I've felt a little nervous about exploring the sensations my genitals are capable of producing. That's probably due in part to the haematoma I suffered and the excruciating pain that accompanied it, and partly to the dissolvable stitches that were left in place - one of which looks like it's through the base of the clitoris (incidentally, when I when I saw Dr. Suporn for my pre-FFS consultation last Monday he snipped the top off that particular stitch).
Anyway, last night when I finally crashed out I felt relaxed enough to explore a little and see what my body is now capable of. It also probably helps that over the last week I've noticed that the muscle at the entrance to my vagina has relaxed significantly too - it was very tight before, and at times dilation has been a bit tender as a result.
Very quickly indeed I found myself climaxing! Even though I'm pretty sure that it was a small one (given that I went from a standing start to orgasm in less than 5 minutes, by rights it should be) it was certainly some experience...I found myself shaking and tingling all over (including the whole of my chin, which was previously completely numb from my FFS 5 days ago) and making a lot of noise. For me, the sensation I experienced at climax was very similar to that I was familiar with pre-op - but so much stronger. If that was a small one, there's no chance whatsoever of keeping me quiet through a big one, believe me!
As far as techniques go I'm finding the areas under the clitoris and just outside the vaginal vestibule (both of which are tipped with glans material in recent Suporn patients) are the ones that respond best to stimulation for me. My clitoris still has that (truncated) stitch running through it, and that combined with some swelling of the labia minora effectively means I can't stimulate it yet.
All I can say is "Wow!".
Needless to say I didn't get much sleep after that (I didn't explore further, but my mind was wide awake and it took a while to settle). I awoke at 8:45am this morning, got dressed and wandered downstairs to see whether I could manage to eat breakfast - although I'm looking like an A&E Inpatient at the moment I really don't want to be confined to my room.
As luck would have it Sandra was there with an American girl (Pat) who I haven't met before. It's the first time Sandra's seen me since I returned from hospital, and she says she can see big changes already. She had FFS here in 2002, so she knows what to look for.
Shortly afterwards Carolyn and Helen arrived (they'd been out shopping) which was a pleasant surprise. Had Carolyn been sipping a drink when I told her how I'd managed to wake up the nerves on my chin I'm certain she'd have had a very hard time not spraying it everywhere!
Wannee arrived shortly afterwards (all smiles as ever) and chatted with us briefly before heading upstairs to check on the other patients. Later in the morning she visited to clean my wounds with Betadine. Apparently I don't need to use the Cogetine cream I've been given - yet. It will all be explained at my check-up with Dr. Suporn on Wednesday.
One final thing. When I was preparing for this trip I spent a lot of time copying a significant proportion of my CD collection onto my laptop, and also bought a pair of miniature speakers as the sound quality from my laptop speakers is decidedly tinny. However, when I got to hospital I was disappointed to find that I'd left the mains adaptor for the speakers behind, so I couldn't use them.
While I was waiting for Wannee I epilated my legs, and it occurred to me that the connector on the mains adaptor for my epilator looked rather similar to the one the speakers needed. Although the speakers need a 9V supply and the epilator 12V I figured it was worth a try - and it works like a charm! I'm now relaxing to a selection of loud obnoxious rock music tracks...
The late night last night really caught up with me this afternoon and I crashed out hard - to be woken a few minutes ago by a phone call from Sonia inviting me to a party in 311 tonight. Carolyn flies home tomorrow, so this is her last night here.
And there's me looking like an accident victim! Oh well...
Tuesday 27th January - 6 days post-op
I've just woken up after sleeping most of the afternoon and I'm trying (without much success) to wake myself up by drinking coffee and listening to Ugly Kid Joe. (I'm not sufficiently with it for Motörhead ) while I wait for room service to deliver something (fried noodles with beef) which I may or may not be able to eat .
The party last night was a blast. Lin had outdone herself by not only ordering in pizza but buying lots of snacks - none of which Kelly or I could eat because of the swelling from our surgeries.
I took down my laptop and speakers so we had plenty of music, and with several cameras doing the rounds there were some hilarious pictures taken! Unfortunately, with the cast and bandage I had to wear every time I was in shot I felt that I was spoiling it. I've never felt camera shy in my life so this is new - but at least it's temporary.
I ended up doing my dilation down there, as we were all chatting and it seemed a shame to break it up. Besides - none of us have any hang-ups about nudity, and Pat and Sonia certainly seemed to appreciate being given a demonstration of how their dilation routine is likely to change over the next couple of months. I eventually crashed at 4am (again!), so it isn't surprising I'm tired today!
This morning I set my alarm for 7:15am and resisted the temptation to hit the "snooze" button when it went off. Carolyn was due to leave for her flight back to Bangkok at 8am, and I wanted to have a chance to say goodbye before she left. I met her and Helen downstairs at breakfast and as the time approached we went to the hotel entrance to say our goodbyes. She was really upset to be leaving, and we'll all miss her so much.
Afterwards I came back to my room with the intention of showering while the water was still hot (by early afternoon it's often lukewarm at best in the hotel), dilating and sleeping. As usual I got sidetracked and Wannee arrived for my morning check-up before I even started. She said that my swelling was noticeably less this morning, which confirmed what Carolyn and Helen had said at breakfast. Good.
She also told me that my check-up with Dr. Suporn is now tomorrow afternoon, so I really must get some sleep tonight. Fai arrived shortly afterwards, so I had a chance to give her the earrings I'd bought for her in the UK.
Afterwards I finally showered and started my dilation at (I think) 12:30pm. When Wannee was here this morning I'd asked her when it would be a good idea to start using the larger stent, and she said anytime from 2 months post-op. In other words right now, so after my regular dilation was over I settled down to give it a try - and was astonished to find that I could take it to virtually full depth with no problems whatsoever! I certainly felt more "full", but that's to be expected. I wonder how the diameter of the stent compares to the "Rampant Rabbit" I've got stored in a drawer back home..?
While we're on the subject, I've finally come up with names for my stents (and I know anyone who knows me is going to say "Only Anna could come up with that!") while shaking their head in disbelief. I touched on this briefly in my GRS Diary when I said that "Bill and Ben the Dildo Men" seemed all too obvious (a reference to an old but recently resurrected BBC childrens' TV programme, for the non-Brits).
I had one suggestion of "OOOOHHHHHHH" and "AAAAHHHHH" from a friend but that's so far removed from the reality of dilation that it didn't stick (unlike the stent if you leave it alone for too long, but that's another story). A couple of days ago inspiration struck (I think it was the Banana Split on the Mercure Hotel room service menu that did it) and I came up with "Ben & Jerry". I'll leave you to guess which was the bigger one.
However I soon realised there was a problem - I'd forgotten my spare 1¼" stent. I've never used it (although it could be a lifesaver if my main one breaks), and it's currently sitting in a drawer back home in the UK. Back to the drawing board.
Then my unusually bad sense of humour kicked in. Anyone who's seen more than a handful of episodes of the BBC sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf will probably remember Kryten's neglected and rather cranky spare head that lives in a cupboard and has a terrible Yorkshire accent. Well as it happens, my home town (Bishop Auckland) used to be in Yorkshire until they moved the county boundaries and placed it in Pink Panther Country (Durham, if you don't know the old joke).
I can hear the groans already...
So...the spare stent is now "Spare Head 2", my everyday 1¼" stent is of course "Kryten". After that the 13/8" one was a no-brainer - it's "The Inquisitor". At least I didn't come up with "Rimmer" for any of them...
The meal was eminently do-able (although it wouldn't have been a couple of days ago) and rather nice. It came with a side order of sliced red chillies, so I was able to "test the water" as to whether spicy food would be a problem with the huge wound inside my mouth. There was absolutely no problem, so I rather suspect a Thai Green Curry might be on the cards tomorrow.
Wednesday 28th January - 7 days post-op
I had my first check-up with Dr. Suporn this afternoon. Around 1:15pm I wandered down to Helen's room (314) where I met up with her, Sonia, Lin and Wannee for the short walk to the clinic.
Check-up are a pretty familiar routine by now. Aey held my hand while Dr. Suporn examined me and one of the nurses (I'm afraid I don't know her name) cut the stitches at the top of my forehead and removed the staples within my hairline. Having surgical staples removed is a strangely unpleasant feeling, but nowhere near as painful as having them inserted I suspect! Dr. Suporn told me that I still have some swelling in the centre of my forehead from the Dermalive injections, but that should subside soon. Everything else is just fine, and my next check-up will be on Monday. The remains of the external stitches should be removed then.
After the check-up I stayed at the clinic chatting to the others. Just as we were thinking about leaving, I was introduced to Dr. Kim (the clinic's psychologist, who also acts as the contact for patients). I was flattered to hear her describe me as "the famous Anna-Jayne".
We had a long and interesting chat, ranging across all kinds of subjects - including the current bunfights between gender psychiatrists in the UK, the forthcoming publication of Dr. Suporn's surgical techniques (apparently a big motivation is that some other surgeons are trying to copy them, and it will be interesting to see which surgeons actually take them up or even refine them further), the history of the clinic - all sorts of things. It was very interesting, and I learnt a great deal - far too much to remember.
Also visiting the clinic today were Anne Beaumont and Gill Dalton. Anne is writing a research paper on the medical treatment available to trans women within the UK, and is seeking people to interview about their life experiences and the treatment they've received in the UK. I was very glad to oblige, and we must have spend around an hour recording an interview. Anything that highlights what happens the inadequacy of medical treatment available for transfolk back home can't be bad...there has to be a better way than the chaos that now exists.
Gill has just opened a Guest House (Summer Place) for visiting transfolk in Pattaya, which is certainly useful to know about! She's seeking feedback on what we'd hope to find in such a place, and I was happy to help with that too.
I finally left the clinic some time after 6pm.
The tears just won't stop. I rang Susie an hour ago and although it was wonderful just to hear her voice, all my fears about losing her seem to be coming true. Sometimes it hurts so much being me.
Thursday 29th January - 8days post-op
This morning Wannee found me in tears when she visited me in my room. Although she tried to reassure me, the tears started again as soon as she left, and when Aey visited a short while later she found me in the same state. I hadn't even started my dilation yet. After I'd told her (very tearfully) everything that had happened, she did everything she could to reassure me and calm me down. She sat with me while I started my dilation, and as she held my hand I gradually relaxed and then I drifted off to sleep.
When I awoke later in the day I was very dehydrated and had a horrible headache from all of the tears. I couldn't bear to be alone, and eventually asked for help from the other girls. They were truly wonderful, and did everything they could to keep my mind away from the pain. In the evening Helen, Sonia, Val and I ate together in the Terrace Cafe before going back to Helen's room. I brought down my laptop, speakers and collection of DVDs, and while we dilated together we watched a couple of episodes of Red Dwarf III - "Polymorph" (possibly the funniest episode of the lot!) and "Backwards", followed by the very funny movie the "The Guru" (which turns out to be one of Lin's favourites).
Laughter truly is the best medicine. Thanks girls.
Friday 30th January - 9 days post-op
This morning I overslept and was woken by Wannee knocking on my door. After my check-up I wandered down for breakfast - only to bump into her afterwards in Helen's room and discover that Lisa-Marie (who I know from the UK) had just arrived and was at the clinic. Her surgery was scheduled for today, but has been postponed until Tuesday as bad weather severely delayed her flight from Heathrow.
I went straight there and we chatted for ages before coming back to my room. It's the first time we've met since July 2002, and so much has happened since then. I tried to give her an idea of what to expect, as I needed to dilate anyway I showed her what was involved.
Afterwards I took her downstairs to introduce her to some of the others, and her, Lin, Kelly and I ended up walking to the Forum Plaza (via a local optician as Kelly needed some new glasses - Aey accompanied us for that leg). After buying some snacks, toiletries etc. we returned to the hotel at 7pm, having arranged to meet up for a meal in the Chinese Restaurant at 8pm.
I've just started my evening dilation, and as I write I'm doing something that just wouldn't have been possible only a few days ago - munching a Kit-Kat!
This evening we dined at the Chinese Restaurant as we'd arranged - the first time I've done so since returning to Thailand. I've just felt too self-conscious about my face to do so, but that's beginning to fade now thanks to today's expedition.
Thanks so much girls.
Saturday 31st January - 10 days post-op
A few minutes ago I was woken by my alarm (I'd set it because I'd suspected I'd fall asleep during my dilation...) and I've about an hour to wake myself up and get ready before wandering down to the Forum Plaza with the others to get some drinks and munchies for another party tonight.
After the meal last night I returned to my room to dilate and try to type up a little more of this journal while I collected my thoughts. Earlier in the day I received an email from Susie and I really needed to think about how I felt and what I needed to say to her. By the time my dilation was over I had the first week written up, and my thoughts had cleared somewhat. The tears have largely stopped now, and I'm slowly starting to adjust to the change that's happened between us. Despite that, the feeling of intense loss remains - coupled with a fear that because of this she could draw back from me as a friend too. If that's not to happen it's something both of us will have to work on. We'll always be close - and I'll always love her - but at the moment the only way we can be together is as friends and confidants. At least now I know I can cope with that.
She's certainly right about one thing - emotionally we still both have a great deal of growing up to do! A trans woman going through gender reassignment can all too easily experience major changes in her sexuality - particularly once she is post-op. It's a painful and frightening thing to experience, particularly as relationships with men are so risky and much less likely to give the same level of emotional support and empathy as a relationship with another woman.
Even when we first met I was aware that this was something Susie was working through, but I'd somehow gained the impression that she'd come to the conclusion than relationships with men weren't likely to give her the emotional support she needed. However, by January she'd realised that her sexuality is so much more aligned with men than women that she had to try to move on with her life on that basis.
For all I know I might start soon experiencing the same feelings about my sexuality that she is now trying to cope with - after all, I'm now post-op too. I don't know. But I can face the future, remember the special times we've shared rather than the loss and pain - and all arm in arm with my true friend Susie .
This experience has taught me something too. Just as I learnt that depression passes given time if you can learn to let out the pain, I've come to realise that it was the emotional shock I felt that caused the worst of the tears and held me back from adjusting to the change in our relationship. Once the shock wore off, the tears largely stopped. The next time something like this happens, I think I'll be better able to cope with it. As luck would have it she came online in IM just as I was finishing my letter, and we talked for over an hour. I fell asleep at 4am crying tears of joy at regaining the friend I love, rather than tears of pain at losing a partner.
This morning I awoke at 9am utterly exhausted and (after drinking a coffee to wake me up) went down for breakfast shortly afterwards. Quite a few of us turned up within a few minutes of each other, so 9am does seem to be a good time to meet the others here. Afterwards I came back to my room to dilate, set my alarm and fell asleep to wake just a few minutes ago...
This morning I was relieved to find that for the first time I could see what was recognisably my face looking back at me in the mirror. Something wasn't right though, and at first I couldn't put my finger on it. Then it dawned on me that it's my eyebrows - although I'd previously shortened and narrowed them to fit the shape of my brow ridges, the shape of my face has changed now so their shape and size just doesn't fit and is disguising the results of the brow lift a little. I'll have to grow them out before I can pluck them into shape.
When Wannee visited this morning I told her that I suspected that the face mask she'd given me was too big, and wasn't tight enough under the chin to do what it was supposed to. She said that they only had two sizes at the clinic - Large (which I've got) and Extra Large, but that she'd see if she could obtain one for my next check up on Monday afternoon.
We've just got back from our little shopping expedition. I'm starting to feel less self conscious now, and as we walked around I occasionally noticed clothes I really liked on sale in various shops. Soon I may well be ready to go looking for some bargains - let's hope so.
Sunday 1st February - 11 days post-op
Last night's party was a big success. In the event we didn't start until 10pm, so that everyone would have a chance to dilate first. It was well worth the wait, although I arrived 10 minutes late and missed the pizza. Just when I was about ready to give it a go too!
Last night was notable for another reason too - it was the first time I've gone out without wearing the natty headgear provided by the clinic, and in full makeup too! I'm starting to look like me again - and last night certainly reinforced that. Sandra's reaction of "Wow!" when she saw me was a real confidence booster!
After lunch today Lisa came to see me and I helped her set up her laptop to access the net. We chatted for quite some time - mostly about music (to the accompaniment of a selection of the louder stuff I brought with me!) and generally just took it easy. She checks out of here and into Aikchol Hospital tomorrow for her reassignment surgery on Tuesday, and the best wishes of everyone here certainly go with her. It was good to see her so relaxed about it all. It's certainly going to be rather quieter here at the Mercure without her around...
After she left I caught up on some much needed sleep, and didn't wake again until 9pm! Having slept so long, now I've finally woken up I feel wide awake.
Monday 2nd February - 12 days post-op
I rang Susie last night shortly before 10pm, and we talked for nearly an hour. She's having doubts over our closeness and any problems that might cause (temptation, I suspect), but I hope I managed to allay her fears a little....she was sounding noticeably chirpier by the time I hung up, and later she came online in IM (as did Lisa) and I was able to introduce them both.
By the time I went to bed it was 4am - again...
This afternoon I had my second check-up with Dr. Suporn at the clinic. He's happy with my progress, and during the check-up the rest of the external stitches were removed (apart from a couple on my temples where the wounds are still healing). He thinks the size of the compression bandage I've been given is OK, but I must admit I'm still not convinced. He did say that I now only need to wear it when I'm in my hotel room though.
The best bit of news is that after Saturday I no longer have to wear the cast over my forehead and nose as I sleep.
Wednesday 4th February - 14 days post-op
I've got two strange men in my bathroom! Sadly, they're only here to fix the hot water for me, so no other form of plumbing is involved.
I've not felt like writing at all over the last couple of days - mainly as a result of the emotional pain I'm feeling. That's due not only to having to adjust to the change in the relationship between Susie and I, but also my separation from my family and the uncertainty that the future holds. Added together, it's a lot to deal with - and I've realised that I'm hiding behind the daily routine here in Chonburi (where there's so little to do anyway) in order to cope with it. I'm so grateful to the other girls here - as well as Wannee, Aey and Fai for doing their best to keep me smiling. At least I'm not crying my heart out now.
On Saturday Lin, Sonia and I are relocating to the Royal Twins Palace Hotel in Pattaya for a well needed change of scenery, and hopefully Helen will be joining us not long after. Although I'll miss Wannee, Aey, Fai and all the others we'll not be alone there - Natta and her sister Pen will be there to look after us. The Royal Twins has a swimming pool too so my bikinis are primed and ready for a long overdue pool session. With any luck I'll even be able to swim a little!
The swelling on my chin and jaw is now going down noticeably faster, and as a result I'm starting to look not only human but like myself again. Unfortunately my nose is rather swollen and that makes it harder to see the overall effect of the changes - but what I can see so far is good. Everybody says the final result will be stunning, but I just can't see it yet.
However, today I'm starting to feel some pain for the first time as the nerves in my chin and jaw wake up. If I lightly touch the underside of the left of my jaw I feel a very unpleasant pain in the nerves of the teeth above. I imagine they're all connected together somehow, and that it's part of the healing process.
I;'ve just got off the phone to Lisa (she's in room 804 at the hospital - the room Sonia and Lin had). Her surgery took 7 hours and went without any complications. She's one tired but very happy bunny right now, despite being in a fair bit of pain.
Thursday 5th February - 15 days post-op
This morning Lin and I hitched a lift with Wannee to Aikchol Hospital to spring a surprise visit on Lisa in 804. As Wannee was going to the hospital to bring a patient back to the hotel we didn't have that long, but it was well worth it just to see the smile on her face when she saw us!
She's doing brilliantly, and it was wonderful to see that she's feeling good about everything and that there are no complications. When I talked to her yesterday and she told me about the pain she was feeling I was a little concerned that she might have suffered a haematoma as I did - but that's thankfully not the case.
While we were there Lin and I also popped into 801 briefly to say hello to Ceecee, who's just had some FFS work done.
This afternoon Lin, Sonia, Aey and I went on a mini-shopping expedition - primarily to buy some munchies and drinks for this evening (Kelly's boyfriend is arriving from the UK today, so we've a celebration planned), but also to have a bit of a look around. I'm now starting to regain my self confidence, but it's such a slow process and it doesn't take much to knock me back.
Aside from the munchies and drinks I unfortunately came back empty handed. Although I found one beautiful top which suited me perfectly it turned out to be damaged, and was the only one of its type in the shop. At least this time I actually felt able to look, which is a step forward.
Although I was in a happy mood this evening and thoroughly enjoyed the party, underneath it all I could feel the emotional pain getting stronger again - and by the time I came back to my room it was overpowering. Fortunately, Lin came with me and did her best to comfort me as I cried. She stayed with me until 5am, when I took 10mg of valium and cried myself to sleep.
Friday 6th February - 16 days post-op
I didn't wake today until 1pm, which isn't surprising given the state I was in last night, and while I was dilating Wannee came to my room and told me that I had a check-up at the clinic.
I was still rather tearful and by the time I made it there (at about 3:40pm) I was in a real state. They were really worried about my emotional state, and even gave me a small supply of anti-depressants to help me to cope.
During my check-up Dr. Suporn had the remainder of the stitches in my hairline (those at the temples) removed. I also asked him whether I could restart my hormones (albeit at one third normal doseage as I still have to fly back home and don't want to risk DVT) to which he gave the all-clear. Once I get back home I'll ramp the doseage back up to normal and give things a few months to stabilise before seeking a referral to an endocrinologist to advise me on a more suitable long term hormone regime.
After my check-up at the clinic Lin, Sonia, Helen and I went for ice-cream at Swensons (just down and across the road from the clinic). They're doing everything they can to keep me smiling, and it is helping - but I so wish Susie were here, and I'm under no illusions that the pain will pass quickly.
We returned to the clinic afterwards, and although I was still feeling low I was feeling better able to cope by then. While there I chatted with the others, including Ceecee (who's now back from hospital). It turns out that I know her flatmate (she was among a group of people I had dinner with in Windsor a year ago). Small world...