Monday 8th December - 24 days post-op
It's been a busy day. Last night I couldn't sleep (again!) and ended up watching a movie until 4am - so this morning I overslept and was utterly exhausted. As I was leaving the room for breakfast, Wannee arrived to give me my daily antibiotic jab. However, when she examined me as usual she noticed some fresh bleeding from the top of my clitoral hood. Although that was a little worrying, as I knew I was due for my final check-up in the afternoon I wasn't too unnerved. Wannee told me that my appointment had been moved forward to 3pm too.
After breakfast I came back to my room to dilate, and being so exhausted I basically dozed through it until I was woken when Fai arrived to see us. She was as lovely as ever, and told me that my appointment had been moved forward yet again - this time to 2pm.
When I arrived at the clinic for my check-up the welcome was as warm as ever, but I felt so weak (which probably isn't being helped by my lack of appetite - maybe I should eat more chocolate? ) that I lay down on one of the couches and dozed. Fai and Aey both sat with me and asked if I was OK - they show so much concern for everyone and have been truly wonderful to Kazzy and I.
Soon it was my turn, and I was led to one of the now familiar examination rooms, where there were friendly smiles all round as usual. Dr. Suporn examined me and discovered that the bleeding was coming from a small wound in the clitoral hood - but said that the blood itself was coming from the remains of the haematoma, and losing that blood will help to reduce the swelling.
He also examined my labia minora and the sensate tissue within - and I was able to see my clitoris for the first time (with the aid of a mirror of course!). She really is a cute little thing, and I'm sure I'll get to know her rather well over the coming months...
It's a huge relief to hear that everything's well.
I was given a renewed stock of medicines (painkillers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories) as well as a certificate which states that I've undergone irreversible reassignment surgery to female, and a letter for my doctor giving details of the medication I've been taking while over here. Afterwards I stayed at the clinic for quite some time, relaxing and chatting to the girls there.
Earlier on Kazzy had been taken to the dentist by Aey as she was suffering from a really bad toothache, and when I eventually returned she was sleeping. When she woke up she told me that she'd had a tooth extracted - the whole experience had completely worn her out.
When she was feeling a little better we went back to the studio to pick up our photographs - and they're simply stunning!!
We went straight from there to the clinic to show them to everyone (and getting lots of compliments about them!) and chatting to everyone for ages, including Dr. Suporn and his wife Aoi. Aoi gave me a beautiful gift in a presentation box - all patients receive one so I won't say what it is and spoil the surprise for anyone who's coming here in future!
When we eventually came back to the hotel I felt very weak again and just undressed and went to bed. Kazzy went down for dinner (although just soup as she has stitches in her mouth) but I just wasn't up to it - I dozed until about 8:30pm, then ordered a light meal from room service. I felt a little queasy, and barely managed to eat half of it.
Despite that, I was "with it" enough to do a fair bit of packing
later - we check out tomorrow morning for the trip back to Bangkok.
I'll be very sad to leave, but glad to go home - and I'm especially
looking forward to seeing friends again.
Tuesday 9th December - 25 days post-op
It's been an emotional day. Kazzy couldn't sleep at all last night and spent much of it packing the rest of our stuff, so today she's been as weak as I have.
Before checking out of the Mercure Hotel at 10am we said our goodbyes to a few of the other girls here. Kim (who's been staying in the room next door) surprised us by giving us both gifts - some perfume and a beautiful pendant for me, and some silver earrings for Kazzy. A lovely gesture from a wonderful lady.
We also said our goodbyes to Wannee, which was a very emotional occasion as you can imagine! I gave her my one remaining silver anklet - a star, because that's what she is (I gave the heart to Aey, and the dolphin to Fai).
Her brother was waiting patiently to drive us to Bangkok, but before leaving Chonburi he kindly stopped off at the clinic so that we could say our farewells. Aey and Fai were as wonderful as always - we're both going to miss them so much. Aey surprised me by giving me a bag full of gifts for friends I know back in the UK who've been here - a gesture which just says everything about the way the clinic staff care for their patients - I just can't praise them enough. She also gave me a spare stent (which I'd requested) as well as one to take back for Toni.
Kazzy and I were holding back the tears by the time we left. We'll really miss seeing her happy smiles every morning.
Since arriving here at the Comfort Suite Hotel in Bangkok (near the airport) at lunchtime we spent most of the afternoon sleeping, waking in early evening to have a light dinner. My appetite has really crashed over the last few days, to the point now where I sometimes feel sick even looking at food. It's a difficult cycle to break out of - my body needs to rest to heal, so I'm lacking energy and sleep a lot, but because I'm resting so much my appetite has declined severely and (presumably) my stomach has contacted somewhat.
I do wonder if there's some mild shock at the renewed bleeding contributing to this too - even though I know it's actually a good thing in this case. Over the next few weeks I'm really going to have to retrain my appetite and try to balance it against my activity level. Staying with Susie will help so much in that - I just can't thank her enough for offering to let me stay with her rather than going home by myself..
Our flight on Thursday leaves at 1:25pm, and we're told by
reception here at the hotel that we should take the 11am minibus to
the airport. We'll both be so glad to get back home, but will miss
our new friends here so much. Even now, sitting in this hotel room I
keep half expecting Wannee, Aey or Fai to visit - it's strange and
lonely knowing they're not here.
Wednesday 10th December - 26 days post-op
Today is our last full day in Thailand, and I'm pleased to say that I've finally been able to get out and do some shopping!
This morning we were both exhausted. I dilated from 6am to 8am, dozing through most of it, and disturbed only by constant chatter in Thai coming from a clock radio on the other side of the room - I just couldn't bring myself to get up and figure out how to turn it off!
We went down for breakfast sometime after 9am, and I was pleased to find I was able to eat something cooked this time - a good sign. After breakfast we crashed again (for about 3 hours I think) before ordering a meter taxi and heading for the Bangkok "World Trade Centre" - which is basically a huge shopping mall.
Before venturing inside we explored some of the stalls run by street traders on the pavement outside the centre. The traders were all very attentive, and not at all pushy. Kazzy managed to negotiate a discount on a gift she wanted to buy which really made me smile as she'd previously been so nervous about haggling over the price of goods the way they do so often in Thailand. On one stall I found myself a lovely flat choker (in black of course!) and Kazzy spotted a matching belt for me, and even negotiated a discount for purchasing both! Together they're gorgeous.
Kazzy has said several times during the trip that she'd like to have one of her nipples pierced (she's braver than me in that regard!) and before heading into the Trade Centre proper she spotted a sign advertising body piercing over some steps outside the centre leading down to the basement level. We found the tattoo/piecing parlour and when she decided to go ahead she was asked to come back at 4pm.
We then ventured into the Trade Centre proper. Although we barely had time to explore even a small part of it, we did find one real gem of a shop (oddly called "ABC Baby World") on (I think) floor 2, which although it looks like a typical touristy shop, actually contains a collection of displays by individual vendors - it's rather hard to describe, but there's so much there.
After walking through it once looking for gifts for friends, we went for something to eat (another sign that my appetite is returning, although the Thai habit of serving salted "fries" with anything western is really starting to get on my nerves) and returned to have a closer look. I bought a beautiful blue Thai silk sarong, and also noticed an absolutely gorgeous outfit on display - a red Thai silk top with a beautifully decorated black sarong complimenting it perfectly. I didn't buy it, but as we rushed down to the basement for Kazzy's 4pm appointment I immediately regretted not doing so, and decided to return afterwards.
When we arrived in the tattoo/piercing parlour it was deserted except for the assistant who was really friendly and visibly concerned when she saw I was in pain. When Kazzy explained why, she was really surprised - she didn't realise I was TS, despite the fact the I was wearing no makeup and badly in need of an electro session or 10! I held Kazzy's hand as the piercing was done, but she coped so well with the pain she quite obviously felt - my hand didn't get at all crushed. I'm proud of her.
Afterwards we went back to "ABC Baby World" and I headed straight for the outfit I'd seen earlier. The two assistants gave me a huge smile when they saw me, and helped me to try it on there and then - it was a perfect fit and despite no price being shown I indicated that I wanted to buy it with no hesitation whatsoever. They gave me a discount as I'd come back, which was sweet of them and says everything about the friendly nature of Thai culture.
By the time we'd finished it was 5pm, and I was dead on my feet and quite weak. With the aid of a (male) attendant we found a meter taxi to take us back to the hotel. Unlike the girl in the tattoo/piecing parlour, the attendant spotted I was TS straight away - he pointed at the little bit of shadow visible on my chin and smiled. That's not the first time that guys have noticed whereas girls haven't - the only way I can explain it is that maybe I'm now acting and looking so naturally feminine that I'm now on their radar and they're "checking me out"! I actually find that rather complimentary, although the fact that I'm being read like that is a big part of why I'm returning for FFS in January.
Although the taxi driver initially took us to the wrong hotel, we eventually made it back. We were both exhausted so we ordered from room service. The meal was delicious, and so was the ice cream we ordered with it!
This time tomorrow we'll be well and truly on our way home - halfway through the flight in fact. I hope it won't be too uncomfortable, but the fact that I found sitting in the cabs today pretty comfortable is reassuring.
Right now we're watching "Kissing Jessica Stein"
on DVD and I really should start my evening dilation (condom, KY,
action!). Maybe when I get home I should try to think of appropriate
(male, obviously) names for my two stents..."Bill and Ben the
Dildo Men" seems altogether too obvious...
Thursday 11th December - 27 days post-op
The big day has arrived! Right now I'm sitting in a wheelchair next to our departure gate (36) in Terminal 2 of Bangkok Airport. I'm quite tired, and very glad we booked the wheelchair at this end too - especially as I was up at 5:30am this morning to dilate.
After a relaxed breakfast we both took a short rest and did the last bit of packing, before I called for an attendant to help us bring our luggage down to check out at 10:30am.
The hotel runs an hourly minibus service to the airport, so we were able to have our luggage loaded almost immediately and climb in for the short drive to the airport. Once there we loaded everything onto a trolley (which was quite a balancing act!) and checked in. Although we were a little over our luggage allowance (in total we had 56kg, and the allowance is 25kg per person) we weren't charged for the excess.
After paying the departure tax (500 Baht each) the attendant wheeled me through Passport Control and into Duty Free - where I found a couple of lovely cuddly elephants as souvenirs of the trip.
We're on the plane now, and waiting while everyone else boards and settles in. Being in a wheelchair certainly has one big advantage - we were boarded before anyone else! Getting comfortable is proving to be a bit tricky - while sitting on the rubber ring I really need the footrest to go a little higher than it does to feel comfortable. I'm getting some pain too so I've taken a couple of tramadol capsules to help me deal with it before it makes me feel really uncomfortable.
We're well on our way now - 87 miles from Bangkok and only 5,836 miles to go! Unfortunately I'm finding it very difficult to get comfortable and I'm feeling light headed. Just before we taxied for takeoff I came very close to having a panic attack over the discomfort I was feeling, and as the plane started moving I felt tears flowing from my eyes - partly in fear of whether I would cope with the discomfort and pain I was likely to endure on the flight, and partly at leaving behind a place I've grown to really love in the last month - and especially the friends I've met here.
If I feel this sad leaving now knowing that I'm returning in just over a month, how on earth am I going to cope with leaving again after my FFS?
I'm feeling a little more relaxed now, although that might just have something to do with the two glasses of wine I had with lunch... Kazzy is sleeping (she's nervous about flying and took tranquilizers before boarding), and I'm watching "Ever After" - ironically one of my ex-wife's favourite movies - on the in flight entertainment system. According to the map we're approaching the coast of India right now.
The movie was beautiful, and I can see why my ex wife loves it so much, but my favourite is still most definitely "What Dreams May Come".
There's 4,204 miles to go, and according to the in flight system we should arrive at about 6:47pm UK time - a little earlier than scheduled. The map shows us as not far from Delhi - India is such a vast country!
We're flying 35,000 feet above the Caspian Sea, now more than half way through our journey (there's only 5¼ hours to go now). Outside it's -57°C - even colder than it gets in the UK! Through the window the view is simply breathtaking - we can see the Sun setting above the clouds on the horizon (to the South West I think). Wow.
I'm feeling more comfortable than I expected to be, but sitting on the rubber ring is making my bum a bit sore. If I could somehow do without it, the seats would be so much more comfortable.
As I'm still bleeding I'm taking regular trips to the loo to change my sanitary towel. Until Kazzy told me I didn't realise it, but the airline provides them - there's a supply of them in a small drawer marked "Amenities" in the toilets. Very thoughtful.
For the first time since we boarded 7 hours ago, I'm starting to feel some nerve pain again. I think that's pretty good going...but if it gets too much I'll take some tramadol (the first since take-off) and see how I feel. I may also take a tranquiliser as I've only dozed for about half an hour so far.
I'm not in any real pain now (and I didn't take any painkillers in the end), but I am feeling distinctly uncomfortable. That may be a result of the slight pressure on my swollen labia minora which sitting for the length of time the flight entails - even with the aid of the rubber ring. I'm a little tired too, so I've taken a mild tranquiliser (5mg valium) to help me rest, and (just as importantly) to relax the PC muscle a bit - which will make dilation easier when I finally get to Susie's.
4:17pm UK Time (11:17pm Bangkok time)
I've managed to doze for a couple of hours and now feel much more awake. Kazzy has just shown me the most amazing view - even from this altitude and at night, you can see the lights of cities far below. I think we're somewhere over western Romania at the moment - not exactly the most developed country in Europe right now, which makes the view even more stunning.
I can feel more nerve pain so I've finally given in and taken a couple more tramadol capsules - the first since taking off. Only 2½ hours to go.
We're nearly home - only 40 minutes to go now! The tramadol seems to have done the trick, as I'm a lot more comfortable that I was. Maybe knowing that so soon I'll be seeing special friends again also has something to do with it?
Being the tart that I am I've just hogged the loo for the last few minutes to clean myself up and put on some makeup. While I don't mind walking around in Thailand without heavily disguising the stubble that's sprouted since I stopped hormones two weeks before flying out here, the UK is a different matter entirely.
Transfolk seem to be so much more accepted in Thai society (and indeed, are part of Thai cultural tradition, although they can't change their legal gender and often have difficulty finding work)...and yet in the UK where we have far greater legal rights (and will soon hopefully regain the right to marry in our true gender so cruelly taken away from us in the April Ashley case in 1970) we're still so often ridiculed (particularly in the tabloid press), subject to discrimination and (in the worst cases) targets of abuse and harassment.
I've been very lucky in the support I've had - but not everyone I know has. Things are however getting better (as the Gender Recognition Bill proves) but it's a slow process.
We're down, and taxiing to the arrival gate. As I've a wheelchair
booked, we'll be the last off, which I guess is payback for being
first on board at Bangkok! It's so good to be home.
Friday 12th December - 4 weeks post-op
I'm 4 weeks old today! That's rather fitting as I'm now home - I'm staying with Susie and Amanda in Susie's house near Sandwich, and right now there's nowhere else I'd rather be.
I was very glad of the wheelchair at Heathrow yesterday evening, and the girl who wheeled me from the gate was really cheerful and talkative. She's never been to Thailand so we talked about the differences - both obvious and subtle - from the nations of the West. In the lift on the way down I had a surprise - Kazzy told her she'd just had her nipple pierced and she asked if she could see it. Kazzy duly obliged, and I quipped that I wouldn't be doing the same. She asked what I'd had pierced so I told her why we'd been in Thailand - and it turned out that she hadn't even realised I was TS!
She was actually very curious about the whole thing, so I gave her the address of my website. It's such a wonderful thing to be able to spread a little understanding and awareness of us, and a big part of what I now feel is my purpose.
As we approached the Arrivals area Kazzy spotted her friend Sammie and waved her over...and then I spotted Susie and Amanda. Not surprisingly, they'd seen me first, as they later showed me pictures they'd taken of me being wheeled towards them!
It was a very emotional reunion on all sides, and good to once again be able to introduce friends to each other. We made our way to the car park, and once the luggage was all loaded and the (extortionate - after all, this is the UK) car park fees paid, it was time to say our goodbyes. Kazzy travelled west with Sammie back to Somerset, while I travelled east with Susie and Amanda to Kent.
Once here we relaxed for a while, celebrated my return with bubbly and wine and at 11:45pm I finally started the dilation I'd been dreading - 25¼ hours since the last one.
I was much tighter than usual, and it was very uncomfortable - but bearable. It took me quite some time to get anywhere near depth, which isn't really surprising. I think I finally withdrew the stent about 2¾ hours later, and after cleaning myself up went straight to bed exhausted. I'm glad we took the time to relax before I started though - and the wine certainly made the experience more bearable!
I started my dilation this morning at 10:30am. I'm still tight, but nowhere near as bad as last night (and this time I'm doing it without the aid of any wine!). I imagine that in a few days everything will be back to normal - and having known Susie since she was just under 3 months post-op, I know what to expect from my body in the future. In 5 months time, things will be so different!
Although my adventure is now over, I hope you've found this diary to be a useful and informative account of what this life changing experience was like for me.
I can honestly say that this experience has affected me very deeply. Note only have I made some wonderful new friends both in Thailand and elseware around the world, but I've learnt a great deal more about myself and my Faith.
If you yourself are planning to undergo similar surgery (no matter where or with whom) my thoughts and prayers are with you.