One Year Post-Op – Was It Worth It?

 

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[Description: a drowsy looking mixed race transfemme aka me is looking at the camera with an arm above their head and the other on their chest. They’re wearing a blue gown and have a blue sheet covering them while laying on a hospital bed. This is a photo that was clearly taken right after surgery.

Taken from: my personal collection of photos]

It’s been a year since I had vaginoplasty so I’m calling it my vagiversary. There’s going to be a party tonight, but none of you will be invited to it.

It’s been quite a journey to get here. A lot of sweat, blood, tears from not just myself, but from my kyn and my network of friends.

And was it worth everything I sacrificed? Yes. Do I regret getting a vag? Hell no. Am I happy with everything? No. But such is life and such is the risk of surgery itself.

Over the past few months since I last wrote a post, my energy levels still remain to not be at 100% but that may be due to other health issues that were identified. I’m still tired and can’t do nearly as much as I was able to prior to surgery. I have to really watch my spoons a lot more and limit the number of things I get involved with. I hate feeling so useless, but this is my reality.

I still have hypergranulated tissue as of a few days ago. I’ve continued having gyno apointments every few weeks with applications of silver nitrate (fun!). On the plus side, each session, there’s been less and less hypergranulated tissue. The last appointment I went to a few days ago, I had 2mm left in grand total. So. Soon I’ll be allowed to swim again!

I look forward to the day that I’m free to go swim again. I’m not a fish or athletic, but I did a lot of swimming prior to surgery because fatphobia and I miss being in pools. And I really want to re-create that scene from Paris is Burning when one of the trans women is on a beach celebrating being post-op and feeling so free.

I’m still experiencing issues with my pelvic muscle. That’s not changing unless I get a TAship in September so I can get pelvic therapy coverage. A few weeks ago, I was searching for more sex toys specifically ones that have a thin tip, tapered, decent length, not a dilator, and preferably non-phallic. I’d love to get something from Bad Dragon, but friends who have bought from them have commented how high the shipping costs are and it’s a bit beyond my price range at this point. I searched all the conventional sex toy vendors in Toronto, Pink Cherry, Come As You Are, Good For Her, Stag Shop, Seductions, and a lot of the smaller sex stores. But nothing was coming up. I ended up looking on Etsy on a whim and discovered a world of unique sex toys! And there were toys that fit my specifications! In the end, I decided on something rainbowy and glittery from Strange Bedfellas .  It appealed to my interest in the monstrous and I’ve wanted something rainbowy for a while.

The toy came pretty quickly given that it was coming from the US. And when I used it, my body accepted it a lot easier than a dilator. It felt like my body welcomed it. And it slipped right past my pelvic muscle with only a little bit of effort. I discovered I had more depth than I thought I did. It confirmed for me that my issue is my pelvic muscle. I’ve heard this is an issue that comes up for a lot of trans women, but as usual, it’s not talked about.

 

This past year has been a lot of challenges. Surgery has changed my life and shaken up who I am and how I interact with the world. It’s meant that I need more help doing things. I have a harder time doing everything I want. I’m a lot more disorganized and for anyone who follows this blog, my writing productivity has gone down a lot.

It’s been a lot of frustration over my body healing and discovering how inadequate the services provided are. And I live in Toronto where we have a lot more access to competent/expert trans healthcare services than those who live in more rural locations.

But I’ve also been forced to learn a lot more about my body. I’ve had to do things I’ve never had to do like begin unraveling the ball of body trauma that I’ve got. I’ve learned about how anxious I am and how deeply it goes into my body and in my history.

I’ve had to learn how to touch my body and strategies to accept other people touching it in some contexts.

After I came out of surgery, I experienced a lot of hatred for my body. I felt like I had phantom genitals and I was miserable most of the time. But those feelings went away when I was able to orgasm. I now rarely feel like I have phantom genitals and my body is beginning to feel like my own instead of Frankenstein’s creation.

Getting surgery has emotional components that go unacknowledged. There’s a whole process trying to accept your new body no matter how much you wanted it prior. Major surgery is a big change to the way you interact with the world. It feels like we’re pressured to be automatically happy with having surgery with no regrets. I may not have regrets, but I’m also not happy. We just need more emphasis on mental health and wellness.

I needed this surgery. My genitals were tied deeply to how I experienced sexual harassment that they needed to change. When I first came out of surgery, I was thanking the nurses as they poured me into bed (what happened prior to the cover image of this post). I was happy to have it done. But I wished that there were people at the recovery house to support my mental health. I wish there had been someone there to help me process why I was crying during my first dilation.

Having access to a support group helped, but it would have been really great to have more professional support coming home. I had so many questions and insecurities that only some of them could be answered by the nurses via email.

I was lucky enough to have people around me okay with me asking awkward vulva questions (is it normal for it to be leaking? is it normal to bleed into the toilet?) I am fortunate enough to have a knack at gathering the right people to me. What does this mean for people who don’t have an uncanny ability to develop support networks?

On a positive note, my body has begun to feel alright over the past few months. The further away I get from feeling like a lab experiment, the more I begin to feel more okay in my skin. Orgasms are great medicine. They are back to being my #1 coping mechanism for life. My body memory knows how to touch my crotch right in a way that feels good without needing to think about touching it. I can pee and the stream is more a stream than a spray. I don’t need to wear pads anymore (unless it’s directly after an application of silver nitrate…) And all this feels right. I feel connected better to my body and my sexuality. I feel like I’ve been given another chance at life and I’m going to take this chance to do it right this time.

I don’t know what’ll happen this next year, but it’s a brave new world out there for me. It’s terrifying, I feel lost and confused, but I’m where I’m supposed to be.

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