Black-and-white… and scary

Its not until you see things down in black and white, sometimes, that the enormity of what they involve quite seeps thru. So it is with my op.

I have for some while now been circling ever closer to taking this forward. I am aware, in general terms, what it involves (well, its obvious, innit?) and I know a) that it can go wrong, with potentially disastrous results and b) that it can be very painful. But those are still abstract considerations.

I know they apply. Have known about them for a long time now. Last week, though, I signed a letter of consent. Nothing more, so far, than consent to move on to the next stage, which is a formal referral to Brighton, talking to the surgeon, starting electrolysis.

And it’s a long letter. The first third sets out in medical terms what I understood would be done already. Various bits would be removed: vagina and clitoris created; plumbing re-plumbed.

Then come the warnings. First, there is a danger of damage to rectum or utrethra and, I guess, incontinence. Ouch: I knew that one – have read about cases where it happens –just a shock seeing it written out.

Next, the new vagina may not take, may heal, or may prolapse. Yep: knew that, too.

There may be difficulty in future passing urine or “the stream may be at an odd angle”. Hmmmm. Hadn’t quite clocked that last one, but it figures. Comedy potential, even though it is a serious complication.

The clit may not work. Yep. Have heard that one discussed ad nauseam on forums.

Otherwise, this is big surgery (knew that), possible complications post-op (yep!) and its pretty well irreversible (er, yes).

Interesting. So little new information – yet the process of setting it out in this way is so.. . intimidating.

I shall ponder. More research needed on my part – although I’d say that it doesn’t in any way change my basic desire to move forward. More like a sharp intake of breath and a loud and theatrical “gulp” following.

Some ops go wrong. Period. This would be particularly galling if it did, given that in the eyes of many it is “unnecessary”: except it isn’t. I NEED it: more now than ever before. Just wish it was easier.

Anyone who knows the stats.. I’d be interested. Though if you’re going to send me horror stories, please don’t. I will be probing as much as I ever do when I visit Brighton: I need to understand risk, outcomes, that sort of stuff. I don’t need to be frightened.



3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Liz Church said,

    25% percent risk of complications of one kind or another. In other words, 75% of desirable outcome without hassle, plus whatever percentage that is recoverable from the 25% with additional treatment or just patience. Some things just right themselves. I can vouch for it. Also, I’m, er, watertight, where I wasn’t before. Yes, it hurts. For me it was like being kicked by a horse, but the relief once I was home, whatever else happened (or didn’t) was a minor matter in comparison. I know what you mean by “I need it”. I needed it and I wasn’t wrong.

  2. 2

    Jennie Kermode said,

    Some things they don’t tell you: physically normative cisgender women sometimes also pee at odd angles and/or have clitorises with low sensitivity; a huge percentage of women have difficulty passing urine at some point in their lives. These things are a nuisance but they are survivable.

    A friend of mine was told by her surgeon that he couldn’t make her genitals look exactly like those of a cis woman. Fortunately she managed to stifle her laughter until he left the room. Being bisexual, she had sufficient awareness of these things to understand that the appearance of cis women’s genitals varies enormously – suggesting that there’s one perfect standard is, to put it frankly, a frightfully male point of view.

  3. 3

    Having my Wisdom teeth out was more painful. The hospital in Brighton is a good place to be to have it all done – they even had a wine list on the lunch menu! (Didn’t dare to try my luck by asking for any). Going there you will be in safe hands.

    A lot of the scare stories come from ‘a friend of a friend of a friend’ and no-one ever admits to being the person to whom problems happen. If the surgeon is the one I think you mean, he is exceptionally good with a very low rate of complications – certainly less than the figure quoted above.

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