10 Things I Wish I’d Been Told Before Having My Phalloplasty


Full disclosure: I’ve just had radial forearm phalloplasty with Dr. Crane’s surgery team this past June 17th, 2015. Mine was done with urethral lengthening, no vaginectomy, no scrotoplasty, no rods, and without top surgery or testosterone beforehand due to me-specific medical complications. I don’t claim my experience to be universal.

Would I change my mind now, 12 days post-op? HELL NO, haha. And yet, I’ve never heard anyone mention the facts listed below when I was researching online.

If I can help just one person preparing for or considering this procedure sleep a little easier from having a better idea what to expect, that’s all I’m after. :3

Here we go!

1.) YOU WILL SMELL HIDEOUS FOR MANY, MANY DAYS. Which is okay! Nobody should be judging you for this. You’ll have just had whole parts of your body moved around; you’re gonna have enough on your plate. But you’ll have six days in your hospital bed go by without a single shower, just occasional wet-wipe pad rub-downs– and then you’re not allowed to take one once you get out for another ten days, either. It becomes a sort of Zen stank, your scent lofting to the heights of the universe to declare your new existence. But yeah, you’re gonna be smelling levels of stankalicious you didn’t even know you could reach.

2.) Also, hate to break it to you, but YOU PROBABLY WON’T BE SLEEPING WELL IN THE HOSPITAL. Or maybe you’re the type who can nod off for quick naps. That’s keen! I really hope for your sake that you can, ‘cause all through the clock, there’s gonna be nurses and assistants wheeling in to check your blood pressure, your Doppler readings, how much you can inhale at once, getting blood draws, everything you can think of, every half-hour to an hour or so. I take forever and an Ambien to be able to go under, so I didn’t sleep the whole six days as much as I passed out for half-aware exhaustion hallucinations for a few minutes, or at least until the next assistant arrived at 4:30am.

3.) When you’re going to the bathroom (number two) a few days after surgery, DO. NOT. PUSH YOUR BOWELS. It’s gonna be frustrating beyond belief waiting for it to come. Trust me, it’s gonna come. And you’re gonna be on so many stool softeners and laxatives– when it came for me, it literally fell out of me. But yeah. No pushy, or you’ll be like naive Pre-Pushing Gerbil who thought, “Just a *little* push won’t hurt, right?” And before I knew it, I was looking at streams of what I could’ve sworn was blood dribbling out my groin from the staple I popped (see #8 below). I didn’t think I was even pressing with enough pressure to DO that, but I was wrong. Don’t be like Pre-Pushing Gerbil.

4.) As a matter of fact, until you get to know in those first couple days what the difference is between actual poop or just tricky gas? DON’T BE ASHAMED IF YOU MESS THE BED. Multiple nurses and care assistants told me, they’ve all seen *way* worse, and they’re gonna be changing the sheets regardless. Accidents can happen, before you’re comfortable knowing what needs a bedpan or not. (Though the first couple days’ worth of *my* asking to use the bedpan were some frustrating, empty-fart-filled times for all.)

5.) YOU PROBABLY WON’T BE SLEEPING WELL ONCE YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL, EITHER. You are gonna be sore as all hell the first week after you’re out– especially Days 2 and 3, by my experience. The leg skin graft is so huge that, for me, when it started oozing (and it did, for days, constantly), it soaked my bedsheets on that leg’s side. When it finally dried about five or six days later, my leg muscles kept twitching from how itchy the scab was, so then I couldn’t sleep from *that.* It’s gonna be rough. Doable, believe me. But rough.

6.) THERE IS NO WAY ‘I WAS IN A CRASH’ EXCUSES WILL WORK IF YOU GO FOR THE FOREARM DONOR SITE. This one can be chalked up entirely to my not seeking out more recent photos of forearm donor sites beforehand, but instead of the stitch-heavy displays often seen in the past, my donor site can instead be described as “shrink-wrapped meat squeezed down to a ridiculously small-looking surface area.” It’s a little disturbing in its own way, but nothing that the old “I was in a motorcycle accident” chestnut would reasonably excuse. Crash injuries do not look like this. Instead, I plan to answer all inquiries with “I traded a wizard a pound of flesh to get a bigger dick.” It’s technically not wrong.

7.) BABY WIPES WILL BE YOUR FRIEND. There’s gonna be an awful lot of dripping and oozing going on in multiple places for a good long while, and regular toilet paper’s just too scratchy and dry to be of much help. In fact, in the first few days, using TP instead of baby wipes actually scraped up an opening on the surface of my junk that still hasn’t closed after days upon days of Medihoney, so make sure to treat your new appendage right from the start.

8.) THAT PINK LIQUID ISN’T BLOOD. This one’s less universal than the rest, but knowing it would’ve saved me a bit of stress. I popped some non-vital stitches in my groin on Day 5 in the hospital (remember #2?), and was leaking what I swore was bloody urine in a steady drip from the groin. When it hadn’t stopped in three days, and in fact had become more frequent, I was sure something terrible was going on. But no. There’s stuff called serous fluid, usually found around surgery sites, that I’d simply opened up a groin tap for. It’s light pink, and it is completely harmless; it’s just *super* annoying to get all over anything you sit on. (I took to calling it Lisa Frank Unicorn Blood.) Wrapping a towel around my waist and tucking it into the top of my underwear became my best shot at getting some sleep without waking in a panic that I’d wet the bed half an hour later.

9.) YOU HAVE INNER STRENGTH YOU MAY HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE. Believe me, if you’d’ve told me beforehand how many times I’d be dealing with situations in the first couple weeks that included the phrase “so I look down and I see [what I thought was] blood spraying all over,” and that I wasn’t going to bat an eye over it even in the heat of the moment, I would’ve laughed (and asked you how you got into my apartment). But you’d be surprised. *I* certainly was. You don’t know me, but trust me: nerves of adamantium are not in my nature. Until those times when they had to be.

10.) WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW AWESOME IT’S GOING TO BE JUST TO HOLD IT. Seriously. I’ve found myself just cuddling it occasionally, feeling how big and warm and alive it is. I want to give it a hug. Tell it, hey, we got through this, buddy. We did it.

From the main blog. Seems like it belongs over here, too.

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