[cracks knuckles] Cool. I’m back at it! Let’s do this.
Before I get into specifics about last week’s urethroplasty, I figure I should lay out a timeline. This blog’s gotten a bunch of new followers lately, and it’d be keen for everyone here to be able to follow along on the same page. :3
February 12, 2005: I take the leap to living full-time as a man at age 25. As I had only recently moved to the city I now live in, and had scarcely left my apartment before this, introducing myself as someone new raised no eyebrows.
Late 2005: I enroll in counseling with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sexual Health. My counsellor agrees that I qualify as someone who would benefit from gender conversion therapy. I am educated about the possibilities and outcomes of hormonal treatment, as well as various surgeries I can work towards.
Due to warnings that my depression might get worse while taking T, I decide not to opt for HRT treatment. I also decide to keep binding for the time being, as the only sexually reactive parts of my body are my nipples, and though the risk is low, I’d rather not take the chance of losing that feeling if I was to get top surgery.
Phalloplasty is mentioned as an option for sex reassignment surgery when one can’t undergo HRT.
Though I function more naturally as a man in general society, I identify most strongly with being an androgyne, and feel neutral towards the parts I was born with. I ask if there’s a possibility I can keep any of them. “I’m not sure,” is the response I get. “Nobody’s ever asked that before.”
2007: I start saving my money.
2008: I begin building connections with psychiatrists and therapists who I’ll need letters of recommendation from before anyone will consider me for phalloplasty. Some agree. Some don’t. Enough do.
2013: With a significant amount of money saved up, I set my sights on Mr. Christopher’s surgery team of London, England. His phalloplasty results are, in my opinion, the most organic-looking currently out there. I make plans to see him in London for a consultation.
September 2013: Mr. Christopher tells me that he won’t allow me to undergo surgery unless I first agree to a full hysterectomy and vaginectomy. “Why else would you want to have this done?” he asks. “It would make no sense.”
I also learn the hard way that, currently, my psychiatrist and therapist letters are considered to have expired after over a year’s time.
I leave for the USA without scheduling a surgery date.
When I report to my counsellor at the Center for Sexual Health, she gives me the name of an up-and-coming surgeon I might want to check out, one Dr. Curtis Crane.
July 2014: I have a consultation with Dr. Crane in San Francisco, California. He’s cheerful, personable, and assures me that having phalloplasty without taking hormones or removing my original parts is indeed something he can do for me. “Who am I to tell you what body parts you should feel natural having?”, as he puts it. He is, to my knowledge, the first surgeon to be willing to perform such an operation.
I sign up for his next possible phalloplasty date that very day… which turns out to be in June of next year. Dr. Crane is a busy fellow, to put it lightly.
June 17th, 2015: The words “radial forearm phalloplasty with urethral lengthening, glansplasty, and no scrotoplasty” cannot convey the joy and sense of contented wholeness the procedure brings me today. I spend the next week in the CPMC hospital, where I’m discharged on Day 6.
June 23rd – July 17th, 2015: I spend the next month by myself in a live-in hotel in Corte Madera, with three weekly follow-up visits to Dr. Crane. Uber and Taskrabbit become my best friends, when it comes to getting places and making sure I stay fed.
I develop 3 fistulas under my phallus head (healed over by regular use of Medihoney gel) and accidentally open a groin stitch that leaks serous fluid constantly. The latter ends up giving the area an infection that takes a week longer than anticipated to heal. I’m grateful I took off the full 4 weeks from work instead of the 3 I initially planned for.
A small section of skin at the top of my glans dies, discoloring the area with a dark purple blotch. In doing so, the new dong gets its nickname: “Spot.”
July – October 2015: Abnormally thick scar tissue limits my ability to move my donor arm’s hand and wrist. I enroll in weekly hand therapy sessions, which successfully give me back a full range of motion.
September 2015: I develop a stricture that gets more painful by the day.
October 2015: I arrive back in San Francisco for two days to have Spot examined, by now barely able to urinate without pain so bad I’m almost passing out hunched over there at the toilet.
The results point to a stricture far thicker than anyone had anticipated, and I end up staying an extra week to have a cystoscopy done, revealing a solid wall of scar tissue in my urethra, right at the join where the original urethra ended and the new lengthened one began. I’m given a suprapubic catheter, to remain in until the next possible surgery date Dr. Crane has available.
December 2015: Back in San Francisco, this time under the care of Dr. Chen, Dr. Crane’s new surgeon.
Dr. Chen cuts out three centimeters of scar tissue from my urethra, then sews the ends together where the scarring ends. I stay in San Francisco for two more weeks, returning home right on Christmas Eve.
Due to dwindling funds left available, I start looking for a closer urologist for the future, and finally am pointed (through word of mouth) to Dr. Elliott of the University of Minnesota’s Urology department.
March 2016: My first visit to Dr. Elliott comes just as pain and urine stream thinning start happening, just like they did in September, though thankfully without the pain this time. Dr. Elliott schedules the soonest X-ray and cystoscopy available.
April 2016: Yup, the stricture’s grown back, and looking just as thick as before.
May 2016: Dr. Elliott decides that a two-stage urethroplasty is the best way to treat my stricture problem. I’m put back on a suprapubic catheter until a urethroplasty with buccal tissue harvest can be done.
June 15th, 2016: First stage is completed.
June 20th, 2016: Follow-up appointment. My initial genital sutures are removed. Everything looks good so far, according to the doctor.
Three months from now, I’ll have another cystoscopy to see how the scarring is going (or, hopefully, not going). Six months from now, the second stage of urethroplasty *should* be scheduled, where they’ll sew the hole in my urethra shut, I’ll be able to pee standing up again, and that *should* be the end of it all.
Fingers remain crossed like hell.
[looks up at all that] Huh. Guess I did more this past year than I ever realized I did, didn’t I?