Is that it?

Hey all. I want to step in and mention one last rocky patch of ground that might come up once all the surgery and recouperation time is done, *specifically* if you’ve had a bunch of complications pop up along the way like I did. You should know before going in that this is a thing that may happen. I’ve taken to calling it the After Everything’s Okay Again Blues.

I got *horribly* depressed, the day after the final urethroplasty was a success. It didn’t help that, in a lot of cases, you won’t get sent home practicing how to hold your bladder muscles– they kinda toss you out of the nest and expect you to learn how to do so again (read as: buy diapers for a few weeks after). So I was *still* wetting myself, weeks after everything was “fixed.”

But beyond that, keep in mind, I’d had something go wrong, one thing after another, on and on, for almost *two years* after the initial phalloplasty. I couldn’t shake a sense of dread creeping over my mind; I was merely waiting for the Next Wrong Thing to happen.

What do you do when this happens? You gather friends to you, or at least those folks who’ll offer an ear without judging. And you slog through those days, until the fog starts to lift, and you start feeling hints of joy every time you pee standing up with nothing catastrophic happening. You learn to hope that the future will be okay again, even if it’s a small, wincing, skittery thing at first, like a fawn still learning to trust human touch.

Gosh. I’m standing looking back, seven surgeries since the start. I’ve been asked so, so many times, by naysayers and folks on my side alike, if I think it’s all been worth it.

Yes, I say. But there’s a pause before I say it now. It’s no longer the courageous, naive YES! that I shot out without thinking when I first signed the paperwork at Dr. Crane’s office. Now I know what all can go wrong, through no fault of his or mine whatsoever.

I no longer laud phalloplasty as a silver bullet. It’s not the flashy solves-everything punch that fells the titan of our own gender battle. Now, I see it more as an extended mythical Greek trial one has to endure to make it home to Feeling Right In Your Body Again– one made up of long, droning, dull chapters like the Trial of A Week Not Moving In A Bed, or the Trial of Wrapping the Withered Arm And Leg Over A Fortnight, the Trial of Carrying One’s Fluids In A Bag, the Trial of A Million Nights Wondering If This Is the Last Complication Or Not, and so on.

It’s not for the faint of heart, and I don’t mean you’re at all a lesser person for acknowledging you’re not willing to risk some seriously scary odds. You *must* go in being ready to lose so, so much more than you expected, and if you can’t do that, then I can’t in good conscience recommend it to you.

But in the end, almost two years after, and (fingers always crossed!) capital-d Done with it all, I still maintain it has *absolutely* been worth the journey to me. I mean. I feel *whole.* At peace. At calm in my own skin. I’d never thought this was a feeling I’d be able to feel. And yet, here I am.

I don’t have much more to say past this. I’ll still be around to answer questions, sure, but I wish all you followers the best on your journeys, wherever they may take you. I hope I’ve helped make the road ahead a little less scary and unknown for those who want to follow the path I took.

Stay sparkly, everyone, yeah? For Spot and me both!

Good news!! FINALLY some good news.

I didn’t even need a cystoscopy today, like was planned. Dr. Elliott went in with dilation tools, as seen here– which I want to assure everyone, was COMPLETELY painless, by the way!– and tried going down Spot’s urethra as far as he could ahead of time, to check for scarring.

He found no blockage. NONE. The mouth skin graft to make a new urethra back in June took 100%!! This is *fantastic* news!

I still need to chill a few months to make absolutely, *positively* sure the scarring isn’t coming back again, but my final surgery is already scheduled for December 16th, where they’ll sew shut my current urinary hole under the penis base and redirect Spot’s new urethra for good, after which I can get back to standing while peeing again.

Can’t wait~!

Urethroplastypalooza, Part 1: This Hole Was Made For Me

This is it. Wednesday, June 15th, two days shy of Spot’s first anniversary. Take 3 in trying to stop scar tissue from “healing” my dong’s urethra shut. Stage 1 of a 2-stage urethroplasty.

(Or is it Stage 2 of a 3-stage? I had a suprapubic catheter put in a month ahead of time, just to give the whole area a chance to calm down if anything was inflamed from trying to pee through my stricture. But anyhow.)

For this surgery, Dr. Elliott used buccal (inside of the mouth) tissue to rebuild the urethra’s strictured area from scratch. And for as cringe-worthy as “we’re stripping the skin from the inside of your mouth” sounds, I can easily say that this surgery was both 1) the most painless, and 2) the oddest-looking, as far as results go, that I’ve had yet.

Pictured above: what the *outside* of the harvested area looked like, three days after surgery. That’s not hair on my lip; it literally looked black on one side from bruising.

But as far as pain went? There was so little, I was off the Percocet the docs gave me after only a day and a half. I could feel the ends of some thread poking from where the inside of my mouth was sewn back up, but other than that… Y’know when you accidentally bite the inside of your mouth, and it’s a little raw in that spot for a couple days, but it doesn’t really hurt? Imagine that feeling, only on one entire side of your mouth. I’ve burned my mouth on pizza and had it hurt more.

The only *really* annoying part is how I could only open my mouth a tiny fraction on my ‘good’ side at first. It’s slowly getting more forgiving, and should be back to a normal range of motion within a month or so, but watching me try to eat this first week has been pure comedy. Picture a sloth, using one hand to hold a forkful of something mushed flat, its other hand sloooowly trying to guide the fork through the tiny slot of its open mouth, and you’ll get the idea.

It was that same Friday night, a couple days after surgery, that I discovered the sutures sealing a giant pad of gauze in place right underneath the base of my penis and over my vulva. (You’d think I’d notice something like that sooner, right? But nope. Like I said, no pain!) This is when I started to get a little nervous. “I’m sure they have a perfectly good reason why they sewed my vagina shut,” I thought to myself hopefully.

And indeed, I found on my follow-up visit that next Monday, nobody had actually sewn anything shut– it just *looked* like they did. A quick few snips, some forceps tugs, and the sutures and gauze pads were gone, leaving a hole underneath the base of Spot, riiiight where my original factory-issued urethra used to end.

Here’s what’s going on inside that hole, as it was explained to me. The surgeons put a small slit down part of the rebuilt urethra, facing the outside, and lined it up with a hole to the skin’s surface. For most FTM guys, this hole’s usually made to go through the scrotum, and that’s where you pee from for the next few months. Since I didn’t have a scrotoplasty, they put my hole right above the top edge of my vagina. You could be forgiven for thinking the pee comes out there, it’s so close.

(That’s right. All you confused eight-year-olds out there can consider yourselves justified; there’s at least *one* person in the world who pees out their vag. Kinda sorta.)

Now all I have to do is wait three months before I go back in to have my doc scope around the area and see how the former stricture area’s healing. If no more scar tissue’s cropping up, then *six* months from now, they’ll be sewing the urethra slit shut again, and this whole year-long journey can finally come to a happy end.

As an aside, three cheers for my follow-up doctor for agreeing to take photos of my crotch as soon as she’d opened the area back up. She got even more bonus points from me when she aimed the camera and said, “Open wide… and say ‘cheese’!” 😀