Back to bed, gingerly.
"How are you doing?" asked Beloved, half asleep.
"Umm, some blood, not sure where it's from. Bright, fresh color."
She sprang into action, making sure I had raised hips and no cloth rubbing in sore places. She checked me with a flashlight. "OK, it's not rectal." Meaning no fistula, we hoped. "I'm thinking clitoris. There's a new flap of skin come loose that's not looking happy."
I wouldn't be going in to work.
"Let's move me into my room, where there's a phone. I'll be making some calls."
"So will I. We need a doctor to look at you."
The next two days I spent sleeping, drinking fluids, reading, making trips to the loo, and sleeping -- much like a flu victim. The bleeding had quickly reduced itself to spotting, and ultimately disappeared entirely, in time for the doctor's visit late Thursday afternoon.
The nurse greeted me with a thank you for the roses. I had forgotten them -- sent just as we were leaving, as a thank you for all that this clinic had done for, no doubt their very first transwoman. Everything my situation had thrown at them they had taken in professional stride, in this small-town hospital frequented by loggers and mill-hands and their families.
I was weighed (heavy, too many good restaurants) and B.P.'d (still high, 150/88) and shown into the examination room.
"Would your friend like to come in and be with you when the doctor is here?"
Friend. There was going to be a lot of this in even the best parts of our future -- the use of euphemisms to cover the awkwardness of our socially forbidden existence. I looked at her -- I didn't know this one -- but she looked like she could handle the answer I had in mind.
"Actually, my "friend" and I have been married for twenty-nine years and we have grandchildren -- but, yes, she's my best friend in all the world. Please, I think we'd both like that."
The doctor was the elderly, kindly gentleman who had passed me for surgery, three weeks before. As he gently arranged me in the stirrups he kept up a reassuring patter with Beloved, who was instantly smitten. I could barely feel the solicitous probing and poking.
"This is nice, dears, very nice. Ah, silk! Very good work. I don't see any serious necrosis, really. There's good blood supply to everything. No sign of infection."
"How many stitches are there?"
"Well, it's kind of a continuous running stitch, but you could say, oh, thirty-five, forty."
[snip, snip, snip]
I could feel my body relaxing as the silken constraints fell away.
"There, you'll like that much better, I expect."
He chatted with Beloved about her work and her impressions of the town as I dressed. He took our hands by turns graciously, and to me he added: "Thank you for the red roses, my dear; everyone was quite excited to receive them."
"Well, you've all been so wonderful to me."
"We try to treat everyone the same; but not everyone remembers us in that way. It was very touching."
Back home, I found I was really quite exhausted, and began a round of sleeping, drinking, reading and sleeping that would last right through the weekend. No more blood appeared; but an indefinable soreness set in, which, while it did not interfere with sleep or dilations or going potty, did give me trouble with standing up straight.
some of the touchiness was the oddest sort of thing you could imagine. As if it were in parts I knew I did not have.
I discussed this with Beloved, who agreed that this was the ghost-limb effect known to those who have suddenly lost an arm or a leg -- just in a different place. We expect that this will fade away over time.
A friend, who is expecting to go through all this in the near future, wrote to me: "So, what's it like on the other side?"
A bit grey, actually. Some sort of zest or snap, crackle, pop is missing. This could be just recovery from surgery, or from the disappearance of a couple of chemical factories. It's what I wanted, but still takes getting used to. I'm experiencing something like a post-partum depression, which I expect to get over in due course -- in the meantime I have re-filled a prescription that my doctor had wisely prescribed for me, over a year ago, for just this sort of thing, and it does help.
I'm quiet, reflective, and, interestingly enough, not at all feminine. Perhaps the HRT hasn't caught up. I may or may not be able to re-establish the equilibrium I had before the surgery -- some do, some don't. It's a risky business.
I'm not shocked by looking myself over. What I have seems to belong to me. Yet I don't feel celebratory or relieved, or even what most other girls tell me -- "complete." What I feel is sore and weak, and worried that all this will interfere with my work.
I told her, in my reply, that I wouldn't want to be anyone else, but that I don't recommend Gender Identity Disorder. If you have it to deal with, deal with it, but for those on the borderline, I would say: be damned sure.
Life is work. Life plus GID is work plus work. Plus maybe some people hate you. So you have to do your work plus work, and cultivate friendships wherever you can.
Like with everything else monumental, such as deciding to go cruising to Samoa, you'll take some of your problems with you and acquire new ones as you go. When you reach your goal, it may not mean much to anyone but you, and you may accumulate enough losses along the way to question your original scheme. You could shipwreck. Or you could turn in your tourist's visa and get a passport from a new country. Maybe that's all the surgery is, a passport.
Naturalization. Citizenship. In the eyes of some.
But now that you're here, you've got some new wisdom; you're a voyager. You'll find that most people cannot relate to your journey and may even dislike hearing about it. You carry your ocean with you, and it's a big ocean; you can't give it to anyone "back home."
I told her, in closing: in the end, what you do is get over the surgery, clean yourself up, and go back to work, dear. And if that's all we do, we were among the lucky ones.