Not A Life Choice – The Follow-Up

magicscarves

It was nice to go home for the weekend. Many question why they send you home over the weekend but have you come back the following Monday to have the catheter removed along with all the packing, but it was nice to be home after almost a week in hospital. Over the weekend, my in-laws and my eldest daughter and her husband with our granddaughter came to visit. We ordered out pizza, which after a week of hospital food, was especially good. The food at the hospital was passable, but I mostly like just the breakfast. On Sunday, my kids came to make us brunch, so that was especially nice. We had a great breakfast with French Toast, scrambled eggs and bacon and hash browns. I really love breakfast, so this was especially good. They all left in the early afternoon which gave Cindy and I some time to settle in afterwards.

Cindy had arranged for Kyle to come pick me up and take me to my appointment. He came right on time and I was almost ready but not. I never put on any earrings or my rings, I also forgot to take my Oxycodone before I left, so I was going without pain meds.

We got to the parking deck and got settled in. I managed to get across the streets and over to the Shapiro Center despite having to waddle with a Foley bag strapped to my leg and all the packing between my thighs. We headed up to the eight floor to Dr. Slama’s office. I went and checked in while Kyle set himself up with a view so he could nap while waiting.

In short order was led in by the nurse who I first met when under anesthesia so still can’t remember her name. She is English though, with a distinct accent, so we hit it off right away. She is a new addition to the team to assist Pam as there are more people coming through.  Yes, as more and more awareness comes, so do insurance companies that cover the procedure allowing more to get them. So hopefully, with this blog and others like it, that awareness is coming at an ever increasing rate so that there will be more acceptance and understanding.

I went in with the nurse and was soon on the table. I advised her that I had not taken anything for pain and did not have anything with me. She told me that I should be okay, but wished I had. She advised me of everything she was going to do. We took it step by step. The first thing she wanted to do was to check the responsiveness of my new clitoris. She took a cotton swab and put some alcohol on it and then rubbed it against my new clitoris. I felt it immediately and she was very happy about that. She took out the catheter to get that out of the way. She told me that it is held in place by a balloon filled with water. Once she attached a syringe and withdrew the water, the catheter could be removed with little discomfort. She told me not to worry about peeing as I won’t probably need to for six to eight hours as my bladder would need to fill. She snipped the sutures and slowly drew them out. There was a little discomfort, but not so much pain. Then she told me she was going to remove the packing. Just like a magician pulling scarves from their hat, she went to work. She was amazed at how much packing there was. She said that with that much packing there must be incredible depth. We soon found out. Once packing was clear and all the sutures that needed to be gone were gone, we moved on to the dilation lesson. She explained what I needed to do. We lubed up the smallest of the dilators which you start with. She said that we were going to insert it to see how many dots in we could go to check the depth I would have to do. She slowly inserted and kept going and going and going…. by the time she got to the point where I could feel she hit bottom, all the dots had disappeared. Once again, she remarked about my incredible depth. She continued with the instructions about cleaning, and ensuring I use the right amount of lube. I will have to do this for three times a day for a bit, and then you slowly start to taper off as time goes by. The purpose of this is to prevent your new vagina from closing up. They give you incredible instructions with all the details and timelines.

Dr. Slama and Dr. Oates came by and checked their work. They were both extremely happy with the results and were astounded with my progress. There was a black spot that they showed me in the mirror. They told me not to worry about it that it was just a blood clot that is easily peeled off. Dr. Slama took some tweezers and started to. It was like someone peeling off the skin from a sunburn. Ugh. It didn’t hurt. He said it would all come off as I showered. He also noted that some of the bruising was already getting lighter and was extremely happy with that. Some swelling was still there, but he said that too will pass. He took some pictures of my progress and commented about how well I was doing. I have to go back next Tuesday for another follow-up with Dr. Oates and then no more appointments until July.

I did my dilation last night and it went well. It was boring for the fifteen minutes you have to hold it in, but it went in easy and once again buried the dots. I had bought a douching system and tried to do that, but the douche came out of everywhere but the end of the nozzle, so I immediately ordered another system which will get here today so I can do it properly.

I know some of this will be a little too much information for the general audience, but I wanted this also to serve to educate not only the general public but help with the expectations of those who may be following my steps.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

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Not A Life Choice – And It Is Done!

cropped-irishwarrior

I went with Boudica again as I wanted to express the idea that you need a lot of strength and perseverance to get to this point. Add to that copious amounts of patience.

We stayed in Somerville for the night, so I could take the prep and be able to sleep later in the morning. Had we stayed at home, we might have had to leave by 4a to make our 6a check-in to the hospital. The trip from the hotel was mostly uneventful. I would talk about the prep but anyone who has had a colonoscopy knows this stuff to be pure evil in liquid form.

We arrived at the hospital at 6a and had a quick check-in. Soon I was taken into the pre-op area where they hooked up monitors, IVs and all sorts of stuff. Numerous Doctors, Nurses, and Students flowed through checking on me and introducing themselves. This is a teaching hospital, so there were numerous students. I loved that there were two, one Derrick and one Eric. Perfect! There were so many others but to get them all by name especially when you are nervous about beginning life changing surgery would be crazy.

The surgeons came by and checked on me. They joked around a bit and calmed me down. I was basically in the best place I could be for the surgery. I was just going with the flow. They got me wheeled into the OR and before I knew it I was waking up in the recovery room. They brought Cindy in to stay with me as I regained full consciousness. They were very on top of pain. I had a epidural, which helped any pain down below.

Soon Dr. Slama came by to tell me that the surgery went textbook. They had trouble finding a room afterwards, but before long I was wheeled up to the West Wing, 4th floor, room 4. I was taken aback as the view was amazing. I had a perfect view of the Prudential Tower from my room. I also had a private room as they had detected MRSA when they ran tests prior to surgery. I had been run through with antibiotics prior to ensure nothing would be left and on antibiotic IV while in my room. Protocols were taken to ensure I was clear. The day I arrived and the next day were set aside for bed rest, but by Thursday, I was to be up and at some point walking. I had a checkbox on my board in my room stating I had to walk four times. When they first got me up I struggled, the epidural had caused my right leg to be numb. They managed to help me to a chair and I continued to work to get it back working. They had removed the epidural earlier, but the affects were still there. They brought lunch and as I ate I continued to try to move my leg on my own. It soon started to respond. I managed to walk to the bathroom and back. I did manage to walk to the bathroom, so I took the challenge. Not only did I walk the four times, but I walked all the way down the hall and down the other hall as well. I didn’t stop at four and managed to get in seven of these walks. The nurse was astounded.

I did have a minor setback when I started to get bloated. The positioning on the bed had me pushing down on my butt. There was no way for me to expel anterior gas. When Dr. Slama came, he said he knew how to fix it and rolled me to my side and propped me up with pillows. After they all left, fortunately, I let go a steady stream of gas. The gas company would have been proud. Soon, my stomach was back to normal. They were extremely good at managing my pain. There was one time when the nurse couldn’t get there for a half hour and I suffered for a bit until she could get me my pain meds, but it wasn’t the usual case as they usually were telling me when they would give me the next.

The nursing staff were extraordinary. They really cared for you. I noted that there were some that I just connected with for some reason. One, especially, was Steph. We hit it right off and she was really caring and attentive. I really don’t like to call out names, because, should they read this, some may feel I missed them. Well, there were so many people taking care of me and with the drugs and all, sometimes it is hard to remember names. Leave it to say that they all were outstanding.

I just want to add a little note. The doctors are very good at advising you as to what you can expect. Yes, it will take a bit to get used to your new parts. Yes, you will have pain for a bit and expect some bleeding. They even send you home with some extra pads. You also have to deal with the catheter, though that is manageable. You do have to remember to drain it periodically. They also gave me a second, more portable bag, that can be strapped to your leg. It fits nicely under a long dress so that it is hidden. The larger unit hangs which is good for overnight. That is usually the one you had while you were in the hospital. These are easy to switch out and drain.

What they don’t tell you about is that they have to pin your arms back during the operation. This causes your muscles in your arms to be tight and sore late. I could barely move them at first but worked them out. The other is that with the epidural, you may lose some of the feeling in your legs or as I did in your fingers. I could not feel the thumb and first two fingers on my right hand. I had lost the feeling in my right leg. Which affected when they tried to get me to walk.

I really had no problem when my release time came and I just walked out under my own accord. Of course, I was wearing a short dress so the bag showed a bit, but I was able to walk out. Cindy picked me up outside and soon we were on our way home. She stopped on the way and got some Popeye’s for her son Kyle and I to have for lunch. I was soon set up on my donut with all my meds at home. I would return on Monday for the Follow-Up and have the catheter and packing removed. I will save that for the next.

As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

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Not A Life Choice – The Final Countdown!

cropped-irishwarrior

As of this writing, the time is accelerating. In 3 days, 17 hours, on Tuesday, June 11th, at 6 am, I will be going into the hospital for one of the most important life changing surgeries in my life. I have gone through all the preliminaries and now just waiting and waiting. Knowing I have a tendency to wig out over things,  Cindy suggested we get a hotel room in Boston for the night. This will allow me to settle in and do the whole bowel prep thing and take the antibiotics. We will be a half hour away from the surgical center. We were going to go to a closer hotel, but they wanted almost $300 a night!

The nurse had sent me a list of items that I should have on hand for my return. I have collected all but the stool softer and will get that this weekend. The surgery is expected to take five to six hours. I will stay in the hospital until Friday and then they will send me home for the weekend with the catheter, packing, and drains still in. I will spend the weekend at home and then back Monday to have everything removed and go over dilation. They will do a spinal prior to surgery and that will stay in for a few days.

Once I am home for good, it will be all about rest and recovery. I have a friend that will be with me during the day to assist. I will move to the spare bedroom as that bed is a bit lower and easier to get in and out of. There is also a TV in that room, though I want to focus on the stack of books I have. There is also a nice comfy chair next to the bed. Recovery is said to be about six weeks, though, I only have a month of Short Term Disability.

I know I will have to push myself through the pain. I am not one to stay on narcotics. I ween myself off of them as the pain becomes more tolerable.  We did cancel our Open House at the end of July to allow me more time to heal before I have to stand out there educating people on alpacas. Cindy’s knee is getting worse, so once I am healed, she might have to go in.

So that is the update. I am just biding my time until Tuesday.  I think this is the toughest time, the waiting.

See you on the other side!

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit..

Emma

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Not a Life Choice – Counting Down

ticktock

So today, 5/27, marks the final two weeks. Fourteen days to go. I have already gotten my prescription for antibiotics and bowel cleansing. Cindy is going to get us a room in Boston so we will be close to the hospital. This is so we don’t have to get up so early to get there for the 6am start time.

I have been having trouble sleeping of late. I have too many things running through my mind at the moment. I really have to focus on my surgery at this time, but will also have to find a new place to live sometime around September.  I have no idea what my future holds, but just have to keep pressing on.

The nurse sent a list of things I should get to be ready. I immediately put in an order and got most of it. I think the most important will be the “donut” to sit on when we come home.

So, I will arrive on the Tuesday at 6am at the hospital. I will be prepped and spinal put in. I believe the surgery is around five hours. I will stay until Friday afternoon. I will be sent home with the catheter and packing. I will have to return on Monday to have that removed and go over the dilation procedures that I will have to follow. I just keep rereading everything to ensure I don’t miss anything.

To say that this will be a life-altering procedure is putting in lightly. Not only will I finally have the parts I should have had since birth, but my marriage will be ending towards the end of the year. We are to remain friends and even go out now and then, but we will no longer live in the same house. That is a major adjustment for me.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s a few years ago. Very high functioning, but also very reactive to change. So with all that has gone on recently, It is disturbing. I have to push through though, and keep on keeping on. I have been thinking a lot of my old dog Brandy. She was a great dog and would often go for rides with me. We lost her to cancer.

Today, we stopped at the cemetery to visit Cindy’s Father, Sister, and Brother’s graves. It is hard to believe it has been seven years since his passing to that awful disease, Alzheimers. I broke down and cried. I loved her Dad. As I left, I had another cry over all the changes. I have gone through changes many times before and somehow always managed to come out better in the end. I am hoping this will be the same.

I have a lot to go through. It is funny how I am more concerned with taking that bowel cleanse stuff than the surgery. I will endure the pain. I will get through this major change, and then, focus on the future.

I am not sure where I will finally end up, but hoping it is a good place.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma

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Not A Life Choice – Surgery Update

StayStrong

I haven’t been doing much updating it is more a waiting game at this point. I promised to share my journey to help people understand the long and tedious process. I also hope to inform those coming after me as to the myriad of hurdles and hoops you have to go through. In the end, we must possess copious amounts of patience.

As of today, 5 May 2019, I have 36 days to wait. It should have been 29, but I was told they had to push it off a week as the doctor wasn’t going to be available. Praying there will be no more delays. I am waiting to hear from them as to stopping my hormone regimen. We have to stop for around 30 days prior, though I have heard conflicting info. Some say you can continue your estradiol, but have to stop the spironolactane while others are saying you have to stop it all. I will just have to wait for the Doctor’s office to advise me.

A thing to consider is the time you will be out of work. I spoke to our HR/People Center and was advised that rather than use up all of my vacation for recovery, I should utilize short term disability and file under Family Medical Leave Act. You should do that about six weeks in advance as forms have to be filled out and the doctor’s office has to fill out one so ensure that you have time to get all of this done. I worked with the nurse to get the form done and she told me that since my job is mostly on the computer she will put me in for June 11th (surgery date) to July 8th. Recovery, I am told is usually around six weeks. I plan on taking the day before my surgery as vacation as I will have to take the colon cleanse stuff to get myself cleaned out. I am so not looking forward to that. I had to do that for my last colonoscopy and frankly it sucks. Not so much the having to go to the bathroom so much, but the flavor makes me end up going from both ends.

Another thing to consider is stockpiling lots of cash. Our deductible and copays are high so trying to ensure I have enough money in reserve so I am not deep in debt afterwards.

I will give more update when surgery gets closer and I get my final instructions. I was told that I will go into surgery on the Tuesday. I will stay until Friday and be sent home for the weekend with the catheter and packing still in place. I will return either Monday or Tuesday to have the nurse remove the catheter and packing and give me a set of dilators with instructions on use. The dilators are needed to keep the passage open and as you heal, the frequency of dilations required will go down.

I am already stockpiling ice packs, and have to get a donut like you use for hemorrhoids. Probably need to get lots of pads too. It can get messy.

It is going to be a long recovery, so I have also stocked up on books to read. The nice part is that hopefully, it will be warm and sunny. This dreary, cold rain is really depressing.

I am hoping that my surgery prep electrolysis appointment is my last. I like Linda, but not the pain. I will check back in as we get closer.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit!
Emma

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Accepted But Excepted

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I haven’t been posting much as I am in a waiting pattern for my surgery, as of today, 12 April 2019, I have 52 days. Some say it will fly by. I am having a little trepidation about the surgery due to losing a friend recently. Keira went in for her GCS surgery and never came out. My heart goes out to Sarah. Yet, despite the fears, I move forward.

I have noted the acceptance I have encountered along the way. So many people have supported me, most especially, my wife, Cindy.  I really have been blessed in that way.

One thing I have noted though, that while I have been mostly accepted, I have been excepted from a few things. Recently, my daughter got married. I was happy for her, but I did feel a bit of a sting when I found that her mother had been invited to her bridal shower, but I was not.  Given that this is usually put on by their friends, I couldn’t fault my daughter.  My other daughter came home and was regaling us with all the fun they had at the winery. I would have loved going to a winery!  I snapped at her and told her I didn’t want to hear about it. Of course, I was in the wrong for saying anything. It did sting a bit. Sometimes I think, I am just not supposed to have feelings.

I think what made this worse, was that my Godson is getting married soon. Cindy was invited to the bridal shower, but not me. That came before my daughter’s party, so it was sitting in the back of my mind. So when I was excepted for the second time, it really stung. Once again, I can’t fault my nephew or his fiance as that is put together by others. So I will once again, put my feelings aside to ensure that it doesn’t impair their day.

I wouldn’t really say anything, but I am chronicling my journey. I am also trying to educate. It is my hope that someone reading this becomes aware of the slight you do to transwomen when you exclude them. I can see me not being invited to the Bachelor party but to not invite to the Bridal shower is a double slight. It is my hope that one day people can just be who they are and accepted fully. I have already put these events behind me, despite my nephew’s fiance’s shower coming up at the end of the month. I have to bury my feelings and accept that not all people are accepting. In the meantime, I will continue to try to educate and inform so as to make the lives of those who come after me just a little bit easier.

As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit!

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft

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Losing My Religion

Unity - Impediments to the Colors Coming Together - OurselvesI had always been seen as a spiritual person. I believe in the interconnectedness of all things. What I am finding harder and harder to embrace is the idea of a one God. I am leaning more towards the scientific explanations found through quantum physics and other sciences.

I was involved in the Church for the longest time. As a child, I was an altar person, I sang in the choir and even belonged to CYO for a bit. I was raised Roman Catholic though I always gagged when it came to reciting the Nicene Creed. Especially about believing in one Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. Despite that, I did go on to work as a Youth Minister at a retreat center and interviewed to be a priest. Of course, it would be interesting now, given what we know about me.

I always felt that something was guiding me. I was being placed in position to help people when they most needed it. I took it to be God doing this. These days, I think it is more about being empathic and feeling people’s need rather than a central God figure.

Why the big change? Well, it didn’t really happen overnight, but rather over a long drawn out period of time. As things happened I started to believe less and less in the mantra that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and just take it more as shit happens. Being good or bad has little to do with what happens to you. Rather, it is just things happen.

I think what really started to turn the tide for me was when the Roman Catholic priest pedophile scandals started exploding. I am sorry, a good and loving God would not allow such evil to be done to children.  Jesus even admonishes in Mathew 18:2-6

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 

3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 

4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Yet, time and time again, we hear of more stories uncovered regarding priests abusing children. If this was just confined to the Roman Catholic Church, it would be bad enough, but recent reports relate how it is also with the Southern Baptist ministry.  I think what makes things worse is the lack of action on the part of the Roman Catholic Church to rid itself of pedophile priests. Rather than turning them over to authorities, they shuffled them around to other assignments, potentially exposing even more children. It all began to be made public in the 1980’s. Yet, here we are in 2019 and the Roman Catholic Church only recently had a conclave to discuss the issue! Yet, even coming out of that, there is no push to eradicate pedophile priests and the clergical hierarchy that tried to cover it up!

It only seems to get worse with the Roman Catholic Church as new allegations of sexual misconduct towards nuns was reported last year. For a Church that is supposed to preach the love and light of Jesus, they seem to be more into orgies than sharing the blessings and teachings of Jesus.

The sad part is how the Church attacks the LGBT community despite all the darkness that surrounds them. They go back to the Old Testament to pick and choose passages to support their hate, despite Jesus very clearly stating in John 6:37:

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

One Roman Catholic Cardinal even blamed the LGBT community for the pedophile priests! The Roman Catholic Church has always professed hate towards the LGBT community. It is a wonder that anyone in the community would profess to be Roman Catholic.  I attempted to transition back in the 90’s and left the Church for good at that time. Given their history of professing hate and their sexual misconduct and cover-ups, I think it is a good choice.

Before I continue on, I do want to point out that not all organized religions profess hate towards the LGBT community, some are inclusive and welcoming. My friend Karen Furr is pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Community. I believe most Unitarian Universalist Churches are also affirming. I know I was asked to speak at one back in the 90’s. I believe the Episcopal Church is also affirming. Though, I believe the Methodist have chosen not to be. Wikipedia lists the Evangelical Lutheran Church as accepting. So there are few and you can look up who Wikipedia thinks are accepting on their page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_affirming_LGBT#North_America

It is sad that a Church who espouses the teachings of Jesus can turn its back on those who wish to follow his teachings. While I no longer follow any organized religion, I do try to follow the teachings of many of the great masters. While I have studied primarily Jesus’ teachings, I have also followed Buddhist teachings as well as some Hindu. I also follow the Native American teachings and wisdom. For as the Hindu koan states, “There are many paths up the mountain. The only one not getting to the top is the one who runs around and around telling everyone else they are on the wrong path.”

I do believe that we all need to come together. We need to put aside that which divides us and embrace that we are all one under the skin.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft

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