My experience with gender reassignment surgery, and my trip to Thailand, part 3

Leah Rowe


News article published on 2019-01-02 by Leah Rowe. Return to index

This is a continuation of my last post. On the last post, I ended with my experience just after waking up from surgery.

When Dr. Bank said Everything was a success to me, I was so doped up on morphine and still groggy from the general anaesthetic that I was a total mess and I couldn’t even speak. All I said to him, in a whisper, not even looking him in the eye was Thank you.

I was wheeled back to my room at the hospital. In my head I always think hotel when I think of that room, so I have to correct myself and say hospital. It was indeed a hospital, but it was a brand new hospital and Thailand, unlike the UK, doesn’t have a national health service. In Thailand, you pay for healthcare. I was put in one of their luxury rooms. It felt like a hotel room. It even had a kettle and a small kitchen area, mostly for making coffee. It had a refridgerator.

Not that I really cared while high on morphine.

The recovery room

I don’t remember much of that day. I probably fell asleep. The morphine was still in effect so I didn’t really feel any pain at that point.

2nd August to 8 August 2018: I spent this entire time alone in my room. Nurses would occasionally come to check blood pressure and so on. I spent a lot of time on IRC (on my laptop) talking to people, and I spent a lot of time talking to my mother on the phone.

They offered to give me a little button connected to my bedside hooked up to a drip which would administer small doses of morphine, in case I ever got into pain. However, I have quite an addictive personality. I’m the type of person who gets addicted to things easily.

Honestly? It wasn’t that bad pain-wise. So long as I kept my legs in a certain position and stayed laying on my back, I didn’t get much pain. Sleeping on my back is difficult for me, and sleeping on my sides was painful so I didn’t get much sleep sometimes. I’d fall asleep during the day and mostly sleep all day.

I couldn’t touch my vagina during this first week. It was a fresh new wound from surgery, so it was covered up to prevent infections and whatnot. The wound cover was quite large and my new genitalia was quite swollen so I couldn’t keep my legs closed together, I had to keep them spread apart slightly.

Prior to surgery, I was very fit. I worked out regularly, mostly on the bicycle. I could jump straight out of bed and walk for miles. I could run. I could cycle at 20+mph for an hour straight if I wanted to, on an empty stomach after just waking up out of bed. And I did so regularly (fast cycling helps burn fat. Then you eat breakfast after your session).

Contrast that to 2 days post-op. I had taken for granted being able to walk. Against the advice of the nurses, I got up to make coffee. Big mistake. I didn’t damage myself in any way, luckily, but I was extremely dizzy and low on energy. Everything hurt. However, because I’m a total bad-ass and have an insane pain tolerance, I managed to get to the kettle, fill it up with water and bring it to my table, along with a full supply of coffee that they had in a jar. The caffeine helped me stay awake and gave me energy.

This was a very stupid thing to do, but in my head I was doing it out of defiance. In retrospect, I was quite insane. I could have easily fallen. I was walking at a snail’s pace and struggled to keep my balance. I could have called the nurse and asked for coffee but I was quite arrogant and used to being able to do everything myself.

The nurses later (the next day. this happened at night) came into my room and laughed. They found it amusing that I had made it to the kettle. They confiscated the kettle because I wasn’t allowed to lift anything heavy (that includes a kettle full of water), and they told me that caffeine was not good for me in that stage of my recovery. That really pissed me off.

Eating was difficult during this period. I couldn’t lean forward too much or I would be in pain. At several times I had to ask the nurse to feed me.

Farting was painful, because it made my labia flap. Coughing was painful, for the same reason. Every movement hurt. I had to try to stay still at all times.

During this week, I had a catheter connected to me so that I could pee. The nurses would come in every day to empty my pee bag. I wasn’t allowed to take a shit unless absolutely necessary. They fed me only very small amounts of food, all low fibre to prevent a bowel movement. In addition to food, nurses also came in with medications every day. I requested not to have morphine, but they did give me paracetomel and ibuprofen. Other medications were things like anti-biotics (for infections), anti-swelling pills (danzen was the name of the medication, iirc) plus my anti-depressants. The anti-depressants were supplied by the hospital and I paid for them myself; Thailand is very strict about medications when arriving into the country, so I left my prescription at home and bought a prescription out of pocket when I arrived.

At the end of this week, Suporn came into my room and took the wound cover off. He inserted a dilator into me, to assess my depth. I had 6.3 inches (these days, I have about 7 inches. I gained some depth after the swelling went down). He gave me some anti-sceptic to apply regularly, to keep the area clean.

I was instructed to go to the toilet, to test whether I was able to pee without a catheter. After trying really hard to pee, a rupture occured but I didn’t know that. I felt liquid coming out so I assumed I was able to pee. However, when I looked down I could see a dark pool of blood in the toilet. I was very dizzy as a result of blood loss. I called for the nurse, who then brought Suporn back. The catheter was re-inserted. After recovering a bit, I was then instructed to clean my genitals in the shower.

After that, I was discharged from hospital. I spent the next few weeks in a hotel, with nurses visiting me every day and I went to the Suporn clinic every 2 days for regular checkups.

The rest of this story will be covered at a later date.

Tune in next week :)

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