Body dysphoria and sexuality

It seems like some of the first questions people think about with regards to trans people are “What’s in your pants?” “How does it work?” and “Who do you have sex with?” In this post I am going to talk about my own experiences with the intersections of body dysphoria and sexuality. This post is going to be quite long and I would like to make a few disclaimers up front. First, I want to make sure it is emphatically stated that gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender social roles are separate things. I will be discussing my experiences of where these intersect, but it is important to keep in mind that they are distinct. My one sentence explanation of the difference between the first two is “Sexual orientation is who you want to go to bed with, while gender identity is who you want to go to bed as.” Gender social roles pertain to how we perform gender in society: males generally perform masculine social roles, but those could easily be performed by someone who identifies as female and vice versa. Secondly, I want to say that my experiences are not to be interpreted as some “universal” trans experience. Every person, trans or cisgender, has a unique sexuality all their own. There may be other trans people who will be able to relate to my experiences of dealing with body dysphoria in their sexual life, but I expect there are many others who don’t have to deal with these specific issues. Third, I want to add a warning that I will be talking a lot about things of a sexual nature. I am going to be open and frank about my own body’s sexual function and how my body dysphoria affects sexual desire and performance. I want to say that just because I, as one trans person, am willing to share this personal information, it does not mean it’s okay to question other trans people about things of a personal nature. If you wonder whether a question is appropriate for a trans person, imagine asking the same question to a cisgender person. If it is inappropriate to ask a cisgender person, it is inappropriate to ask a trans person. So please, don’t ask trans people personal questions unless they has specifically given you permission to do so. But even then, just because you are allowed to ask does not mean you will always get an answer. With that in mind, I want to extend to my readership the permission that you are free to ask me questions. I may not always answer all of them, but part of my intention with writing this blog is to help educate others about the trans experience by sharing my own life experiences. Educating others is not necessarily my job, but it is my hope that as more people understand the trans experience, it will create greater empathy for those of us who struggle with the unique difficulties of being trans and lessen the stigma and discrimination against trans people.

For many trans people, the first step taken towards physically transitioning the body is hormone replacement therapy. For trans men, that hormone is testosterone, or T as it is known in the trans masculine culture. Testosterone is a very powerful hormone. Trans men are repeatedly cautioned about the changes, many of which are irreversible, T will cause before being allowed to start on hormone therapy. Some of these changes include a deepening of the voice, a shift to male pattern hair growth, increased musculature, penile (clitoral) enlargement, shifts in body odor, shifts in fat distribution, cessation of menses, and increased sex drive. Some trans men have also reported changes in facial shape, increases in the size of hands and feet, increases in energy and appetite, and various emotional changes, including shifts in sexual orientation. Many trans men, such as myself, welcome the majority of the physical changes as an affirmation of our true selves. The degree of change in any particular individual is dictated by genes, just as it is for cisgender men. Not all trans men will get a deep bass voice, just as not all cisgender men have a deep voice. Some trans men will get male pattern baldness, just like some cisgender men get male pattern baldness. My own hairline has receded considerably since starting on T. The extent of genetically determined changes to the genitalia, like penile growth, have a profound impact on which lower surgeries will be viable options for relieving body dysphoria.

My top surgery gave me an immense amount of relief from some of the body dysphoria I’d lived with for as long as I can remember, but I still have a considerable amount that affects my life on a regular basis. Some of this dysphoria relates to things I can change, like the female shape of my waist and hips. I have started physical training with a focus on strength training and weight loss to reduce the female shape and build a more muscular, masculine body and testosterone will continue to shift my body’s fat distribution to a more masculine shape. But as I am quite overweight, weight training and hormone therapy will take a considerable amount of time before I see many results. While the female shape of my body does cause me some amount of angst, by far the greatest dysphoria I still struggle with is directly related to my lack of typical male genitalia, which will only be correctable by surgery. Attaining typical, functional male anatomy is a lot more problematic than reshaping my body.

The testosterone has been as generous as I could have hoped in giving me penile (clitoral) growth. I had a bit of an advantage, though. Before I started on T, I already had a considerable amount of natural testosterone produced by my own body, enough to grow a small but visible goatee on my chin. This testosterone also gave me a head start on penile growth with a clitoris that was on the larger side of average and positioned a bit more forward than it is for some women. Now that I have been on T for 2 years, my genitalia look more intersex than strictly male or female. What was my clitoris has developed into a small but distinct penis. It has grown in length to approximately 6 cm (2.3″) flaccid and about 8.5 cm (3.3″) erect (yes I do get erections just like other guys). It has a fully formed glans head complete with crown. The clitoral hood is now a foreskin that covers the glans. While the top of my penis now looks male, the underside still has remnants of the female anatomy. The foreskin is attached to labia that extend down from both sides of the shaft and the labial folds form a split that runs from the base of the penile head down to the vaginal opening. Some of this tissue swells with the rest of the shaft on erections giving me some added girth, usually from about the width of a pinky finger when flaccid to a bit wider than a thumb when erect. Even with this growth though, I do not have the ability for penetrative sexual function. Because the female clitoris is held under the pubic bone by ligaments, my little guy is pretty much stuck pointing due south. The lower surgery I have decided on getting is called a metoidioplasty and is often referred to as a clitoral release since it releases the ligaments holding the penis under the public bone and allows it to be moved up to a more male position. The ligaments are then used in the penile shaft to add girth and the skin of the labia minora is used around the shaft. The metiodioplasty is often performed in conjunction with a scrotoplasty where the labia majora are stretched and stitched together to form a scrotal sack for testicular implants. This surgery will help give me a more male appearance, but unfortunately it will not give me anything close to an average male size, and it is unknown if I will gain the ability to perform penetrative sex.

Our society places an enormous value on a male’s ability to engage in penetrative sex. So much so that for many years, babies born with ambiguous genitalia were assigned to be male or female based on the size of the penis and the future potential of penetrative sexual function. If the baby’s existing penis was too small, the child was emasculated and female genitalia was constructed so the child could be raised as a girl. It was deemed that males could not lead a satisfied life if their penis was considered too small. I am glad that these views are beginning to change and that people with intersex conditions have started to gain a voice in the medical field to advocate that surgical corrections only be performed when serious physiological complications are present. As much as I disagree with the medical field’s surgical correction of males deemed to have too small a phallus (mainly because it robs the infant of any personal choice and often causes loss of sexual sensation), I do understand some of the concerns about living as a man with a small penis. I know it is not impossible to have a satisfying sexual life, but it can present some difficulties.

It can be very frustrating to deal with desires, of any sort, that cannot be fulfilled. We don’t have much choice over what we desire, but we do have choices about how we will act on our desires. We make these choices based on the benefits we will gain or the consequences we will avoid, and sometimes we have to choose between competing desires. I get up early three times a week to work out because my desire for a strong, fit, manly body is stronger than the desire to sleep in. I go to work every day because my desire to be able to take care of myself and my family is more important than the desire to stay home and goof off. There are some situations where people would say they have no choice because the consequences of a choice would be too much to bear, but that does not actually negate the fact that a choice was made. But what do you do when you have a desire that can’t be fulfilled because there really are no choices?

I am a man who has the typical male desire to engage in penetrative sex, a desire left unfulfilled due to the lack of functional anatomy. Most of the time it is manageable, but at times the desire gets strong enough that it leaves me feeling impotent. Along with the impotence comes a whole flood of fears and doubts about my worth as a man, or even my right to call myself a man. Oddly enough, the frustration over the lack of ability to function like a typical male has increased with the changes to my genitalia from the testosterone. It’s as if the closer I get to actually having a penis, the stronger the desire and expectation my brain has to be able to use it like a penis. While there is no question that I have the innate physical desire to engage in penetrative sex, I do often wonder how much of my fears and doubts about my worth as a man are influenced by the societal expectation that in order to be a real man you have to have a functional penis capable of penetration. I don’t actually believe that a penis is required to be a man, and I don’t believe that all trans men must try to attain one. But for me, having a penis is something integral to my identity as a man, and I fear that I will always feel a bit less of a man without one.

To complicate things even more, I also experience the desire for sexual pleasure from using my female genitalia for receptive penetration. As someone who has always been highly sexual, I learned to use the existing anatomy to fulfill my desires the best I could, so I have not had an aversion to receptive penetration as some trans men do. In fact, as a teenager I often wished that I had been born a hermaphrodite, with a functional penis and vagina (with no internal female organs). I thought that this would be the best of both worlds as I could be a man, but still be able to engage in the pleasure of receptive penetration. I think the lack of dysphoria with my vagina (even though I have had a lot of dysphoria with the internal female anatomy) was a large part of why it took me so long to figure out that I am a trans man. I always wanted a penis, but didn’t necessarily want to give up having a vagina. When trying to live in the black and white world where penis = male and vagina = female, I thought I couldn’t be a man because men didn’t have vaginas. Luckily I have been able to move past this biological essentialism to understand that your genitalia actually have very little (to nothing) to do with your gender. It so happens that most men have penises and most women have vaginas. But some men have vaginas and some women have penises and that’s okay.

While I have not had much dysphoria with having a vagina, I have had a considerable amount about the internal female plumbing, which apparently came as some surprise to my wife when discussing this the other day. Her thought was “Since it is all inside and can’t be seen, how could it be causing dysphoria?” For me, my femaleness didn’t come from having a vagina, it came from having the uterus, ovaries and monthly cycle associated with those internal organs. The vagina was merely a means to sexual pleasure. The monthly cycling was the constant reminder of being female. Some of this dysphoria subsided when the T caused my cycles to stop. Unfortunately, it seems that my body is still doing some cycling and causing me problems with headaches, spotting, and depression. Within the next few months I will be scheduled for a complete hysterectomy which should relieve the dysphoria and other symptoms I have from the internal female plumbing. I will be very happy to see them go. The hysterectomy will leave the vagina in tact, but there will come a day when I will have to make a permanent decision about whether or not I want to keep it.

In addition to complications from anatomy, my transition has brought a slight shift in my sexual orientation towards a greater desire for sexual experiences with other men. I have always been bisexual so this shift is not some drastic change, but there has definitely been an increase in my desire for sex with men. I have occasionally wondered how much of this shift is exacerbated by my strong desire for a penis of my own. How much of my desire to be sexual with a man is influenced by my own frustration of wanting what I don’t/can’t currently have? I also wonder how much of my discomfort about my weight and my “female” shape is due to my pessimistic belief that no gay man would ever be interested in an overweight trans man without a penis. It doesn’t actually matter that I’m not looking for a male sexual partner. It’s more the fact that in my perception of myself, there is no male partner who would want me. Maybe I have internalized too many of the stereotypes about how gay men are supposedly only interested in muscular guys with washboard abs and large penises. I read an article the other day on Gawker titled “The Real Reason Gay Men Don’t Get Fat.” It was a bit of a depressing read. The article postulated that gay men’s fear of being alone and unwanted drives them to get fit and stay fit under the assumption that gay men only care about bodies. While this may be true for a subset of gay men, I am not willing to accept it applies to even a majority of gay men. But the article did make one interesting note that I have been pondering on for the past few days. It said that gay men are attracted to themselves and will often remake their own bodies into what they desire in a mate. I started thinking about this premise and how it intersected with my questions about how much of my desire for a male sexual partner was driven by my desire for a male body and how closely the image of my own ideal body for myself matches with traits I am attracted to in other men.

While gender identity and sexual orientation are separate things, in lived experience they do intersect and influence each other, sometimes in ways that can be quite unpredictable. A difficulty that I, as a trans person, have faced in my own self discovery is trying to sort out where all the lines are drawn, wondering how my body dysphoria has shaped my desires. I know that not all of my desires for sex with men are caused by my desire for a male body, but I do question how much that desire would change if I had fully functional male genitalia. And how much has the testosterone influenced the shifts in my sexual orientation? How would my view of myself change if I believed I could attract male partners? How are my desires for performing penetrative sex influenced by my longing to have a penis capable of everything an average cisgender male can do? Will I still want to keep my vagina, and would my decision change if I could get a fully functional penis? And how do I deal with the frustration of genitalia that doesn’t function like my brain expects it to? I don’t yet have answers to these questions, and I predict it is going to be some time before I have much of it figured out. But I think it is important that we can ask ourselves these kinds of questions. We spend so much time reiterating and detailing how gender identity is different from sexual orientation or social roles that we don’t take much time to look at how these things intersect and interact with each other. Maybe we spend so much time and energy trying to keep these separate because we are afraid that if we acknowledge that they do intersect, we will be perpetuating myths that conflate them and contribute to discrimination and invalidation of our identities. But we do ourselves a big disservice when we allow our fear to keep us from looking at our lived experiences as a whole. Gender identity, sexual orientation, and social roles do intersect and interact with each other in life. In understanding both how they are independent and how they influence each other, we will better understand ourselves.

The bizarre world of body dysphoria

I have found it quite difficult explaining body dysphoria to people who have never had the misfortune of experiencing it firsthand. It often seems a bit like trying to explain colors to someone who has never been able to see. How do you really explain to someone that parts of your body feel foreign and wrong and that it feels like other parts are missing?

Ever since puberty, I spent at least some part of every single day in distress about my breasts. Over the years I tried various ways of making peace with them, trying to at least be okay with their presence even if I couldn’t get myself to like them. Nothing ever worked, and it seemed the harder I tried, the worse the dysphoria became. It was a constant anxiety. It was worst when out in public, but the anxiety was always present, even when I was alone. When I was around other people, the part of me that was constantly aware of my breasts was always trying to minimize or hide them. They felt like alien growths that didn’t belong to my body. While I did not come to the understanding of being trans until just a couple of years ago, I always felt like people would not be able to see me for who I was because of the breasts. This feeling finally made sense when I realized I am trans. I did get some sense of relief when making the decision to transition knowing that I would finally be able to get rid of the breasts once and for all. When I made that decision, I did not realize just what a profound impact it would have on my life.

It has been nine months since top surgery and the change that this has had on my quality of life has been nothing short of phenomenal. The constant anxiety over my chest is now gone.  I can finally wear shirts that actually fit instead of ones that are 1-2 sizes too big to hide the breasts. I even wore a tank top out in public last weekend for the first time in years and never once had anxiety about how my chest looked. My chest is not perfect. I have scars and will need at least one revision to fix the excess skin under my arms and to move my nipples down a bit. But those issues are minor in comparison to the feeling that my chest was alien to me.

Some people have tried to understand the trans experience of having a ‘wrong’ body by comparing it with typical complaints many of us have about things we don’t like or that we’d like to change about our bodies: things like being overweight or wanting the “perfect” <insert body part here>. But wanting the perfect body part is much, much different than believing the body part does not belong on your body at all. Because I now have a few things that need to be changed about my chest, I can better understand just how different these two experiences are. There is minor anxiety around wanting to fix the imperfections in my chest. But the internal experience is not at all like the experience of feeling like my breasts didn’t belong there. My chest is mine now, even as imperfect as it is. It’s the chest I was always supposed to have to be congruous with the internal image of myself. My outward experience has also shifted. If I were to go to the gym and change in the dressing room, I would have some discomfort about showing my bare chest because of the scarring, but I wouldn’t feel like I couldn’t be seen as myself. It would be the difference between feeling embarrassment and feeling invisible.

Every trans person has struggled to explain the experience of body dysphoria to those who are not trans.  The thought that a person would feel like part of their body did not belong to them is so foreign to most people that they have no frame of reference to even contemplate such an experience. Attempts to create a frame of reference by comparing it to the desire for some way to make an existing body part “better” don’t really get to the essence of what body dysphoria is. Medical science has come a long way in the past 10 years, and studies are starting to show how our brain has its own internal body map. For a trans person, the brain’s innate body map does not match the physical reality of the body, and this is where the dysphoria comes from. This is how a person can feel like a healthy part of their body does not belong to them or how they can feel like their body is missing parts that their brain says should be there. For cisgender people, the brain’s map of the body is congruous with the physicality of the body. Cis people may not always like everything about the body they have, but their brain isn’t telling them that parts of their body don’t match what it expects to be there. My experiences of my body before and after top surgery have given me some new insights into how different these frames of reference are from each other and why trying to use the frame of reference of “improving” a body part is so inadequate to explain body dysphoria.

Top surgery has not eliminated all of my body dysphora. To feel completely comfortable in my body I will eventually have to seek changes to my genitalia, but that discussion will require another post of its own.

A long overdue update

It has been way too long since I have written a post here. I have spent the past 8-9 months fighting with my body in one way or another. Some of it related to my transition and some related to having arthritis in my knees. Last September I injured my left knee running for a bus as I was headed to work. Recovering from the knee injury in addition to recovering from top surgery would have been enough for me to be getting on with, but I also had to switch to a different formulation of my hormone therapy. In the US I was on 150mg of testosterone cypionate injected once a week. Not knowing how long it would take me to get trans care in the Swedish medical system, I brought almost a year’s supply of T with me when I moved. Once in the system I found out that testosterone cypionate is not available here. The only T available here is something called Nebido, which is a long release injection designed to last 12 weeks. Whether it was a language failing in understanding time schedules on my part or a failing in setting the time schedule on the part of the endocrinologist, I ended up on the wrong shot schedule when I switched. Even though Nebido is supposed to be a 12 week cycle, there is a ramp up time, so your second shot is actually supposed to come 6 weeks after the first. Because I was already on T, I guess the endo didn’t think I would need the extra ramp up time and scheduled my second shot for 12 weeks. In an unfortunate happenstance of timing, I ended up hitting a low in my T levels at about the same time I was hitting a depressive cycle from the top surgery anesthesia. I had been warned about the depression that could come after surgery so I didn’t know that part of the problem was that my T levels were too low.  A month after surgery I had my next injection. I started feeling better but still hadn’t put it together that it was my T levels causing problems. It wasn’t until 2 months later in the beginning of February that I started to realize something was really wrong when I began to experience severe depression that couldn’t be explained by life events. On the outside life was great. I was healing well from surgery and I had a wonderful freedom from a constant source of suffering for the first time since puberty. I had an awesome marriage to a beautiful woman. I had a good job where I was well liked and respected. But internally I was struggling to find a reason to keep going. It was maddening. I had felt this kind of depression before when I would have a particularly difficult monthly cycle so it finally dawned on me that my hormone levels were off. I tried to stick to the 12 week schedule but finally broke down and took my T shot early in hopes that it would relieve some of the depression. I was right and the shot did help, so I scheduled an appointment with the endocrinologist. The first endo I saw had moved to a different hospital so I ended up seeing a different doctor. She was the one who explained that I was supposed to have ramped up on the Nebido, even already being on T. She tested my T levels at 8 weeks and found that they were already getting low so she reset my shot schedule to every 8 weeks instead of every 12. I have been doing better, but I still feel like my levels are getting lower earlier than they should be. I have decided not to try to have the schedule changed until after my hysterectomy though. The hysto will alter my hormone levels anyway, so it will be easier to get things adjusted once that is done. I don’t yet have a date for the surgery, but I have completed the pre-op appointments and am just waiting for the surgery department to set the date. They are doing this one using a robot assist and the robot is typically scheduled for more urgent cases in the summer months. The doctors expect that I will be given a surgery date sometime early fall. Hopefully in September.

Through all of this I have also been dealing with arthritis as well as a knee injury. I went through a few months of physical therapy designed to help strengthen the injured knee and to help with the arthritis. I have been on an exercise routine with a stationary bike that is helping and a couple of weeks ago I started back on my weight lifting routine for upper body workouts. I am feeling stronger with less pain and have even lost 3kg  (6.5 lbs) in the last month.

It has been a long haul dealing with the physical pain of recovery while going through repeated cycles of soul crushing depression, but things are finally calming down now that I am on a better T cycle and have a consistent exercise routine. Life is finally starting to get back to something resembling normal, so I hope to be writing on a more regular basis. Feeling more like myself again should help.

Surgery and recovery

My surgery went as scheduled three weeks ago today. The surgery itself went well despite running longer than expected leaving my poor wife and mother a bit panicked when I was 2 hours overdue before they heard about my successful outcome. My surgery was scheduled for 1:00 and it was probably about 1:30-1:45 before they got started. I had originally told my mom it should take about 2 hours with some time in recovery so she was expecting to hear something by around 3:30 or 4 Stockholm time (she is in Seattle so was waiting for a call from my wife about my status). When I went into surgery, my wife asked the nurse when she should be back to meet me out of recovery and the nurse told her to be back around 4. Wanting to make sure she did not miss me, she stationed herself on the bench outside the elevators around 3:00.

When I woke in the recovery room, I had been having a bad dream and was quite started when the nurses tried to rouse me. I couldn’t remember the dream but was so startled that I cried out and attempted to get up, much to the nurses surprise. The sudden motion of trying to get up made me instantly aware of the searing post-op pain in my chest. The nurses started me on a heavy duty pain killer. I don’t know what they had me on, but they had to keep reminding me to breathe because it suppressed the body’s natural breathing reflex. I was still very groggy from the anesthesia and it was difficult to stay awake, but every time I would start to fall asleep I could feel myself stop breathing. It would jolt me awake and I would take a deep breath and struggle to remain conscious. When I first woke up I was able to make out from the clock on the wall that it was about 5:20. I knew I was overdue, but was too out of it to ask if someone had told my wife that I was out of surgery. Finally about 6:00 I had regained enough cognitive ability to ask the nurse if someone had informed my wife. The nurse asked if my wife was in the building and if she had a cell phone, which I answered yes to both questions. The nurse then brought me a phone to let me call her. She was ecstatic to hear from me and astonished that I could remember her phone number. I am still amazed that I remembered her cell phone number since it was a fairly new number and I usually didn’t have to dial it as it’s programmed into my phone. Just after my call, my wife called my mom to let her know that the surgery went well and I had come through just fine. I am sure my mom was beyond relieved to get the call. She was getting very panicked as it got later and later with  no news.

The nurses in the recovery room continued to give me pain medication every 10-15 minutes and told me I would not be able to go back downstairs until my pain levels were under a 4 on a 0-10 scale. I started out around level 8 when I woke from surgery and it wasn’t until about 7pm that I was finally down to a 3.5 to 4. Once my pain levels were down, they wheeled me downstairs. My wife met me as they wheeled my bed off the elevator and down the hall to my place in the room on the surgical ward. She was even more surprised at my ability to call her when she finally saw me and saw just how hard it was for me to stay awake.  I spent the rest of the evening sleeping. As much as I wanted to be up to tell my wife about everything I just couldn’t stay awake. I barely remember her kissing me goodnight and heading off home. Just after she left the nurse got me up to use the bathroom. I was so nauseous from the pain medication that once I got into the bathroom I was sure I would throw up. Luckily I didn’t though. When I got back into bed I told the nurse of my nausea and they started giving me on an anti nausea medication every time they gave me the pain meds. The night nurse woke me every couple of hours to give me morphine and check up on the incisions. At one point in the middle of the night she became quite concerned about my right side. She hurried off and came back with an IV of something. I never did find out exactly what it was she gave me, but I assumed it was something to try to prevent infection.

I woke around 4:30 Friday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, partly because the room I was in had 2 other guys who were snoring very loudly and a third guy who was in some intestinal distress as he kept going to the bathroom every couple of hours. Around 6:30 the nurse let me know that the doctors would be in at 7:30 to do a post op check. I messaged my wife that the docs would be coming in and she rushed to the hospital in time to meet with the doctors as they took a look at their work. Both were quite pleased with the results. I had some extra puffiness on the right side, but overall things looked pretty good. Later that morning they removed my drains. I had been having a lot of pain from the drain on the left side and when they went to remove it I found out why. While I was in the recovery room the nurses had to move me up in the bed. As they did so, I had a searing pain on my left side for a moment and then continued to have pain if I moved wrong. When they went to remove the drain they found that the stitch holding the drain had been ripped out. Once the drains were out, I was able to get dressed and was released to go home with a follow up appointment for the following Friday.

My wife was adamant that we get a taxi home instead of trying to go by public transport. I found out from the nurse that we were able to get a reduced fare taxi home. We had a bit of an ordeal getting the taxi though. We thought we knew where we were supposed to wait, but 20 minutes past when we were supposed to be picked up we found out we were waiting at the wrong door. The nurses called us a second taxi and made sure we knew where to meet it. We were crammed in with 2 other people on our way home to which my wife commented that it perfectly represents socialized health care: crowded and late but you don’t have to pay for it. Once we got home I phoned my mom to give her an update and spent the rest of the day sleeping. Through the first week I seemed to be healing up fairly well. I was still very tired all the time and sleeping as much as I could, but it felt like I was slowly healing. I went into my first post op and they said things looked good overall. There was some redness around some of the incisions that the nurse was concerned about and said I should keep an eye on it in case of infection. Sure enough, three days later I was getting up one evening and had a gush of fluid come out the incision on the left side. I was able to get back into the doctor’s office the next day and found out I had contracted an infection. I was prescribed the antibiotic flucloxacillin and told to start taking it as soon as possible, preferably right after going to the pharmacy. On the way home from the doctor’s office I could tell I was starting to run a fever. Once I got home I was in full blown chills. My wife tucked me into bed with some extra blankets and I went to sleep. My fever broke in the middle of the night and luckily did not recur. The infection greatly increased my pain levels and my overall feeling of exhaustion. My pain medication was prescribed for every 6 hours. The first week I was able to go sometimes 8-10 hours before needing another dose, but once the infection set in I was getting breakthrough pain after 4-5 hours. Even though I was exhausted, the higher pain levels made it harder to sleep. I started feeling a bit better a few days after starting on the antibiotic but it took a little over a week before I really started feeling like myself again.

It has been a rough three weeks, but I can say without hesitation and without question that it has all been worth it. Now that I am coming out of the anesthesia/pain med haze I will be able to write more about what life without the breasts has been like aside from the medical complications. But that will need to be a post of it’s own, which I hope to write in the next couple of days.

Waiting for “Christmas”

I was originally scheduled to go into surgery today. I had been waiting for what felt like forever, watching my countdown clock tick off the days to my surgery date. I woke last week Monday with the excitement of knowing I had finally gotten to single digits. It was 9 days to my surgery date. Sometime mid morning I received a call from the hospital. A nice woman was tasked with giving me the bad news that my surgery date had to be rescheduled due to the hospital needing to close one of the operating rooms for some reason unknown to me. The soonest available date was November 3rd.

Ever since I got my surgery date back in late July, I knew that there was a possibility that it could be changed. My initial appointment with my endocrinologist was changed 3 times. It’s just something you have to deal with when you have a socialized medical system. Appointments are prioritized based on needs instead of on ability to pay. I certainly wouldn’t change that part of the system, but it means that occasionally I have to deal with appointments getting moved. I had hoped that since surgery is a much more involved process it might mean that there was less of a chance of it getting moved. I do believe that is usually the case, based on the apologetic wording used in the confirmation letter I was sent after agreeing to the November 3rd date.

My rational mind was fine with the change. I went through and listed all of the rational reasons why this would be alright despite the disappointment. But feelings aren’t rational, no matter how much I try to force them to be so. Somewhere deep down I felt like a 6 year old boy who was just told he had to wait an extra 2 weeks for Christmas this year. I keep telling myself that in the grand scheme of things, 2 weeks will seem insignificant, but no amount of rationalizing has made me feel much better about it. Today should have been one of the happiest days of my life, but now my countdown clock says that day is still 13 days away. At least Sims 3 Pets comes out here today. I will be able to lose myself for awhile in Sims land while I wait 2 more weeks for “Christmas.”

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