I’m on the other side about to be wheeled to a room. They have a clip board for me to write on. The pain is moderate but controlled, especially if I keep my neck totally still, don’t move my jaw or tongue, take mindful breaths, and procrastinate swallowing. Surgery was two and a half hours.
I have a horizontal incision across my throat from this voice surgery:
My takeaway, a whole lot more moves the muscles on and in your neck than you would think. Like, moving to sit up requires a lot from your neck. Breathing moves the inside of your throat every time you inhale. Exhaling doesn’t actually hurt.
They have been calling my spouse on my behalf, and now I can text, too.
I have a numbing spray I can use every few hours for the inside of my throat so that I can swallow. Neck and throat muscles: the most unnoticed constant hard worker.
The incision is larger than I expected at about 3-4″, but they built it into the neck’s natural wrinkle so they said it should vanish well in time. I really feel like they popped the hood to work deeply in that 3-4″, haha. When you can’t speak your first inclination is to nod and shake your head to answer. Oh no, ouch, yikes, I now keep my thumbs up hand READY!
Tip, ask for the liquid and IV form of medication if they want you to swallow something. I’ve mercifully gotten a few as a liquid. A heating pack is providing some relief to the back of the neck and shoulders. My head had to be extended as far back as possible during the length of surgery for the best access to my throat. I imagine this serious soreness will go away in the next few days. I feel like my head could fall off if I were to move it too much, which makes me laugh (mentally) and remember old ghost stories.
I clap to get attention from a distance, but I should have brought my whistle! Dangit. Imma find a way to get me one this week. They initially told me three days of silence, but now they have revised it to seven of total silence. Also no coughing, laughing, whispering, or doing anything which requires upper body strength, since that moves the muscles of the neck, whether I realize it or not. Oh, I feel it, no forgetting now, ha.
I’m in great spirits but weak as of yet. Going to get a hospital room soon 🙂 Pretty sure I know what a guillotine would feel like, haha. A sense of humor helps.
Everyone has been marvelous to me, so attentive, sensitive, skilled, and thoughtful. I feel profound joy; well, and drowsiness; )
I would like a sign for my hospital door that says Silent Film Star, like my friend made the joke. Perfect!
Later: I got up and walked to the restroom this afternoon with the help of a tech. I have a scopolamine patch for nausea, but you have to walk without moving your head at all. I do feel a little shaky. I’m lugging around this IV bag, a blood pressure monitor, and blood oxygen monitor. I’ve been given Oxycodone (tiny pill) and Tylenol (liquid). I do have a buzzer which calls the nurse station, but it’s a little inconvenient because someone replies by voice asking what I need. Fortunately, my nurse keeps a close eye on me, so it isn’t an issue.
She made me a pretend snow cone out of crushed ice and cranberry. Her name is Grace. I like her accent. Grace laughs at the jokes I write on our notepad when I ask her for things. I have taught her a little American Sign Language.
Dr. Coon, my phalloplasty surgeon, stopped by to greet me and gave me a huge hug. Dr. Best visited with me a long while right before surgery to make sure I knew all the ins and outs and had my questions answered. Without my mention, a nurse apologized for not having a way to type nonbinary on my forms; she said there is an option for a large they/them on the chart every time it opens. There is no gender listed on my bracelet. I feel very safe, like everyone who works with me genuinely considers me a unique person with needs that matter. I feel protected at Johns Hopkins right now. I don’t know– the Center for Transgender Health is a special place.
Ooh, another tip, you can ask them to place your EKG leads closer to your flanks so it won’t be on so much hair to hurt ripping out later. Huge improvement, I do recommend.
Later: I’m also on a blood clot preventing medicine now that I’m in a regular room in Weinberg. It’s a shot in the belly. I don’t love it, but it’s quick. To be honest the steroid through IV is much more uncomfortable since it’s cold and prolonged. Ah well, done with that.
The rooms look updated and now have a safe in them we can use. The nurse (who looks like a Malibu Charge Nurse, an impeccable professional) was extremely warm, fun, and thorough with me when I came in. If I press the call bell, they have my room marked as nonverbal so they’re ready. Well, I want to scratch my neck. I want to cough. Someone spelled Tuesday “Teuisday” on the board, which is disconcerting lmao silently, but I have no other complaints whatsoever.
There is a case manager who checks to make sure I am not experiencing financial, transportation, work, or family hardship, having thoughts of self harm or worry, and have a safe place to go home to. She invites me to discuss any of these things, even if the concern is mild. In response, I notice I feel like I can let my guard down and get support, like they’re not going to snatch my care away if I don’t have it together. God, I’ve never felt like that before. I feel like my soul has room to breathe for the first time.