Day 1 past voice lowering surgery, also known as voice masculinization surgery
Swallowing is much harder today, since the swelling moved to the inside of my throat. It is sometimes hard to breathe, so they are keeping me in the hospital another day.
I try to walk, but I am unsteady without being able to move my head. You wouldn’t believe how much you want to move your head to do everything.
I am visited frequently by doctors and residents at my bedside asking questions and taking descriptions, since I am the first one to go through this particular procedure. I feel well attended to and closely guarded.
I started to get hungry today, so they allowed me to have liquid things instead of just ice. Unfortunately we had to take dairy right off the diet, because it was producing congestion which I could not cough or clear my throat, and with a narrowed passageway, it was like a terrible itch I could not scratch. Broth, juice, ice sherbet… It doesn’t do much for hunger, and it takes a long time to eat, but I’m alright.
I was about ready to turn to devious measures to get food, so I convinced a lady coming in to empty the trash to bring me some graham crackers I was going to dip in juice or milk… and as she handed them to me, Nurse Krishna entered and gave me a well-deserved look of stern disapproval. She is a perfectionist with following the rules. Contraband, snatched. I will do right. I will.
I get a lot of shots for blood clots and inflammation. I can’t remember all the names. I’ve never had shots in the belly before.
All the nurses have remembered me from my other surgeries. I got in trouble– I prefer to pee and flush the toilet before they can measure it. I told them I could measure it myself, and they told me not to. It is hard to let people attend to your body fluids! Sigh.
Today I can move my head side to side but not up and down. When you can’t voice, you really want to nod and shake your head! I get automatic feedback on that one. My thumbs up and thumbs down is very active.
Weird thing I learned: Opening my mouth to eat or drink pulls on my neck muscles a LOT. Chewing would be the worst. Straws are my friend. Smiling big hurts— neck muscles. Work quick to stifle a laugh if I feel it coming.
It’s very quiet here, and my IV tape is itchy as all get out. My dry erase marker is wearing out, which worries me. I need a new one to write with.
Dr. Best told me tomorrow would be the hardest day, since it is the peak of swelling. He said I need to try to stay out of the heat and humid air once I am out of the hospital, said it would increase congestion and swelling. Congestion makes you cough, which is hard on these delicate tunings he built for me.
I’ve been trying to imagine what my first words will be to my spouse, after I get back. I will choose very carefully. We have given so many firsts to each other in transitioning. It is a special bond, I think, that I will never share with anyone else.
Before I left her side at the airport to fly here, I asked her to tell me if she is worried about anything. She said, “No, your voice has already changed a great deal since I first met you, and it is no less you. It’s more you.”
I asked her if the cost worried her. “No, these are the reasons we go to work. We will find ways to make more money if we need to.”
I asked her if she would miss the way I speak now. “I don’t see it as much different from a new hairstyle you’ll keep. I’ve felt fondly about the way you have been in the past, and now, and I will feel fondly about you in days to come.”
She blew me a kiss while a police officer waved her to keep her car moving, “I know you need this. Talk to you later!” I wished she could have come with me, but we couldn’t justify the extra airfare, being frugal. This is my 13th week recovering alone from surgery since December, 2017. I don’t like it when doctors and nurses ask if someone is in the waiting room for me. Especially since all I can do is shake my hand no. I feel sad because they look sad for me. But this is our path, many of us.
I have a friend in the ICU right now getting the same surgeries I’ve had. There’s a woman somewhere on this floor who had voice feminization surgery right after me, that same afternoon. I leave my door curtain pulled open in case one of my gender kin who knows me will see me through the window. I am going to ask my nurse to pin my trans pride bandana by the door so someone in recovery will know I am here.
Baltimore is in my heart forever. Sometimes seagulls come to my corner window. I would share jello with them if I could. I wonder if this is really my last surgery. One of the office managers said she is going to buy me kombucha for a treat and bring it later tonight.
My last surgeries were a meditation of stillness, then a meditation of solitude. This is a meditation of silence.
I hurt a great deal, but that is part of this. I have medicine to take the edge off. Pain won’t last forever. I listen to ocean waves on my headphones and pretend I am on the beach napping beside my late mother under an umbrella, when it gets to be too much. I put on my eye mask to cover the flashing lights on so many monitors. Then I fall asleep.