Something of a diary entry, Longer.
Hospital time messes up your sleep like no other. My days and nights have gone topsy turvy again in Baltimore. At some moments I have tremendous energy like normal, and then it disappears like fog.
I signed the discharge papers, put on street clothes, and met an arranged community friend outside of the hospital.
W, a fellow of my experience, took me from the hospital today when I was discharged. We had just met. He then drove me to another brother’s house, the fellow M. The neighborhood is called Charles Village, where the row houses are larger, colorful, and each has a postage-stamp sized flower and herb garden in front. I felt ferried to safety by these kin from far away.
W made sure I got a soft risotto dinner and introduced me to his husband R; M and his husband J sat with me on the couch. They listened to me talk with them using my text-to-speech app. I noticed we are all about the same age. Both couples are very in love.
I thought it would result in awkwardness not being able to voice, but we had fun with it. The welcome among trans queer kin here warms you, like the amber orange-gold of their heart pine floors. They share of themselves so freely. Their food, their time, their space. Their knowledge.
My pain simmers low today, although present. I followed all the rules, except for once, when a “thank you” popped out of my mouth– like a frog before I could catch it! I hope there’s no consequence.
I feel the ache when I swallow and when I strain to clear my throat. I can breathe more easily now that swelling is down. I can forget pain when I’m writing conversation on my small whiteboard. I’m using less medicine. To be with friends, maybe I notice the pain less. My work is to stifle laughter, and there can be harder work than that.
Tonight I am tucked into M and J’s 120-year-old guest bedroom, high in the long and narrow homes of the Mid-Atlantic, close to Baltimore’s harbor. It’s summer without air conditioning in this room, but unlike home in Texas, they don’t seem to need much air conditioning. Everyone complains about the humidity, but I don’t notice.
BUT In this third day of silence, I begin to worry.
I start to worry about what if, what if my voice has gone wrong. What if I don’t ever speak again? What if the sound is ugly? I have so much faith in my surgical team. Did I trust too much?
AND In this third day of silence, I begin to doubt.
Should I have submitted myself to Dr. Best without ever being able to observe an example of this kind of work, anywhere in the world? I had taken that gamble with Dr. Coon, and it had gone well. Shouldn’t my luck run out soon? Catastrophizing, I half-heartedly expect I’ll never speak again. I try to dismiss my fears, but they linger.
However, I do know I had surgery only Tuesday. It is early Friday morning. I’ve only just started eating and walking normally. I remember I need to be gentle with myself. Healing never happens in an instant. I sit myself on the idea of patience.
In three more days, I’ll be back on the plane ready to voice to my family that I love them. But it isn’t time yet, because I have more community to meet here. And it isn’t time to rip the birthday wrapping off my new voice.
Tomorrow I ferry on to the next kin house, one belonging to a transgender lesbian couple. Such a trail of love these couples make, for travelers. Our homes are safe stops along the way, as we go.