The long tail of recovery

Seven months since surgery!

While the initial recovery from bottom surgery usually take about three months, full recovery takes much longer—often 12 to 18 months (with full nerve healing and sensation sometimes taking even longer). And while improvements can still be seen and felt week after week, they become less dramatic and more internal. I think the things that are most apparent are that dilation went from being absolutely traumatic during the first month to tedious to annoying to boring in a bad way to now boring in a good way. My mind has space to wander, think about my day, or anything else I’d like to pay attention to.

For the most part, the pain is now entirely gone—with only the periodic pinprick here or there that is more curious than all-encompassing. As someone who generally prides myself on my exceptional memory, something that is a little disconcerning is that I have almost no memory of the pain of those first months. I know that they happened, I know that they were terrible, but my memories of them are more like remembering a movie or book than my own experience. My therapist noted that this is pretty similar to how others sometimes entirely block out memories of the pain of childbirth.

I was originally going to do a six-month retrospective, but the month of March super duper sucked. And since the last four months are a bit more like iterative improvement than the first three, I thought I’d use a more standard roses/thorns/sprouts retro template rather than a project reflection.

🌹 Roses #

🥀 Thorns #

🌱 Sprouts #

Excitedly, my new vagina feels wholly mine—which is to say my brain is remapped itself and it takes a bit of concentration to remember how the nerves mapped to the old equipment. And I am feeling more joy and myself in my own body than I ever did before surgery. While I was able to ignore my dysphoria most of the time before surgery, I didn’t really think about my body or enjoy being in it. Now—even though the dysphoria has change—I am finding joy in my body and form. I am happy and proud to care for her. I am finding it much easier to love how beautiful I am.

With all the hate targeted at trans folks, I wished the stories that got told weren’t of the hate and the attacks and the fear but rather of trans joy of us discovering ourselves, loving ourselves, of finding and building community to care for one another. But right now the reality of the trans experience is that the sorrow is often so much louder than the euphoria.

Seven months down, a whole lifetime to go.


Now read this

The weirdest sensation of my (adult) life.

Content note: hey transfemmes, I talk about what it’s like to take out the vaginal packing in this post—for some, not knowing the trick helps the experience go more smoothly. I did not know going in, though I’m not sure if that made it... Continue →