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 better or worse. If you’d like to read the rest of the piece, I’ll let you know it’s coming up and break it into its own section with clear lines breaking up the section (like the one between this note and the beginning of the actual post) so you can stop reading or jump over. You know your own mind, trust it.
I was reflecting on the last three months as I woke up this morning and remembered what may be the weirdest sensation I will ever experience.
A week and a half after surgery, I went in to the surgeon’s office for my first post-op appointment. I stratospheric with all the pain meds I was on, the cab ride from Brooklyn to the clinic in Midtown felt like a dream. Awake but barely conscious and in a pink nightgown, the city in autumn scrolled pass my window and I clearly remember dealing with the pain of the potholes and the sad suspension imagining I was Bitsy’s pregnant wife about to go into labor. With the wide penguin waddle from the inflammation, the tubes for the wound vac and Foley catheter coming out of my crotch and hanging out the bottom of the gown, it was a pretty easy illusion to maintain. New York is a pretty magical city when it needs to be, after all.
But that wasn’t the weird part—that was just the pain management.
In the waiting room, there were a few other trans women waiting for their appointments, they all gave words of encouragement and strength, one piece of advice they all agreed on was to think big thoughts. Honestly the best advice anyone could give. Not because it offered any clear actionable guidance, but because nothing can prepare you for the actual experience.
I went in, COVID protocols meant that Bitsy was not allowed to come with me and undressed. Since the office was running slow from some minor emergency, we forgot to pack my late-morning meds so I spent almost an hour contemplating my diminishing high as I waited for the physician’s assistant to come in/
Okay. The description is coming up in the next section so exit now if you need to.
When the physician’s assistant came in, he explained what he was going to do and when I was ready, he pulled out all the packing. You know how shoe laces are packed? You know how it unravels when you unravel it by pulling on one end?
Imagine that, but with three sets of shoelaces packed tight, end-to-end inside. It felt as if it was getting pulled out from the deepest third first. It was the weirdest feeling. I had to pause between the second and third bundles. Then he told me to take a deep breath and pulled out the catheter. At the end, he asked if I was curious and wanted to see the packing, I declined and he threw it away. Now I wish had looked even though I still remember how glad I didn’t in the moment. Oh well.
Then he showed me how to dilate. And then made me do it myself. That first dilation was…weird. Not as weird as getting the packing taken out, but definitely a mindfuck. It didn’t hurt the first time, but dilation is its own topic, so maybe I’ll talk about that later. For now, I’ll just say that the first few months are hard.