Round two surgery completed!

This is Denise writing as Steph is still not up to putting finger to keyboard.

After a very long day yesterday the good news is that Steph has come round from the operation and is in good spirits – making the nurses laugh and inviting everybody out to Australia on holiday.  I hope they don’t all turn up the same time!  Everyone here is very interested in Australia – it still has the reputation of being the land of plenty – plenty of sun, beaches, wonderful people (of course) and plenty of dangerous animals (we got asked if it rained spiders – where did that come from?)  The lovely orderly wheeling Steph away from me to Pre-Op was obviously interested in Astronomy and the last I saw of Steph was him demonstrating his knowledge of The Southern Cross to her.  She seemed to have other things on her mind so I don’t think she was giving him her full attention!

She was in Pre-Op and the Operating Room for a very long time.  It was a long wait but she finally got allocated a room at 5pm.  She was very groggy and nauseous – still is this morning.   We have yet to speak to the surgeon but have spoken to a Doctor who was present who told us all went well.   It seems strange that they are discharging her today – I would have preferred her to have an extra day here.  At least we are going back to the Surgeons rooms so feel that help is very accessible if needed.   Steph also had a call at 8pm last night from Kami (who is front office manager at the clinic) who wanted to know how she was going – very special and it is a measure of the kindness and the level of care that we have been shown.

We are being looked after very well here at Hahnemann Hospital –  we even met two of the nurses who looked after Steph last time.   We are on a different floor – more modern and the room is larger.  Apparently the hospital has been sold and the new owners take over in January so it will be interesting to see if the level and quality of care changes in the future – NOT THAT WE HAVE ANY INTENTION OF COMING BACK (but then we said that last time 😄).

Well, medication has arrived and dressings will soon be changed so I will sign off and hand you back to Steph for the next post.

Tension mounting!

We have just learned that my surgery is to be around 11am tomorrow which is about 18 hours away! For some reason it feels so much different from the last lot, I know it’s not going to be as invasive as the first surgery but there are now 5 issues which Kathy is going to sort for me so will still be a lengthy surgery. On one hand I know how the process works and when the doomsday moments as my psychologist calls them will be, hopefully the the strategies she has given me work and I get through without too much trouble. On the other hand I really don’t know what to expect when I come round after the surgery, I’m hoping that it will be a much faster recovery time this time as we only have 2 weeks from me leaving hospital to when we fly back home and I know I couldn’t have dealt with the flight home after two weeks last time, I was in far too much pain so fingers crossed! I am about half way through my pre-op preparation, hopefully I will get some sleep this time unlike last time when the taxi came to collect us at 5.15 in the morning, we are still waiting for a call from the lady who organises the transport to get a pick up time but we would expect it to be around 7.oo  so not too bad.

The weather here has been kind to us up to now, bright sunny days but only around 12 degrees although it feels warmer than that. We have done a little bit of shopping but not gone far really, Ardmore is a lovely suburb, very clean and well kept with some nice shopping areas and coffee shops about 30 minutes in a car from the city centre. Everywhere is tastefully decorated for Christmas and the shops seem busy, Christmas is obviously a massive thing over here and it actually feels like Christmas should feel unlike Christmas in the heat of Australia, I wouldn’t swap it though, I have got used to it in the heat and anyone who knows me would know I’m not a big Christmas fan, all too commercialised for my liking! The people here are really nice, not just at Dr Rumer’s clinic but everywhere we have been, all very friendly and when they say “have a nice day” they sound as though they mean it!

Well I will sign off now, Denise will most likely do the next post while I am sleeping my anaesthetic off and hopefully feeling very relieved that it’s all over. Having said that, I didn’t ever expect to be back in Philadelphia anytime soon so nothing is set in stone, the one thing I can say is that although this year has been very tough for both of us, the six months I have had since my first surgery have been some of the happiest I have ever had and I’m sure things will only get better. I love my life as Stephanie more than I ever believed possible which just goes to show transitioning was the right thing to do and to be accepted the way I have been makes me a very happy girl!

Gorgeous people and a bonus too

After a seemingly never ending journey we finally arrived at the surgeon’s clinic in the suburb of Ardmore, Philadelphia. Apart from a very stroppy lady at the car rental place our journey was good, the flights were good apart from a little turbulence on the first leg which we have had before, the hotel in Doha was excellent and we had no problems getting through immigration here in Philadelphia, the guy actually wished me luck with the surgery which I thought was nice of him. Now bearing in mind that the surgeon is letting us have the recovery suite for 15 days at no cost to us I wasn’t too upset to have to give it a bit of a clean, especially the bathroom. The suites are a bit tired but homely and the bed is comfortable, the cooking facilities are a little restricted but it’s warm and cosy which is a bonus because it’s pretty fresh outside so we’ll manage I’m sure.

One of the things I have really looked forward to is catching up with the team at Rumer Cosmetics especially Kami the front office manager. She has been so good to me over the last six months, never failing to to reply to an email or question and always friendly and helpful as they all have been with me and it didn’t disappoint, they all gave us big hugs and were pleased to see us again. My first appointment with the surgeon was scheduled for 10am, I have to say I was a little nervous particularly when we were showed to a consulting room and I was told to undress and sit on the dreaded chair, legs akimbo and wait for Kathy to come in. Now it’s a small room and the chair takes up a large part of it but when Kathy came in she was not alone, Jenn was with her who I know reasonably well from last two me but also a doctor in training so the room was pretty claustrophobic, not good for me at the moment but anyway it wasn’t going to be for long hopefully. Now one thing I learned from the last visit was that there is no dignity involved once you step through the door into the clinic, each of them had a look, Kathy had a squeeze here and a press there then the dreaded lubricant appeared! I knew this was going to hurt but she was kind and saw how much so didn’t push too hard and it was all over. Then came the conversation about what she was going to do and how and here comes the bonus! Anyone who has known me for more than the last five years will know that for much of the first 51 years of my life I was substantially over weight, the down side to that is that there is quite a lot of skin spare in my midriff, well fortunately, she needs a bit to basically re-line me so I get to have a little tummy tuck in the process! And I’m not even paying for it, how good  is that? The only down side is that it will restrict my movement for a while and how much I can do for some time but as she said, it is needed so might as well come from there!

The rest of the day has been spent getting supplies in for my preparation, I’m not sure what time my surgery is yet so can’t let anyone know but should find out tomorrow. On the whole it’s been a good day today, the weather is cold but bright and sunny so reasonably pleasant to be in. Philadelphia seems to be much easier to navigate a second time around, our hire car is a Nissan Juke which is comfortable and easy for Denise to manage which is good as I am not insured to drive it, roll on Wednesday and getting the surgery over!

Round two!

When I first learned that I needed further surgery back in September I was distraught to say the least, it had never been talked about, thought about or considered so it took me completely by surprise. Two months on and I am in a completely different place, the surgeon and her team have been amazing with me and in a strange sort of way I am quite excited to be going back. Round two will be much easier, we know the place, the people, the area and what to expect on November 29th! There will be lots of unpleasant moments I know but I am treating it as just a bump in the road to me being the person I so want to be and should have been from day one. My psychologist has equipped me with strategies for dealing with the tough moments which have helped no end and I am really quite confident that all will be ok. One hurdle I needed to get over was hair, Kathy will expect me to be pretty much hair free for the surgery so a start was made today by my gorgeous friend Linny from next door but one, my first ever Brazilian! It wasn’t as painful as I expected, yes it stung a bit but didn’t last long and there are still some which need dealing with but will wait till nearer the day of the surgery, the biggest part of it is done and without any problems so I will take that as a good omen.

The last two weeks have been quite a roller coaster, I think the momentum has slowly been building and as I sit here writing this, our departure time is less than 20 hours away and there is still much to do, I need to finish packing to start with, deciding what to take is a challenge, we know it’s going to be cold but just how cold is the question, I have been getting regular updates from the girls at the clinic but I guess it can change quickly, who knows there may be snow! Kami, the front office manager tells me that Philadelphia is lovely in the run up to Christmas, I don’t somehow think I will be in a fit state to see much of it but in the second week after my surgery I might venture out a bit and see what’s going on. Also in the last two weeks I have been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to catch up and wish me well or phoning me to to say hope all goes well, I am so lucky to have so many wonderful friends and have the support and love, I am truly blessed!

Denise will most likely do a post soon after my surgery to let everyone know that I am ok, after that I’m sure I will be posting more regularly as the trip unfolds and I regain some strength, the anaesthetic wasn’t too bad last time so am hoping it will be ok this time, I’m not looking forward to the needle but I’m sure with my strategies I will cope!


A most perfect experience and very valuable help!

Ok, I know posts have been very few and far between lately! Although I have had a number of things which I could have talked about, nothing has quite given me the urge to put it in a post until today. As we are going to William Bay for a couple of days tomorrow I have spent much of the day getting stuff ready for that and generally making the place tidy. I always planned to go into town at some point as I had a sprinkler to replace which I needed to buy and a couple of things from Coles. Before leaving I checked my phone and saw I had a number of emails so I had a quick look and saw one from someone I haven’t received emails from before, a local business whom I have done business with before and been very satisfied with the product and the way the business was conducted so I read it. It was from a local printing business who have done business cards and graphics for me in the past and I am in need of some business cards so when I saw they had a special on them I decided to call in. I must say I have been going to call in for a couple of weeks but this was the perfect reason. I parked in the car park at the front of the shop and went inside, the young lady behind the counter recognising me straight away even though she didn’t know I had transitioned said “wow, you look amazing” and seriously that is all I want or need, we had a brief conversation about the reason I have transitioned and at the end of it she asked me if I was happy and said she was proud of me for having the courage to do it. It absolutely made my day, I don’t want any special treatment, I just want people to be happy for me and to get on with my life being the person I know I should always have been, it was just the perfect experience and needless to say I ordered some business cards!

The second part of today’s post concerns my psychologist, apart from my usual monthly visit I felt I needed to see her earlier this month. I think the whole enormity of going back to Philadelphia hit me and I was lucky enough to get a cancellation earlier in the month after which I felt a good deal better. My scheduled appointment was on Monday and I must say, much like the appointment earlier in the month I came out feeling so much better in fact I would say it was the most productive appointment I have had since starting to see her in September last year. Having counselling was never something I thought I would ever need or get any benefit from but I can’t tell you how much she has helped me through the last 14 months, without being hard on me she is able to extract how I feel about things and somehow get me to look at things in a different way but on Monday I came away with a plan and strategy to get me through the horrible moments in store for me having surgery again which is a real bonus as anyone who knows me will know how much I dislike needles etc and I know there will be some pretty uncomfortable moments ahead.

With that in mind I am ok with going back to Philadelphia, I’m not excited about the thought of 55 hours traveling either way but it’s a necessary evil and at least we are traveling business class both ways so we should be able to get some sleep (and copious amounts of champagne!) and the hotel which we will be using for the twenty hour stopover should be ok. I am looking forward to seeing the surgeon and her team, they have been really lovely with me getting all the information they need for the hospital etc and hopefully Philadelphia will be pretty in the run up to Christmas, hopefully not too cold, not that I will be venturing far from my room after the surgery! So I am in a good place in terms of my mindset for the impending trip, looking forward to getting fixed most of all but not looking forward to having to dilate again, 4 times a day for the first month!!! Anyway, it has to be done and it will soon pass, hopefully it will not be as uncomfortable as last time!