Last night in the garden there was a barbecue for the staff, because the patients who had their surgeries this week are the last batch before the clinic closes for a long summer break. The surgeons and nurses and housekeepers and other support staff laughed and drank wine and sang karaoke. Someone did a really good cover of CCR's "Rollin' on the River." In the early part of the evening, while it was still light, I was rubbernecking from the porch and saw that Dr. Bélanger, who was wearing a sun-dress and flip-flops, has a biohazard symbol tattooed in the middle of her back.
I finally got to see my new parts completely yesterday when the last impediment - and my last remaining anxiety - was removed: a small wad of gauze stuck to a (perfectly common, normal) blood clot in the minutely-sutured clitoral area. I had been warned that as long as the wad was there, there was danger of threads from it ending up inside me during dilation, which could lead to infection. Patsy, the head nurse, worked patiently with a squeeze bottle of saline and a pair of tweezers, and finally succeeded in removing it. It was a pleasure to watch her work. Without exception, everyone who works here is really good at their jobs.
It transpires that I have had successful SRS at one of the best clinics for the procedure in the world. My results are amazing. In a few months, when the swelling and bruising are gone, the hair has grown out again, and the end of the douching regimen has allowed the development of natural flora, I will have a vagina which appears to all five senses so much like a natural-born one that not one of my hundreds of lovers will be able to tell the difference. I will be orgasmic - maybe even significantly more so than most natural-born women, it has been whispered - and at least a little self-lubricating. I have a work of art between my legs.
I'm being driven back to Maine today by my dear friend Jessica, and my brother Brian is flying out and will be there when I arrive to stay the first few days home with me, just in case I get light-headed or need help digging a swimming pool. After he goes home I'll have the house to myself for several days; I have a couple of writing projects lined up and a new piano piece to practice, and various friends who have promised visits. The next week my dear spawn return in the usual childcare rotation. Mad's girlfriend Annu, whom I adore, is visiting from Finland. No school, few stressors...summer in Maine with company! I'm back to work on August 6th.
All of which will need to be fit in between lots and lots of surgical after-care; the routine consumes several hours a day in the first few months.
In the fall and beyond, besides work, I'm looking forward to engaging with son Sam's senior year in high school, moving those writing projects forward, helping with the fight to win marriage equality in Maine in November, and playing more music. I'm trying to decide whether I have the time and the courage to sign up as an accompanist for the student-recitalists at the USM music schools. Oh, joy, something else to feel anxious excitement and anticipation about...and it has nothing to do with gender! :-)
With regards to transition, I'm still not done, but I have new ideas about how much more I am going to do. Electrolysis will definitely continue until my beard is gone, and I'm not done working on voice. Also, I get to resume hormones when I get home tonight, which, with the natural testosterone now gone, may still have further desirable effects. The remaining open questions are FFS, facial feminization surgery, and breast enhancement. I've spend a lot of time this week with women who have had both, and at the moment of this writing, I'm still 50-50 on FFS and only ten percent probable on breasts. In both cases, a really natural outcome is just so hard to achieve. At some point, more homework will begin.
The question is different. What I have done here in Montreal is fix a fundamental problem: I had a penis I hated, and now I have a vagina I love. I already have a face and breasts, so there is no absolute - only a tangle of conflicting desires and ideas around concepts of beauty and femininity. This much I know: as I have all along, I will be doing my homework, taking it slow, and only moving ahead on steps I feel I must take in order to live as myself in the world.
I will end this part of my SRS blogging project with a random funny moment from my time at Asclépiade: the routine for dilation involves fishing the phallic utensil of the moment out of its bath of antibiotic solution, then holding it over the container so that the solution can drip. There's always one drop that won't fall, and when the dilator is too wet the lube slides off. So, innovating the other day, I came up with the technique of gripping the priapus firmly at the base and shaking it to air-dry it faster. "Pardon me whilst I waggle my dildo at you," I thought, and burst out laughing in the empty room.
Sometimes even really big important things go right. :-)