I came home from hospital this morning after FINALLY getting my hysterectomy done (YAY!), so thought I should probably write an update post about how it all went :)
I went into surgery at about 8:30am on Wednesday, the surgeon and anaesthetist were a bit taken aback at how happy and relaxed I was and how excited I was about getting the surgery done (they're used to working with women as it was a women's hospital and they do a lot of hysterectomies for cancer etc - more about the hospital later in my update). I was in surgery till 12:30, the surgeon said that she wanted to take her time and get it right - there wasn't anything that could have been particularly difficult, but my anatomy was a bit awkward as my uterus was retroverted and the ovaries were tucked in tightly behind it rather than being all nicely spread out and tilted forward for easier access LOL (typical me though, never done ANYTHING the easy way my whole life :P) But overall she was really pleased with how it went, I apparently only lost 50ml of blood through the whole surgery and it all went perfectly.
I woke up in recovery at about 2pm (I had discussed my opioid allergy at length with the anaesthetist before the surgery, he was of the opinion that I am actually only allergic to tramadol and formulated the anaesthetic cocktail accordingly, and kudos to him because whatever he picked, it was spot on, no nausea, no nasty side effects, nothing except that I was quite drowsy for a bit longer than usual after the surgery). I was back on the ward and having a cup of tea at 2:30, and up and walking around my room at 4pm (much to the nurses' surprise, I didn't even require a nurse to lean on and I insisted on getting up because my body was just screaming at me that I needed to get up and move around a bit after laying flat on my back for so many hours). And it felt SO good to be able to just walk around!
I haven't needed any pain relief except for when they gave me heparin shots to prevent blood clots (those stung like a bitch and caused me severe stomach pain and nausea - if the surgery pain was at most a 2, the heparin shots were way up at about a 6!) - and even those were manageable after 10mg oxycodone (strangely enough I'm allergic as hell to tramadol, but can handle oxycodone just fine). I have bruising on my stomach from the heparin needles, but almost none from the surgery (weird huh!) and feel like I have done a few too many push ups, but other than that I feel great, no pain and feel so good that I have trouble remembering I have to take things slowly and not overdo anything :P The surgical wounds are tiny - 4 tiny lines about 1cm long that will heal up looking like very fine scratches if anything at all, so I will have almost no scarring whatsoever.
I have also found out that in theory it may be possible for me to apply to get my gender recognition certificate already - the requirements are basically that I have lived continuously in my correct gender for more than 2 years and been on T for more than 2 years, and have undergone some sort of surgical procedure for the purpose of gender reassignment (the key here is that the wording states that the surgical procedure has to alter the genitals, which mine does - but the board has also argued that a man with "breasts" is not a man because he retains a female secondary sex characteristic, so they are very broad in their application/interpretation of how the requirements are applied). I know people who have applied for a GRC after a chest reconstruction and not a hysto and have been refused on the grounds that they still retain female sex organs and therefore retain female sex characteristics that are not analogous with being male; since the wording states that the genitals have to be irreversibly altered and the main reason the board had an issue with my friend not having a hysto was the possibility of reproduction in future if he ever stopped T, I have a better chance of being approved (besides, it could conceivably be argued that "breasts" are not necessarily solely a female thing, two words, "moobs" and "gynecomastia" ;) )
So I'm debating whether to apply now, or to wait until the High Court hands down its decision in my friend's case over the definitions as applied by the board, as that could have extensive ramifications (great ones if they decide the wording is as liberal as it looks, very bad ones if they decide to be narrow in their definitions). If I wait and the decision is negative, it will mean that my chances of getting legally recognised are even smaller than they already are - but if I apply now there's a good chance I could also be denied on the grounds that although I have had a hysterectomy as per the requirements, I haven't had chest surgery (even though the wording does not specifically require either surgery and definitely does not require chest surgery, just something that "alters the genitals" and changes the female secondary sex characteristics). Still thinking about what I am going to do, I may have to go to my doc and discuss the potential outcomes with her and see what she thinks, since she has a better handle on the medico-legal side than I do and she understands the attitude of her fellow doctors way better than me ;)
Either way, I now have in my hot little hands a surgeon's letter that states as follows (and I haven't stopped bouncing since I got it LOL, it's a Very Important Document on so many levels!):
"King Edward Memorial Hospital
To whom it may concern,
Re: Daniel MacBride
This is to certify that he has had a total laparoscopic hysterectomy and bilateral salpingectomy and oophorectomy on 7/9/11. This is for the purpose of gender reassignment.
O and G RMO to Dr B McElhinney - Endoscopic consultant"
I also cannot speak highly enough of the hospital staff - even though KEMH is a women's hospital, they were highly professional and courteous and happy/smiling the WHOLE time, and consistently used correct pronouns. I didn't have to worry about whether I would have to deal with women on the ward, as I was given a private room so didn't see any other patients the whole time I was there :) I had quite a few discussions with student nurses about being a transman, as KEMH is a teaching hospital and they routinely have students on the staff (I also had a midwifery student come in and observe my surgery with my consent, as it was a little different from the "routine" hystos they do all the time both because I am trans and not doing it for "medical" reasons, and because of the physical issues that came with it that were uniquely mine and not related to being trans). I am really happy to report that every one of the students I spoke to at length was polite, curious to learn and very respectful - they asked a lot of very intelligent questions about the surgery itself and the whole road of being a transman in Western Australia so I was glad to be able to educate a few medical professionals-to-be. I hope they take what they learned from me with them and incorporate it into their future medical practice as nurses and theatre staff - I am optimistic that this will be the case, as the attitudes with which they approached me were very positive :) I can honestly say that this is the only time I have ever actually ENJOYED being in hospital for anything LOL - the staff were fantastic, the surgeon and anaesthetist did a brilliant job and I have had no pain, I couldn't ask for better :) Of course I made sure my experience was reflected in the feedback form I left for the hospital - I think they need to know that they are doing a hell of a lot absolutely right so that they keep doing it :)
So that's my update and rundown on how everything went, I'm feeling fantastic for 3 days post-op and have no pain - I am getting tired very easily, but I am getting around that by just doing a little bit at a time of things I can manage, sleeping as soon as I get tired and letting Dylan (my eldest son) handle all the tasks like walking to the shop, feeding the animals, cleaning, lifting etc. I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than a kettle or bend or squat at all for several weeks, or walk for more than a few minutes - which for me is hard, I have never been able to just sit STILL and do nothing (but I have plenty of knitting and spinning lined up for while I am recovering so that even though I am sitting still, my hands have something to do - and of course there's always internet ;)
I'm going to write another post about the psychological ramifications of my surgery, too - but that's my surgery update done for now :)