Testimonial Grace Bock

Out of the Blue the Odyssey Comes to Resolution: My SRS Journal

By – Grace Bock

“Wednesday, March 17: I exchanged email with Dr. Reed about scheduling in May. He is sure that a thorough genital clearing can be done by a good electrolygist in 2-3 visits. Also, May slots will fill up fast. A quick calculation of the savings offered if I move things up to May are respectable. I was originally scheduled for January 6, 2005. I don’t want to wait that long.

Thursday, March 25: Called The Reed Centre to speak with Anne about surgical slots. She, too, believes that genital clearing can be done in a couple of visits. There is a surgery date of May 13th that is available and will hold it for me until next Wednesday to give me time to work out finances and logistics. Made efforts to contact traveling companions to get a little support and encouragement. Hopefully one of them will be able to come with me! Feeling really anxious but I think this will work.

Friday, March 19: I was in and out of a friend’s office on campus numerous times over the last few days taking advantage of her awareness of my status and her training is sex therapy, too. Together we both seem to think that the May surgery date could work out well.

Called my honey, he will travel with me; called electrolygist, she is available and readdressed my concerns of a clearing. Outed myself to my supervisor at work – she is just so wonderful and understanding; just as I knew she would be! Went to the internet and ordered a supply of Emla. Located a couple thousand dollars.

This is looking promising.
Saturday, March 20: Had dinner with my honey and he insists that he will travel with and take care of me after surgery. He has even offered to buy the airline tickets. Spent the night with him – he sure loves to satisfy me.

Monday, March 22: Grover called. We talked for quite a while and it was so nice to hear her voice. Looks like she will try to be with me for recovery as she had once promised. I would like her there to offer the love I know that only she can, and also to give my honey the breather that I want him to have. Found the balance of the cash I needed. Wow!

Tuesday, March 23: Called Anne to confirm my surgery date of May 13. My honey gave me his credit card number and I went online to Travelocity and purchased round trip airfare. We travel May 11 and 22 from Saint Louis to Ft. Lauderdale.

Wednesday, March 24: My brother and I had a really nice talk by phone – he is in California. He seems accepting of his role in the lives of mom and I as a source of support and understand – I love my brother! Now I am ready to call mom on Sunday night. I believe that I am moving from feeling anxious to feeling a bit excited about getting this done.

Thursday, March 25: Stopped at the bank to get a check for a surgery deposit. The clerk, who I know only casually, seemed intrigued by the illusive nature of my need for so much money. Went to Walgreen’s to pick up electrolysis supplies; Emla, plastic wrap and Neosporin. Came home to find some Emla I had ordered from another pharmacy on my doorstep – got enough now to numb my head (perhaps that might be funJ).

Friday, March 26: Today was the first day of electrolysis. Slathered myself with Emla and wrapped things with plastic for the great unveiling. Although I think my first 2 hours went well, I wish more had been done. Will head back up there in about two weeks to do it again with new and improved anesthetic techniques. I was amazed at how comfortable I felt being that exposed – half naked – in a room of people (the operator; her room mate on occasion, she is post-op; and my honey).

Now, all I need to do is figure out how I can get some school work accomplished so that the entire semester isn’t a bust! (I am in my next to last semester in a graduate program)

Tuesday, March 30: Scheduled a pre-operative screening with my physician. The individual I spoke with on the phone offered her congratulations; that was so nice.

Monday, April 04: Well, I finally had the time and courage to call mom and share with her my big news. Much to my pleasure she accepted the news in her typical style, calm and accepting. The memorable quote from this conversation: “This is good! Now things will match.” She was also more willing and able to speak of my honey and the place he holds in my life at present. Mom is still getting used to my dating a man. Heck, so am I!

Thursday, April 08: In the last week I outed myself to two different people on campus. Both of whom are classmates and involved in mental health practice. As has been the case since coming to Saint Louis, their response was wonderful. However, I do so very rarely.

During the last week I have had my first feelings of excitement about surgery. Feelings up to this point had been related to surgical anxiety – but now, I am beginning to see beyond the potential pain and/or discomfort and allow myself to think of how nice it will be to finally be finished with this process.

Heading our for more zapping again. It is an absolutely beautiful day and I feel such hope for myself and everything around me. Still awaiting Grover’s confirmation on her travel arrangements – I am keeping my fingers crossed that it comes together as she/we hope.

Friday, April 09: Spoke with Dr. Reed for some time today. He offered a list of things I will need – medications, medical tests, and other supplies – which I will get to work on. Just hope that my electro is sufficient! Purchased anti-embolism stocking, mattress pads on the internet. Now all I need are several prescriptions and my fancy Canadian dilators.

Saturday, April 10: Made contact with the stent supplier by email, Heather at Duratek, and all is cool. The “Reed Standard Set” costs $209 and will come from Canada – the order for which should be placed on Monday. Received several faxed prescriptions from Dr. Reed which I will work to fill within the coming week.

Thursday. April 15: Grover made her flight arrangements today and when I came home from campus there was a box of medical supplies at my front door. It is so interesting how I am experiencing this subjectively. In many ways it feels almost unreal that in one month from this moment I will be beginning my recovery and my life as Grace will be so much more real. The objective part is easy: I am making arrangements, purchasing supplies – but it still doesn’t seem possible. It has been nineteen years since I decided to have surgery, I suppose such a wait makes this difficult to conceptualize.

Monday, April 19: More goodies arrived yesterday. Direct from Saskatoon are one impressive set of dilators. From pencil thin to “wow, you ain’t stickin’ that thing in me!”, I expect to spend a great deal of time with these babies.

I used the words, “my vagina” three (no, four) times now and think I like the way that sounds, and feels! However, it’s going to take some getting used to.

Friday, April 23: Another trip for zapping today.

Three weeks from today and the recovery is underway. The perception of this process is beginning to shift from some kind of a abstract thought to something a bit more concrete. At the moment fears of surgery have largely subsided, although a healthy respect for the process remains. Additionally, the surgery site feels different; both to the touch and in my mind. I am rather excited about the anatomical readjustment to come!

Monday, April 26: Mom called tonight. She and Dad are thinking about making the trip to Miami depending on how he is feeling. I had never thought to invite them to the party; however, it will be nice to have them there for their support as well as for them to experience this with me!

Saturday, May 01: Went to see my physician yesterday for a bit of pre-op prodding. Finally found the Arnica Montana that Dr. Reed recommends at this cool little store in a ritzy part of town – best of all: it’s sweat to the taste.

Today was the first time that I felt the true impact of this undertaking. Between being in the doctors’ office, then having lunch with my honey in a place I have never been created the affect of being in a different town – much like being in Florida will.

I am ready!

Wednesday, May 05: Even more real yet! The concept of surgery has moved into a realm which I can only describe as both abstract and concrete. I suppose that it is really strange how in being a voluntary patient impacts the psyche – as opposed to being someone who suffers a trauma. The time to consider the outcome and its tangible realities – such as the potential favorable outcomes along with the negative– is both a blessing and a curse. Regardless, I have done all I can do to insure that all is well and I will soon enjoy the spoils of a positive outcome.

Guess I should get back on the Stairmaster and work away the remaining anxiety.

Friday, May 07: To electro we go one more time for a little facial tune-up as well as the last zap to my crotch. Also, a stop at my physician’s for a Stress-EKG – I must be in better shape then I was last year because I sailed through this test with ease. I have begun to pack my suit case and wrote an email that a neighbor will send for me post-operatively letting all concerned that I am well.

I have said this many times in the past: My life often feels so surreal. This is really who I am and what I need to be whole. Isn’t that amazing? Strange? Bizarre? Sure will be nice to have my body match my perception of myself!

Results are back from the EKG, the chest x-ray – all looked good. It appears that I will be having surgery next Thursday. So wonderful!

Saturday, May 08: Got to talk with my dear friend Whit this evening. I guess I simply needed to hear her say the words she has said to me more than once; “You’ll be just fine!”. She plans to call again on Monday to send me off with a supportive word. She is such a good person, and a good friend! – I think I’ll keep her!

Monday, May 10: Today it will be difficult to concentrate on anything. I am going to go into work for a while today, rather than work from home; however, I wonder how well I will be able to focus on whatever there might be to do. Thankfully, my supervisor is the most understanding soul I have likely ever encountered. Later in the day I will meet up with a Palestinian friend for coffee or something. It feels so un-natural to keep him in the dark (he knows nothing of my status); however, I understand the concerns of others who caution me when I talk about sharing my transsexuality with him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004: Travel day. Stay at the White House Inn on the Bay: and all went so smoothly. Nice flight, found a good deal with Avis on a rental car (the range of pricing between companies is astounding – we paid about $250 for two weeks), and made it to our destination without getting lost. Got settled in and then headed out to South Beach to get some dinner. Don’t forget your quarters for bridge tolls and parking meters because parking tickets come quickly if you’re not on top of things. And at times, we weren’t!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004: A fairly good nights sleep and then my appointment with Dr. Reed at 9:00 AM. Before leaving for my appointment I began bowl prep with half a bottle of citrate magnesia, which leaves a great deal to be desired – my day of liquid nourishment had begun.

Upon arriving at the Centre we were met by Anne with a hug and a kiss; it was just like seeing an old friend. She addressed my boyfriend by name and greeted him with a handshake: just as I had expected. Much to my pleasure the hours of electrolysis paid off in that the area cleared was sufficient. A quick consult with Dr. Reed, some instructions from Anne and I was on my way. I was due to return the following morning at 7:30 AM. Antibiotics, more citrate magnesia and copious amounts of water rounded out my caloric intake for the day.

We made love during the late afternoon.

Not the most restful nights sleep, but I did manage to get some rest, nonetheless.

Thursday, May 13, 2004: Surgery day: The healing begins.

My wake up call came at 6:45 AM and I was quickly up and continued my bowl prep followed by a long hot shower. Got my honey up and before I knew it we were on our way. Moments after arriving at the clinic I was asked to make my way back to the surgery area. Although my partner was invited to stay with me until the anesthesia was administered, I gave him a hug and a kiss, which he returned with strength, and told him that I needed to be alone. I knew I needed some calm, quiet time before surgery commenced.

A short time later I was changed into a gown and resting on a gurney in the recovery area, breathing deeply, gathering my thoughts and emotions. Moments later Anne walked me into the OR where I met Uncle Bob, the anesthesiologist. I was hooked up to the monitoring equipment and an IV was inserted. Within minutes medication was introduced which I commented on to my new Uncle and the next thing I knew…..

I have a recollection of being told “it was all over” and that I “did wonderfully” but have little recollection of much that went on until 2-3 o’clock that afternoon when my partner returned. He had been in touch with my mom, whom I talked to by phone (I was a bit groggy and remember her laughing at me), and before you knew it I was off to sleep again.

My nurse that night was Pat. I was her only charge so I got her complete attention. I was kept comfortable, clean and dry – surprisingly not needing any pain medication until around midnight.

Friday, May 14, 2004: It is my recollection that I never slept for more than an hour or more at a time that night. Pat was always close by. And although she was a little clumsy, her care and concern were obvious and I thoroughly enjoyed her company. Dr. Reed was up around 4:00 AM and a short time later made me a wonderful breakfast which I ate a good portion of.

A attractive young woman arrived for surgery that morning, as I had 24 hours earlier, and much to my surprise she addressed me by name. Turns out she saw my post on the FTM-MTF SRS message board; we spent many hours talking over the coming week. I napped through her case and by lunch I was entertaining the idea of some addition pain meds. The noon day meal was good but I didn’t seem to eat much , I was a little uncomfortable at the time.

Grover arrived today and came to see me in the clinic. She arrived just a little while before my transfer from the clinic to the Inn which was about 3:00 PM. Much to my surprise, the ride wasn’t all that bad. Vladimir missed most of the pot-holes and offered a smooth ride home. I got into bed and got comfortable, feeling pretty good – all things considered – and went to sleep.

Sunday, May 16, 2004: My partner picked up my mom at the Greyhound terminal around 1:30 PM. A short time later they return to the Inn like old friends. If this isn’t a strange circumstance for your boyfriend to meet your mother for the first time under such circumstances I don’t know what is. He was such a gentleman; as I knew he would be, and she looked great.

Monday, May 17, 2004: The Jackson-Pratt drain was removed during Dr. Reeds’ early AM visit. I held onto the headboard as he slid the drain tube out – now, that was definitely uncomfortable! Up and out of bed a little more today, even spent some time in the sun down by the pool with my catheter hidden under the chaise lounge.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004: Felt good enough to ride along for my mom’s send-off on her return Greyhound adventure. I was in the front with the seat reclined as far as it would go and must confess to being rather uncomfortable for half the trip. The constant breaking was horrific – but the acceleration was heavenly!

Thursday, May 20, 2004: Packing was removed and we got the first look at the new goods. A little swollen, as is expected; however, over all a surprisingly clean surgical area considering what had been done just a week earlier.

Friday, May 21, 2004: Met Dr. Reed for a look at the progress of recovery. Received medical clearance as had been expected – this girl’s ready to travel.

Saturday, May 22, 2004: Look out Saint Louis, here I come! The travel day was long, but with the help of my partner’s strength and caring – and some pain meds, too – all went well. By the time we got on board, close to 4 hours after leaving the hotel, I was in need of some rest. By then the drugs had kicked in, and with the careful placement of a blanket and a couple of those little airline pillow I was surprised how comfortable I was. If truth be told, I think I was high and the flight was a breeze.

My first night home was a challenge. It was the first time I had been alone in the last two weeks. I was lonely. Worse, yet, was my cat who pestered me the entire night. My first night home was not very restful. Nonetheless, it felt so good to be home, to have made it through the trip and to realize how easy it all was. From travel, to surgery, to the travel home – like clockwork!

Sunday, May 23, 2004: A rather lazy day. Mustered up the energy to go grocery shopping with my Palestinian friend. I told him that I had surgery – of a genital nature – and left it at that. He was concerned and very helpful. I was fortunate enough to get him to cook dinner, it was wonderful.

Disinfect, dilate, rest.

Monday, May 24, 2004: Just after getting up this morning I removed the catheter. Although it did not fall out as Dr. Reed has said it might. It did come out with a firm tug and considerable burning. Actually, removing the catheter was the first painful aspect of the entire process so I shouldn’t complain. In a way I am proud of myself for enduring such discomfort and getting through it. However, once the liquid was released from the bulb, and the tubing removed from my urethra, I did feel a bit of relief. It is nice to be peeing on my own again.

Made an appointment with my physician to have my “dark blue” stitches removed on Friday.

Two Months Post-Operative: Well, I made two trips to my physician’s office to have stitches removed. With the amount of swelling I had in one area he felt better to wait a few extra days (thankfully, I have a doctor who has experience with trans clients). My next scheduled appointment isn’t until mid August. I am now back on a low “maintenance” dose of estrogen.

Recovery continues to be a pleasant experience. I was back to work part-time at five weeks and feeling back to normal shortly there after. The swelling has continued to subside. In fact, at the moment there is one very small area of effected tissue which seems to lessen each day. Sensation is coming back – no orgasm yet; however, things feel rather promising. Dilation continues as prescribed – that enormous dilator doesn’t seem so gargantuan any longer. The process is sometimes messy and time consuming; however, the progress is noticeable. It looks as though my partner may get to check out my new equipment in the coming week. It is the beginning of a new phase of life.

A few weeks ago I began the process of changing my vital records. My state ID was changed months ago. My Social Security record was changed with a letter from Dr. Reed’s office and a trip to my local SS office. The process to alter my birth certificate is a bit my complex; however, the City of New York has all the documentation and the wheels are in motion.

All in all, my SRS experience was a pleasant one. In part, such a position outcome has been due to the preparation I put into both the emotional and physical aspects leading up to surgery. However, I can’t ignore the favorable results which choosing the right surgeon afforded me. Dr. Reed delivered just what he promised and the time at the Reed Centre was as I had expected. I was treated wonderfully and the results very pleasing.

At present I am looking forward to returning to Bay Harbor in December for my labiaplasty. I would make the trip sooner, yet my schedule will simply not afford the time away. I have been surprised at how little pain was involved and how seamlessly my recovery has been. What a fantastic experience!