Thursday, January 24, 2013

Five Years Gone

It was five years ago today that I had the most nerve wracking day of my life. The day I had to travel to Montreal for my life changing surgery. Granted the days prior had been stressful with the release of the first Nashua Telegraph article and making certain that not only was I prepared for the two weeks in Montreal, but also that things at home were all set.

The weekend consisting of the 26th & 27th were also incredibly nerve filled, but thankfully I had four visitors coming up to join me. Yes, I freely admit the times I spent freezing with them in Montreal, were a lot of fun, but I was still overcome with internal nerves and emotions that I did my best to hide from my four angels, Carrie, Michelle, Linda & Gaily. My stomach was in knots the morning of surgery (January 28) but I was surprisingly stronger with an internal calm, that I had zero of, the entire day of January 24, 2008.

For the years following I would still get flashbacks of the entire experience with just the seasonal changes or hearing songs. Thankfully with time, these are not as frequent and especially after spending ten days up in Montreal with my friend Karyn, during her surgery.

A lot has changed since those two weeks in Montreal, 2008.

  • The car I drove to Montreal and back is long gone.
  • My two cats I was terribly missing while in Montreal, are deceased.
  • The convalescence house staff has changed over 100%, since January 24, 2008.
  • The laptop computer I bought for Montreal and recovery days, is now a doorstop.
  •, which kept me from being lonely up there and gave me a touch of home, is now defunct.
  • The Mod Chick Mafia, the support group of ten girls I was extremely close with, semi-disbanded, though we are slowly piecing things back together. Linda moved away, Kelly had a baby, Kathy got married, Michelle had a life changing surgery of her own, Elaine got divorced, has moved on and keeps us all too busy.
  • I have gained some fantastic new friends, that didn't know me at all back then. Too many to mention, but they certainly help keep life interesting. If you are reading this, you're probably one.
  • First time in the stirrups and having a speculum used was not a thrill. Stirrups still make me feel like I'm throwing my hip out of joint.
  • Some people that were afraid of the 'freak' actually talk to me like I'm human, as opposed to 2007.
  • Some friends have sadly have eternally left us. Many way too young.
  • I finally left my part time job after eleven years. Not bad considering I was hired as seasonal help in 1999.
  • The restaurant where I had my only physical violence fear (December 2006), Holidays in Auburn, NH, is now closed 
  • My bitterness towards racing finally went away, and I actually worked three races in 2010 & 2011.
  • My shadows from the Nashua Telegraph, Karen (author) and Corey (photographer) have both moved on to other occupations. Karen recently had her first child and is a teacher. Corey is a newlywed, and now a press photographer in Florida.
  • My sister passed away. I wasn't home 20 minutes from Montreal and I got the call that she was rushed to the hospital, and was in a coma. It lasted a few months and nine months later she was gone.
  • My blogs and contact from a lot of people, while in Montreal and home recovery, was on MySpace, which is now a ghost town. 
  • I have had my first orgasm as a female (and many more since)
  • I've changed hairdressers three times.
  • Sadly, some of the actual surgery photos I was promised, have never seen the light of day, except for a brief viewing one March 2008 afternoon. This does depress me on a regular basis.
  • Gas prices are up about 80%!
  • I'm much more comfortable driving in Montreal now and try to get up there as often as possible. Though I still can not drive on Route 89 through Vermont and the roads into Montreal and not get the butterflies I had on January 24, 2008, even if I have company on the trip.
  • I was featured in a GLAD publication, as a "success story" about NH trans people.
  • The Nashua Telegraph did a third article in September 2012, with a new writer and photographer.
  • I lost my primary care physician of twenty years. Not because of my change, but because of Obamacare and insurance companies nickel and diming care. Just giving what they have to, not what they should.
  • The two weeks in Montreal, made me a hockey fan again. The hormones made me lose my passion for the sport or any sports in 2006 and 2007. Two weeks in Montreal gave it back.
  • The two weeks in Montreal made me addicted to cranberry juice. Formerly I would only drink it with vodka. Now I can't get enough of it without the vodka. I should own stock in Ocean Spray.
  • My recovery time made me have a new appreciation for chocolate and especially ice cream. Even in the dead of winter.
  • The non-stop terms on tv and the radio "Obama, Clinton, McCain", Spitzer and "Papa Gino's Big Cheese Meal Deal" will forever be linked to my recovery period. That and hearing about the Patriots 18-0 choke in the 2008 Super Bowl.
  • The chip on my shoulder, the bitterness with life and suicidal thoughts are long since gone.

There's no moral to the above list. But for those reading this that are contemplating sexual reassignment surgery, that live under the false premise of "Once I have surgery, everything will be better." Not everything gets better. People still die, you lose and gain friends, the mortgage is still due every month, family issues, the car breaks when you least expect it, food and utility prices increase, illness, etc.

Life goes on, as before. But I find I can deal with life's intricacies with a much more relaxed frame of mind. Not every thing is better. I still have my highs and lows like any other 'normal' person. But now the 'lows' tend to last a day at best as opposed to a week or more

Five years on, I'm very happy I made the changes I've made.  My genitals and lifestyle are different but my outlook is more optimistic than years ago. Life still has it's challenges, plastic surgery can not change that. Difference being, I'm happier much more often, easier to get along with, and if I had to do it all over again, I most certainly would.

And yes, I've been getting the flashbacks all week. I know I'll pull through. I can still hear my quivering voice, calling Michelle Lavigne at work, praying she was still there, to give me the address of the convalescence home, when I was lost in a rapidly getting dark, foreign city. I could hear the smile on her face on that call. But even as nerve wracked as this day still makes me, I still reflect with fondness.

With the coming of each January 24, a knotted stomach and frayed nerves still plague me five years on. As a reminder of a significant time period and the strengths I've gained, I hope they always will.