Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Short update.

How could I resist a post on a date like this, sadly I means that the rest of the year will be ruined with olympic this and olympic that , all ignoring the original spirit of the original Olympian gatherings. If you ever get a chance to visit Olympia it is a magical site though in the spirit of our age the museum was robbed of exhibit this week!
Life here is settled into a quiet routine. My wound where the graft failed is healing well though not all the old skin is away yet. Many of the tags of the dissolvable stitches have been removed now and it no longer feels like sitting on tacks. I have become strangely familiar with my liquid waste, some strange stuff can come out sometimes, sorry perhaps this is too much…
I set up a cosy nest in the room where we keep the Mac for my recovery time when I came home, I did not really expect to still be here now but with my raised bed height and all my meds and pads and… so much stuff stored here by the nurses! Looks like I shall be here a while yet.
I have been taking a lot of photographs recently but not the kind which I am inclined to post here! Good to see how things are progressing! Every day I find myself doing more and feeling better and despite the setback I remain very cheerful. Shame the flowers have stopped coming...


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Time flies...

Three weeks ago today at this time I was on a train heading south deep in conversation with an American student studying at St Andrews university. She  was going to spend a few days with a friend’s family near the south coast and showed nothing but genuine interest when I made a complete and honest answer as to why I was also going to the south coast except for the fact that I had to travel so far to find the help I needed.
Two weeks ago I had finally and belatedly got to my feet and started to walk about again, things were looking up and I was going to be free to fly home the next day. The surgeon was generally pleased with the result but showed some concern for an area of graft which may or may not have been successful, it was too early to say but if it failed he said nature would take over and the area would heal over but more slowly.
To aid healing I have a catheter again and the surprising thing is that when I connect up to a bag for the night it always contains more than a litre and a half in the morning while during the day when I am disconnected to let the bladder fill naturally it is sometimes less then the night time volume. Perhaps too much information but I now know why I normally often wake in the night and go for a walk.
Here I am two weeks later able to see just how well healed I could have been as the scars and swelling are calming down but the graft dying back has left me as walking wounded. My two weeks of house arrest determined by the hospital are almost at an end but it looks like I still have another month of taking great care of the wound. I do not think I shall be making trips out for a while yet.

The world is coming to me at the moment laden with flowers and sometimes a wicked temptation of chocolate, Saturday was so busy we were not alone from eleven ‘til seven and one of the nurses paid a visit before that, both of us slept well that night!
Every day I find myself doing things I had not been able to do while still learning how to deal with my little setback and the slow recovery from the operation which had left me sleepy much of the time and my eyes a touch blurry at television watching distances so that way of mind numbing was not much use. One thing consoles me, statistically some of us have setbacks so I guess mine takes the burden off someone else…
I have been dreaming of an early summer return to our family in France so we were encouraged to phone them and see how they were enjoying the late winter sunshine which I used to go out to share. They are not, the lagoons are frozen the lemons have all been frosted and the almond blossom was blasted, nobody can remember anything like it!

I like to get my monies worth out of flowers!

Friday, 17 February 2012

One week home.

One week of house arrest is over since my return. My how time flies.
I can finally sit comfortably at table to eat a meal, the drain sites in the buttocks have taken a while to heal internally so I spend most of my time semi reclined in a chair or lying on my bed reading. Reading often causes me to pass out, I can sleep at any hour of the day!
In the UK we have a health service free at point of use and  there are times like this when I am glad we do. I have rarely had cause to get anything back for all the tax contributions we have made over our lifetimes but since Monday I have had a daily visit from our district nurse service helping to deal with my patch of failed graft. It is times like this when it is good to have someone reassure you that things which look ghastly are behaving as expected and will heal over in time.
Not being a typical patient they were keen to make sure that they had all relevant information from Brighton then decided that the best plan was to keep the area dry by recathaterisation, this has allowed me two full nights sleep while a prodigious quantity of urine seeps safely into a bag. Interesting how quickly something strange becomes normal!
I am now left to clean up and reapply a dressing several times each day then just potter round the house occasionally helping with food or washing but mostly just feeling tired. Evert day there is a clear improvement, taking an interest in things outside my recovery bubble is a good indicator. They do warn that this is a dramatic procedure with countless things which could lead to a less than perfect recovery or even result. So far mine is a nuisance and a small trial to deal with but I am sure in a few weeks time memory of this time will start to fade and real recovery be foremost in my mind.
Now two weeks post op today’s reward is being able to restart my HRT and soon I shall be free of the hot flushes which have been such a nuisance for these last two months.
Friends and family keep dropping in to visit and deliver odd supplies, Julie escaped for a couple of hours today to do an organised grocery shop so we are well stocked with biscuits for visitors and enough food for the next ten days. Meanwhile I just look out the windows watching the snowdrops come out along with the other signs of early spring. The growing days are cheering me a lot and thoughts are moving towards a possible early summer trip towards the sun...

While still in Brighton I started to tap out a post
which got filed as a draft and lost.

for the sake of honesty about how it feels during
recovery I am adding it here since posting a draft tries 
to put it out as new twenty months on...

10-3-12 Brighton

Many here will remember Melissa and her Meanderings, she could read minds! Once she sent a note saying that she did not want to just read a post saying that I had sneaked off and had a Sex Preference Affirmation  procedure but you have no doubt worked out that is just what I have done.

I has been far from an easy time since the last time I wrote. 
I have no recollection of anyone ever mentioning trapped gas and this gave me 48 hours of great discomfort
That gas took a whole day to finally decide to leave, never been one for loud passing of gas but what a joy when it happened, then it started again!

It would appear that the urethra is tricky to deal with and when it was having the pressure dressing removed it started to bleed… 

How about this for the synopsis for a horror movie? On and off for 18 hours from 3.30 in the afternoon and through the night ( with the gas again!) they apply pressure, sometimes for hours! and it stops then a warm trickle slides its way to the absorbent mat under your bum! Here was me thinking I would never have an intimate encounter ever again but I lost count of the girls who turned up to join in!!

This all started just after my sister left seeing me fairly comfortable and happy and just when I was to post in that mood. Seems 18 hours does not even get on the score board… One girl here had the problem for three days!

Might use some of this in my next short post, don't really want folks to think I have passed away.

Love  Caroline XXX

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Spa therapy...

Many of you may remember Melissa and her online Meanderings. Sadly she is no longer with us but when she was she could often read my mind and one day out of the blue wrote to me saying that she did not want to switch on one day to find out that I had sneaked away and had my plumbing repaired. As open as I have always been online I had long suspected that a countdown clock was never going to be on my blog page and no fanfare  announcing my surgery date.
I have never been lucky with surgery. My appendix scar was a mess where the two sides were out of level by an eighth of an inch and was still a lump twenty years later. My orchiechtomy had an internal bleed and the sac looked like a black and blue grapefruit by the time I went under for the repair.
There are a lot of things which you are warned can go wrong in the complicated process of making a silk purse out of a pigs ear, which one was I going to suffer?
My Sex Preference Affirmation, Spa treatment was performed in Brighton on the 3rd. Of February. I had checked in midday the day before as calm as if I had come for a short seaside holiday. My room was spacious with a view across the South Downs to the sea. They brought me an omelet for lunch, the start of a low residue diet, various folk came by to ask questions get forms signed and do various tests to see if I was still alive. I unpacked the few things I had brought with me to wear during the recovery and some electronic readers and music. Once online several people came on to chat, some phoned and the time vanished. A sleeping pill was requested else I would be online when they came for me in the morning…

At six in the morning there was the joy of an enema being squeezed into the lower bowel which is the only part cleared at this facility. Once empty I had a thorough shower and slipped on the gown. Within two hours of waking I was being wheeled away through the chill corridors to theatre. A quick check of the wrist band to ensure that they did the right op on the right patient and a needle was going into my wrist for administering any drugs. Still dead calm. Something went into my wrist and instantly felt like a hundred bee stings, it was being massaged but I was out! Never even got to count backwards, no dreams and before long I was finding my way back to consciousness in my room with an oxygen mask on and tubes going in and out all over. Other than a change to a tube under the nose for gas that is how things were for the next two days with clear liquid diet.

On the third day the view out of the window was a winter wonderland with children sledging don the hills, somehow my sister and brother in law managed to drive two and a half hours to visit and found me in a good mood and we had three hours of happy BIL watched the end of a ball chasing game which his team won so his day was a great success. They returned at midday the following day having stayed with a relative a few miles away then left to drive home in the daylight. Their timing was impeccable since lying with an empty gut gives you wind as it tries to restart, I do not pass noisy gas but that day I was delighted when it all came out! Back ache is also a problem until they let you raise the head end of the bed. The gut pains lasted nearly three days, not everyone gets them. From the operation site, no pain at all.
Once the visitors had gone two nurses came to remove the pressure bandage, during this the urethra started to bleed. Pressure was applied in relays! My friend Lucy eventually joined us and added to the conversation since she had been in my position just eleven months before. Numerous times it appeared to have stopped bleeding but on subsequent checks found to have restarted, this repeated all through the night for eighteen hours before the surgeon arrived and did something and left a drained and exhausted me holding a small pad in place. My hand and arm finally went numb so I called the duty nurse who declared it stopped and I passed out exhausted and in tears. By leaving this small wound to heal before getting me out of bed I only had one day to get up and start to walk about, first round and round the room then along the hospital corridors. By the end of that last day everything was working well and I had stopped walking like a patient and with music in my ears was almost dancing along.
I met up with another patient at this time, they were only a day out of surgery but had their boyfriend to distract them  from the back and gut pains. We all have a different path but here was someone almost my age who had found hormones when twenty one and ou would have thought her a natural born, for decades she had let people believe the surgery had already been done thinking that it would be impossible to ever find the money to fly to the UK and be repaired…
I was allowed to stay on a few extra hours on checkout day and I needed them to rest! Lucy collected me and drove me away in style for a restful lunch at her home then on to the airport south of London. My booked help worked well as I was wheelchaired speedily through to departures with only a small delay for frozen plane from Amsterdam. Louise did her relay section from Edinburgh to home where she stayed overnight with us. The journey was hard and when I paid a visit to the bathroom on arrival blood went everywhere!
It is ow nearly a week since I returned home. Most of the recovery is going well but a small section of graft which the surgeon showed some concern over has failed to take and will take considerably longer to heal over especially since it gets peed upon many times each day. My local nurses are having great fun fixing me, something new and a chance to talk directly to Brighton while working on me helps. I have been replumbed to keep things dry so that they can apply wound dressing methods. So close to being right first time but my usual luck came into play…
Would I sign up to do it again knowing what I have had to go through? Without a moments hesitation!

Sunday, 12 February 2012



A visitors view from my spa room.

My Spa trip is over. I arrived just before the snow fell and then froze and I escaped while the roads were clear just before the next fall of snow! Back home in Scotland it might be a bit frosty in the mornings but thankfully we have  remained clear of white stuff.
I have generally been very lucky with the support of friends and family throughout my transition. Some not so close family members have been the least enthusiastic, small in number most have shown signs of melting their coldness.
Sadly there is one of my partner’s cousins who remains very frosty, this is interesting because her brothers who arrived nine and ten years after she did,  called her “Frosty”!
She had always been one of Julie’s closest friends as well as a cousin but has been distant to us both in recent times just when Julie really could have benefited from some support. Perhaps it is just as well that she did not get to preach her negative bile, things could have taken a different path…
Her frosty demeanor has put a business meeting air into family party gatherings while we remained civilised, it is enough to make me try to keep away from some of these gatherings but I don’t wish Julie to loose out on spending time with her. I encouraged a visit while I was away at the spa so she went to stay and they even came and stayed here for a couple of days afterwards which she has not done for many years now, so I had imagined that they had reactivated their old closeness.
Ever the polite one I called Frosty to thank her for spending so much time with Julie while I was away, it was less fun a call than the uninvited sales calls for energy plans or double glazing, much frostier than usual…
I mentioned the extra chill to Julie who then told me that Frosty had suddenly come out with a long statement about why she would never be able to forgive me for having cheated her cousin by marrying her half a lifetime ago! Julie was so stunned by the statement that she did not try to debate the irrationalities in it so we are no further forward than before, only we now have confirmation of my suspicions.
It was an odd feeling knowing of such complete rejection and it has had me thinking with a different perspective about all those whom I have come across who have had to endure much deeper rejections than mine. Perhaps this poor woman has never forgiven me for my politely rejecting her sexual advances soon after I had started living with her cousin!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Off for some winter sun.

At this time of year I start to get a bit desperate for some sun and a boost of vitamin D. For many years when I still had muscles I would be invited to spend several weeks out in the South of France to help with family building projects. Sadly they seem to be finished for now so my time out enjoying their winter sunshine and eating lunch outside on the terrace looking out to a landscape full of almond blossom seems to be over for now.
Last year a friend persuaded thirty or so of her friends to help celebrate a significant birthday by all staying at a spa hotel in the countryside. We joined her there, others had flown in from several european countries and a great time was had over several days. Because we were mostly busy with the many events organised for the group we did not get a chance to empty the bank account by trying out any of the offered therapies or treatments.
This year we have split up and gone our own ways again with Julie going of to stay with her cousin in Edinburgh for a few days and visit other friends and do lots of cultural things. I have come to a seaside spa town in England where I met up with my friend Lucy who escorted me through the winding old streets in search of food and then somewhere quiet to catch up on chat. It was bitterly cold out and we would have chosen somewhere to eat a lot quicker if I had not shown a desire for something Chinese which just could not be found! Eventually we settled on a Spanish tapas place which seemed to have a good happy crowd, soon after we got our table the place was full. We ate our way through a table full of small dishes which we washed down with a glass of Rioja before moving on to a quiet pub with comfy seats for a chat over a couple of cups of coffee.
I love being by the sea, just makes me feel alive. After a lazy breakfast I checked out of my hotel in the center of town and wandered out for a bracing couple of hours wandering about. I came here on a family holiday in the sixties, we stayed in a friend's flat on the sea front overlooking the east pier very near where I was staying, back then we just drove p and had no trouble just t parking right in front where nobody is even allowed to stop now. I was nine or ten and my memories are hazy but I do remember looking down on our beautiful Lagonda which looked even better from above.

One crazy guy likes the shore even more than me and went in for a swim from the shingle beach! The rest of us, and there were many out walking, were wrapped up warm. It was heartening to see a lot of activity already renovating the the seafront businesses ready for the new season, normally I like things with a bit of age and weathering but at the seaside it really needs to be bright sparkling fresh paint. After the seafront with hardly any wind it was a surprise to enter the narrow lanes back from the beach and find myself in a series of wind tunnels! Had I not been trailing my small case on wheels  I may have explored the small shops there more thoroughly, never seen so many jewelers in one place. Lucky for me I am not driven to acquire expensive jewels and like cheap glass rings. In the last year or so my fingers have slimmed down a lot so that the few rings I do have often try to escape which is what happened to the one which I was wearing yesterday and I thought it was lost for ever… I have just unpacked at the spa and spread everything in drawers and have found it at the bottom of my handbag so now I know that they come off while I am searching amongst all the stuff in there!
Now that I am settled in I had better settle on what treatment to get I guess.

Afternoon tea has just arrived, I could get used to this...

O, I do like to be beside the seaside.