Tips & Tricks for Dr. Brassard’s GRS Patients

So, let’s take a short break from drama and personal thoughts, and make an informative, useful post. These are just the tips & tricks that I’ve accumulated over the course of the last 3 days since I brought Z home. Yes, in 3 days I’ve figured out all of these!

I don’t know what’s really useful or not, it’s all in bulk. Note that this is specifically for Dr. Brassard’s aftercare, and your mileage may vary.

The papers you get will give you some items to buy, butĀ doesn’t really give quantities… Z ended up buying a small number of some items but I’ve already had to restock them (and she came home 3 days ago!). So here are some things that you will need, and approximate quantities we’ve been using (this only applies for “at first”, I’m assuming a lot of these supplies are necessary in less quantities as time goes by):

  • We already used a full pack and a half (about 30) of the blue UnderPads. Changing them in the middle of the night if you don’t like to go back to sleep on blood & various liquids after going to pee is likely, and Z has already used multiple pads for sitting on the couch and her computer chair. Half a dozen packs of 20 for the first couple of weeks is probably not an exageration.
  • Dexidin-4 (the red soap) is necessary in lots of quantities. You need it for cleaning stuff, sitz baths, doing the dilator soaking mix… Some pharmacies sell small 175ml bottles, those are useless. Look for 450ml bottles with pumps and buy 3 of those, you’re going to need that and maybe more.
  • When you buy pads (the ones for the underwear), make at least one box is the overnight ones, not just regular daytime pads. We used “incognito overnight”, and that’s fine. Though, if you have the chance of being able to walk around the house without any pants and underwear on, that’s much better.
  • We realized the amount of water (demineralized or sterile) that is necessary for vaginal douches and the dilator soaking mix was pretty extensive. Of course, my fault for buying a container that was way too big, turns out I need a liter of water to cover the dilators… so I bought 2x 8l of the water, and that’ll last for 2 weeks at most. However, I believe a 2l of water+vinegar solution for the vaginal douche is probably enough for quite a while.
  • Z made a mistake when getting the antibacterial soap, what she bought was actually face soap with antibacterial inside of it – the bottle says “TRISAN Antibacterial skin cleanser” but it’s not what you need. Just keep to Purell (regular, not the aloes+ one) or something like that and that should be great. 2 pumps are a must, one for the bedroom and one for around the bathroom.
  • In the same lines, make sure you buy the Original Ointment version of Polysporin. Don’t buy the cream, but realize that there is Vitamin E in the ointment, that’s fine and normal. A clean, unopened box of q-tips is also required (if possible, buy the real q-tip brand). Remember also that 1 sterile gauze is necessary twice a day to apply polysporin, so buy enough for the 10 days where this is required (so, say, a box of 25, right?). I don’t think that either of those 3 things mentionned on the paper. Oops.

Some other tips:

  • The clinic provides a doughnut for sitting, the transfer to the recovery home and the return trip home… it’s a rubber thing that stinks and isn’t very effective. Buy a fancier one (actually, one girl had a u-shaped dollorama neck pillow taped onto the rubber one and that seemed to work fine!).
  • Pillows, pillows, pillows. After spending a week on a fancy bed with her head held higher (y’know, hospital beds), Z found that it was really hard to sleep perfectly horizontal. So we had to stack a body pillow, 3 regular pillows and 2 cushions in total to make her a nice reclined position including 2 “armrests”. Ok, Z is a little princess-y but still, she sleeps really well with that setup.
  • I have my own room of course, which is a blessing because there’s not a lot of leeway for sleeping in the same bed as a post-op. Forget it until the complex setup of cushions and underpads isn’t necessary and when it’s no longer a danger to get up urgently in the middle of the night.
  • Towels, towels, towels. A clean towel for each sitz bath (and for the regular shower) is required, and it’s better for them to be white – first because you don’t want any colors touching, and second because it’s easier to bleach them (there will be bloody pussy footprints on them. ugh). Don’t forget to stock up on detergent, you’re gonna need it! šŸ˜‰Ā 
  • Doing all of thisĀ alone, I’m going to assume, would be near impossible. I’ve been assisting Z with taking her pills, disinfecting her bath and filling it for sitz baths, refilling her solutions and bottles, and going out for quick pharmacy and grocery runs, on top of moral support… I really don’t know how anyone could survive this without assistance. I know I probably wouldn’t.
  • For SOs and nurses such as me… Make sure you areĀ notĀ grossed out by gore & blood. I mean, seriously, the day I brought Z back from the recovery home I was eating a Big Mac, sitting at the foot of her bed while she was naked and “aerating” her crotch. It’s absolutely not pretty, so if your reaction to this would tend to be running to the bathroom to throw up, you’re in for a rough ride. And (sorry about TMI here) I’ve already had, twice, to go in with a pair of disinfected scissors and hands to cut off small bits of fibrin that was growing way too long and threatened to be a problem when wiping and dilating. It’s kinda disgusting, but you’ve got to do it (advice from a real nurse is invaluable here to make sure you’re doing it right). Also, the number of times I’ve had to wipe off drops of blood (and a small pool of pee, once) from the floor… well, you get the picture, right?
  • Still for SOs, be comprehensive of mood swings and disagreable moods. And that’s an understatement. I really, really hope you love your woman.
  • Visiting hours for the hospital (first 3 days) is 9am-8pm and room visits are fine… But once you’re in the recovery home, the hours are 2pm-8pm and rules have changed since January 1st: SOs and visitors are not allowed in the rooms, only in the dining & rest area downstairs. This sucks, but they are a little lenient (I went to the room 3 times in total), you just gotta ask nicely. Having something to bring up (like flowers) helps. šŸ˜›

I’ll add some if I think of them (and tag them as new). Whew!

Being a nurse to my future self

There’s one thing I haven’t said about Z, and it’s that she is my roommate. That’s right, I actually live with her, and that’s probably part of the reason that this drama has been stretching out for so long – it would have been easier for both of us at multiple points in the roller coaster ride to go our separate ways and never see each other again.

So anyways, on Monday January 14th, Z got her GRS surgery. The day before, I brought her to the hospital, helped her unpack her stuff, spent a bit of time chatting and then went back to an empty home with a list of chores to do (cleaning, disinfecting, buying supplies, etc).

Now, a quick review of what the whole process entails is that you go in the eve of the surgery, the next morning you’re taken, worked on, put back in your room for 2 days while things start healing (fairly heavy on painkillers at that point). After 2 days you’re transfered to an attached recovery home (kind of like a deluxe B&B) for another 7 days, over the course of which the initial bandages, then the “packing”, then the stent, and finally the catheter are removed, proper medical care and instructions are given, and the process of recovery starts. I say this really as an overview because now isn’t the time to go into these sorts of details…

But that’s mostly because I’ll be in that exact position in around 6-8 months. I realized over the course of the last week that the position that I’m in is extremely priviledged – living and accompanying someone through a surgery is one thing – doing it when you know you’re getting that exact same surgery in half a year, is absolutely amazing.

It wasn’t all titties and rainbows though – I mean, definitely not for Z who had to go through major surgery and recovery and indeed is still going to have various amounts of pain and suffering for weeks and months – I had some major realizations happen and this post is about sharing them.

As things were progressing – as I went to see Z every single day, texting her often, talking on the phone a few times, it started really sinking in that I was talking to my future self – I was experiencing, from the outside, every step of a gender reassignment surgery. Of course I didn’tĀ see most of the actions that were taken, I didn’tĀ live them either – but I heard so much about so many details, I feel I have a much better understanding of what I was “getting myself into” as some would say.

The biggest thing that hit me though, was that I want to have this surgery more than ever. Yes, even though Z’s crotch is currently a bloody mess, even though I know she experienced pain, major discomfort, after-effects of surgery and medication, I want to go through this. I’ve started feeling the pressure, the excitement, a fully emcompassing desire to get through this as soon as possible.

There are, of course, logical reasons for this – wanting my name and gender changed so I stop seeing my old name everywhere, wanting some people to stop telling I’m “not really a woman until I get surgery”, wanting to stop the people that are trying to convince me not to do it (not forcefully, I’m thankful for that, just in small ways).

But all of that… it’s just secondary to the core, which I don’t have words for. It’s an unnamable desire, an unexplainable pressure that’s felt deep inside. Seeing Z go through it and feeling this sort of pressure is confirming to me, one more time and possibly once and for all, that this really is the right path for me and that there is truly nothing, short of a doctor telling me I’d die on the operation table, that could prevent me from getting this done as soon as normal procedure permits.

But In the meantime, I have to be a nurse to Z, and this is turning out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my transition, it’s such an educational process, and I feel blessed (in the non-religious way) that I’ve been given the chance to go through it.

I’m ready.