It’s been a rough 24 hours since the last post. In honor of the fourth day, here are the four major highlights.
One: Panic Attack
Yesterday I had a panic attack. I’ve had them before, but this has been by far the worst one, as it was the first where it was completely out of my control. My wonderful and brave significant other was rewrapping my bandages, as the drains were getting pinched and pulled. Half of it was seeing tubes coming out of my body, and the other half was looking at my chest for more than a second, seeing the carnage, touching it, feeling it. Suddenly my head was spinning and I told her to hurry up because I was going to faint. Breathing deeply, we got through it. Then I just cried.
All the emotions were spilling out. Despite all my previous considerations and mental walkthroughs, this experience has gone beyond those expectations. Call it shock, or trauma, or post-op depression, I’ve encountered something I was not prepared for, at all.
I realize now that surgery is a traumatic experience – I underwent a great physical and mental challenge, voluntarily inflicting this upon myself. For what? Why? Was it worth it? Did I ruin everything? Did I fix anything? Was there anything to fix in the first place? Did I really have to do this? Do I have a right to do this to my body? All the previous doubts came crashing in with full force, flooding out of every overloaded anxious neuron.
Another major issue is owning up to my chest. As I mentioned before, the whole experience has been a bit surreal in a way. One minute you’re your normal self, the next you wake up nauseous as hell with the tightest ace bandage wrapped around your chest. It feels weird. I kept repeating that word over and over again – it’s weird. It’s strange, unordinary, no mind is prepared for it. Something is definitely missing, and my psyche feels it as it tries to fill that void. But I look down and all I see is raw incisions, disfigured lines across my once flawless body. Last night I put my hand up my shirt, as I usually do unconsciously (it’s just a comfortable position ok!) and I felt it for a second, the scars, the incision line. A part of my body is partly numb, it’s unfamiliar, it’s not mine, it’s not me.
After a long talk wtih my girlfriend, and then another long talk with my dad, both of which were tremendously helpful in their own separate ways, I was able to calm down a bit. Furthermore, this situation provoked a reevaluation of my previously jumbled thoughts, and made evident the need to seek some counseling. I’m not more or less confused in terms of gender identity whatsoever (ok, maybe a little bit), but major voluntary surgery should not be taken lightly.
I went to the doctor today to get my drains out. Usually they leave them in for 7 days, but I’m quite small, therefore lucky enough to have them taken out on day 4. What a huge relief! I was more nervous than the actual pain warranted. Actually no pain at all and a lot of nerves. So now I don’t have these two blood filled alien babies tugging at my skin all the time. Instantly I felt better. The doctor also said I was doing very well, there is apparently some swelling which I don’t really see so it must be quite minor. The tape was removed from the incisions and cleaned up so it doesn’t look like a bloody mess anymore.
Three: The Mall
My dad insisted he had to come along for the trip, even though he lives very far away and we didn’t really need him, but I think we both appreciated the extra help. We didn’t rent a car since he’s not used to driving on icy roads (and neither me nor my girlfriend know how to drive, but we will soon!), so we’re kinda stuck somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago. Since he’s waaaay too hyper (think 5 year old with a sugar rush, times two) and he’s been primarily stuck in the same hotel for the past 5 days, he really really needed to get out. After taking out the drains, and seeing that I was up for it, we all took a trip to the nearest mall (which looks exactly like all the other malls I’ve been to. Ahhhh suruban America at its finest).
Where there’s wifi there’s work, so my girlfriend made a beeline for the coffee shop, while my dad scoured the sales and I browsed the bookstore. At the mall I went to the bathroom quite a few times (I’ve been hydrating extremely well). This was the first time I passed a mirror and actually stopped to look. More like stare, briefly. I look pretty good, I thought. Actually, I look almost the same as before, which in a way was very comforting.
Moreover, I was wearing jeans for the first time in five days. Wearing pants and pijamas all day automatically puts you in a lethargic mood, regardless of whether you’re actually sick or not. Add this to not having the drains anymore and my sprits were greatly improved.
Somehow I ended up in the boys department at Macy’s. Sorry but I had nothing else to do! Plus I never feel guilty for buying there because everything is so cheap – I mean, where else are you going to get a bright orange hoodie for $10 bucks? (My dad is a Jew, he taught me well.) Yes yes, I bought a zip hoodie, given that I can’t put on a pullover for a while (and I can’t pass up a bright orange one!) and two shirts similar to ones I already have.
Since I didn’t really have a “nice” shirt on, and had been wearing the same hoodie the whole week (which is technically my girlfriend’s hoodie) I proudly changed into my new clothes. Except they’re pretty much the same as my old clothes – there’s nothing radically different about them. And again… I kinda look the same. Yet somehow, I was a bit more confident than before. I didn’t feel like there was something to hide anymore. Regardless of whether I was going into the women’s bathroom or the men’s bathroom, or that I had to show my ID when paying with a credit card (which was really my girlfriend’s since I didn’t have my wallet, and add to the fact that I was with my dad in the boys department and I was purchasing a hoodie sized for 10 year olds…. yeah that sales lady was pretty confused), I wasn’t as self-conscious, or self-effacing, or self-demeaning, as I usually am. Which gives me a bit of hope that maybe, quite possibly, this really was the right move.