A D A M ' S · B L • G
E L I H ' S ° B L O G
I cannot believe my luck honestly. Just last week I am a week away from surgery, the next I am not. On Tuesday I went in for blood work. Thursday I got a call saying my labs are abnormal and I need to go see a specialist. Friday I am told I need to postpone my surgery till my thyroid is taken care of.
All weekend I sulked and thought about a lot. How I don't feel good about this. How my mental state is through all of this. How I waited on divorce and what not all for what? I felt like all of it way just too much. The emotions of everything. As much as my partner was there, they doesn't truly understand what I am going through and I understand that. They try and that's more than enough. But a huge part of me was ready. I talked myself into the idea of pain for a little bit and how I can get over it just as many others have. I was going to work on my body. Was going to work out more. Was going to change myself and get better in my own body. I was going to be a complete man in my eyes. Yeah I might not have the penis, but honestly I love my nerves enough to never want to risk something like that. Ouch!
Anyways today I received a called from Dr. Dulin's office. They never received my rejection to postpone. They said they would email me a document that I would take to the endocrinologist to sign off on. Doesn't mean they will, but who knows. Maybe! And that is way better than a no. So tomorrow I will call my PCP… then the endo… then Dr Dulin. And all should be good to go. Hopefully by the end of the year I can get this done!
Been sitting here for a hot minute wondering how I should begin, or more so where I should begin. I guess since I decided the title of this post will be about my Post Up Surgery, I guess I will start just around then.
If you read my post recent post you or have been checking out our podcast episodes, you would know I have been trying to go for Top Surgery for quite some time. It is honestly insane how much time. I guess not really so insane, only because prior to surgery I knew I never, ever wanted to be under any sort of knife. Whether it was for top surgery or because there was an terrible accident. I often joke around with family or friends to just leave me be & its my time to go -- When I say that I am DEATHLY terrified of needles and Ivs and all that gory jazz, would be an INSANE understatement.
For as long as I can remember needles has never been my thing. The idea of tattoo's are appeasing, but that's about it. I would love to get a sleeve, but the two small tattoo's I've got is more than enough for me. No thanks. When my surgery was postponed due to recent blood work showing that my thyroid issue was more serious than we had previously assumed, came more blood work. More needles. Great! What more could go wrong, right?
So when I called my PCP, I asked for the Endocrinologist (endo) that she had originally recommended. I was able to setup an appointment with the endo within the week. I then waited. When time came and we had our zoom call, I was afraid because that since it was a zoom call she wouldn't have all the info she needed and would need me to come in and that it would take much longer than it actually did. I also did quite a bit of more research than I previously had in the past about thyroid issues and I assumed if she started me on medication, I've read it could take up to 6 months to a year to show signs of anything working.
I have known about my thyroid issue since before starting testosterone. When starting any type of hormone replacement treatments you are required to get blood work & that is when it first showed up. My PCP prior to my current one had sent me to a specialist, another endo. I was seen by this endo, but there was some issues (nothing personal or serious) and I didn't continue seeing them. It wasn't an issue. When I switched to my current PCP they knew about my history as I disclose everything. As my sister-in-law had recently said, Doctors are treating my life and disclosing everything is truly important.
Anyways. It just wasn't an issue. I was able to continue with my hormone testosterone treatment and things were okay. Sort of. Doing my shots at first was very hard and I would often find myself crying. Even with support of my ex who helped with my shots, I still hated it. As time lead on, I got better about it. My anxiety isn't as high as it once was when I started. Things get better. Due to missing some shots & fear of needles in general, I would often skip my blood work and postpone it at most was three months. Maybe four. Don't quite remember. Of course this isn't good or healthy. It's quite important to get your blood work as often as your PCP or endo requires. It's to ensure your body is receiving the proper amount, as women also produces testosterone. But like I said, fear of needles. Hate them. A LOT!
Since my ex & I had separated I find myself doing my own shots. Again, my anxiety has gotten better. I decided at one point I knew doing my blood work and all that fun jazz was truly important, I decided to do my shots on time and not skipping them ever, no matter how anxious or tired or lazy I was, I got up & did them. I went out and got my blood work even though I knew I would be the biggest baby there & cry and act as if someone were killing me.
Again, since my ex and I separated we both knew that I would be taken off their insurance by the end of 2020. The company they work for covers gender reassignment surgery as long as I met my deductible. When I learned this news, I knew I wanted to go through top surgery with insurance.
For me the idea of raising $6-10k, is quite hard when you own a house and have lots of bills. Welcome to adulthood, right? Anyways… I knew insurance was for me. I started searching earlier this year in March 2020. I honestly wanted the furthest date possible, when it came to surgery. Yes I wanted it. But again needles and much worse, knives and blood and gore!
How I started searching for a surgeon, I had called up my insurance company & asked to speak with a LGBT rep. For those of you wondering, I have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas - a PPO plan. I ended up speaking to the same rep who had found both my PCP's for testosterone. Great guy!
They had provided a list of surgeons that were in-network, but I already knew I wanted to go with Dr Dulin in Plano, Texas.
We found out Dr Dulin was in-network & from there I setup my consultation appointment. I went alone with my iPad in hand for notes. I met with him & his assistant, both whom were very nice & kind. Afterwards they had told me all the forms they needed from me.
- Letter from my therapist approving my surgery
- Insurance information
That's it. I asked my therapist for the form. He had filled it out. I had provided all documents to the surgeon. From there they go through insurance. That's when things became a tad bit chaotic. Went back and forth from my insurance and the surgeon's office quite a bit. Had issues about codes, letter approvals, etc. Once things got settled we were in August.
I wasn't entirely angry, but I surely wasn't thrilled. It felt like the months went by faster & faster and end of 2020 was coming up and it wasn't going to happen for me this year. Once we got to August I was approved by insurance for surgery to be covered. I got the estimated numbers from both my insurance and surgeon. The top surgery I had gone with was a Double Incision with Liposuction. Going back a bit I had recently done my routine bloodwork back in July as I also disclosed with my PCP that I was going for top surgery.
Once my blood work came back she was concerned about my blood work due to my thyroid issue & asked me to go see a specialist to get a ultrasound done. I went in with my girlfriend & we then learned I have eight nodules in my neck, four on each side. We also learned that I had hyperthyroidism. Your thyroid is found in your neck & is a hormone. Having Hyperthyroidism my symptoms can range from unexpected weight loss (which wasn't me, since I've been eating a bit unhealthy or too much of too good of food), to rapid heartbeats (palpitations), sweating, & irritability (anxiety). I fit all, but the weight issue. But going back to my PCP, we discussed how it wasn't quite serious and we would reflect back in 6-8 months.
My originally date for surgery was September 17th 2020. I was required to be off testosterone for 2 weeks. I was required to take multi-vitamins and vitamin C pills. I followed through everything. Feeling as though this was so unreal. It honestly didn't hit me that this was actually happening. A week before surgery I was required to get blood work to make sure everything was good to go. Two days later I get a call from my PCP saying she cannot allow the surgery and we would need to postpone, since my thyroid issue then became more serious.
I remember reaching all the transmen I knew on Instagram asking them if they had thyroid issues & or knew someone who does that also went through top surgery. I had questions and I needed answers & I couldn't find anything on Google! It was maddening! It had felt like I was the only transman who had now been dealing with this issue (yet another issue, if not insurance, doctors & bloodwork). We rescheduled surgery to September 24th 2020. But since I wasn't able to see the endo in time and get everything done it was postponed again to October 1st 2020.
Seeing the endo and getting two more bloodwork events done, was traumatizing. I am done with needles for some time. Mainly those large ones! Oof! But I did it! I started medication and was on another call with my endo. She had explained though my levels are high, they also go down. Turns out in a rare case of having both Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism! Fun, fun! With all that said, she approved my surgery for October 1st 2020. Again it didn't really hit me that this was real. Till maybe days before, if not the night of surgery. I couldn't sleep. I was restless. I tossed & turned. I awoke my partner & even cried disclosing this was a terrible idea and I need to get my money back!
But I did it! I woke up. I got picked up by my sister-in-law. And off we went to Plano. I was anxious. I was scared. I was even more nervous being alone, due to covid reasons. I eventually went under and awoke titty free! I wasn't in pain. I remember bits and pieces. I remember getting to the hotel which was like 6 minutes away. I remember resting, peeing a lot, eating lots of animal crackers, & resting. I returned the following day & we got to see my chest for the first time, minus the nipples.
This is where things got a bit more mental for me. I guess because it didn't feel as though it was going to happen, surgery that is. Because things constantly came up. Because I low key kind of hoped it would. I wasn't entirely prepared mentally for the body bruising and gore I was going to endure for the next 6 weeks. It was hard seeing my chest and my body that bruised. Yes it was greatly to think I am finally titty free, but it was hard. I didn't feel that euphoric feeling that so many transmen feel. I felt hurt. I was in pain & sore.
Yes I cried, yes again I was thankful, but it was really, really hard. I stayed with family. I then came home & got support from friends & my girlfriend. Even with all this support & love, recovery has been quite hard. I find myself getting nauseous sometimes, I find myself sore from the bruising and lipo. I find myself crying from time to time, wondering if this throbbing feeling will ever stop. Showering the first time alone was hard. Again I cried. I am anxiously awaiting for the moment my chest is binder free and doesn't need to be changed out or cleaned up. Today marks 12 days titty free. Only 4 weeks and 3 days left! Some say time is going so fast, I agree to an extent. 4 weeks is still a bit away & I am going insane with this binder and sleeping on my back! I am a tummy sleeper. This sucks on so many levels!
BUT ONCE AGAIN I AM GRATEFUL! I am thankful for the support & love I have received. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to get this surgery, grateful to get it through insurance, thankful to my ex for helping out, excited to be shirt free and live my best life! I know with time things will get better. The throbbing and the anxiety is slowly going down. I know I am strong & I know I will get through this.
Recently my partner & I decided to go visit the East Coast and stay with my ma. I'm quite excited to be able to show my partner all of the cool & exciting things I love about the East Coast! I'm so excited, but also a bit nervous. There is just some weird ish that always seems to happen around this time of year, or when visiting back home that just puts things off for me. But I am hopeful! I am excited, as I keep mentioning & it's really cool to be able to share these memories and experiences with my partner.
The other day I called my ma up, because it was her birthday this past Sunday & since I haven't seen her in a hot minute I decided to video chat her. My partner was around, though I didn't introduce them yet (I would just rather do it in person than over the phone/video calls). I have always warned people about my ma. Though she can be the sweetest woman, she is very set in her ways. She grew up in a different generation and is much older than most parents my age. So I have warned my partner that my mom can literally go from one topic to the next discussing some bleak things such as, politics for one.
We were talking about her job one second the next we got into politics and how America is slowly going to become a communist country as she had grown up in one & this and that. It gets to be a bit much sometimes. After much discussion about that I decided to show my ma my top surgery scars.
I was honestly expecting the conversation to be a bit more off putting than it had gone, which I guess in a way is a good thing!
Our trip to New Jersey has been postponed due to COVID. Both my partner & I felt that it was a safer idea to just save the tickets for next year and hope for the best. With everything going on it has been quite upsetting to postpone, but it honestly is for the best.
It has been 3 weeks and 5 days post-op from my Top Surgery. I honestly didn't think this feeling of relief and pleasantness would ever arrive. The first few days and weeks of recovery has been quite hard and toll taking. To think past the pain and trauma was quite hard and impossible to ever see coming. I would often cry and wonder What had I just done to myself.
I am honestly blessed & super thankful that I was able to get this surgery through insurance, with the help of my ex partner, family, friends, my current partner. I wouldn't be here without everyone that has helped me through all of this. But to say that this hasn't been hard would be a major understatement.
Again grateful, but man was this hard! The first time I showered alone I cried. Looking at my body torn up the way it was. All bruised up, cut open, blood, everything -- it was just really hard to see my body like that. To think I personally decided to put my body through that. I would often hear my moms voice. Though she didn't know for some time about my surgery, I would hear her voice in my head. A echoing in my ear of constant things like how could you do that to yourself; no one will love you; why don't you just live with a binder forever.
When I did tell my mom the conversation wasn't as bad as I had thought it would go. It wasn't entirely supportive and she still calls me by my dead name. But what she did say in the call was shocking to hear - now I have two sons. But she will never repeat that again, nor call me Elih, nor acknowledge my pronouns. One step at a time, right?
Today I have therapy. I have put some thought in my recent activities. Things I haven't been doing or holding myself accountable for. I think I need to revisit some friends, get back into reading, working on this project that personally I am very passionate about, things I use to do and need to do again. I need to remember to take it easy on myself and others and have less expectations going forward. On that note, that's all I got. Random post. Enjoy! :)