Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: questions

One Week Top Surgery Post-Op

I’m a week into recovery and all I want is to be able to sleep laying on my stomach. Not for another 3 weeks… (okay, that’s not *all* I want, but it’s a start… also stretching my arms above my head, oh do I miss that, too!)

Most of the days since surgery have been pretty easy, with a couple exceptions for cranky moments and hard things. I’m super grateful to everyone who brought or bought me foods, especially in the first few days. Having food show up without me having to think much about it was so great and really really useful. And the folks who came over to care for me have been absolutely the best. Your company made the days go faster. You have helped me feel loved and cared for and knowing I could ask for something if I needed it has been so helpful. I still have a few more meals and a few more folks signed up, and I’m super grateful to you, too, and everyone who has read my posts in here and commented support. Lots of gratitude.

Wednesday, Stian helped me shower (yay! Finally!) and we removed the pad and bandage around my chest for likely the last time. I was told at the post-op appointment that I could remove the bandage once it stopped draining, and the bandage we removed yesterday was basically clean. I had previously only really had two chances to see my new chest, when changing the bandage. The last day and a half or so has been a strange and new version of surgery recovery, and also the most emotional so far.

With the bandage off, the physical reality of surgery has hit me. I’ve read about post-surgery depression, which happens with all types of surgery not just trans ones, and so I expected some of that given that my brain is used to depressed places. Expecting it and experiencing it, of course, are different. I’ve had all the emotions around surgery and I’m sure I’m not done. All the pre-surgery questions have come back, not surprisingly. I’m trying really hard to keep my ever-critical Virgo-rising eye from now obsessing over how my new chest looks because I know how it is now is not how it will be. I’m barely a week into healing and I haven’t even seen the areola shape yet as I still have the steri strips on the incisions. Still, though, my brain is a fun overly critical anxious and depressed place, so I’ve been going all the worst places.

At the urging of one of my main care team folks, I read a few different narratives of post top surgery depression that I could find yesterday, and my care person today is someone who has had top surgery, so I’m planning on chatting with him about it. It has been useful to remind myself this is normal, that it is okay, that I won’t feel this way forever, but it is still challenging. I hoped that all the doubt and uncertainty would go away with surgery and that I would love looking down at my new chest and feel so satisfied and content with it. Even though I also knew that wasn’t going to happen right away and that there would be a period of adjustment and likely depression, part of me still hoped I could bypass that somehow. I hoped everything would click into place the way I felt after my first shot of T. Though, I must have forgotten my slow process with that, as well, and the months long break I took about six months in and the struggle and uncertainty there because of how right it feels now.

I am not binary, and that also makes all medical transition more complicated (I think… which is also not to say it isn’t complicated for binary trans folks as well). My genderqueerness means there is no ideal chest, exactly, except for the one I choose. It does not need to look like a “man’s chest” (though, also, there are billions of right ways for a chest to be a man’s chest and tons of variation there, so wtf does that mean, anyway? But also, you know what I mean) nor a “woman’s chest,” (see previous parenthetical statement) and indeed it is neither of those things. It’s mine. It is a genderqueer chest by nature of being on the genderqueer body of a genderqueer person.

The physical reality is still hitting me, and it will likely keep coming. I must build a new relationship with my new chest. I can’t assume the old ways we were together still hold. We have to find new ways of being together, as in the aftermath of any traumatic experience (which surgery certainly, literally, is). And some of that process will be grieving. And some of that process will be gender euphoria. And some of that process will be pleasurable. And some of the process will be terrible. All of the process will be slow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

More thinking about my post Tired from the beginning of the month has lead me to this: if you don’t know, ask. Don’t ever be afraid to ask. While it’s not always enjoyable to me to explain how I identify to someone that doesn’t mean it’s not highly appreciated. I would much rather have an hour long conversation (or even five-minute) about my identities than have my gender, sexuality, spirituality, or anything else assumed. You know what they say about to assume…

For the most part I’m pretty open when asked a question directly. I don’t skirt around things and I will take a question at face-value and answer exactly what was posed. I might not offer up additional information, but I am not shy about answering questions when asked directly. While I don’t always enjoy talking about myself (I know, that may be hard to believe considering that’s most of what I do on this blog) that doesn’t mean that I would rather not be asked about something. If I can clarify something or explain something I am always happy to, as long as I have the time. I also try not to assume that the other person will know what I’m talking about.

This doesn’t mean I think they are stupid, but because I use terms in mostly academic ways and since I don’t know if they have read something I’m referencing in my identity or explanation I try not to make assumptions either way and opt to ask questions myself. “Have you heard of…”” “Have you read…?” etc. If not I try to explain as fully as possible, and even if so I often will still mention some of the basic ideas of what I am referencing to make sure we are on the same page. I do not assume anyone is on the same page as I am, but that doesn’t mean they are not as smart as me or any other nonsense like that. Knowledge on one specific subject has nothing to do with intelligence.

Specifically what I was referencing in Tired had to do with two types of people. People with whom I have had conversations regarding identity who then turn around and seem to ignore everything I have expressed about my identity regardless. Or people assuming they know my identity without asking or having a conversation about it. It is difficult for me in either of these situations to come out and say “I don’t identify that way.” I’m just not a confrontational person and it is often difficult for me to assert my identities. I realize not being able to do that is my problem, but I do think that making assumptions about someone else’s identity is never a good idea. Similarly, disregarding a conversation about an identity is also not a good idea.

It’s hard work to have identity conversations in general. I realize this. It’s difficult to ask someone a question about their identity, you can’t always know how that question will be reacted to. Just keep in mind that when you ask make sure to ask something regarding identity rather than pinning an identity to it already such as “how do you identify?” versus “are you a [insert identity here]?” You can use specific terms such as “What is your gender identity?” “What pronoun do you prefer?” “What is your sexual identity?” as well, though the slightly more open-ended “how do you identify?” may get you the widest variety of options.

Please, ask questions, ask clearly, ask for definitions of things if I or someone else uses a term in a way that is unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is far better to ask than to assume. While there may be the occasional person who is offended that you would ask or who doesn’t think it is any of your business that doesn’t mean everyone would be. That said, also think about what you are asking and of whom. Should you be asking complete strangers about what genitals they have (though this isn’t the same as gender identity discussed previously) or who they like to fuck? Maybe it is, depending on the context of wherever you are at the moment, but maybe it’s not. Be smart about it, segue into it, make sure it is appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask if you sincerely want to know and don’t.

Similarly, if you identify with something out of the norm please don’t scare people away from asking questions, if they’re asking that’s at least a step above assuming your identity and questions are an excellent time to educate them and open their minds. Who knows what kind of chain reaction you might set off. If they ask in an inappropriate way then tell them so politely and educate them as to how to ask in a better manner next time. I can’t say I’m perfect at this, but I’m trying.

It is not easy on either side of the conversation. Sometimes I just wish I could fit into societal standards in one way or another and not have to worry about things like this, not have to figure my identities out in order for me to enjoy them and understand them. I get tired of explaining the same thing over and over to the same people, sometimes I’m tired of explaining in general even to new people who are genuinely interested, but that doesn’t mean I would rather not be asked. I’m glad to challenge normalized ideas and maybe, just maybe, open a mind or two.

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