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This will be an ongoing thread of tips and things to expect if you'll be receiving this surgery!!
1. Don't skimp on your pain meds. They take a little bit to kick in anyways, so if you might be in pain in half an hour, take something.
2. Re: getting out of bed, you may have to engage a lot of muscle groups you're not used to. Relaxing the legs/buttocks is crucial.
2. (cont.) Headboards are immensely useful for this. Imagine you're pulling on the world's heaviest door. Arms only. No legs.
2. (cont.) This also may be difficult if you're shivering. When you're shivering, a good majority of your muscles are moving. Stop, warm up.
3. If you have any reservations about privacy and your body, it's best to drop them as soon as possible. A lot of folks will need to help.
3. (cont.) I know this can be very difficult for some people. Just remember that these people are only here to aid your recovery.
4. Sleep is vital to your recovery. Go easy on the chocolate, tea, soda, and coffee. Drink/eat less of it in the weeks leading up to V-Day.
5. Percocet gives you crazy dreams. Keep a log of them to keep yourself entertained.
6. Hydration is key. You're losing blood, and water is a big constituent of blood. You also may be crying from the pain. Drink water.
7. When you're having a hard day, remember each day is better than the previous, because each day you're closer to being fully healed.
7. (cont.) This is a very optimistic approach and doesn't account for complications or setbacks of any kind. Take it on anyways.
8. Self-care is very important, especially in the first week. Doing up your eyebrows, shaving your face, trimming your nails, all important.
8. (cont.) This is especially true because it helps regain a sense of autonomy. It's easy to lose that in your first week.
9. Your surgeon may not let you shower for a while. This means you will be very, very, very, very, very smelly. And that's okay.
10. Lean on your friends. I can't say this enough: I have no idea where I'd be without my friends who have helped me get this far.
11. As soon as you can stand up for more than a couple minutes at a time, brush your teeth. You'll thank yourself for it.
12. Ice is your best friend.
13. If you've got 1-2 years before your surgery, get those piercing(s) + tattoo(s) you've always wanted. It'll teach you to deal with pain.
13. (cont.) Getting sewn up without anesthesia is like a bad body piercing. Post-op pain is like a really long tattoo.
14. Don't underestimate the power of distraction. Sometimes, your favorite TV show, video game, or group of friends can be a painkiller.
15. Remember to have Benadryl near you at all times otherwise you're gonna be in for some rough nights with those painkillers.
16. Menopause. Unless you get back on estrogen an hour after you wake up from surgery, this is gonna happen to you. Prepare for hot flashes.
16. (cont.) One of the most useful things is to have a fan near you at all times, whether it be electric or handheld.
17. Have a go-to meal to settle your stomach when you feel nauseous.
18. If you have someone taking care of you outside the hospital, thank them daily. If you don't have someone, you may die. Have someone.
18. (cont.) It is absolutely crucial that you work reliable others into your surgical plan and knowing this WELL before your surgery date.
18. (cont.) Some surgery centers actually require that you give them this person's information to make sure that you're safe.
19. If you're lactose intolerant, don't drink milk dude wtf
20. Stay home on the day of your bowel prep. Nothing worse than getting stuck without comfortable bathroom options.
21. You'll be in bed a lot. You'll be expending less energy, and therefore you don't need to eat as much. Get smaller portions.
21. (cont.) This one took me about a week to figure out and I wasted a lot of food.
22. As a corollary: make sure you don't stop eating altogether. At least three meals a day, and protein bars + meal replacements help.
23. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patien
24. You won't be allowed to shower for a bit. Instead, substitute PTA showers (pits, tits, ass), wash your hair in the sink, etc.
24. (cont.) Feeling clean is extremely important, just take special care not to get the surgical site wet AT ALL. Friends help.
25. You're not going to be able to bend down to pick stuff up for a while. Rely on your friends.
26. Change your pad daily.
27. Your packing is going to be the worst-smelling thing in the universe. There's not a lot you can do to prevent it.
28. Always lay down a towel on your bed, centered around your butt/crotch area.
29. For at least a week, you're only going to be able to sleep on your back. Try getting into the habit beforehand.
30. Put on deodorant daily, even if you don't smell. It'll help you feel more normal.
31. Learn what your headaches mean. For me, it's that I need to drink more water.
32. Muscle atrophy is a very real thing. You'll think it won't happen to you. It will. Know your limits.
33. If you can sit on the toilet with the lid AND the seat up, do it. It'll hurt way less than sitting on the seat.
33. (cont.) This will transfer the weight/pressure away from the surgical site and towards the hip bones.
34. You'll be doing a lot of eating in bed, and sitting up won't be feasible for a while. That's messy. Make yourself a napkin bib.
35. If you get a cold during your first two weeks, prepare to die. Coughing while having a massive crotch wound is the worst thing ever.
35. (cont.) Obviously, it's not the end of the world, but you're going to be very uncomfortable and in pain.
36. For dilating: 1. It's the lowest hole. For the love of god, do not stick it in your urethra. 2. Go UNDER the pubic bone.
37. Watching YouTube videos is a good way to keep distracted while dilating. It's uncomfortable at worst and boring at best, so.
38. When your dilator comes out, it will be VERY warm. I just think that's kinda cool.
39. Lube.
40. I hope you're not attached to this pair of underwear. Or this one. Or that one. Or that other one.
41. Your vulva'll come out looking like an over-inflated strawberry birthday cake that a possum viciously dug through before getting bored.
42. Your vulva will look fine in a couple weeks.
43. Recognize that your pain is a healing pain.
44. Your packing is a super ultra tampon. When they take it out, you're gonna be bleeding for a while. This is your first and only period.
45. Make sure you have some designated ugly period panties on hand for this part. Messes are bound to be made.
46. When dilating, you might start feeling resistance or pain as it goes in. This can be due to a bad angle. Let go, see if it moves.
46. (cont.) The dilator will move back to center if you've been pushing it too far in one direction. Then, you can continue pushing.
47. The brownish yellow discharge that occurs from the time that the packing comes out to about Week 6 is arguably grosser than the blood.
47. (cont.) It's also what makes the packing smell so bad. Do you want your panties to smell & look like that? No? Then keep wearing pads.
48. The road back from muscle atrophy is long and frustrating. Know your limits but don't skimp on taking walks and improving yourself.
48. (cont.) The more effort you put in now, the quicker you'll get all your strength back.
49. Learn to fake-out your sneezes. A normal sneeze will engage you groin muscles and be a whole world of hurt.
49. (cont.) The exact second the sneeze begins, put all of your energy into stopping it. You know you've got it if it sounds like a cough.
49. (cont.) You can also think of it as not giving the sneeze the fuel it needs to succeed. Don't give that sneeze all your breath.
50. There is nothing better than recovering in your own bed.
51. If you quit narcotics cold turkey (don't), quit any and all caffeine immediately. Your body has depended on narcotics to fall asleep.
51. (cont.) It'll take a while to start producing sleepy chemicals again, and you'll be disproportionately affected by caffeine.
52. If your dilator stutters instead of going in with one smooth motion, you need to relax and spread out your legs more.
53. Make sure to clean the space between your labia and your legs with a 50-50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water after dilation.
53. (cont.) This is super gross, but the little sizzling/foaming sound it makes afterwards is strangely satisfying.
54. Expect your pants to fit better. Expect your fashion options to increase without limit.
55. You know the feeling of your scrotum getting stuck to your thigh? That'll keep happening, except your scrotum is now your swollen labia.
56. Peeing will be messy and annoying. Stay hydrated anyways. You'll have plenty of time to develop more muscle and control later on.
57. Front to back.
58. If you see something funny and laugh really hard when you're dilating, your dilator WILL shoot out of your body at 90mph
58. (cont.) The moral of the story is keep a good grip on your dilator
58. (cont.) APPARENTLY this also applies to sneezing
59. Holding your dilator in with your calf so you can use both hands for whatever else is Laziness Level 9000 but also Efficiency Level 9000
60. For at least the first two months, use a mirror when dilating. It may help you catch something important, like a blown stitch.
61. Make sure you dilate to the same depth every time, otherwise you'll have one heck of an uncomforable time making up the lost diameter.
62. Boppy pillows work WAY better than inflatable or foam cushions. Remember to bring it with you to the surgery.
62. (cont.) There's a good chance you'll have to sit in a wheelchair for some part afterwards and you'll wanna be comfy.
62. (cont.) Also, they're polyester, so they're super duper easy to get blood out of.
63. Pee before you dilate if you don't want to feel extremely uncomfortable the whole time.
64. Folks have been coming up with euphemisms for "vagina" for centuries, but you get one that cis women don't: "the surgical site"
65. For the love of god, don't get a sponge or loofah anywhere near your vag for at least the first month. Use soapy hands instead.
65. (cont.) Getting your sponge caught on one of your staples = your soul gets sucked out of your body through your vagina.
66. Sitting on hard surfaces may be easier than soft surfaces at first. Soft surfaces may deform into your vag when you sit.
67. Getting turned on and not immediately having a swelling feeling in your nethers is the best feeling in the observable universe.
68. Your vagina is new. A masterful artist just carved this work out of nothing. Let the paint dry. Don't interfere with their work.
69. Your clit is just as new as your vagina, but will be about twice as pissy about it. Your clit is an angsty teenager.
70. Being able to sit down anywhere you please is probably the last major hurdle you'll have to overcome. You'll feel VERY normal afterward.
71. Infections of the yeast and urinary tract varieties are especially common at first. Think of it as initiation. Be excited, then in pain.
72. Peeing might hurt once they take your catheter out. That's okay. It'll go away.
73. Make sure you know EXACTLY how much peeing typically hurts, because if it hurts more than usual you may have a UTI.
73. (cont.) Also make note of your frequency. If you're constantly feeling like you have to pee, you may have a UTI.
74. There is a medication called phenazopyridine (Azo) available OTC that numbs your urethra and turns your pee orange. Neat!
75. Being put under feels like you stopped paying attention for a second, and then teleporting to a new location when you perk up.
75. (cont.) It's not scary! It's practically a non-event. You won't even remember counting back from 10.
76. Insurance companies are the devil. Never, ever, ever stop fighting. Take it as high up as you can.
77. Enjoy your newfound mobility and lack of pain once your packing comes out. It's like a breath of fresh air.
78. Oh yeah: in case you don't know, you'll need to get lasers fired into your crotch to clear a certain area of hair before surgery.
78. (cont.) START THIS PROCESS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It can take many months, even close to a year. Also, it'll give you a taste of the pain.
78. (cont.) Ofc, make sure your surgeon has a diagram to work off. You might not have to clear your bush at all, just the undercarriage.
79. I'll let you in on a little secret: the worst part of the surgery isn't the pain. It's not being able to masturbate for two months.
(Had to throw that one in for my new followers.)
80. Crossing your legs is about to be 10 times more awesome. It's also the first sitting posture you should try without your cushion.
80. (cont.) It allows you to put all your weight on one thigh and allows you now to sit on your new and very swollen vagina.
81. To tie your shoes without sitting down, press your forehead or shoulder against the wall and raise up your foot.
82. Phantom pains and itches will happen. The easiest way to combat them is with a mirror and a touch. Your nerves are all still there.
82. (cont.) It's just a matter of figuring out where the nerves went. Phantom scrotum itch? Scratch your labia. That's what it turned into.
Just realized the thread does a weird fork thing here. This is the next tweet
83. You are a badass. This pain ain't got nothing on you. Show it who's boss.
84. The second month is gonna feel way longer than the first because there's gonna be a lot less stuff happening. Patience.
85. Chances of you saying "I just wanna shit my brains out" on bowel prep day: 0%
Chances after 6-7 days post-op: 90%
86. Tired of dropping things and needing someone else to come pick it up for you because your butt is pretty much sewn together? Boom.
87. In your first three months, bouncing back from a missed dilation can take a couple days. Missing two can take a week. Be vigilant.
Actually, I'd like to hear some other experiences with this. @DamnitAddie @AshleySeemsNice y'all experienced this? Know someone who has?
88. Buy your pads wholesale. You'll definitely need more than just one box's worth.
89. This surgery is not a cure-all. If you had self-image issues before surgery they'll be there after surgery too.
89. (cont.) This surgery is miraculous, that much is true. But you have to make an effort to love yourself.
90. This surgery won't cure your anxiety or depression. It won't make you feel less lonely. But it WILL reduce your dysphoria.
91. Don't get discouraged if you can't have an orgasm right off the bat. This is a completely new body part that you have been given.
91. (cont.) You need to learn its intricacies and how to use it. You're starting from scratch. Don't worry. Keep going.
92. Definitely don't expect much from masturbation if you're still in pain.
93. Dilation will actually be easiest the very first time. You'll be pretty gapped from having had the packing in you for a week.
94. It's easy to be scared of this surgery. It's surgery, after all, and major at that. But you have courage to have come this far.
94. (cont.) It takes strength for girls like us to get out of bed and face the world every day, transphobes be damned.
94. (cont.) If you ask me, coming out is a courageous act. And so is diving into this surgery. Both tend to be necessary, yes. But that
94. (cont.) doesn't diminish that you took the leap. You are brave. You are strong. You'll make it through this surgery in one piece.
95. If you think wearing a romper and having to pee is bad, try wearing a romper and having to dilate.
96. Dilation becomes a normal part of your life eventually, and remember the frequency goes down to 1-2x weekly once you're 9 months healed!
97. Your new vagina exists solely for pleasure and your own comfort and that is a very beautiful thing. Your vagina is powerful.
98. Your hair will be a MESS in the first few weeks. If you've always wanted to shave your head, bowel prep day is the day to do it.
99. When sizing up dilators, a) start it off with the previous size and b) go as slow as humanly possible with constant pressure.
99. (cont.) Yes, sizing up is very uncomfortable. You just gotta dive into it. Soon enough it'll just feel like the previous size did.
100. The two to four weeks that you're off hormones prior to surgery are going to be rocky. Prepare yourself for intense body odor,
100. (cont.) suddenly heightened sex drive, a strangely reduced craving for salt, and more difficult shaving, among other things.
101. You can clean your dilators with soap and water, or you can just put a condom on it (if you're not terrified of them like I am).
101. (cont.) But trust me, timely and thorough cleaning is a necessity. Nothing stinks up a room like a vaggy dilator.
102. You'll be experiencing increased discharge after sizing up. There's more room for it to flow out, after all.
103. Don't take your prescribed dilation schedules as the word of god. If insertion gets more difficult over time, up the frequency.
103. (cont.) That being said, going straight from 3x daily to 1x daily can be a shock. Make it a smooth transition.
104.
105. Expect higher levels of discharge when physically exerting yourself
106. Vag boogers. They’re gross, they’re icky, and they’re on your pad. Ew.
107. Have a plan for work. You’ll need to take at least 6 weeks off, & if you have to sit down at work it won’t be as pleasant as standing.
108. Keep in mind that your midday dilation(s) are extremely important and not to be missed. Make sure your schedule can accomodate.
109. Here are the positions from most to least comfortable:
Laying down
Standing
Sitting
Kneeling
110. There will be days when you’ll look down and you’ll be all like “woah, dude, I have a vagina.”
111. Don’t do this for anyone but yourself.
112. The only thing that’ll take longer to heal than your clit? Your labia. Give them 6-8 months to stop being whiny swollen pissbabies.
113. It’ll take a while for you to develop sensation in your labia. Don’t be scared when they’re numb post-op, just give them a few weeks.
113. (cont.) I’m four and a half months in and I have nearly 100% sensation. It’s a very gradual process.
114. “Fully healed” isn’t a single day. It’s a process. It’s a gradient.
115. You know how you have to flex your pelvic floor muscle after you pee cause you gotta get the last bit out? That won’t happen anymore.
115. (cont.) You only gotta do that cause external genitalia gives you a long urethra. Now it just goes straight out from the bladder!
116. Your catheter will be uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as a catheter in your previous urethra.
117. The smell goes away after a while.
118. This is a life-changing experience. Certain things may seem unimportant following your recovery. You may make unexpected changes.
118. (cont.) You might feel the Lunar Effect. You might be bored after this is all over. You may feel like you no longer have a north star.
118. (cont.) So many people, myself included, look forward to this for years and years. Once it’s passed, it’s easy to feel directionless.
119. If you run to Urgent Care in a panic and tell them you have vaginal bleeding, there is a 0% chance they’ll take you seriously.
119. (cont.) There’s an excruciatingly specific “is this grown-ass woman really freaking out about her period” facial expression that you’ll recognize after a while. They won’t even react if you tell them you don’t have a uterus.
120. Oversensitivity in the clit can happen post-op. It calms down after about 6 months.
121. Keys to having your first orgasm:
1) Don’t make it your goal. Only focus on making yourself feel good.
2) Try as many different things as you can. Use sex toys, use your hands, use a pillow, anything you can think of (as long as it’s safe and sanitary).
121. (cont.) It’s a process requiring lots of patience and a certain state of healing, especially if you dealt with oversensitivity in the first few months post-op. I had my first at 6 months.
122. Fears of loss of sensation after this surgery are mostly unfounded. Your surgeon would have to be drunk or a complete fucking idiot to cut those nerves.
123. You’re probably gonna have to wake up at ass o’clock in the morning on surgery day. MAKE SURE YOUR ALARM IS SET TO A.M. AND NOT P.M.
123. (cont.) I swear to fucking god, I almost slept in because my alarm was set to 6:15 PM. If I hadn’t had to pee at 6:50 AM I would have slept through the most important day of my life.
124. Accidentally hitting your fully-healed vag on the edge of a counter still doesn’t compare to hitting your tucked nads against the side of a table, pain-wise.
125. If you start smelling fishy down there, see a doctor and get ready to be taking some nasty-ass antibiotics for some BV.
126. ALWAYS finish the full course of antibiotics.
127. These nasty-ass antibiotics have potential to absolutely fucking wreck your digestive system. You can ask for the topical kind instead, which you inject with the provided applicators. They look like this!!
127. (cont.) If you’re not already, start wearing pads if you go the topical route unless you want stained (yet bacteria-resistant) undies.
128. Don’t have sex if you have BV!! Not only does it smell gross, but you have a higher risk of catching an STD.
129. "Vaggy" is absolutely a valid odor descriptor.
130. The aforementioned applicators are super duper uncomfortable. Use one immediately after dilation for the least amount of pain.
131. THAT PEE FEELING YOU GET DURING A CT SCAN FEELS WAY DIFFERENT WITH A VAG
132. Your vag will start looking REALLY CUTE around month 7
133. Shaving your legs is going to be really difficult for the first month. Just let it grow until you can get your stamina up and get into the proper position without pain.
134. Once you can wear one pad a day and it doesn’t end up absolutely soaked after 24 hours, you can upgrade to pantyliners. THEY’RE SO COMFY.
135. You can’t get pregnant, but you still have to make sure your sexual partner uses condoms (if they have a penis) unless you know for sure you’re both STD-free.
135. (cont.) ALSO: remember to use dental dams if giving or receiving oral!
136. A general rule: UTI's burn, yeast infections itch, and BV smells.
137. If you keep getting vaginal infection after vaginal infection, your pH might be off. See your gynecologist about this.
138. Oh yeah, and get a gynecologist. It's good to get a check-up every now and then by the same person instead of jumping all over the place.
139. The bigger your dilator, the more you can get away with skipping a day or so every now and then.
140. If you ask my surgeon, the orange dilator is physiologically unrealistic. Don't feel like a failure if you can't get it in.
141. Your vagina will not "close up" if you stop dilating (at least after you've healed). It's a muscle that can be stretched, and dilation is just a regularly scheduled stretch. You can get "lost" depth and diameter back by starting off with the thinnest one and going back up.
141. (cont.) Say you’re a bicyclist of Olympic abilities, but your muscles atrophy after you stop cycling for a few years. Are your abilities lost beyond repair? No. It’ll be difficult starting out again, but with gentle training—starting off with a mile or less—you’ll get back.
141. (cont.) You don’t drop yourself in the deep end instantly. Just go a little farther each time (whether it’s inches in depth or miles in distance) and you’ll get there.
142. This surgery is a crucible. It’s what you make of it. Sure, things like comfort and complications vary GREATLY by circumstance. But you have to see this as an enduringly positive experience and hold onto that thought when you go through the worst of it.
143. If you bleed as a result of dilation, you’re doing something wrong. You’re either going so deep that you’re perforating the end of your vaginal canal (fucking ow) or you’re being too rough with it/not using enough lube.
144. Re: the gel in tip number 127, you can also just slather it all over your dilator if you don’t wanna fuck with the really uncomfortable applicators, just make sure it all gets in there and that you’re measuring out the correct amount.
145. Re: tip number 141, here are detailed instructions (thread)
145. (cont.) Another thing to note: finger-dilating gets inadvertently sexy pretty quick. Whoops.
146. You’ll queef when you size up dilators. It’s HILARIOUS.
147. Classical/acoustic guitar is the easiest instrument to play while laying down, and you’ll have a lot of time to do nothing during recovery, so, y’know, no time like the present.
148. DON'T SMOKE WEED for at least two weeks before surgery. THC can have a bad reaction with the anesthesia and put you in a coma. Also, MAKE SURE to tell your surgeon how often you use marijuana and when the last time you used it was.
149. One of the main reasons dilating to full depth takes as long as it does is because the dilator lubes up your vag as it goes. If you’re in a hurry, just lube up your finger and stick in there all the way before inserting your lubed dilator, you’ll get to depth MUCH faster.
150. Telling your clit from your urethra will be surprisingly difficult for the first few months, especially when trying to locate pain. You’re used to one being within the other. You’ll get the hang of it.
151. Speculums fucking SUCK, but you probably won’t need to have one in you for more than 15-20 seconds unless there’s something really wrong.
152. If your vagina was made by penile inversion, your regular pH will probably be around 7.0. This SUCKS because the standard AFAB vagina has a pH of about 4.4 which prevents bacterial overgrowth and recurring BV. With such a neutral pH it can be heaven for bacteria.
152. (cont.) HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO to help balance your pH: douche once a week (because douche contains vinegar, which is acidic), and/or take one (1) boric acid tablet suppository VAGINALLY once a week. DON’T swallow it.
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