The friend I accompanied to hospital three weeks ago is back there. Let me be up front: her gender op did not go well. Those of a squeamish disposition may want to stop reading here.
She spent the requisite week at the hospital after her operation and was sent home. I saw her at home a week after that and she could barely walk, though she insisted that we go out to lunch as she was getting bored of her own four walls. We did have a nice lunch with another friend, and she had a hearty appetite for traditional British Sunday roasts (note the plural!). She was, however, complaining of a discharge that she couldn't seem to wipe away. Two days later, having got in touch with the hospital, she rang to tell me she was frightened, that something like the alien in the sci-fi films was coming out of her. She photographed the problem, sent it to the hospital and they called her back and removed the offending 'alien'. Two days after this she was sent by her doctor to her local hospital because of an infection in her operated area and they sent her back to Charing Cross (CHX).
CHX is one of Britain's top hospitals and she is in good hands. The nurses are very attentive to her and she has friends, family and colleagues visiting her and phoning so she is not alone by any means. However, the infection inside her was terrible with much of her abdomen and thighs swollen. She was operated on this morning to remove infected matter from her abdomen and this evening she seemed much better, but she will have to stay in hospital for another day or two connected to antibiotic and painkiller drips.
This is not good. Whilst she looks good on the outside with no obvious scars, the loss of her inner lining is something that has only ever happened to one patient before, and the consequent infection was very painful, frightening and unsightly. She is surprisingly positive despite all this grief, fear and pain. I am hoping her surgeon, Mr Bellringer, will be able to right this as she deserves a proper outcome for her years of patience.
For my part it has made me think. I feel less squeamish and troubled by medical matters and hospitals than I was (I saw the photo of her 'alien', a strip of rotting flesh some inches wide and a foot long hanging out of her almost to her knees, and saw her disfigured abdomen swollen lopsidedly with infection). That is positive in a perverse way. But this has now put paid to the last remaining notions that I might seek transgender surgical intervention for myself. And boosted my querying about just what transsexualism is really all about.
I am sorry for the directness of this post but I am quite distressed and angry about this. I, personally, have never met anyone whose gender surgery went completely right first time, but this is a bad fail.
Back to the positives again next post.
UPDATE 21/8/13: I have now visited my friend in hospital three times this week. She is still not well and the emotional strain has told on her, not to mention the exhaustion resulting from the pain and the infection. But she has had many visits and messages from her friends, and her boss has been an absolute angel with his visits, gifts and chauffeuring. Her mum will be coming to look after her from tomorrow. She has no regrets about having had her surgery as she now feels that her body is right and matches how she perceives herself in her mind's eye. It is a tragedy that such a thing should have happened to one who has shown herself so worthy of success in transition.
Although the paragraphs above contain some gory details, they are not the complete picture of this upsetting situation by a long way. It seemed inappropriate to post any more publicly, both for the sake of her privacy and, frankly, because anything more would render the text too lurid. I will be writing to her surgeon, as I feel others close to her will be, to emphasise that we expect her to get the best outcome possible from now on.