Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 2 is done

DJ was running a fever of 102 later this afternoon.  It's back down to normal with the help of Tylenol.  Her pain is now being managed with Vicodin which is a step down from the morphine she was on yesterday.

Disc Jockey informed DJ of an audio recording meant for relaxation purposes before and after surgery.  DJ is all about finding homeopathic methods to deal with health issues and she has found it enormously helpful. After watching Harry Potter she has now settled down with her relaxation tape and will likely sleep soon.

We continue to record her throughout the day.  Earlier today, she motioned to me to pick up the camera and she wrote this on the dry erase board:

I used to hate my body.  Now I am at peace with it.

Every time I repeat that phrase in my head, I feel more at peace myself. 

Bulldog has left the hospital long enough to get a shower before he pulls the night shift with her.  Neither of us wants to leave her alone yet since she still can't talk and she sometimes loses track of the nurse call button.  While the head of her bed was raised 15 degrees today, she still needs helps with drinking fluids and using the spirometer-the device meant to encourage deep breathing and blunt the likelihood of getting pneumonia.

I think she's allowed to start talking tomorrow and I believe she stands tomorrow too, but no walking.  We want to give that new vagina a chance to stay where it's supposed to stay, after all!

Thanks for the support.  We love hearing from you.

Why I married Bulldog

Bulldog adopted the three children I brought from my first marriage.  From the very first, he loved them without reservation.  He is just that kind of man.

Yet, I was at the edges of child-bearing years and when we didn't conceive the old fashioned way within a year of our marriage, I asked him if he wanted to consider going high tech to have a baby together.  I didn't want him to feel as if he had missed out on some aspects of parenting: the pregnancy, the birth, the diapers, cutting teeth, sleepless nights, and the cute chubby faces that called for "dada" and "mama."

Bulldog came into our lives when Goodwrench was 9, Romeo was 7 and DJ, whom we knew then as JD, was 3.  For years, the kids called Bulldog by his given name and while they referred to him in the third person as their Dad, they did not call him Dad to his face, or to me. That is until DJ came out and she decided that if we could make the switch to calling her DJ, she could make the switch to calling Bulldog "Dad" and her brothers have followed suit, for the most part.

Bulldog never pushed them in this respect, but I know being called "Dad" was something he yearned for, nonetheless.  And it took years of marriage and being a family before he didn't feel like an outsider in the family, a thought which pains me to this day.

Now, we are both beyond wanting or needing an infant that we made together.  We have been building this family for ten years and are completely immersed in it.  I will always wonder what it might have been like to go through the experience of having a baby together with him, but thanks to his perspective, that yearning has lessened considerably in its intensity.

Bulldog and I are sitting on the opposite sides of DJ's hospital bed, facing her in profile, and each other directly.  DJ is snoozing.  Bulldog said this to me just now:

You know how you used to wonder if I was missing out on having a baby?  I was thinking about this last night and I feel like I know what's it like to have a baby now.  I'm here at the hospital and waiting and I'm thinking about bringing her home and taking care of her.  (He continued, with tears in his eyes) I feel like I know what it's like to have a baby.

This is why I married Bulldog.

Judging a book by its cover

Found this in my draft file -I wrote it the day after DJ's gender confirmation surgery but forgot to publish it…we had a lot going on, needless to say. Might be worth a look see for those persons living in the USA and looking for a good surgeon.  I can share details privately if you're interested.  If so, simply comment in the box below and include an email address and we can correspond.

The Author

DJ's surgery took place in a SMALL community hospital in the northeastern United States.  Bulldog and I are hospital snobs, in a way.  Both of our professional lives have encompassed being familiar with the capabilities of hospitals, or the BIG DOGS of hospitals, the Level 1 Trauma Centers.

I used to fly on an air medical helicopter where it was our "norm" to pick up patients from small community hospitals and transport them to the fancy-pants trauma centers that had advanced services 24/7 to include surgeons, CT scan and MCI capability around the clock.  Part of the air medical transport culture is to "look down" on the small community hospitals.  After all, if they were "all that" they wouldn't need larger hospitals with their own helicopters to swoop in and take the patients from the small town hospital to the big- time hospital.

I have been schooled today.  One should never judge: a book by its cover, people on first impressions, or, apparently, hospitals based on their locale and appearance.

To get to this hospital, one travels past the outskirts of a major city and then heads into relative suburbia/small town-ness.  This small town has very few hotels, a Wal-Mart (of course) a few diners and some fast food establishments like Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds.  On pulling into the hospital parking lot the morning of the surgery, I noted that the parking lot was practically deserted with no traffic coming into or leaving the hospital.  The hospital appeared to have been built in the 1950s or 1960s both on the outside and the inside.  The waiting room did not have Wi-fi and I'm pretty sure the chairs were as old as I am because the springs were shot, much like my own springs.

Do not be fooled by impressions:  the surgery that takes place here is cutting edge and the staff has been wonderful.  DJ's surgeon was a surgeon for NASA and is increasingly well known in the USA, if not the world, for her surgical finesse, yet she practices her craft (I would call it "art" actually) in this nondescript hospital.  What a perfect way to fly under the radar, I've decided.  Here, we get the best of both worlds:  the best and most progressive surgical techniques coupled with one of the best attributes of a small town- genuine caring and compassion.

The monitoring and patient care equipment is all current, it's just the facade of the place that is faded.  Has my life with my daughter taught me nothing about judging someone or something by its appearance?

One plucky girl

It's hours until dawn, and I cannot sleep.  Not because anything is wrong, I am simply wide awake.  I woke minutes before DJ's medication pump went off because it needed to be changed out, which is likely a good thing since waking to an alarm might have made me jumpy.  When the medication alarm went off, it did wake DJ and she merely looked at me, as if to say, "What is that?"  She then gave me one of her many "thumbs up" signs to let me know she was ok.

DJ had a tracheal shave and is under doctor's orders that she may not speak for two days.  She also had breast augmentation and neovaginoplasty.  She is to lie flat on her back for the next couple of days, as well.  One of her first communications to us, after her initial non-verbal "thumbs up" was to write a note that said,

"Lying on my back sucks."

The top of her chest and her groin are covered in ice packs, but the room is 77 degrees F, so she is actually quite comfortable.  Her surgeon also directed that she is to wear these cuffs around her lower legs that fill with air periodically to keep the circulation flowing well to her lower extremities. Being immobile for a number of days can lead to deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot, in the lower legs.  DJ reports that they are "comfy".

Her actual first communication was to give me a hand signal for me to videotape her on my first entering her hospital room.  She wants to record this journey, as do I, but I am feeling like the worst kind of paparazzi when filming in the lobby, as she's having blood drawn, in pre-op, where almost no one but her is actually excited to go under the knife and again as she is lying with icepacks covering her chest and groin.

Bulldog was going to pull the first night shift with DJ until he fell asleep with his headset on and didn't hear or see DJ's attempt at communicating.  He and I were each snoozing in a reclining chair in her room and my "mommy radar" woke me to see her hand waving to get our attention.  Bulldog was clueless and I had to keep my disapproval in check especially when it happened again when his back was turned.

"But I didn't see her because my back was turned," was his reply when I explained why I would stay the first night with her.

"You gotta have eyes in the back of your head then, honey."

I'm going to be sexist here:  mom's are more hyper aware.  You know how when a woman will hesitate for a moment before picking up something hugely heavy and in that moment, her husband will brusquely push past and take care of it for her?  This is the wifely equivalent of that scenario.  We've got ESP and 20/20 vision in the eyes in the backs of our heads.

It took a short while to get DJ's pain at something akin to "somewhat comfortable" but that's to be expected and she was never in agony, thank goodness.  Her surgeon came by again last night before heading home-this was after a 14 hour day, which goes to show what kind of doctor and person she is.

Everyone is in pretty good spirits:  Bulldog was making more of his goofball jokes, and DJ wrote another note to me, "make him stop" which she held out with a smirk.  But we'll see how today goes-on the one hand, I'm sure she'll feel even better, which makes me think she'll be a bit frustrated at having to be on her back for another 24 hours.  She'll likely get over it quickly.  That DJ is one plucky girl.