Day Four Post-Op Is Exciting (and Sucks) Because…

Well, it’s not the surgical pain so much as the economic pain.  Valerie, Medalie’s secretary, told me because I pre-paid for my surgery now I can’t make an insurance claim, that “it’s impossible in their computer system” to go back and file a claim to see if Blue Cross would cover all or part of the surgery.

This super sucks.  I wasn’t holding my breath, as Blue Cross seems not to pay for any SRS.  However, I had been told by other bloggers who had their surgeries with Medalie that Valerie was a superstar with insurance companies, and said bloggers whose insurance companies didn’t cover SRS had it magically covered through Valierie’s superior coding skills.  She was on vacation the week I was having my surgery, so I didn’t even have a chance to talk to her about my options.  I wish I had known to ask about this before I pre-paid for it, but as an out of town patient, I had to pre-pay for it.

But I have to let it go.  I am going to contact a friend in the insurance industry* to see if there is a way I can circumvent Medalie’s office and submit a claim to Blue Cross myself, which will be potentially infinitely more tricky and confusing, and God knows I don’t want to accidentally commit insurance fraud, but I have to try (try, that is, to get some of this cost covered, I don’t feel a deep need to try and commit insurance fraud).  I just want to find out for sure if Blue Cross might/might not reimburse me for at least part of my costs.


As far as my physical recuperation goes, there is little to complain about: I am still sore and puffy and uncomfortable, which sounds like a lot to complain about, but considering I had major surgery, these pains sound really trivial to me.  I am using less Vicodin, and more Advil, but can tell that I am slowly moving toward needing no pain meds at all.

I still have no wifi, and am still on Poppa T’s computer (which, again, is a blessing and I thank him for the privilege), but still no pics.  However, tomorrow is the big post-op drain removal/chest reveal, so I think we will try to take a short video, and for sure get some still photos.  We are staying at the B and B in Cleveland tomorrow night before we fly home on Thursday, so previous posts will be revised with pics, and pics of my chest sans vest will be posted as well.

Last night I had my first searing incision site pain, it was on my right side, just below my pectoral area, so I assume that must be where the right side incision is.  Up until now all my pain was coming from the drain sites in my armpits and the discomfort of the compression vest.  Also, I’ve noticed a little weezing in the bottom of my lungs when I first get up in the morning the last few days, but I know that is from not breathing deeply enough: usually after sitting up and taking some deep breaths throughout the morning that clears right up.

But this new incision pain, that came from accidentally using my right arm for just a second to steady myself to sit up in bed: it was a long slow burn that made me hold my breath for a second.  I took my weight off my right arm and used only my abs like I should have been, but otherwise didn’t move, and so the burning slowly faded away.  But then when I tried to put my arm at my side under the blanket it came soaring back, full steam.  I held my breath again and stopped moving for a second.  It took me a long slow time to get my arm under that blanket.

The good thing is that this searing slow pain is not entirely unfamiliar to me: it feels just like the god awful pain from my hysto incision site.  So although it is terribly painful, at least it is not worrisome.  I know what it is, and why it hurts, and how to make it stop.  I’m just not looking forward to its inevitable, unannounced, and semi-frequent drop-ins as part of the healing process.

Boy, I’ll miss this drain site irritation then!

I am looking forward to no more drains tomorrow, to getting a look at my new chest, to going home on Thursday and healing in my own house.

About this getting a look at my new chest business: I have been told by other guys that the first look can kinda take your breath away, that the disconnect between what your chest looked like (in my case) five days ago and what it looks like now is a lot to take in for your brain, that our bodies don’t change naturally as quickly as they change surgically and so your brain has a bit of a shock when you first lay eyes on this drastically reformed part of your body.

I have been using my meditation and body awareness practice I have learned in the yoga preparation I did leading up to surgery to “feel” my chest under this foam and compression vest.  I have been closing my eyes and feeling where my body ends and the vest begins.  I can “see” the contour of my new chest, and I think this attention and visualization has helped prepare me for the big reveal tomorrow.

What about you post-op readers: how did you feel in that revelatory moment, when you first laid eyes on your new body?  Scared? Relieved? Shocked? Ecstatic?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*Just got off the phone with insurance friend, and she gave me a few options, so I am feeling less deflated now–let’s stay (cautiously) optimistic! And a shout-out here to insurance friend J, who has not only given insurance advice, but also has given medical advice to my hypochondriac ass for over ten years.  Thanks for always answering the phone J, and for always being a good momma to me. 😉

29 thoughts on “Day Four Post-Op Is Exciting (and Sucks) Because…

  1. When I first saw my chest I was shocked, sad, happy, and surprised at how it looked, for sure. It was more of like I gasped and couldn’t believe the dramatic difference between chests, and also the large about of tightness I felt after the wraps came off. I was actually afraid to breathe in too deep because I thought breathing would cause them to come apart! Hahaha ( I still feel that way sometimes whenever I experience the sharp pain of healing)!

  2. Oh Alex, your chest looks great and nothing is pulling it apart! You are now, what, almost two weeks out, and how often are you advised to wear your wrap?

  3. Hey Eli–sorry I haven’t been commenting lately. I’ve been reading, though! I’m so happy you got through surgery safely. As far as the post-op reveal, my advice would be to not be concerned if your areaola sizes are noticeably different right off the bat–mine were, and it kind of upset me stressed me out for a while, but it turned out that it was just extra swelling on my right side that took a few months to fully go away. So, yeah, just breathe, take it in, let yourself process and grieve if necessary. Just remember that all of your feelings are valid and it’s a process.
    Take care.

  4. I still felt like they were still there when I wasn’t looking… still do sometimes. The tightness was hard to get used to after the vest came off; I thought the constriction I felt was all vest-related but it wasn’t. At month six the tightness is definitely improved but still noticeable when I stretch/reach.

    • How curious–I wonder where that tighten comes from if not the vest? I wonder if it is partially psychological? Is there some matter of not wanting to fully stretch, a concern for the incisions, even after they heal, or a matter of not wanting to fully stretch a chest we (ftms) are so used to shielding?

      • Your skin is pulled very tight post surgery – it takes time for the incisions to losen up. And yes, there’s also getting over the years of psychological “huddling” to hide the chesticles that isn’t overcome by surgery alone. My trainer is spending quite a bit of time reminding me not to “turtle” while doing various upper body exercises.

      • Interesting how our bodies protect themselves, and then it’s also interesting to think about what we have to go through to break ourselves of certain habits, that while having served us well in the past, no longer serve us well in the present.

  5. So glad your friend has given you some insurance avenues, paying for all these surgeries is tough; I am in the process of selling my house (I love my house) to pay for SRS this year.
    I often wonder what it will feel like post surgery, how will my mind take in the changes I have waited so long for? Anyway it’s so nice to read your posts and wish you luck and comfort getting home.

      • You are selling the home you love to move to another country to complete your physical transition. If that’s not brave, I don’t know what it. Us trans folks don’t give ourselves enough credit. I am reminded of a Nietzsche quote, “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

        And you are doing it. And if that’s not brave, then I don’t know what it.

  6. Sorry to hear about the economic pain, and I’m glad things are looking up… albeit tentatively. I’ve been (suppressing my jealousy and) enjoying reading all the post-op experiences as well! Not long now… focus on that if you can. 🙂


  7. It sounds like you’re healing well even with some painful moments. All the best for tomorrow when you go for the big reveal. I have dealt with physical change but not in the same way so I can’t realistically comment. I will say though that ALL anticipated change is about managing your expectations. You will anticipate some feelings and reactions correctly, but other feelings or reactions might take you by surprise. Take it slowly, it is a sacred moment. Breathe in, look and nod. What you will see as you look down and see your stomach for the first time without hindrance, and what you will see in the mirror will continue to change again as you heal, lose swelling, gain shape and put on muscle. You’re beginning. And tomorrow is the day YOU emerge from the cocoon. Peace. 🙂

  8. Glad to hear you may have some insurance ideas. So frustrating to have just not had that necessary bit of info at the right time after all your planning. I’m sure you’ll come through the “reveal” just fine, and I’m sure it will be good to get back home.

  9. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve been away from my computer for the most part for the last week or so (but i have definitely been thinking of you!) and am so glad to hear that your surgery went well. I’m sorry about the insurance business but hope that gets worked out too. The details you are giving here are really helpful to me, knowing that my son will be going through this surgery in a few years. I’m trying to absorb everything you’ve written. Love the new look here, too.

    • Hey you!

      So glad to hear from you, and yes, I am sharing this experience not just for me, but for all the little trans dudes out there. 😉

  10. Insurance is very frustrating. I hope that they cover something. Good luck with the reveal today and I can’t wait to see/hear about your experience as the healing process continues.

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