Two Weeks Post-op!

Hello friends!

Well, here I am (we are, really, [thanks for sticking around]), two weeks post-op, and I feel good.  My body seems to be healing well, and I would like to take some time here to break down where I am at and chronicle some important things to note if you are considering this surgery.

Physical Healing

I got to take my compression vest off for good yesterday, and while I was pretty careful with my movement out of fear of causing any pain, I had no trouble at all.  I wasn’t playing tackle football, but I put a t-shirt on and went outside.  In this time of healing I have to remind myself that those small victories are actually large ones.  It was my first night out in a t-shirt, and if you knew me, you would know that I love t-shirts, that I have a nice collection of them, and that I have missed them.

Today has been good as well, I wore a backpack for the first time and it went fine–I am still most tender where my arms meets my torso, and that is where the backpack straps come down from over my shoulder.  But still, I had minimal discomfort, and my laptop was in it, so it was of medium weight.  The incisions are completely closed, and just this morning I pulled off what I thought last night was more surgical tape, but was in fact skin glue.  Now that that is off, no more blue lines across my chest.  The scars are thin and the same color as my skin, for the most part, and are healing so much better than my hysto scar.  I am pretty certain my hysto scar healed like that because I overdid it during recovery.  Cest la vie.

I am trying to gently increase arm range of motion just by holding my elbows straight out from my torso and making little circles in the air, and that movement feels good, like a little stretch.  When I do that I feel no pain in my incisions, and the skin around the incisions is happy be stretched a bit.

I have had some discoloration on my right nipple, that last night looked to me like an infection.  My buddy Tam reassured me it was nothing to worry about, and although I believed him, I am a great big worrier when it comes to my body, so I sent a picture and an email to Dr. Medalie’s nurse and she gave my nipple trouble a name: “superficial skin loss,” which yes, did actually reassure me.  I am to continue with the Bacatracin for another week on my nipples and send her a picture in 7 days.  Below is said nipple.


I know what you’re wondering and the answer is yes: he does look just as shiny in person.

So here I sit, at my kitchen table  with petroleum jelly on my incision scars and Bacatracin and bandages taped to my nipples and I am feeling alright.

Psychological Healing

Although I still have my bandages and moisturizers to content with, this is the first time since before sprouting tits that I will be going outside without a bra or any binding. Obviously, I feel a bit exposed.  When I put my shirt on after K finished applying the bandages I felt as though I was missing something, felt like I had forgotten something important and I felt a bit of panic well up.  Of course I knew immediately what I was missing, and there was some sadness there.  I don’t miss wearing bras or the binder, and I will be much more comfortable now.  But something is gone, and every physical layer I remove is a reminder of the change my body just went through.  I am happy, but sad too.

This sadness is a process, and I am really looking forward to having my healthy body in tact, and making good memories with my new chest.  I realized that although I made the right choice, I only have experiences with my bloody and numb and tender chest, not memories with the rad chest I will have in 6+ months.  After trauma we all need time to heal, and so I am in the middle of that time.  As I regain feeling in that part of my body (to whatever extent I can), I will shake this sadness when I start to regain some more range of motion, when I start to regularly wear my cherished t-shirt collection again, when my chest is not healing, but healed.

But last night I had a bit of a panic: I felt trapped, trapped by these incision, trapped in the middle of genders, after two things brought these emotions up:

1. K told someone at work I prefer male pronouns, and

2. I was introduced to a friend of a friend, and in that interaction I saw her eyes go from my face, to my chest, then back up to my face: she couldn’t tell what gender I was.  I am small, and have a female voice, but don’t have tits and go by Eli.  I was freaking her out.  And that look on her face, that blank look of confusion, freaked me out, too.

Let’s dissect a bit:

1. I do prefer male pronouns.  And I have given K the ok to approach the pronoun issue as she sees fit and as it arises.  I am glad she told this co-worker I prefer male pronouns.  But I started to think about the reality of going back to work, the reality of correcting co-workers but not customers, the inevitable uncomfortable conversations, the confusion.  There are many questions I don’t have answers to, and it is easy enough for me to tell the questioner to mind their own business if they ask me something I am not certain about.  But in that moment, it will feel ugly.  And so last night I found myself thinking, seriously, for the first time, that I might have made the wrong decision.

Of course I didn’t.  I made a choice.  If I still had tits I would be bemoaning their existence.  I knew this would be hard.  And here is some of that tough stuff.  I didn’t panic because I missed my tits, I panicked because I don’t have the cushion, as they were, of my birth gender makers anymore.  My tits afforded me a certain level of anonymity, a certain barrier of protection: I could want to be a man, and think of myself as a man, without declaring that to the world and without being forced to muster the courage of my convictions.  Now, as I tell people I am trans, and have surgeries, I have to own up to my insides to the outside world.  And that shit is hard and scary.

2. While I was a bit freaked out by this woman’s reaction, in that split second facial expression, I can hardly condemn her for it.  She was trying to figure out what pronouns to use, and it wasn’t lost on me that she only used my name, no pronouns, the entire time I was in her presence.  ISN’T THIS WHAT I WANTED?  Didn’t I want to be seen as Eli, or as male?  Now I am getting that and I am freaked out.  So no, I didn’t make the wrong choice, I made the scary hard choice and here comes some of the scary hard parts.  Sometimes, I will want to run to the shelter of familiar female recognition, even if it isn’t right for me, just because I was safe there for 30 years.  Problem is, I am burning that shelter to the ground.  I felt exposed, and I felt like I had no place to go for solace.

I know there is somewhere to have solace: I am building that new place within myself.  But it’s not built yet, and so I freaked out a little.  I talked all this out with K, and she was a great help, and that is why community is so important for trans folks.  Sometimes we need to be reassured we are not crazy, or making the wrong choice, just because the world tells us we are mentally ill.  We, like everyone else, sometimes need to be validated and need to hear, outside of our own heads, that we are not insane.  That is, we need our humanity to be recognized.  And that is what K did last night, when I was feeling inhuman, she reminded me I was just another human going through some shit.  It was good to be reminded I am not special, and that this will pass.

Economic Healing (if you are not considering surgery, skip this part–it’s boring)

I am waiting on insurance papers from Valerie, Dr. Medalie’s secretary, in order to file my own claim.  I was told, after I paid for it upfront, that Valerie couldn’t file a claim for me to see if the insurance company could reimburse me.  So beware, if you know upfront that your insurance won’t pay for it, I would say, ask Valerie to file a claim anyway, just in case. The worst that could happen is that they turn it down.  But if you pay upfront, you will have to file a claim on your own.  It doesn’t sound too difficult, but I would have rather she filed it for me.  I will post how it goes as I get further into the process.

In Closing

I am pretty pleased with my process, and every time K changes my bandages I thank my nipples for doing such a good job of healing, thank my incisions for scarring so minimally and timely, and I remind myself that my body is very good at being a body.  I don’t see too many (actually, I saw zero) pictures of pre-op chests in my online research, and I remember wishing I had something to compare to when I was looking at post-op pics, trying to determine if I thought I would get a justifiable result from this surgery, and when then trying to discern what doctor was right for me.  I have decided not to post any here, but if you are reading this, and considering this surgery, and seeing some photos for comparison would be of help to you, please leave a message here and we can talk via email.

Show and Tell

Remember those flowers I bought my tits?

Good night, kind madams.

I laid them to rest in my backyard:

My life without tits, 2 weeks post-op:

A left side close-up:

Ain’t no party like a greased-up party.

And the right side:

Try not to get hypnotized.

And one more for the road:

Back up off me women!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

31 thoughts on “Two Weeks Post-op!

  1. Eli,

    This post is really touching and so much of what you described is true to what I’ve been challenged with in hiding or being scared of truly being myself. Thank you for sharing this!

    It looks like those old greased-up scars are healing well. Medalie did great work!


  2. So much recognition in the words you write, the hinterland of pronouns. The chest looks great by the way. Healing really well and quite frankly very manly (and I have seen many male chests).

  3. Eli,

    Keep your focus firmly on the small successes of healing well. As for the psychological healing, I’ve got a fraction of exactly the same considerations going on (I have an irritating ability to think ahead in such a way as to make myself panic) and am anticipating whole numbers when I get to where you are.

    In one way, it’s comforting to read that someone else is feeling that what I am; in another, as I know the feeling too well, it makes me angry that you’re having to put up with those kinds of thoughts, because none of us deserve to. It sounds like you’re dealing with them effectively though, and rationalising them well (as much as that word annoys me, I’m using it) – so I might have to re-read this post more than once to keep the perspective flowing…

    As for the Show and Tell… looking good! 🙂


    • Thanks J.C.

      I’m not too worried about the negative feelings that arise as a byproduct of surgery or as being trans. I have to go through those things so I get to have the good stuff that comes along with being trans and surgery as well: next summer, Lake Michigan, no swim top. Rad. 😉

  4. Re: the double take, weren’t you getting those before when you were binding? I guess what I’m wondering is do you think the reaction to you was actually different, or is it more that your own response to how you are seen has shifted? (and it looks like you are healing well on all fronts, thanks for the update)

    • I was getting the double take occasionally, but recently I got it more often. But yes, I am sure my own response is a bit heightened right now also, so its a combination of factors.

  5. I’ve always thought of myself, as my kids’ mother, as a sort of guide along their journey through life. I hold the lantern and lead the way down the path, clear rocks or other objects that they may stumble over, warn against dangers or point out sights of interest, and make sure they don’t stray too far and get lost. But, there are some journeys they take where i feel like i’m walking with them in the dark. I don’t know what lies ahead and i don’t feel like i have the experience to guide them; maybe i’m more afraid than they are. My son’s journey since he told me he was trans has been this way. When i read what you’ve shared here about your surgery, i see you as our guide down part of our path. The way that you write about what you’re feeling as well as what you’re experiencing physically makes me feel like some light has been shed on a part of our future that previously felt dark and unsure to me. When you share your fears, i feel less afraid. This is what i mean when i say that knowing you is an honor. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing yourself so openly, Eli.
    You look great, btw.
    Hugs, Karen

    • Karen,

      You are a great mom, not just because you try to clear the path and act as a guide, but also because you know sometimes you aren’t always going to have all the answers. 😉

      Since finding your blog and getting to “know” you online, when I write I often have your son in mind. When I wrote this post, I thought, if I was 14, what would I want to know? I thought, if I was a parent of a kid considering this surgery, what would be my concerns?

      When I write, I think of you guys.

      So thanks for reading. 😉 And please feel free to ask away any questions you have, I’m not very shy. 🙂


      • D’aww, now i’m sitting here at the kitchen table with tears running down my face. Thanks so much, Eli. I hope we can meet you in person one day soon. I would love for my son to know you, for reals.

      • That’s real kind of you. What neck of the woods are you guys in? Just, roughly, like, what region of the U.S.?

      • I thought maybe i could find your email somewhere and i was going to write with more specifics, but, of course i cannot find it. So, if you’d like to write to me, mine is in my profile.

  6. Knowing that Leo will be going through a similar process (starting 3 weeks from today!), I cannot express to you how helpful this blog has been to me. Surgery stuff, I have down pat (I’ve had 5 and have at least 4 more I will need on my knees. I know the pudding/jello importance. I know the listen to doctors importance. I know the keeping scars clean and moist importance)….but hearing a little about potentially saddness around change (and loss, let’s be honest), has helped us chat about it and prepare a little for that to arise. Also, it has been made clear exactly how many pictures I need to plan to take. Perhaps I’ll invest in a large sim card 🙂 – Shana

  7. 2 weeks is a big milestone, physically and emotionally.

    It seems you’ve taken a similar path that I have. Gender! I’m trans! Surgery! Oh… Now what? The real fun begins… a year and half later, I have yet to figure out everything.

    Bactracin is awesome. I also had a huge scab fall off my nipples around weeks 3-4, it was creepy. And there is slight discoloration at the edges in both of mine. Ask your doc when you can start the silicone gel. Just keep it moist.

    As an aside, my doctor recommended binding until 6 weeks post-op (with an ace bandage, which is a lot easier to do w/o the baggage). I did this for about 8 weeks, it felt good physically and psychologically. The purpose is the same as the compression vest – to keep the swelling down. As you know, it will stay swollen for at least 3-5 months. I would also recommend this as it might prevent hypertrophic scars (ya never know, and it doesn’t hurt), as well as minimizing movement for as long as possible. Seriously! I think my scars got hypertrophic right after I started carrying grocery bags and doing yoga, and sometimes I feel being extra carefuller would’ve been to my benefit.

    • Thanks for all the tips! I get to apply the silicone sheets at week 3, and yes, I am minimizing my movement as much as possible, which, as I am off work until July 1st, is pretty easy. I am bored out of my mind, but healing well because of it. 😉

  8. So that picture of you in the hat, sunglasses, and shirts totally reminded me of Jason Mraz…. which, in my opinion, is effing awesome. Looking great! Keep your chin up! PS – you look awesome two weeks out!!!

  9. Pingback: Retrospect | My Life Without Tits

  10. Pingback: Best Of Tits | My Life Without Tits

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