Top Surgery – 3/14/16 and Reflection

All pictures will be at the end after a ‘read more’ tag.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted an update, but I have had to keep a secret for awhile. After a six month battle with our insurance (Harvard Pilgram), my top surgery (bilateral mastectomy) was approved. It was denied the first two times because I’m under the age of 18, which is part of their criteria for having the surgery. My dad and a team of doctors from the GeMS clinic, my therapist, and my pediatrician helped convince the appeal board at insurance that I needed this surgery. My dysphoria levels are extremely high and I was binding too much.

Dr. Melissa Johnson in Springfield, MA did my surgery. I’m only 5 days post-op at the time of writing this, but I am already happy with the results. I have had minor complications with the anesthesia, but those were dealt with during my overnight stay in the hospital. My scars are not as big as I thought they were. I have coverings on my nipples that are stitched so I can’t really see them, but I’ll see them in a few days. They’re gonna look horrific for awhile, but they’ll slowly heal. It’s so weird having nipples in places where you didn’t before. It’s really awkward to say that. They’re higher up now, and considerably smaller, and it’s just an odd sensation. Not necessarily painful, though. The most painful part is my drains, which come out near my armpits. They’re uncomfortable, sort of disgusting (blood product is not a pretty sight, let me tell you), and are really hard to sleep with. I’ve had so much trouble getting comfortable. Get lots of pillows if you’re having this surgery. Or any surgery, really.

I was prescribed Vicodin for the pain, but it didn’t help that much and made me feel sicker. At one point I spent about 20 minutes hunched over a toilet because I felt I was going to throw up. Eventually the urge went away and I lied down and drank water and relaxed for the rest of the night.

I had to stop taking testosterone 2 weeks before the surgery and won’t continue it until I get the surgeons approval. The night before the surgery was really hard for me. I couldn’t eat or drink (which was torture, my mouth was so dry). I went to bed early, but didn’t fall asleep till 2:30 AM. The car ride was torture, and we arrived really early and had to wait for awhile. There was a name mix up because of my legal name change, which caused me some dysphoria, but the secretaries were nice about it.

The surgery went a lot quicker than I expected. It took about 2 hours in total. Before the surgery, they gave me oxycontin as a sedative, and I was super high. I don’t remember much but one conversation went like:

Nurse: Why do you want this surgery?
Me: Because I don’t like boobs. Well, I like boobs. Just not on me.

During the pre-op time, they gave me an IV, but it took 2 tries because my veins are small. It was painful, but I got through it. Dr. Johnson came in a bit later, and drew on my breasts with sharpie and mapped everything out. I giggled through that and I looked really stupid (The sharpie still hasn’t washed off. Neither has the iodine. I look really dirty). I barely remember the operating room because the anesthesia they were giving me through the IV was starting to work, but I remember the short trip being wheeled there and the big light and saying hi to some nurses and getting on the table.

I woke up and made the pun I had waited months to say. “Glad I got that off my chest.” (I could hear my friends sighs in the distance). I then thanked my mom and dad and told them how happy I was. I had an oxygen mask at first, but they replaced it with a tube shortly after I woke up.

I had my own private room in the adolescent wing, and I really enjoyed having my own bathroom. Probably TMI, but I’m sharing as much as I can on here, but I had to have a catheter because my bladder didn’t wake up after surgery. That was a painful experience and that’s all I’m going to talk about for that. My mom slept over and my dad went home to take care of my brother. She slept on the fold out couch the room had. Nurses checked on me every hour or so, and only twice in the night. People told me I wouldn’t have an appetite after surgery, but I had 2 lunches, 2 dinners, and 2 breakfasts. The hospital food wasn’t even that good. I just eat a lot. The nurses also got me a teddy bear. I named him Bearnie Sanders.

I was sick about a week before the surgery, but got better, but we still had some issues with it that were dealt with.

I’ve just been really bored now because I’m home and I can’t do anything really. I went out to dinner last night and we went to my favorite restaurant. It was nice and only somewhat painful. I haven’t taken any pain meds since Tuesday. Not the biggest fan of them. Since I’ve had so much time to just sit and do absolutely nothing, I’ve reflected on this. People ask me if I regret it. I don’t think I’ll ever regret it, because this was a necessary surgery. I have such extreme dysphoria and this takes off a good 50% of it. I’m really happy I had this surgery, and the pain doesn’t come close to how happy I am.


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