When my gaze stopped on the date and time of my last entry, I was shocked, if not extremely embarrassed. It’s been almost two months since I shared my Coming Out story. Since I completed the ritual that involved making amends to my old self. But it was that long since my frame harbored the energy mandatory to sit in front of this laptop.
Why? Because I was recovering from top surgery during the second part of November. Yes. You read right. And here’s the story.
The night after I assured Meeka that I would never abandon her, I received an email from my lawyer announcing that my appeal to my insurance company was approved. Then two days after, I caught a phone call from the surgeon’s office about setting up an appointment to undergo top surgery. I’d soon find pieces of mail with my name on it, white envelopes protecting confirmation letters. Instructions on where to park on the day of the surgery. Which physician to call to report drain measurements.
While some trans folks become anxious or even dysphoric as the day of their surgery pulls closer,others are both relieved, celebratory, and/or composed. I was in the latter category. I was under the impression that I was going to have to wait until January to be approved. But after everything was cleared (courtesy of my Spirit Team) I found myself staring at the chest knowing that my body will further solidify my identity as well as my being.
On November 14 at 8:45a.m., my housemate Tobi and I arrived at Rochester General Hospital to check in. By 10:45a.m., I was led to the O.R. (in a hospital gown and cap) to become the person I am meant to be. Because I’ve been through a major surgery before, I wasn’t overcome by panic. I just stretched myself out on the operating table and inhaled medication that would essentially disconnect me from the world for three hours.
When my eyes finally fluttered open, I fought the lingering effects of the anesthesia, unafraid, but not wanting to shut out my surroundings again. My first thought was my chest: What did it look like? Are my breasts gone? I peeked down at the center of the gown covering my new designer chest. They were gone. They were gone and so was the emotional and energetic burden from the sexual abuse that leeched itself onto Meeka’s breasts. I also noticed the plastic drains collecting fluid from my new chest, watching it flow through the tube in a drug-induced awe.
I was then wheeled to my recovery room, where I watched a marathon of Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath, drank cranberry juice, and ate graham crackers. I muted Leah’s recount of religious abuse as Tobi walked into my room, bringing with him the bags of clothes I assumed I needed. I told him that the food was nasty, that I needed Ben &Jerry’s in my life, and that the excruciating pain I thought I’d endure for the next two months was non-existent. After a few minutes of keeping me company, he left for work and left me with Leah and my budding hatred towards Scientology.
When the episodes began to loop, I walked around the hospital unit because the anxiety of staying in a new environment was slightly overwhelming. Plus, the drains pinned to my hospital gown (and the fear of yanking them out accidentally) annoyed me. I stayed in the hospital overnight, roaming the unit during the zombie shift while catching glimpses of my new self in the window.
When my friend Milo drove me the next morning, I was so wired from the desire to work. My energy level was high and unhindered by physical pain, so I recorded an episode for my podcast, The Bow Tie Psychic. I learned, however, that exhaustion can reveal itself in other ways: I stuttered throughout the entire episode, an indication that I was mentally tired. This also meant that writing for the most part was not an option.
I documented my frustration with my depleted energy on Facebook, only to be told (thankfully) that the work will still be available when I recovered. “Now is the time to rest” was the words of wisdom typed in the Comments section.
So I took everyone’s suggestion and rested to the best of my ability, allowed myself to binge watch Narcos: Mexico and read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I conversed with friends via Facebook and my family via texting. On Saturdays, I fed my ancestors and listened to them enjoy the food I prepared for them. And when I didn’t have the stamina to perform any longer, I slept in the armchair for hours with my feet up as my cats, Tobias and Shadow Moon rested on top of me.
And that, my Dear Reader, is one of the reasons why I’m just now getting back to you (aside from the fact that the cord to my laptop decided to take its last round, but I digress). Meanwhile, my new chest has earned me a nickname from Tobi: New Phone, Who Dis?
Since the surgery, I’ve been asking myself “What now? What legacy am I to carve for myself now that I have this second chance?” After meditating, I realize I am now officially ready to recite stories I was once too afraid to put on paper. I’m now reevaluating the meaning of success, what it means to me,and what that entails. I now wish to redefine my sexual expression in a way that isn’t harmful to me. I am now challenging myself to overcome my fear of judgement. And most importantly, I now walk the world comfortable in my own skin. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see a handsome individual with a body that is officially theirs.