Gender Reassignment, 1998

Paula's Personal Diary

This is my own personal account of my gender reassignment surgery which took place in the Sussex Nuffield Hospital in Brighton, England on April 16th 1998 under the care of the surgeon Mr Royle. The aim of my personal diary is to give others who follow in my footsteps a detailed description of what to expect during the whole event as well as my own personal feelings at the time. For those who are planning surgery at the same hospital under Mr Royle, I hope this will be very valuable knowledge. I would like to point out that my description of certain aspects of events is described in my own rather basic language and I therefore apologise in advance but I need to tell it as it was!

Tuesday 14th April 1998

Tomorrow I will be travelling to the Sussex Nuffield Hospital for my surgery. It seems amazing to think that the big event has finally arrived after the events of the last year but here it is and I still feel very calm about it. Tonight I feel fairly relaxed sat here in our friend's cosy flat. I expect I will feel nervous tomorrow. It actually feels odd really, like the coming events of this week are not real, like we are on holiday as usual and having a weekend here in London, but no, we are here for the biggest event of my physical life. In two days my genitals will no longer be the same. What I have been for 35 years will no longer be the same. It excites me and yet also I am very anxious at times about the procedure of such major surgery.

Wednesday 15th April 1998

9.35 a.m. waiting in the car at the supermarket while Cathy (my partner) pops in to get some various fruit drinks. Apparently I will be allowed to have this to drink as long as they have no solids in them. I expect I will be glad to drink them and not just plain water as I will be very dehydrated. Had a cup of coffee and two weetabix for breakfast at 8.15, my last solid food apart from one small piece of chocolate which I had in the car shortly after leaving London for Brighton. There was snow on the hills in a lot of places between London and Brighton which was nice to see at this time of the year. The Hospital

We arrived at the hospital an hour earlier than 12 noon (my expected arrival time) and waited in reception with a coffee. I filled out a form to say I had arrived and signed it. There had been building work going on in the east wing and so my room was in the centre area which although a bit more noisy on the corridors, has a brilliant view right out to the sea over rolling green hills. It was room 14. I was soon visited by one of the head nurses. She took my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Also she left a pot for me to provide a urine sample. I forgot to give one the first time so I will do it next time round. She showed me the room and what all the switches do. There were eight power points at various places, a remote control for the colour TV and a 'call nurse' button with built in switches for the main room light and the side light by the bed. The TV had seven main channels including three Sky channels and I think 4 radio channels as well. A choice of newspaper was free each day if requested. She went through a list as well, making note of any previous surgery, medical details, any false teeth or crowns, allergies. She provided the wrist bands with details of me on them and in my case I had two as I have an allergy to certain pain killers. I therefore had a turquoise one and a red one. Apparently the anaesthetist (Mr Hoyal) is the one who decides what pain killers are to be administered to me during my stay.

I was at 12 noon given my first glass of 'Picolax' to drink. This is to clear out the bowels before surgery. So this was it then, the dreaded drink I had heard so much about, a white powder floating in water and which was supposed to taste vile, but now for the taste... Yummy! It's quite nice, very sweet and a bit like taking a fibre drink or Vitamin C drink. Not gross at all and I managed to drink it quickly. 12.20 I was given my first cup of consommé and pot of jelly. I requested vegetable consommé which was very tasty, the jelly was strawberry flavoured and cold but nice. 12.20 also I went to the loo and passed fluid rather than solids from my bowels. Then my belly constantly rumbled and churned.

So, how do I feel now? Relaxed now I am here and settled in and excited about what is about to happen. Second visit to the loo at 1.50, my belly is still rumbling lots. Cathy has popped into town to find the self catering flat she booked for the time I am here and unload her stuff before coming back to be with me for the evening. Third visit to the loo at 3.50. A close friend called to see how I am doing. It was good to hear a familiar voice on the phone while Cathy was still out. Cathy returned at 4.30 with a two-way phone socket and a pack of extension wire and started to rearrange the room so that she could connect up the lap-top computer and modem. She seems happy now that she can go on-line. I brought various things to keep me amused while here --- Embroidery, paper to draw cartoons on, music tapes/CD's, books to read and there's also the TV in the room. Yummy, the menu list in the room looks very nice but I won't be having any of it for 5 days! Another visit to the loo at 5.20 and another at 7.00 this evening.

Now it's almost dark outside and just a while ago Cathy and I were stood by the window gazing across the hills and watching heavy snow falling. It was like some fairy tale scene with huge fluffy flakes gliding vertically down, no wind, like frost coloured autumn leaves. It was an amazing sight to see and one which I hope I will never forget on the eve of my operation. Enough of it laid on the patio and flower beds below my room for a while.

7.20 and I have just had my second glass of 'picolax' which was delayed by an hour. It was due at 6.00. It's now 9.25 --- I have been to the loo another three times but it's really not a bad experience at all. It's just like passing urine but through the other hole. Took off all my make-up and got ready for bed. Another friendly nurse came in and took my blood pressure and explained a bit about tomorrow. She left my surgical gown on the chair explaining that someone will come in tomorrow and assist with pre-op preparations. Cathy has gone back to the flat and I am here alone now. I phoned my mum and dad and close friends just quickly to say hello. Phoned Cathy to say another goodnight and to make sure she had got back to her flat. I feel excited and quite happy at the moment. Tomorrow the fun begins!

Thursday 16th April 1998

Last night I slept well, occasionally waking up to go to the loo again at 12.30, 4.30 and 6.00 a.m. I had not eaten anything heavy before coming to hospital, only a light easily digestible breakfast so that it would be absorbed quickly and I would not have solids to pass out during this time of bowel preparation. I made the most of drinking fluids in the night which was just as well because at 7.00 a.m. a nurse came in and removed all water and other drinks from my tray declaring that I was now "nil by mouth" before the operation. Also during the night I ate three bags of sugar from the coffee tray which are not classified as food. I was not allowed milk in tea or coffee so I did not drink any of these as I hate black tea and black coffee. I feel fairly dry now and a bit hungry.

At 7.45 I was woken by a nurse who announced she was sorry to wake me but Mr Royle will be along to see me in a couple of minutes. PANIC!!! I managed to get out of bed, brush my hair and open the curtains then he arrived.

He greeted me and said 'Now then, where did we get to' looking through his notes from our previous consultation some time ago. I was requested to sign another exact copy of the consent form I had been previously posted and another hospital consent form. Then he had another quick look at the donor material and we talked over previous matters concerning the amount of donor material I had which in my case was a lot less than average. I had requested a large clitoris and that he would do his best to utilise what I had to give me the appearance and depth that would be best for my personal requirements. Then he wished me well and left the room. I felt much happier now that I had seen him to discuss things before the surgery. A nurse popped in just a moment ago to make sure I was being looked after and she complimented me by saying she thought I was a well adjusted young woman who had obviously thought a lot about what I was about to have done. I thought this was nice. Must go to the loo now. I am still passing through my bowels but it has slowed down a great deal and when I do I pass very little.

It's now 10.25 a.m. and I just gave Cathy a call on the mobile phone because a lot has happened and she has not arrived yet. She will soon be here. I am fast into proceedings now and have had several visitors in the last hour. The anaesthetist came in and seemed a nice enough chap. He asked a few simple questions which were repeats of what the nurse asked yesterday. What operations have I had? Do I have any allergies? Do I have fillings or crowns? He decided there and then that the pre-med would be given to me at 10.00 which only gives me an hour to have my last bath, wash my hair and do a last shave on the surgery area. Oh no, it's a bit of a panic really. A nurse arrived and changed the bedding for theatre and measured my legs and ankles for the special stockings which I would have to wear every day now until the day I leave. These are to help prevent DVT and are standard for most surgery these days.

My bath was nice, the water was not too hot although it took a while to fill the tub. After drying my hair with my own hair drier (I think they do provide one if you want one) I put on the surgical gown (back to front!) and some disposable baggy knickers that they provide. Also a nurse put on the stockings which were not as tight as I had expected them to be. It was awkward for the nurse to get them on over my ankles but after the operation when I was able to bend my legs more they are much easier to put on yourself. Cathy arrived just after 10.30 and brought me a bunch of flowers which I had a little weep about because I've never had a proper bunch given to me ever before. I will always remember this.

Well, this may be the last entry in this diary before I drift off on the two Lorazepam and the anti-sick pill I had for pre-med. Cathy helped me to the loo as I was rather dizzy standing up. I lay on the bed under the duvet and relaxed very well waiting for time to soon pass.

12 noon --- I'm very spaced out. (terrible writing in my hand written book!). Guess this is it then, only one hour to go!

Cathy writes...
Paula slept fitfully until 12.45 p.m. then she was taken to theatre. Returned from recovery at 5.45 p.m. First pain meds at 6.00 p.m.

Friday 17th April 1998

It's now 1.35 afternoon on Friday. Well, here I am, I made it, I'm a girlie! How do I feel? A bit sore between the thighs and a stiff bum but not too bad at all. I was rather surprised that I feel so good. Back to yesterday and before the surgery... At 12.45 the theatre staff arrived to wheel me off. I squeezed Cathy's hand as she kissed me and wished me luck. It was a short ride down the corridor from my room. A right turn, then I think a left and into the anaesthetic room. The air was cooler in there. There were about four staff in the room and a woman who took my left arm firmly at the elbow (I think to make the veins in my hand stand out). I stretched out my hand and they stuck a shaped sticky plaster across it. Then the anaesthetist said he was putting in the cannula and there would be a small scratch as it went in.

I felt him put in a jab of local anaesthetic which burned only slightly in the back of my hand. Then he said to me he would be putting lots of strange things into the tubes now and that I would soon feel a bit odd but not to worry. I was conscious for only a few seconds after that waiting for the sleepy feeling to come over me and to shut my eyes. I felt a definite sensation of something in my blood system, very dizzy and then I was gone without even remembering my eyes shutting.

I remember very little of coming round after the operation until about midnight. Various friends and Cathy reminded me of events when I did speak with them but some were like images from a dream that I had forgotten and others I do not remember at all. Cathy reminded me of what I had said when I arrived back from surgery. 'Is it all over now?' 'Yes, how do you feel?'. 'I feel like a lolly pop with a stick stuck inside it'. Then I remember Cathy saying she was going to do another last E-Mail check and then she would head off back to the flat. Apparently Cathy had spoken to me about watching a documentary on Volcanos later that evening but I remember nothing of this. Also two friends had phoned and spoken to me. One remembers I dropped the phone and then talking with her said 'I'm stoned, I'm stoned, I'm stoned'. I remember nothing of these two calls. Cathy had also asked for me to be given a morphine jab but I remember none of this.

Well, I became a bit more conscious at midnight and was now aware of feeling uncomfortable between the legs. There was no really bad pain as I had thought there would be. A sort of aching feeling and being uncomfortable but I was amazed at how easy it was to move around although it was not possible to shuffle around too much.

There was a 'T' bandage around me which was stuffed with cotton wool and tied firmly. The surgery area was firmly stuffed to protect it but thankfully the 'T' bandage was not so tight as to cut into my skin. I saw two glasses of water on my bed-side table with straws in them. I was pleased by this and sipped the water making sure I had as much as possible to help my body to recover. Then I called for pain killers as I thought I had not had any yet and would need some. A man came in and said this request was OK so he returned and gave me a jab in my left thigh which was not painful. (I normally hate injections).

I was conscious enough to be concerned about how much light he had in the room and asked him if he could see what he was doing and would he want me to turn the light on. Soon the discomfort I was feeling faded away and I was in no pain at all and able to sleep again.

I remembered the necessary foot exercises I would need to do to keep the circulation in my leg moving (these were explained by a nurse previously) so I did some toe wriggles and bent my legs. I found it uncomfortable trying to sleep on my back as I always sleep on my side. It was uncomfortable adjusting legs and feet so I slid a pillow under my knees for support and slept well then. A nurse popped in every hour during the night and took my pulse and blood pressure.

At 6.00 a.m. I was given 2 pain killer tablets and 1 antibiotic tablet. At 8.00 a.m. I was given two pots of strawberry jelly and a warm ribena drink which were welcomed. My temperature was fine on each occasion that the nurse took it. At 9.10 a.m. I was visited by two cleaners who came waltzing into my room with their sprays, dusters and Hoover. After cleaning the bathroom floor they advised me not to walk on it for at least ten minutes. I assured them that I would not be walking on it for several days!

The curtains were opened and the blinds pulled back, outside was a fine sunny day with those green hills and the sea in the distance. Next a nurse came in and changed my bedding, supplied me with my toiletries and a warm bowl of water which was put on the table over my bed. It was an unexpected pleasure to be able to wash my face and clean my teeth although I was not used to doing this in bed; I thought I would not be able to wash at all for several days. I had not been in a hospital for 20 years and really did not know what to expect. The nurse washed my back and also removed the stockings and washed my legs too before putting them back on again. I also had a shave with my rechargeable shaver to get rid of the stubble that I still have. Oh well, maybe one day it will all be gone and I will forget what shaving my face was like. I am still having electrolysis treatment.

The drip which has been in my hand was removed and a small plaster stuck to the insertion point. My catheter bag was emptied I think at 6.00 a.m and again now. It is important that I drink a lot of fluid to keep the body flushing out all the drugs. The urine should be a light straw colour and when I was not drinking enough it would become a dark straw colour. Before 12 noon I was given an injection in my belly to prevent DVT. It was over in a second, just a small scratch and no long pointed large needles like I thought it would be. Maybe this injection lark is not going to be so bad after all?

12 noon and two more jellies and a warm Ribena drink arrived. Cathy came at about 10.30 and we were both pleased to see each other. I told her all about what had happened to me and it was now that she reminded me of conversations that I had forgotten completely. More pain killers in tablet form arrived but they were not enough to make a big difference like the morphine did so I requested a stronger dose of pain killers for next time around which will be at 4.00 p.m.

We arranged a 'monkey pole' for me which was attached to the bed. Some nurses say that this can often be more awkward than a benefit but once I had it fixed up I was able to pull myself up and down the bed a lot more easily. It also made all the difference to my stiff bum being able to hang for a few moments and relieve the pressure. Phoned mum and dad at 2.30 to say all was well.

3.30 The pain got a lot worse suddenly so I changed my request of pain relief to a morphine injection which was done in my left buttock. The pain was not agony but just very sore. The injection this time was less painful than the one I had in the night in my thigh. After a short while I was no longer uncomfortable and I dozed in and out of sleep for the rest of the afternoon until 5.30.

Mr Royle called by at 6.00 to say that the operation had gone well and he could see no complications arising from it. He seemed quite happy today and said that he would return tomorrow morning to see about having the drains removed. He also seemed to be happy that the pack could be removed on Monday evening which means I would be up and about on Tuesday morning and able to eat food again.

Just had some more jelly and vegetable consommé at 6.00. Meal times are 8.00 a.m., 12.00 noon and 6.00 p.m. with tea/coffee whenever you ask as long as it has no milk in it. Again, fruit squash and Ribena are allowed, also I had boiled sweets and jelly babies. As long as the intake is digested into fluids and not solids. Some slight soreness started to return but not enough to be worried about.

At 6.00 p.m. a large bunch of flowers arrived. I thought they had got the wrong room but they were for me from my previous partner who I had been married to. We still remain good friends after an amicable separation some two years ago but which was not all due to gender identity problems I had at the time. I was rather touched by this. I gave Cathy a long cuddle because it was so nice to have lots of flowers both from my close friends and especially the ones Cathy had given me.

7.40 p.m. Cathy went back to her flat, the pain was getting uncomfortable again. I requested another morphine injection which was administered in my buttock again and I soon felt fairly tired and ready to relax and sleep well. Soon I was interrupted by nurses and then a phone call from mum. Incidentally, phone calls are put straight through to you room at any time of the day or night so I had to advise friends when to call me in case I was sleeping. When calling out I used my BT chargecard to make calls a lot cheaper on our own phone account.

The morphine injection soon wore off as I did not manage to sleep due to all the interruptions and there was a lot of noise in the night as my room was in the busy area of the corridor. In the night I lay awake for hours. I could also hear cries for help from elderly men in some rooms around me. At least I was in a private hospital and was able to have privacy even if it was not possible to blot out all the inevitable sounds. Occasionally nurses would pop in to check up on me and leave my door slightly open which allowed the noises to keep me awake even longer. One nurse was quite amused when I buzzed her to come and shut my door and I told her I was surrounded by old men coughing all the time.

At 12.10 I requested more morphine but was only given tablets. I was slightly disappointed as the last lot of tablets on their own did not seem to clear the discomfort, however, in half an hour after taking these I fell asleep and slept soundly until 7 a.m.

During the night I had some stabbing pains in what is now my clitoris I think. I make this assumption because I know the feelings were in the old glans material which was used to make the clitoris. I'd liken them to being prodded with the ink end of a ball point pen, a sort of dull pain but not sharp. I had about 9 of these in a row. This must indicate that the nerves are healing up.

Saturday 18th April 1998

I woke with a heavy fever and the sheets were wet where I had been sweating. There was absolutely no pain from my surgery area, I was amazed at this and was very lively sat up in bed telling everyone who visited. I was able to bend my legs a lot more now and stretch them straight too. I felt like I had not even had the operation.

Mr Royle popped in at 7.45 a.m. but only said a quick hello. I told him I felt really good and that I had no present pain at all. He said I looked well and very happy. He then said that a nurse would be removing the drains some time soon and then he left.

During this morning I had a few emotional times crying, feeling very happy that I was now complete and thinking about all the nice flowers I had been given by caring friends and by Cathy my beautiful partner.

Cathy came up earlier and we talked about various things. Eventually at midday the sister arrived to remove the drains. First of all she had to take off all the bandages which gave me the opportunity to see the results of my surgery. Cathy was also keen to see the outcome of Mr Royle's work. It all looked very good. There was very little swelling in my case and no bruising either. All I could see with the aid of a mirror was the catheter tube disappearing between two slightly swollen red looking labia. It was all very encouraging to see and looked well. There had been a piece of blue gauze across the surgery area but all the rest of the padding was cotton wool held firmly in place by the 'T' bandage. A Diagram

The drains came out easily with a sliding sensation which was sharp like someone drawing a piece of steel wire through the skin. It was over in seconds though and I was left with a tiny hole in my belly and one below the urethra exit somewhere. There was not much in the bottle from the drains so I had obviously not bled too much after the surgery had be finalised.

Next the dressing was replaced as before and the bandage pulled fairly tight again to hold everything in place. The one thing that I did not like the feel of was when the catheter tube pulled on my swollen labia or on my bladder.

Next I was sat up in bed having a wash again and Cathy helped by washing my legs and finally putting the stockings back on again. The nurses changed my bedding again and all was comfortable and clean. Pain killers were now all pills. Voltarol and Co-dydramol along with antibiotics Metronidazole and Cefuroxime. Each day an injection in the belly was given for DVT to stop the blood clotting.

Friends arrived today at about 2.30 and stayed for a long time. They missed all the fun earlier and missed seeing the results. They were impressed with my progress and one of them was encouraged to see how well I was handling things because she will be having surgery later this year.

We talked a lot about how the physical anatomy now feels in comparison to the old. Well, it's a bit sore and also numb down there but really, if I had not seen that it was gone, there were slight sensations that might have made me feel it was still there. Of course the feelings are there but are now in different places. It is gone and it really does not feel like there's any difference. It does not feel like there's a big chunk of body missing.

Cathy went home at 7.30 and I am feeling tired now so I may call it a night and sleep. It's 8.30, maybe I won't get too many interruptions before the hospital quietens down at about 10.30. My catheter bag gets emptied about once a day or slightly more often. It holds 2 litres and the nurses take two lots from it in a tub to flush away.

Fresh water with ice is supplied regularly in a vase shaped flask. I found it useful to keep three glasses filled before sleep with a straw in each one. This way I would not have to keep switching on the light to fill them up while struggling and half asleep.

Sunday 19th April 1998

Slept fairly well last night although I felt a bit uncomfortable and slightly unsettled in the stomach. I'm glad it's not winter with cold dark evenings when it is dull out side and inside the days are long, curtains drawn and harsh artificial lighting. No, instead I see the hills and the sea, the wind blows and there's a fresh wind blowing today, like the fresh wind of spring that blows through my life now announcing a new chapter. When I woke this morning I felt a bit depressed and cried for a while. I felt better afterwards though. I suppose the impact of what I have just been through, the major surgery, is beginning to catch up on me. I feel trapped in bed and on a non solid diet, unable to go outside but tomorrow I will be having the pack out and this part of the ordeal will be over. It really has not been too bad though and this food starvation is not really a total starve anyway.

Then there's tears because I feel happy about what happened to me, no longer having the 'male' part of my body which felt so out of place. It does feel nice knowing that I have female anatomy there now. It feels so right like it should always have been this way.

I still feel apprehensive about the slow healing process to come. It will be many weeks before I will be settled with the new anatomy, being able to use the toilet correctly, dilating three times a day to begin with and learning to discover any enjoyable sensitivity I might have.

It has been nice to drink grape juice for a change from orange squash. Even the kitchen staff have supplied another change of jelly flavour. There are Strawberry, Orange and Lime flavours. I began to feel better and put on some music for the first time here and would switch on the TV to see if there's anything interesting on. Until now wanting to do active things was not something I felt motivated to do.

Just after lunch I had a serious problem. Over the night and morning my tummy was rumbling a lot and resulted in passing wind. This was a weird feeling with a pack stuffed inside me as the bowel area passes out right next to the pack. It was slightly uncomfortable and made me feel like I was wanting to pass solids in the bed with no chance that I could get out and go properly. Anyway, I had no solids in me to pass have I? Just after lunch the worst fear happened, my bowels opened and I passed some fluid. The nurse assisted in clearing me up and changed all the bedding straight away. I got another look at my genitals.

All was fine again and then it got worse. For two hours I lay on my side while I passed lots of fluid through my bowels at fairly regular intervals. The nurses were all very good about it and it's all part of the job. We are after all paying them part of £9000 for this service, having my bum washed and bedding changed! Apparently this does not happen very often. There were a number of theories, maybe the Picolax had not finished working, maybe it was the rich red grape juice or more likely the antibiotics sometimes do this. This truly was a bit like being a baby again and was an experience I have not had since those early years. The nurses decided that it would be best to leave me naked on the bed until it was over before doing a final mop up. I lay on the bed gazing out of the window and my bare body relaxed. I looked at myself, my breasts hanging gently, I saw my curved body and smooth skin, my huge hips which I like a lot, and finally I saw my new genitals which are now female. I felt free, relaxed, unembarrassed and unashamed, oblivious to the nurse who was cleaning me up (poor woman deserves a medal), that she could see everything I had. If this had been before my operation I would have felt awful and hated it and myself. I would have covered up my genitals with a large pillow. But now, it feels so nice.

The nurse also agreed that because of this problem they would allow my dressing to be a large sanitary pad with absorbent disposable knickers. They said the healing was so fast and looked good that the 'T' bandage and cotton wool packing could be done away with. The anaesthetist Mr Hoyal popped in shortly after the incident to have a chat about pills and it was decided that codeine phosphate would be best to use to help slow down the bowel movements. This was a drug I used at home as a pain killer during electrolysis which did indeed cause constipation so I was familiar with it.

During the afternoon I felt well enough to sit the Lap-top computer on my knees and do some mailing to friends. Until now I had been dictating my messages for Cathy to type for me. During this time I had another session of bowel movements and the bedding needed changing again.

Mum phoned later and when Cathy went back to the flat she left the computer for me to use. I spent ages using it that evening and wrote lots of messages until about 11.45 p.m. I was able to stay up quite late without feeling tired although other nights I tried to sleep as early as 8.00 p.m. as I was very tired. My pain has been little over the last day but when returning feels like a sore burning around the outside areas that have been stitched. I slept well that night although the man next door kept coughing and banging things for attention.

Monday 20th April 1998

Woke up at 7 a.m., lots of rumbling in my tummy and soon another lot of bowel movements again. A sleepy but gentle night nurse came in and tended to me. I asked her about changes in nursing shifts and she said this happens at about 7.15 a.m. Then there were another two bowel movements and a buzz to be mopped up, this morning was not going well so far. There was a longer delay in being tended to during the shift change which I kind of expected but all got sorted out in the end. The kitchen brought me my jelly but delivered beef consommé instead of vegetable. I decided to just leave it as I was having a bit of a panic. The nurses decided to give me two codeine phosphate tablets to slow down my bowels.

Also a chatty cleaner lady arrived and then a man to fix the loo as it was not flushing apparently. I thought to myself, I will probably have to be moved to another room next and got some ideas for another of my funny cartoons that I do as a hobby depicting everyone I could think of trying to come into my room all at the same time.

Cathy arrived and had been into town to do a bit of shopping. She bought herself a book and got me one too. It was an impressive book on the Titanic with lots of historical accounts and pictures in it. It was very sweet of her to buy it for me.

Lunch! The day begins to take on a more positive swing with things going right. First they said I could have lunch today, then they said not until tomorrow morning and now it appears that I can after all. The pack comes out tonight so solids can now be taken and an end to the starvation diet.

A menu is supplied during each meal ready for the next meal. The choice is fairly wide and basically you tick the boxes next to the choice you want i.e. you get a selection of say brown bread/white bread/toast/croissant and you tick the ones you want. You also tick the selection of spreads you want on them. I chose Melon with grapes and orange slices for starters. It was very yummy and I ate it all being very careful to chew it up as much as possible to be nice to my digestive system. Then followed scrambled egg with white toast and butter, again eaten slowly and carefully. I ate the toast very carefully, the last thing I wanted was to get a toast crumb stuck in my throat and start coughing as this is not pleasant with a pack inside me. Laughing is fine as long as it is done carefully.

Then to finish I had a cream caramel mousse type desert with a sugar syrup poured over it. It was all very nice and very much enjoyed now that I can eat again. The catering staff have to check with the nurses that the food chosen is suitable.

It's now 2.30 afternoon and I am beginning to get a bit excited/nervous about having the pack taken out. Mr Royle said Monday evening but we never really know exactly when he would show up during the evening. We even thought he might show up during the afternoon. My tummy is rumbling and I hope it does not explode again before tonight when I will be able to use the loo properly. Speaking of the loo again, the man who fixed it earlier did not fix it after all and two more engineers were quickly brought in to sort it out again. I really need that loo to be working!

3.00 Nurses came in with a big cylinder of nitrous oxide gas and a mask connected to it. It was very scary! (Apparently I found out afterwards that Cathy had arranged for this to be brought in for me. I just thought it was routine).

The nurse gave me these instructions...

Before Mr Royle gets anywhere near you to remove the pack, before he gets even near the building, take 10 deep breaths of this stuff to get it working on the brain, then you can control how much you have by taking the mask on and off your face.

I had a short practice run but was very reluctant to breathe in gas through a mask. It's just one of those things I do not like to do. I was very frightened and took small breaths. There was no smell but I felt slightly dizzy so I stopped. That was enough thank you. How I am going to cope with the real thing later I do not know. Perhaps having the pack out will not be so painful after all although, some say it often is one of the most painful experiences and the gas will help. Others say there is no pain at all.

When this little experience was over, teas and a cream bun were delivered. It was a small bun with real cream in it and I ate it very quickly and enjoyed it very much.

I have been sobbing a lot today, this morning I sobbed when I saw all the flowers again and thought about Cathy and how she had gone into a shop to buy them for me, not knowing maybe how much it would mean to me. It made me feel very fond of her. Then I saw all the flowers and imagined how happy it would make me to be able to walk up the steps to our home with them in my arms and Cathy with me. These were happy thoughts that made me cry.

11.20 p.m. Big sigh of relief! Well that's another unpleasant part over. At 6.40 the door opened and a nurse came in announcing that she had seen Mr Royle in the building and that he would not be long. The timing was fairly good as I was just finishing off my evening meal and only had the sorbet to arrive. I had melon and scrambled egg again.

The gas mask was handed over to me and I faffed around with it, very reluctant to use it, thinking maybe I can get away with not using it or take deep breaths as any pain kicks in. I held it to my nose taking tiny breaths but pulled it away again and started to cry deeply. I was so scared of this mask and the gas, more so than the thought of having the pack out. Cathy sat next to me and was gentle and tried to encourage me. I was scared, not knowing how it would feel, not wanting to pass out, not wanting to lose control.

Mr Royle entered the room and the nurse returned. I think they could see I was still in a bit of a state but I soon had that mask closer to my face slowly breathing and testing the air like testing hot bath water or the temperature of a swimming pool before getting into it. My brain went a bit fuzzy and I felt dizzy so I held the mask away for a moment.

Mr Royle seemed to be nice about things and started towards me with a torch in one hand and tools in the other. I expected him to have a small medical type torch but it was actually a large one like the sort you would carry if you went exploring a cave or something, maybe it was appropriate for this occasion! It was all a bit blurred. He said something like 'now then, I'll try not to make this too uncomfortable for you', which was very reassuring but I was scared. I felt him tug slightly on the stitches and cut through them (I think there were two holding the pack in place). Then I felt the pack sliding away from my body, a sort of sliding feeling which was not painful although I do not know how much of a difference the gas made. There was a slight sore burning feeling as it was removed right out and I heard comforting gestures from him and the nurse saying 'There now, the pack is out'.

I had hold of Cathy's hand during this and squeezed it tightly. It happened quite quickly. Then very soon after I felt one of the two dilators that he provides being thrust into my opening. It was a smooth sliding feeling with no pain although as it reached the depths there was a sudden change of feeling, a tightening and it felt like it was being thrust far into my body. I grasped Cathy's hand very hard again not knowing that I was actually crushing her delicate fingers (sorry Cathy).

Then he made a few more friendly sentences saying 'there now, it's all over now'. He commented that all looked good and he was happy with the results. A slight bit of swelling around the labia but otherwise very good.

He advised that I stay in bed as it seemed I was a bit traumatised and tearful. I was not to have my long awaited bath and hair wash tonight but the catheter could be removed in the morning and I could have a bath and learn to dilate. I was more disappointed about not being able to wash my hair, it was so greasy and looked horrible and I had a sob about this a few times too.

Tonight offered a challenge; with the pack out I was now free to move around more although I still had the catheter attached. But I would need to use the loo in the night I expected in case I had any more of those bowel movements.

I had to be careful about getting up suddenly in the night as all the drugs had made me quite dizzy and I did not want to pass out. Cathy had gone back to the flat and I decided to carefully have a sort of walk around. I was very cautious and had emergency call buttons/cords near me at all times in case I fainted. I sat up on the edge of the bed dangling my feet over the sides until I felt the solid floor. My heels were very sore, an effect of being in those stockings I think and which I had often noticed over the last few days. In a few minutes I put my weight on my feet and moved slowly and carefully across to the chair near to the bed. It was so nice to be able to lean back into a pile of pillows outside of bed with my feet on the floor. My surgery area was a bit sore so I tried not to put too much weight on it.

Then I decided to go further and head off for the next nearest seat which was a small stool next to the window. I was soon there and reached the open window where I looked outside into the night air and breathed in several large breaths.

Soon I returned to my bed via the arm chair, the trial run over and feeling very satisfied with my adventure. At about midnight I was disturbed by bowel movements and knew the venture to the bathroom was ready to be made. I lifted my catheter bag across the bed and made my way across to the bathroom and once there made sure I had the emergency pull cord in my hand. I felt a bit dizzy but managed to use the loo and than carefully cleaned up wiping away from the surgery area. I used wet wipes to be very hygienic rather than just soaking up with a dry tissue. It all seemed very easy as long as I was slow and careful. There was no pain or sore areas. Soon I was back in bed and then slept until 6.30 a.m. when I needed to go again. This time it was a bit easier to get up.

Tuesday 21st April 1998

Cathy arrived early at 7 a.m. today while I was still using the loo so that she could be with me when they took out the catheter and make sure all went well with dilating procedures. I was feeling slight leaks of urine past the catheter tube while on the loo. A senior nurse came in soon after to take out the tube. It was a quick procedure in which she used a syringe to let down the balloon end of the catheter inside my bladder and then pull the tube out. There was a slight sensation in my bladder from this which made me twitch as I held Cathy's hand again. The pulling out of the tube was a slightly uncomfortable sensation with a burning feeling but was over very quickly. Now I really am free of all tubes and restrictions. All felt fine and my bladder did not leak. I was free at last also to have a bath and wash my hair.

I had grilled smoked haddock, yoghurt, toast/marmalade and tea for breakfast and then headed off for that bath which was so nice. The water was not too hot and getting in I had no stinging to the surgery area. Then I was out again and drying my clean hair which Cathy helped me to wash so that I did not get shampoo in the water which may have irritated my genitals. During my time in the bath Cathy got the nurse to bring some sponge buds to carefully wash my genitals. There was a lot of clay-like material clogged around my clitoris which is used during the surgery to pack soft tissue and hold it in place. She was the first to inspect my new anatomy and was impressed. My clitoris looked a bit pale looking against the more red surrounding areas but I think it will eventually get more colour in it.

Next came dilating which was hopefully the last major hurdle to overcome. I was not looking forward to this but it has to be done. I have drawn some diagrams of the sensations I got when inserting the first dilator, remembering how it felt from the night the pack was removed and Mr Royle had inserted one for a brief moment. I remembered the feeling of it going in smoothly and then hitting a different area and how much further it passed beyond this.

The nurses on the ward did not seem to mind leaving me to learn how to dilate with Cathy teaching me. Cathy has a lot of medical experience and has helped other friends through various operations in the past. This gave me plenty of time to learn as the first session was very slow and a bit sore. Mr Royle supplied two clear plastic dilators which I will call No.1 and No.3. I had already purchased a set of 5 dilators which grade from No.1 through to No.5. These have a different less pointed end to them which are reputed to be more comfortable for dilating so I used these instead.

Mr Royle gives out a typed sheet of instructions which may be updated from time to time, however Cathy suggested the best way based on what our friends have found to be best and I experimented until I found the most effective and comfortable method for myself. Everyone is different.

For my first few sessions I did as follows. Douched in an empty warmed bath tub using two caps full of Betadine liquid topped up with tepid water. I used KY Jelly on the shaft of the douche to aid getting it inside me but as it was sore and I did not know the angle of my new vagina I found it very difficult and frustrating. I followed this with a warm relaxing bath. Then I got dry and made myself comfortable and relaxed and sat on an absorbent disposable pad. I used an applicator with about 2 inches of KY Jelly and squirted this inside. Then applied an even smear of jelly to the No.1 dilator and slowly, carefully dilated until it got to the end and held it there until it felt like it had stretched the vagina enough. I repeated this with No.2 but used Betadine jelly on the dilator instead which left this inside to act on the lining.

It was slow. Not a pleasant feeling but not too sore. I slid the No.1 in very very slowly after using the applicator to insert some jelly first. I got the applicator about 1.5 inches inside which was all I could manage. I found it very hard to relax and was nervous. My legs began to ache a lot being spread apart as I am not supple and not used to this position even if I did try exercising long before the operation.

The room was warm too which was to help me to relax as much as I could. A cold room is no good as a shivering body can not relax. I put on some soothing music and there was a clock on the wall to refer to. I could feel sensation inside my vagina but if it pressed against the muscles I became very tense. Also at this time I did not know the angle of my vagina and was afraid to push harder in case it went off and dug into the sides. My hands and arms and fingers were very firm gripping the dilator and became so tight I could not relax. This made the dilator wobble and I would cringe and grip even harder which then made me cringe even more. I had to learn that to let go would stop this vicious circle. Dilating Diagram

The entrance area was slightly tighter than the 'cavernous' feeling of the main length of my vagina. It was a matter of just slowly sliding and guiding the dilator hoping that it would not hurt. Then I reached the second area where the muscle band restricted things more. I remembered again how the first one had felt on the night the pack came out and reckoned there was about another 2 inches to go into this zone.

This was harder to do as I was driving the dilator deep into my body and the slightest movement of myself or anything else in the room caused my body to cringe and force the dilator back again. It took a while to get deeper and then I felt a ring of burning around the end of the dilator but not on the tip. I held it there maintaining the force, my hand gripping the other end very hard indeed but after a while began to withdraw very slowly again not sure if I had reached the very end, wondering if I had another 3 inches to go but it was a bit too hard to get there. Cathy oversaw the whole proceedings and was a bit concerned about how long it was taking however she was patient with me. I had done my best and soon the No.2 was inserted. No.2 went in fairly easily but again I was very slow pushing very carefully. The outcome was the same. I felt the harder band of muscles and beyond this a tight sore area around the dilator but not across the tip. I still was not sure if I had reached the end. Things were all a bit sore now at the far end inside and also where the dilator was rubbing past my labia going in. My legs were so strained that they locked up and it was painful trying to get out the position I was in.

There had been a small amount of blood on the dilator as I brought it out but not much to be worried about, this is normal. I used a steel ruler to measure how much dilator was sticking out at the deepest point so that I could gauge how far in the next might go and also to see how deep I was. It was about 4.5 inches from my left swollen labia, however this figure would reduce as my labial swelling went down. As mentioned earlier I never really had an average amount of donor material so I would imagine others having the operation would get more depth than I got. It is more important to think about the sensitivity and care of first dilating rather than what depth you might get. In my case I had approaching twice the length of vagina compared to the length of the original material. I was amazed at how much things get stretched during surgery. No wonder it has potential to feel very sore.

I was a little unsure about how the second session later in the afternoon would go and a bit nervous as to how relaxed I would be.

During the afternoon I drew diagrams of what I had felt inside and made a discovery that if I placed the outline of the dilator Mr Royle had used over the shape of the one I was using where I had reached full depth, it went further in because it was more pointed. This would explain maybe why I had not felt the far end? I decided to carry on using my own less pointed dilators assuming the skin would stretch to suit.

Generally my first experience of dilating was fragile, imagining the dilator to be a very long pole with a small amount inserted inside. The slightest movement to the outer portion seemed exaggerated inside.

The food here is very good and generally I stuck with what ever took my fancy but I avoided too much fried stuff to start with. Here's a general mixture of what various courses included that I chose. Of course there was a lot of other stuff which I did not have.

Breakfast:- Tea, Croissant/butter/marmalade, Grilled smoked haddock with grilled mushrooms and hash brown, Fruit yoghurt.

Lunch:- Grilled fillet of Plaice/mixed veg, boiled or roasted spuds, calliflour, beans, peas, Breaded mushrooms with Garlic mayonnaise, Ice cream, sliced melon, Tea,

Evening Dinner:- Grilled fish again! Selected veg as above, breast of chicken, Chilled fruit juice, Natural yoghurt with double cream, blackcurrant mousse with real berries, Cheese and biscuits which I saved for my supper.

This evening I had the blackcurrant dessert which was very nice indeed. It had real berries in it and I poured a whole pot of double cream over it. It was funny laughing with Cathy about how many calories this one dessert had in it. I felt very stuffed after this.

My second dilating session soon came around. Again it was a very slow procedure but this time I managed to get the No.3 in and kept it there for 5 minutes. I got the same depth with all dilators as the previous session and it felt the same at the end.

Because my left labia swelling was rapidly going down I got what appeared to be less depth and was nervous thinking my vagina is shrinking already but this is not the case.

By this evening going to the loo was better. I never really had problems with constipation or swollen urethra and my bowel passes were still quite runny and a strange green colour due to the antibiotics. When I passed urine it generally ran backwards towards my bowel exit and not all over the floor thank goodness. If I parted my labia which were a bit sore then it just gushed into the water which was good. It did become a bit of a chore mopping up carefully and making sure all was very clean. I did get more efficient at doing this as time progressed.

One thing which did annoy me was the design of the loo, every time my bowel passes hit the water the splash would always come straight back up again depositing germ infected water all over my surgery area so I shoved a load of loo roll into the pan to prevent this happening.

In the evening I was left on my own to do my third dilating session on my own. It took me one and a half hours in total including the bath and douche. I managed to do everything successfully and was very pleased with myself afterwards. Perhaps this dilating will not be so bad after all? I did wait until quite late (about 10.00) before starting so that I would not get too many interruptions.

I have been given voltarol every 8 hours which have really helped a lot with the swelling and I have actually noticed my labia swelling going down each day. Today and also yesterday I got a few sharp pains in my new genitals which correspond to areas which were once of the old anatomy. I mainly get a series of stabbing pains in my clitoris which feel like the old glans area, on the top side slightly to the right. They are a sort of dull pain like someone poking the skin with the ink end of a ball-point pen. I also get a sore spot on my labia which I first thought was on the outside of my body as it is now which got rubbed as the dilator went in, however I think it is material which was once outside but which is now far inside and hurts a bit when the dilator reaches it. My brain is just confused about new positions of anatomy. After and during dilating I feel what used to be areas of skin at the base and the other end of the old material which was skinned during the operation and used to make part of my vagina lining. I can feel it stretching and contracting during dilating. I think the area of skin that was closest to the old glans is now at the far end of my vagina.

Wednesday 22nd April 1998

Woke at 7.00 and had bowel movements three times in an hour which is a good sign that the solid foods I am now on again are not aggravating my starved and drugged up digestive system.

I slept on my sides last night for the first time with a pillow between my legs. I always sleep on my sides at home but this time I was in a lot of pain with severe back ache most of the day. I guess my body had got used to sleeping on the back and could not handle the sides at this time.

During the day I have developed the best way of cleaning up after going to the loo. Wipe off bowel exit with movements away from the surgery area using loo paper or wet wipes. Then get a flannel soaked with warm water and hold it against my belly and squeeze lots of water down over my genitals which washes everything clean a bit like having a shower wash. Then use a hair dryer held away from the area so as not to burn or dry the skin too much, creating a sort of warm summer breeze to dry it all. Then put on knickers with a large absorbent pad in them. When I stand up and part my legs the labia also part now which means the swelling is really going down well.

My routine today for dilating is to Douche and bath, then dilate which leaves jelly inside and keeps things supple. I'm struggling to get the douche in far enough as it's more pointed and I am sore so I worry that I may not be doing this as well as I should be and leaving too much jelly inside from previous dilating but this is apparently not so as the jelly washes out very easily.

The nurse brought in a mobile screen to put around the bed. This is much better now as I can be interrupted without being seen. Some staff don't knock or leave the door open and I can't have that while I am dilating. During my morning dilate Mr Royle came in to see how things were. I had a No.1 right in at that point. He commented that I had found a good depth there which was reassuring as I did not know how deep he had made me. I was very worried in case he saw me and suddenly grabbed the dilator and thrust it another 3 inches in saying I was no where near the depth he had made it. I was relieved that he did not. He seemed happy that I was getting this kind of depth with the small amount of material I had started off with before the operation. He left the room saying he would pop back again tomorrow.

Again today I had very little pain in the whole surgery area. I was fairly happy today as I was expecting visitors. Cathy went to fetch my previous partner from the station and at 11.15 my other friend arrived with a bunch of flowers. Also the cleaner lady with her Hoover.

It was good to have visitors and we all chatted for ages with my lunch being brought in (fish again). Outside it was a sunny day but also very windy. After lunch I showed the results of my surgery and all were impressed.

This afternoon it was suggested that I might like to have a walk down to the outside patio below my room. Soon we had a wheel chair (just in case) and we ventured off to the patio area. I was a bit wobbly but managed to get some clothes on and soon we were off down the corridor, down the elevator and outside. We had teas and hot chocolate outside but stayed there for a short time as the wind was very strong.

Finally the time to dilate arrived yet again. My session this time was a bit harder when I got to No.2. I could not seem to get as much depth as before and No.3 was even harder. It turned out that having the warm bath had heated me up and I had a hot flush. I did not realise the room was cool and the window slightly open which gave a chill and that stopped me from getting the others right in as I was shivering a lot as I finished off.

For my evening meal tonight I had chicken breast but they swamped it in gravy which I hate so I poured it all off again. I had a natural yoghurt for pudding and I mixed it with honey (saved from breakfast) and double cream and then sucked it up with a straw. I thought I might explode but enjoyed it a lot. Then I felt very sleepy indeed and soon dozed quite early at about 8.00 while Cathy went back to the flat.

Finally I got up for my late dilating session again. I was not looking forward to this one after the earlier shivering session. I ran out of Aqua Gel (the hospital supplied this which is like KY jelly) so I buzzed for some more. A senior nurse came in but contradicted the way I was dilating. She said I was using up far too much gel and what they always do is to use a small smear of gel wiped on the dilator with a tissue. She said if I used too much that it would all clog up inside and my vagina would shrink (which is untrue!) . I tried to continue worried that she might be right and this was why I was struggling earlier in the day but again I found it even harder and sore. I got upset and took out the No.3 which I only got in 3 inches. I had a cry and put on more jelly but it still would not go in very far without being painful. I felt like I was having to force it in with the skin all stuck to the side and pulling.

I decided to comfort myself by saying to my self never mind, you did your best, it will be easier tomorrow. I got into the bath again and gave two douches of clear warm water and then finished off with yet another one of diluted betadine liquid. I felt happier doing this as hopefully if things were all clogged up inside then I had at least given it all a thorough wash out now. I was worried about my vagina drying out and becoming sore with no jelly inside overnight and I phoned Cathy on her mobile. It was midnight now and she had just fallen asleep. She answered rather tired but soon told me that I was doing all right and that the jelly does not go solid inside and clog things up. I was very relieved and started to cry and we said goodnight again and I went to sleep. I slept on my back that night not wishing to get more back ache.

Thursday 23rd April 1998

Cathy arrived early in case Mr Royle turned up at 7.45 to see about when would be best to discharge me and let us go home. It was a fast day with us relaxing and trying to get up to date with my diary which I have now done. I had brought lots of things to do while I was here but the diary really took over and I needed to record all details as much as possible.

Mr Royle showed up at 12.45 (I would imagine he was about to perform another operation like mine very soon). He was happy to let me go home tomorrow. I felt as though I was ready to go home today but knew the extra day of resting there would make a big difference as it would be at least a 4 hour journey. I showed him the colour of my clitoris as I just wanted to make sure that the pale colour was normal and he agreed it looked fine and would gain a better colour soon. He wished us well and asked me to come to see him in two months for a check up.

For lunch I had... yes, you guessed, grilled plaice and melon with fruit, also ice cream too. For tea I chose something off the menu which had not been there before which were like small Chinese pancake rolls of veg and sea food with a sauce dip. Then followed mushroom stroganoff followed by ice cream and a pot of tea. Cheese and biscuits were ordered so that I could have them for supper. I also started drawing smiley faces on my menu order which the kitchen staff seemed to like.

Dilating went very well again and back to the usual way using more jelly as Cathy said. We got a new tube from the day staff. I was able to relax more and my legs did not ache so badly being in such a strained position this time. Also I discovered that the best way to put the dilators in is to shut your eyes and allow feel to guide them in faster. This way you can imagine the correct angle of insertion by the feeling of them sliding in. This works well and I carried on this way.

The last few days I have only had my pulse and temperature taken which were all correct. The temperature on some occasions was taken by nurses wishing to try out a new gadget which they insert into the outer ear. It was a small sponge cone that does not go in far but they get a reading from this ear area. I had my last belly injection to prevent DVT today having had them every day before. The injections really don't hurt at all which I was glad about and I did not end up looking like a used pin cushion! I still keep the stockings on except when bathing or moving around a lot but these will come off tomorrow when I go home.

It's 9.05 p.m. now and I had a sob again when Cathy left tonight. I think I had a sort of flash back of being in hospital when I was young and my parents had to go home and I was still in hospital. It made me cry back in those days, a memory I had forgotten. I miss Cathy tonight and I think about travelling home tomorrow as a complete woman.

During the last hour I have had some more of those blunt stabs in my clitoris area. I get them usually 9 or 10 every day then they go again. It's a bit jumpy if you get them while trying to relax on the loo. Going to the loo has become a bit more tricky today. I think there's some mental barrier coming about here. I have to shut the door and imagine nobody will interrupt and turn on the tap imagining I am in a grotto with a stream flowing. I think maybe this is some relearning thing I have to do but I don't know why I have suddenly become self conscious about this. Still, if that 's what it takes for now then fine and I do manage to pass urine without trouble. I think also I am still not used to it trickling down my leg and am afraid I might flood the floor!

I finished the day by dilating again and things are still going smoothly, still gaining the 4 inch depth and still a bit slow. My legs do get stiff occasionally and it's a job trying to move them as they get locked into a spread position. I think I can now feel the end of the dilator pressing into the far end of my vagina.

Friday 24th April 1998

Last night I slept very well apart from waking at 1.30 with indigestion. I was given a pink coloured liquid to drink and it soon alleviated this. I again woke at 3.30 soaking wet and dried some of the sheets with warm air using the hair drier.

Breakfast was the usual favoured grilled smoked haddock. Cathy arrived at 7.30 having booked out of her flat and loaded up the car with her huge suitcase. An administration woman came in and did the necessary paper work to book me out of the hospital and took details for following me up in case there were any problems.

For lunch I went a bit over the top and ordered two dishes and was favoured by the kitchen staff with my cartoons again. I had Goujons of plaice, chips, mixed veg, prawn and avocado salad, a fan of melon with raspberry coulis, Ice cream and a pot of tea. I was very bloated and ate as much as I could mixing in all the flavours and making sure I was well fed for the journey home which might take another 5 hours if traffic was bad. We hope to be leaving at about 1.30--2.00 p.m.

Saturday 24th April 1998

9.05 a.m. in bed and at home!

Yesterday was certainly an eventful day. I had been informing the nurses that Mr Royle was happy for me to go home. I met the two criteria for release which were being able to empty my bladder with no problems and getting a No.3 inside while dilating. The nurses did all the paper work and we left at about 1.30 in the afternoon after my huge lunch. I managed to pass urine but I still had problems with having to encourage myself because I felt I needed to be potty trained again. I was not aware of a problem to come.

Finally the time came to leave and I waited in reception while Cathy brought the car over. We set off with the seat partly reclined and me sitting on a pillow. The roads were bumpy making it a bit uncomfortable and I used my feet to steady myself also hanging on to the handle over the door. I was worried about the journey home in case I would need to go to the loo suddenly and we would not get to one in time. As we travelled west, via the hotel where Cathy picked up her deposit, the roads got faster and smoother.

Soon Cathy needed the loo so I decided to go too but nothing happened and I got frustrated. Perhaps it is just because I'm not used to having the new anatomy in a public loo with people coming in and out even if I am safe in a cubicle!

We moved on to Salisbury via Southampton and by now I really did need to go. The same thing happened. I spent half an hour just sat there unable to go not understanding why I could not relax enough. Someone even left the sink tap running which I thought would help but nothing happened. I was very desperate by now and every part of the journey home was uncomfortable with me not being able to totally put my weight on the seat because of bumpy roads.

Finally five hours later we arrived home and I made it slowly up the steps and inside up to the loo. Surely this familiar environment would help me to relax. When we got inside there was a banner of coloured A4 paper which our friend had put up and on it said "Welcome Home Paula". I was touched.

I stroked our cat, and then felt ready to attempt the loo. Cathy said if I could not go that she would call the emergency unit and we would take me into hospital and get me back on a catheter. This frightened and stressed me a lot imagining I would end up in some communal ward in a local hospital for another week after just getting back and having one of those tubes slid back inside.

In the end I could not go. We tried suppositories to bring about bowel movements which might help me. Also running the taps, running warm water over my genitals and Temazepam sedatives but all failed and some time later when I was desperate to empty my bladder and did not care about having to have another catheter fitted we called the doctor.

Visiting friends in the meantime had comforted me. Cathy got me a nice hot water bottle and had me in bed and held my hand.

Cathy had explained all the details to the doctor on the phone and that she was very knowledgeable about medical things. He soon arrived at about midnight and I was ready on the portable salon couch in the lounge, cuddling a toy while Cathy showed the doctor what to do. He seemed nice enough and co-operative. He squirted some local anaesthetic jelly into my urethra which burned slightly (no needles involved though!) Then the catheter tube was slid in and the balloon portion expanded inside. I do not like the sliding/burning feeling as this tube goes in but it was all very quick and I was able to empty my bladder. I was very relieved. Cathy taped the tubes to my legs so that the main part would not pull and soon we were in bed and able to sleep after this horrible trauma.

Cathy phoned the hospital in Brighton to let them know what had happened and they gave the impression that I might have to have this tube fitted for two weeks. Oh well, it's not too bad having this lot tied to my leg but a bit frustrating after everything else had gone so well.

Monday 4th April 1998

I am healing up very nicely now. A lot of the swelling has gone down and dilating has become a much easier process although I still take an hour to do this allowing the No.3 to do a lot of stretching. I have not gained any more depth but this may occur as swelling inside goes down over the next few weeks. I found that dilating twice a day suited me due to being rather sore. This has not been a problem as I am still able insert all the dilators and reach full depth.

During douching in the bath with the betadine liquid as described earlier I occasionally see remains of dissolved stitches come out along with some tissue debris. Unfortunately I still have a catheter tube and bag as my urethra is still sore and there is a lot of renewing of tissue in this area going on. I do not anticipate this will be an ongoing problem and hope to be off the catheter in a few days time.

The labia are sometimes a bit sore, probably due to sitting in various positions with a pillow underneath. I am fairly mobile and able to walk upright although I am being careful and slow about everything.

Some Weeks Later

Cathy removed the catheter a week later, at Mr Royle's suggestion. Unfortunately the problem happened again and we had to get another catheter put in. Another week later, Cathy took this one out and finally everything was OK, I could use the loo properly!

Healing is continuing to go well and I shall be returning to work soon. I'm very happy with my results and looking forward to the rest of my life.

Click here to return to Personal Experiences index.