Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Chest surgery and transition : Updated 08/08/14

In December 2004 I came out as trans and so began the long old process of transitioning. 2005 I saw a local psychiatrist in Brighton that referred me to the gender clinic in London.  They also tried to diagnose me with borderline personality disorder but that's a post for another day.  Unfortunately due to moving area I had to go through the whole process again and was finally seen in 2007.

2008 I had my first surgery in Cheltenham with Mr Bristol.  I thought he was going to do the double incision technique that most knowledgeable surgeons do on people who were the size I was.  This turned into a series of three operations, each time I was told that this would be the last time! I got so fed up in the end that I decided to go with another surgeon, this brings us to the end of last year.

After some people on a Facebook group had told me that I should seek a second opinion I finally did towards the end of 2013.  Once the gender clinic had sorted the referral it was January.  I had talked to Ginny Mr Yelland's secretary on the phone, she was very helpful and we managed to book in the consultation, pre-op and operation all at once.

The consultation was at the beginning of March at the Nuffield Health Brighton hospital.  It is a private hospital but I was there as an NHS patient.  The staff there were very friendly and there was free hot drinks and wifi.  The consultation went very well, Mr Yelland could see that I was unhappy with things as they were and how he could help.  We talked about the operation and what I could expect out of it, the risks and such.
A week before the operation I was at the hospital again for the pre-op.  I saw Mr Yelland again to talk it through and then I had to go for some testing.  Due to my EDS and POTS they did and ECG just to make sure everything was ok, and some blood tests too.  They had to shave a lot of patches of hair so they could stick the pads on but they were stubborn and didn't want to stay stuck!!  I presume that everything came back ok as I was able to go ahead with the surgery.

The day before the surgery we drove down to Brighton and stayed at the Hickstead Travelodge, this was the closest hotel that we could find that had disabled rooms, free parking and a reasonable price.  The morning of the surgery we had to be in the hospital for 7:15am. I wasn't allowed to eat anything after midnight and Liz the nurse recommended that I wake up about 5:30am to have a last glass of water and then nothing after 6am.  She said that would help me to not have a headache after the surgery.

We left the hotel at about 6:15am to make sure we got there in plenty of time.  We arrived probably a bit too early but we got taken up to my room anyway.  One of the many perks of having it in a private hospital is that you get your own room, I was also able to control my own medication which was great because some are very time dependent.  At about 8am Mr Yelland came around and drew on me with his marker pen that smelled of cherry.  At around 9am I was ready and went down for surgery at about 9:30ish.  The last thing I remember is talking to the anesthetist about my crummy veins while they were trying to find them, I vaguely remember them finding it, but not much after that.

A couple of hours later I was in my room again with a drip and my chest bound up with the dressings.  It was very nice to not have drains this time around, trying to go to the toilet when you have drains is a nuisance, always worried you are going to catch on them.   The nursing staff were great and came very quickly whenever I pressed the call button.  I didn't have a great deal of post-op pain so I didn't take that many painkillers just a little codeine and paracetamol as I'm sensitive to most strong painkillers.

By dinner time I was ready for food, I'd ordered the pork as it was gluten free.  It was amazing, hospital food usually isn't this good but I really enjoyed it.  My partner had some too so it wasn't just me being very hungry, the food really was good.

The next morning I was seen by Mr Yelland and he was happy for me to be discharged from the hospital.  We went back to the hotel for another night and then drove back to Bristol the next day.  I used a pillow between my chest and the seatbelt this made it a lot more comfortable for the drive home.

Two weeks later I went back to the hospital to get the dressings taken off, I am rather hairy so this was painful as it was really stuck on to my chest and it took a lot of hair off with it! I was completely amazed by how great my chest looked, I knew that Mr Yelland gets great results but at the back of my mind I was worrying as I'd had 3 surgeries already and wasn't happy so was worried that I wouldn't be happy this time.  My fears were unfounded it looked fantastic, I couldn't be more happy.  The treatment of the staff, the surgeon and everyone has been great from start to finish.  I would highly recommend this surgeon.  Nearly 10 years since starting transition I've finally got a chest that I'm really happy with!

Now for the pictures, well done for reading this far if you have!

Result from 3 surgeries with Mr Bristol in Cheltenham, front

Side view arms up

Side view 2 arms up

Side view arms down

All marked up before the surgery

2 days post op

2 days post op

At post-op appointment just after dressings were removed. 

2 weeks post op front

2 weeks post op right

2 weeks post op left

August Update:  I am including updated photos in this post rather than writing out a whole new post just to put a few pictures up.  So here are the new pictures 4 months post op and nearly 3 stone down in weight.

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