Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Archive for Trinidad

Redux: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

So, I’ve been home for a week, it seems like I should do a little wrap-up of my wonderful trip to Colorado that I dubbed, in my inimitable style, my “Excellent Adventure.” It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

I am so glad that Jayme was able to be with me for as much of the trip as she was; it was amazing having my mom and Alana and Wendy and Sarah with me as well. Before surgery I was able to have so much fun with Jayme; climbing Capulin Volcano with Jayme was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. I had never been in that part of the country before, and I was blown away with the beauty I saw. The Garden of the Gods was magnificent.

Everything about my surgery was about as perfect as I could possibly have expected. My surgeon was wonderful, her office staff was brilliant, the hospital was great, the nurses were beyond amazing, the Morning After House was warm and cozy, and the town was sweet and lovely. I would recommend Dr. Bowers to anyone considering GRS without hesitation. The whole package that I got was more than I could have imagined. I had some misgivings about having such a major surgery two thousand miles from home, but having been through it, I would make the same decision again in a heartbeat.

My healing goes well. There’s still more swelling than I’d like, but there always is when it comes to my body, and it gets better every day. There is basically no pain. Dilating is fairly easy, though very boring.

I wish I had some brilliant way to wrap-up this whole experience, but it seems beyond words. This was my wish that I never expected to be fulfilled, and yet here I am, after the fact, writing about it. It happened. It was as incredible as I thought it would be. When I got home, the first time I saw my whole body in a mirror (seeing my face and my vagina in the same “picture”) it was an incredibly moving experience. I am whole.

This adventure of mine was indeed most excellent. And the neat thing is that I have a feeling that my journey isn’t over, but that it has only just begun.

Day 13: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

6:21 AM:

~Don’t~ wanna be up this early. I am tired, and I am not looking forward to the very long day ahead of me. First I have to go through the whole rigamarole of getting ready, then the two-hour drive to Colorado Springs, flight to Dallas, two-hour layover, flight to Boston. I won’t be home till midnight, and the first thing I’m gonna have to do when I get home is dilate. No wonder I feel exhausted already.


12:10 PM (MST) – Colorado Springs Airport:

[I wrote some frustrated stuff, and I’ve decided not to print it, but I did feel I should acknowledge the big edit.]

An interesting thing happened when I dropped off the rental car; I asked the guy if I could get a receipt inside, and he said, “Yes, sir.” And then immediately corrected himself (he was obviously embarrassed at making the mistake, actually). Something is different even just since surgery about my confidence. I noticed that he did that, but it didn’t bother me at all – at all. I’ve been gaining confidence over the last couple years, but it seems like I might finally be “there.” Whatever, I’m a woman, all women are occassionally mis-gendered (as are all men); it happens, it’s a mistake on the part of the person speaking. It no longer feels like I’m being “read,” it feels like the person made a mistake.

Something completely unexpected is that I’m actually feeling very well rested. The drive was long, but not bad. Checking in at security was interesting. I had to declare my prescription vaginal gel, and my bag seemed to take a little extra time – I wonder what they thought of my dilators. 😉


5:15 PM (CST) – Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport:

Nice flight from Colorado Springs to Dallas. An interesting thing I noticed was that adjusting my position while sitting is tricky with my current level of healing. I ended up sitting pretty much in the exact same position for the flight; my right hip got very tired by the end of the flight.

I called my mom and Tim when we got to Dallas; I miss my boyfriend a lot.


1:29 AM (EST) – home:

I was right, I really wasn’t in the mood to dilate when I got home, but I did. Wow, I am really quite tired. It feels nice to be home. I feel like there was something profound I wanted to say, but it has left me, and I’m much too tired to hope for it to return this evening.

Good night, and the Adventure has come to an end (I’ll probably do a redux in the next couple days).

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, kept me in their thoughts, or however you want to describe expressing positive energy toward another.

Day 12: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

8:51 AM

Okay, on my blog there’s a feature that lets me see the search engine terms people have used to find my blog. My absolute favorite was this morning: “pee after srs.”   lol

So, this morning I had to do, like, ~everything~: pee, poop, dilate, shower, apply ointment. Whew, I am exhausted and I just got up!


2:55 PM

So, even though I’ve moved out of the Morning After House my roomie and I are still hanging out. I brought her some flowers, and she treated me to a massage. I think I got the better end of the deal. I’ve never had a proper massage before; it was pretty damned awesome. I leaked through onto my bed pad last night, so the whole time I was on my back at the massage I was worried about leaking. even though I had just put on a new pad (I didn’t leak – thank god!). Once I got on my stomach I was in heaven.

Said goodbye to Carol and my roomie, and now Sarah and Wendy and I are going to go eat Mexican food, then we’ve got to basically pack up all our stuff tonight, as we’re off by 9:00 AM. Part of me is excited to come home, but part of me will always stay here (stop the dirty-mind; that’s not what I mean  – a piece of my heart belongs to Trinidad).


6:31 PM:

It seems like I’m already increasing my depth ever-so-slightly when I’m dilating. I’ve only done it four times, and it seems pretty easy. I’m certain it’ll get annoying and I’ll get sick of it, but so far so good. I think I’m getting boring. I feel like the interesting parts of the journey may be pretty close to over; it seems very appropriate that I’m flying home tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to my own bed and my own shower.


9:13 PM:

So, basically packed. How the hell did I buy so much clothing while I was here? My suitcase is brimming with stuff. In twelve hours we’ll be on the road to Colorado Springs Airport, and in just about 24 hours, we’ll be back in Boston. It’s amazing that for so long I thought I would be stuck with the wrong body, and now I’m going home from Colorado with my vagina. This certainly has been a dream come true and the trip of a lifetime.

Day 11: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

7:22 AM:

So, it seemed like the bleeding from the j-tube drain had slowed considerably before I went to bed last night, and the swelling also seems like it’s gradually getting better. When I met with my surgeon before surgery, she told me that the thing I would need the most of during my recovery would be patience; it seems like that’s proving accurate.

Today I finally get my catheter out – yay! Also, the packing in my vagina gets taken out. There’s something like 30′ (that’s thirty ~feet~) of packing inside me; no wonder I’m still waddling.

So, I get to actually see how much of a mess I make when I pee today (I’m going to make a mess until the swelling gets considerably better).

I also have to start dilating today. Since my vagina was surgically constructed I have to dilate it to help keep its shape and depth and width. They gave me the dilators the other day, and all I can say is that I’m very intimidated – even the small one is ~big~. Like, ~big~. So, I’m very excited to get the packing out, but I’m kind of nervous about how dilating is going to go, especially at first.


7:57 AM:

Okay, so I’m rotten, but I’m pretty glad that I’m out of Boston during the crazy snow today. It’s not like I’d be able to shovel anyway, but a foot of snow? Damn.


8:00 AM:

Hmm, gonna be a busy writing day apparently. The tears are getting crazy; I can’t stop crying tears of joy; I am just so happy. There is peace and joy and bliss and … and … I have ~never~ felt like this before – I feel magnificent.


9:25 AM:

All showered and ready to leave the Morning After House. I’m definitely riding mood-swings; for a few hours I’ll feel like I’m doing great and right on track, and then I’ll feel like it looks horrible and is too swollen and taking too long. I’m thinking this is pretty normal for this process, but it’s kind of emotionally taxing.


3:49 PM:

Back at the hotel. I’ve been to the doctor, been “un-packed” and de-catheterized. The dilating process was so not as bad as I was fearing. There is enough swelling that the doctor made that “concerned doctor” face, but she settled down pretty quick and essentially said that patience should resolve it, and within three weeks the swelling should be way down. I actually got up to the middle dilator and didn’t feel pain at all. I mentioned the blood to the doctor, and she said, “You’re a woman now, get used to it.” And I said, “Hey, no making fun of the new girl.”  😉  Yep, I really like my surgeon (she said that she likes me too).

After the doctor Wendy and I went to lunch and then to the Social Security office in town where I changed the gender marker on my Social Security file. Big, big YAY!


4:28 PM:

I forgot that while I was on the table at the doctor’s office dilating I was using my hand mirror to see what I was doing. I turned the mirror just a little so I could see my face, and I said to myself in the mirror, “You have a pussy; and you have a dildo up your pussy.” I confess that it made me feel pretty awesome. I’m such a goofball sometimes.



6:38 PM:

I peed! It was easy! It was definitely a bit of a spray, but it was much less messy than I was expecting. An interesting thing that I noticed is that when I used to pee with a penis, there would be the pee that would come out when I relaxed my muscles, and then that would stop, and there would be a few drops left that I would squeeze out. Well, now there’s nothing left to squeeze; I just relaxed, and the pee came out and then it stopped, and then it was done. I knew that was how it would be now, but it was still an interesting thing to actually experience.


11:01 PM:

So, my first time dilating without the doctor’s aid was a little trickier, but I still managed to pull it off, and again I’d say there was no pain involved. I even would say that I enjoyed it (like, really, I wasn’t trying to get excited or anything, but I was definitely feeling some very nice sensations, even while just sitting there trying to stretch); yay. When I was cleaning up I got a really good look at the suture line that’s opened up a little, the swelling and all the structures. At this point it looks like most of the blood is actually coming from the open suture line. Even swollen and red and bruised I’d say that I’m pretty damned pleased with my vulva.

Day 10: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

8:00 AM:

Yay, just took my first “real” poop since surgery. When I went the other day in the hospital it was mostly gas, this actually had a little volume to it (I know you were all dying to know!).

I still have a little more bleeding than I would like, but I think it’s mainly from where my j-tube drain was (that’s the internal drain that lets blood flow to the outside – they removed it Thursday). My roomie says that she’s still bleeding from there too, so. They’re going to remove my packing tomorrow and teach me how to dilate, so someone that knows what they’re talking about will be looking at it tomorrow, which makes me feel good. My left labia remains ~big~, but it doesn’t really seem all that pissed-off besides being pretty swollen.


11:35 AM:

So, my butt is definitely further back than it used to be. I don’t know what the hell the exact plumbing reason is for it, but my room mate said that hers is too. That’s just weird.

I’m feeling a bit better after my shower, the bleeding seems to have slowed considerably, and it definitely seems focused on the j-tube drain.

Have I mentioned my roomie is awesome? Well, she is. (I’m being a lot more vague about her than I often am about people to respect her privacy; so pretty much all you’re gonna get is that she’s wicked cool.)


12:25 PM:

So, I was chatting with Tim online and I told him how swollen my labia is, and he ran with it:


Tim Lopez:

a new kids book:

Penelope and the Magic Labia

gather round kids

i have a tail to tell

come hear the story of a labia as big as yer hed

it dwarfed all others

even the rose of Tralee

but this Labia

was a magic Labia

for when she thought of it

and said the words


Labia Oxtavia from Scandanavia

it would grant wishes

and sing songs of days of yore

And then he sent me this link:

Oh my.


3:07 PM:

Definitely a little concerned about the blood.

I’m very tired after doing several trips up and down the stairs.


10:13 PM:

Just wrote this message in the guest book at the Morning After House:


“Carol + Marci,

      How do you thank someone for granting your heart’s most desperate wish?

      I honestly have no idea how to thank the both of you. The very fact that this surgery exists still feels like a miracle to me, and the warmth and support that are provided as part of the care both at MSRH and the Morning After House has made this entire experience feel like a dream.

      I will never forget either of you; even though I was here for a short time, the impact you have both made upon me can not be over-stated.

      I could fill the rest of this book and not feel like I said enough…


      Thank you for my body…

      Thank you for my peace…

      Thank you for making me whole + complete…


                       Mad Hugz, Luv, Blessings, + Laughs,

                                      ~~Penny Larson”

Day 9: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

7:08 AM:

I’m officially ready to get out of the hospital; I slept like crap last night, even on the Ambien.

In good news, my Blood Pressure finally seems to be inching toward normal, it was just 103/53 (the top number had been under 100 since my surgery). I’m feeling better everyday, and I’m having my petulant, impatient moments, but overall I am pretty blissfull.


8:26 AM:

Just had a pretty good breakfast for what should be my last meal in the hospital. I stood with my room mate and had a nice chat before breakfast. She’s a very nice woman; I definitely will try to keep in touch with her after this. I firmly believe that shared struggles forge strong bonds, and it seems like we already have a nice rapport. Who knows what the future brings, of course, but I’d definitely like to try.


7:07 PM:

So, I’ve been at the Morning After House (which is sort of a half-way house) since about noon. It’s a really lovely house. I took a shower earlier; ~damn~ my left labia sure is swollen. I think everything looks pretty good, just a little swollen on the left. I guess I’m settling into the routine of healing. I feel very boring.  lol


10:30 PM:

Sitting in the living room, watching Jurassic Park 3 with my roomie. It’s been a long and tiring day, but I feel very good. I know that my full recovery will take quite a while, but I am so excited. My roomie, by the way, is a wonderful woman. She’s the same woman I shared the hospital room with, and we just have been getting along great.

I had to have Sarah and Wendy pick me up some chucks (bed pads), but the store was out of them, so I ended up with “dog training pads” to sleep on to make sure I don’t mess the bed.

Day 8: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

7:19 AM:

Last full day in the hospital. I can’t wait to get out of here. I feel better today, it’s that gradual up-hill climb to recovery. I’m already out of bed sitting up; I’ll probably go for a walk when Jayme and Sarah and Wendy get here. My fever seems to have really abated and I’m feeling pretty damned good; I can’t wait to see how I feel once they let me out of this little pressure dressing.

On a semi-unrelated note, I’ve finally found a sleeping pill that actually helps me sleep and doesn’t seem to have any side effects: Ambien. I could see asking for a script for it from my PCP when I get home (my insomnia can get really bad).


10:40 AM:

Just got my surgical certification letter from my doctor’s office. This is the letter that I will use to change my social security info and my birth certificate. My favorite part is the end: “Accordingly, all documentation should reflect this individual’s current and final genital status of female.” Yay; I’m “official.”    lol


11:35 AM:

Definitely feeling better; I’m watching Futurama and laughing almost hard, which hurts a little, but feels really good. This sure is an arduous process, though worth every sceond of it. I’m very happy to be feeling so much back to myself already. What an amazing thing. The hospital is getting a little tiresome, but everyone here has been amazing. The folks out here are lovely.


12:15 PM:

The spontaneous tears have finally started today. I’m by no means “over” with this process, but things are very different than they were five days ago. It’s starting to sink in: I have the proper body. Nearly everyone in my world has been brilliant and gracious and understanding, and they’ve seen me as a woman for quite a while now, but there is no denying that making this physical change makes things different – for everyone, even me. And so, because I’m me, and because things have really started to actually sink-in today, my eyes have started to leak random moisture of joy. Yay.


1:28 PM:

So, I just went for a walk outside! It is lovely outdoors. I really needed to see the sun and feel the fresh air on my face. I am so happy I could fly!


2:55 PM:

Just took a shower; it’s very nice to feel clean. It sure took a lot out of me, though. Whew, I’m tired.


6:18 PM:

So, pretty tired today. I didn’t nap much and I was bouncing around the hospital quite a bit all day. I hate healing, I want to get better right now – I’m so impatient.It’s amazing to realize that in less than three months I’ll be basically healed (full healing can take up to a year or more {as I know from my gallbladder surgery}). 

Sarah and Wendy made it out today. It was great to see them, as my entire contingent of folks that had made the journey out with me have now returned home. It’s really great to have such amazing friends.

This is truly an amazing surgery to be able to have. I already feel so much more relaxed and peaceful in my body as it now exists. I no longer have to talk about “my penis” or euphamisms there of. I am just so happy.


7:25 PM:

It’s funny how much like a pre-pubescent girl I feel. Nurses are having to teach me and my room mate things about having a vagina in the same way that older women will teach young girls. Weird. They’re all very sweet and lovely. I feel like I’m getting that sort of physical-education into womanhood that normally happens during puberty. Nobody teaches boys how to use their stuff; it’s juat like: “Hey, figure that thing out on your own; you might even have some fun as you go.” Vaginas are definitely more involved, even when menstruation isn’t involved, and it feels great having had this collection of brilliant women help me as I learn about my new body. Very cool.


8:13 PM:

I won’t mind getting out of this hospital room and away from this damn squeaky clock!

Day 7: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

6:30 AM:

Ooh boy, bed pan. Pooping in a bucket in bed is sort of gross.


9:30 AM:

Had to poop again, and they actually let me get out of bed and go potty. Getting out of bed felt amazing. My IV is done, and those damn compression things are off my leggies. I’m feeling considerably less pain than yesterday, which is pretty cool. Yay, I’m on the mend!  🙂


10:39 AM:

Up again, this time sitting in the chair next to the bed. Have I mentioned how much I hate bed rest? Jayme’s here, and if I’ve ever had a better friend I’m not aware of it; she is just such an amazing woman and friend. I know this process has brought up some difficult emotions for her, which makes her being her for me all the more special.


11:34 AM:

Just took a walk around the hospital. I am really feeling so much better today. I hate how weak you get after just a couple days of bed rest. I caught the first glimpse of my labia (that’s pretty cool!), the left side is a little swollen, but still – ~my~ labia. Damn. Yay. Thank God. 🙂

I’m pretty wiped out from the walk, so I think I may just sleep for a little bit.


1:25 PM:

And the IV is out – yay!


4:19 PM:

So, I mentioned that my left labia was a litte swollen, well I had to have it re-wrapped with a little bit of a pressure dressing. It seems like it’s no big deal from what everyone has said. By wrapping it tightly it helps the skin graft to really get absorbed, I guess.


7:00 PM:

Just talked to Tim for a little bit; let’s just say that he is about as cute and sweet as he could possibly be. I don’t want to share exactly what he said, but tonight while we were on the phone he said something just all sorts of special. I am so lucky I found him. I love him so much.  🙂


8:10 PM:

And now I have a fever (101.6), so I just got some Motrin. That’s a really common reaction for me to have after a physical trauma. I’m not worried, but I hate fevers, especially when I’m stuck in bed.


9:47 PM:

Seems like the Motrin helped a ton, the fever seemes to have really broken. Now for another night of sleeping through Futurama.

Day 6: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

1:00 PM:

Little bit of a late start today. There’s more pain today, though not unbearable by any stretch. I have taken morphine a couple times today. I got a real breakfast and lunch, and I’m drinking like a fish. All goes well.


6:30 PM:

So, definitely more pain today, but I expected that all along. I’m not a good patient, I’m actually quite impatient. ha ha


11:50 PM:

Just a really boring day stuck in bed watching Futurama and Star Wars. I get to get out of bed tomorrow; I can’t wait.

Day 5: Penny’s Excellent Adventure

[This is part of my ongoing diary about my SRS experience in Trinidad, Colorado with Dr. Marci Bowers. See the main page here: Penny’s Excellent Adventure.]

4:12 AM

Up, dressed, and about to leave for the hospital. As my mom just said: “It’s finally here.” And, as I said: “Thank fucking God.” Wow, in like eight or nine hours I’ll be done. Yay.


6:18 AM:

I’m at the hospital, in my bed. I’ve had my vitals taken and I think I’m basically prepped for surgery. I have yet to hva emy IV put in, but I think other than that I seem pretty ready. I’m guessing my surgery will be around 8:00-ish or so, which means I should be out of surgery by noon. Thank you again to everyone who has sent their hearts, thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers in the last few days – it really means more than I could possibly ever say.


6:25 PM:

So, I’m awake enough to be blogging, I think I handled surgery pretty well.  🙂  According to my doc I was a “challenge,” but everything apparently looks great. Yay. Jayme is here, Alana is here, and Mom is here, and it just feels amazing. I’ve talked to Tim a few times as well – wow I miss him. Jayme got me flowers that are the same kind of flower she had in her bouqet at our wedding (star-gazer lillies; they’re gorgeous); that just seemed so sweet and lovely beyond belief. My mom got me roses and a little Hello Kitty balloon and a balloon shaped like a foot that says, “It’s a girl!” My mom rocks (actually, right now lots of people rock). And how cool is that Alana came all the way out here for little other reason that to be here for me Alana got me an amazing card that says: “Is There Anything You Can’t Do?” Wow, eh?

I did have one little hiccup when I took some Toradol for pain and it made my Blood Pressure crash (Jayme was really worried). I was totally out for a couple hours. After those couple hours, though, I felt much better and much more lucid.

My doc came in and talked to me shortly after I woke up. She kicks major ass; I definitely made the right choice coming out here to teeny Trinidad, CO to see this surgeon.

Mom and Jayme are hanging out with me now. I feel simply amazing. 🙂


6:56 PM:

Just saw that Comet Lulin will mke its closest approach to Earth today, February 24th. Even the heavens are celebrating for me.  😉


8:10 PM:

Mom and Jayme and Alana just left; I’m fixing to settle in watch some Star Wars movies. And get a good night’s sleep for the first time in a week.  😉


8:48 PM:

And now I’m crashing for the night.


Thanks again to everyone!

%d bloggers like this: