What a relief – the hysterectomy’s over and done with, and while the first week of healing was pretty miserable, I’m feeling much better now. One of the incisions is still causing me pain, and although that has been pretty frustrating, I had my follow-up visit with the surgeon yesterday and she said everything’s looking fine and healing like it should. For the most part, I’m done with this process.
I actually don’t have much of an emotional attachment to the hysterectomy, certainly not in the way I did (and still do) with my chest reconstruction. It went a long way to helping me feel comfortable with my body and more confident in my interactions with other people. The first time I used a public men’s bathroom was the first day I left the house after having surgery. Sure, I was still extremely nervous, but I managed to do it.* And now I wander around my house without a shirt on, and people can touch me in the chest area and it’s not horrifying, and shirts kind of fit now where they definitely didn’t before. It’s great! It’s been a really meaningful thing! After almost six years I still feel excited by my chest.
The hysterectomy, though, is all internal, and not really important to me on an emotional or identity-related level. I haven’t menstruated since about two days after my first testosterone shot in 2005. I wasn’t having any cramps or pain, no abnormal pap smears, no family history of ovarian cancer. I know some guys get really traumatized by pap smears but while I’ve never enjoyed them, it hasn’t been too much of an issue to me. This surgery was really just something to do as a precaution and to keep me from needing to worry about pap smears or bizarre improbable pregnancies in the future.
It is nice, now that I can focus on something other than pain and frustration at not being to DO anything, to realize that I won’t have to worry about getting pregnant at all in the future. I mean, it hasn’t been a real issue for years since I haven’t been ovulating and haven’t had much sex with people who could potentially get an ovulating-me pregnant, but the fact that I could somehow possibly become pregnant if I couldn’t access T for a long period of time has been in the back of my mind. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a relief now, but it’s like the relief I felt when I started taking testosterone and knew my chances of becoming pregnant were very slim is finally sinking in and becoming permanent.
I remember what it was like being on birth control pills; my irregular period still had a “normal” window of 24-36 hours and I’d worry every month (during the times when I had partners who could possibly impregnate me) that I’d gotten pregnant. I don’t think I had one month where I was sexually active and didn’t feel an anxiety spike in the days leading up to my period, and often it was pretty severe. I used to go to Planned Parenthood for my annual exams and talked with the nurses once about how much it cost to have an abortion there so I knew how much money I’d need to have on hand in case I got pregnant. And I feel like I was in a pretty good place – I could afford to buy my pills every month and was able to take them around the same time each day, I lived in a city with a Planned Parenthood, I had access to information about my options. And I still had a strong fear of becoming pregnant.
I think it’s great when I hear about men getting pregnant – go dudes! High-fives to you! The concept is pretty fantastic, as long as it’s not me because I would freak the fuck out. But here I am, with no uterus, no ovaries, no cervix, no possibility of pregnancy. Mostly I’m just glad it’s over with, but it is good to have that extra sense of security.
* Actually, here’s a fun fact: on that first outing, I drove myself to Borders to buy myself a book. I ran into an acquaintance who noticed that I looked pained and unusually bulky in the chest area from the surgical binder, and asked what was up. I didn’t know her that well and wasn’t sure if she knew I was trans, but I went ahead and said something about chest surgery, and she thought for a moment and then asked if I was going to “go all the way” as if we were thirteen-year-olds talking about our dates. The extra-fun part was that I asked what she meant and it was quite clear that she meant genital surgery but just as obvious that she had no idea what she was really asking me. FUN TIMES.