Photos

3 Weeks Post Op

Today is my three weeks post op. I had a follow up with Dr. Mosser. I sent him the following pictures:

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I told him about the swelling that’s still there on my left side, but aside from that, everything seems to be looking really good. I also asked about when I can sleep on my stomach again, how much I should wear the compression vest now, and if it was still okay for me to begin cardio today.

Here was his response:

Hello August, and thanks for sending those photos. I’d hold off another week or two on sleeping face down, just because of potential issues with rubbing the skin grafts during sleep. Everything does look like it’s improving. Please switch to using the chest garment at night only for 3 weeks and then you can stop the garment altogether. I’d like to do another follow-up in 3 weeks’ time. Cardio activities are fine now.

So, today was my first day out and about without the compression vest. It was really nice… a little weird too. The only time I’ve really worn a shirt or anything without something strapping down on my chest, whether it be a bra, sports bra, or binder, is when I’ve been sitting around the apartment. And, that has only been fairly recent since I’ve had roommates until about 6 months ago. I’m really excited to just put on a shirt and go about my day. I don’t have to struggle with my binder and have to adjust all day. It was fairly warm today, but I managed to not sweat while walking around, which is a first for me since starting testosterone. I’m sure being without the extra layer helped. I was a little paranoid that the swelling might increase without the compression vest on. I checked it once while I was in the middle of work to give myself some peace of mind.

When I had my initial consultation with Dr. Mosser, he asked me what I expected or what I wanted to get out of top surgery. My response was that I wanted to be able to just put on a shirt without a binder. I think he really liked that answer then. He mentioned that a lot of guys are hoping their chests would look like some celebrity’s chest. But, I’m really happy to say that I got exactly what I wanted out of top surgery. I am hoping to make it to the beach one of these days, but that probably won’t happen until my left side goes down some more.

I ordered some Kelo-cote on the recommendation of a friend (and I’ve seen a few other guys on various social medias and blogs talk about it). Hopefully that will come tomorrow, and I can begin applying that to scars. They don’t look too bad right now, in my opinion, but I’d like to do what I can to reduce their appearance.

I probably won’t make another chest update until my next follow-up appointment in 3 weeks unless my swelling makes significant improvements before then.

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2 Weeks Post Op

So yesterday was my two weeks post op. I had a virtual follow up on Monday. I sent pictures to Dr. Mosser and wrote a quick note about the swelling on my left side. He replied the same day and said that I had bleeding on that side, so the swelling was to be expected. He also said it should go down in a few weeks. It’s basically fluid accumulation where tissue was removed. Usually, this gets reabsorbed. In some cases, they aspirate the fluid, and in rare cases, drains need to be reinserted. I also found out that this fluid build up occurs in about 40% of mastectomy patients. I didn’t know about any of this before to surgery. I’ve heard of others mention swelling, but maybe this is what they meant? In any case, I’m just waiting for it to go away at this point.

I still have one more week of wearing the compression vest. It’s either getting more comfortable to wear because the swelling/fluid is going down or I’m getting used to wearing it all the time, bit it seems to be digging into my skin less.

I’ve caught my image in the mirror in passing, and it’s really nice to see a flat chest. I’m also not self-conscious about the compression vest the way I was with my binders. I feel like it’s not visible at all. My binders had weird lines that I could see. I’m sure I was the only one that noticed, but it still bothered me. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been walking more upright and with my shoulders back since I’m not worried about the visibility of my chest. It’s nice to have one less thing to think about.

2 Weeks Post Op

2 Weeks Post Op

7 Days Post Op

1 Week Post Op

10 Days Post Op

I just wanted to give a quick update on my recovery. All the pictures I’ve taken have different lighting and are from different distances, so it’s hard to make a comparison. I took the last picture myself (the first two were taken by Alex), so they should be more consistent from now on.

There is still quite a bit of swelling on my left side. I think it has gone down some, but I’m not really sure. It is getting slightly easier to move that arm though, so I think that’s a good indication. Also, the bruising seems to be going away. My nipples are looking more pink every day. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I also think the pictures make the scars look darker than they really are too. Everything seems to be coming along really nicely… I’m just really impatient about how long it seems to take the swelling to go down. Most post top surgery photos I’ve seen across the internet make it seem like they have no swelling at all. I don’t know if they make it seem that way to make it seem like they have perfect results or what.

I’m still having trouble sleeping. I think that will only get better when I can go back to my normal way of sleeping. I’m just glad that I’m not in school or have to study a lot for anything. That’d definitely make it more difficult.

In 10 days, I’ll get to go most of the day without the surgical compression vest. It’s getting pretty smelly. I mean, it was already smelly after 5 days of no showering and wearing it all the time, but I think it gets slightly worse. I’ll be really happy when I can wash it and not have to smell it all day.

10 Days Post Op

10 Days Post Op

7 Days Post Op

7 Days Post Op

6 Days Post Op

6 Days Post Op

14 Months on T

Yesterday was my 14 months on T. I’m a day late because Alex and I were on our way home, finally. I’m glad to be home. I’d do my normal photo update, but as I’m wearing a compression vest full-time (not to mention, I think there is still some bloating/swelling), it won’t really show much. Next month, I should be able to resume my regular photos. I’ll probably be posting more frequent photos anyway to show my healing progress.

Speaking of healing, my nipples are already looking noticeably different. They are gaining a more flesh colored tone, rather than looking purple. The swelling seems to be the same to me. It’s only been three days that I’ve seen my chest, though. I’m just impatient. When I push on my chest with my fingers, the right side is firm, while the left side is squishy. The only part that is itchy right now is where the holes for the drains were. The compression vest digs uncomfortably into my skin as the day goes on. I’m ready to be healed up and back in action. I’m hoping this time goes by quickly.

I’m feeling pretty exhausted after a week of getting crappy sleep. I’ve been waking up several times a night and not falling back asleep right away. This morning, I woke up around 6. I laid in bed trying to get comfortable enough to fall back asleep, but by 6:30 I got gave up and just got out of bed. Dr. Mosser said I could start sleeping on my side at 3 weeks. That should help some with my sleeping issues. He just wants to make sure the nipples have fully set into their positions. It makes me paranoid about any perceived movement I feel. The compression vest is pretty tight, so I doubt they move at all, but still. The lack of sleep wouldn’t be too bad, but it makes me concerned for my healing. I feel like I would heal faster if I could get some restful sleep consistently, but there’s not much I can do about it.

As far as transition updates, not much is going on beyond more hair. I think my acne is starting to calm down, with the exception of this past week. I think surgery and not being able to clean myself very well caused some minor break outs. I’m sure that will go away once I heal up some more.

Anyway, here’s a face comparison!

10 days on T

10 days on T

 

14 months on T

14 months on T

 

1 Year on Testosterone!

Now that I’ve been a year on testosterone, I’ve had a lot of time for self-reflection. This year has not been as easy as I thought it would be. Transitioning has consumed more of my mental energy than I ever thought it would. When I first began transitioning, I was a full-time student, working a part-time job (~20 hours a week), and volunteering in a research lab (~20 hours a week). On top of all that, I spent A LOT of free time doing research on trans related things: reading blogs, reading scientific journal articles, watching videos, etc.  I had also been accepted into my department’s contiguous B.S./M.S. program with the intention of completing a thesis by June 2014. It was overwhelming and exhausting.

Slowly, I began to realize it was probably too much for me. I couldn’t do ALL the things that I wanted to do. I quit my part-time job to focus more on research for my thesis. Even then, I felt stressed out. I kept thinking about how little time and relatively little guidance I had towards my thesis. By the end of November, I convinced myself that it would be impossible for me to complete my thesis by graduation time in June, but kept pushing along thinking that somehow I would pull through.

In August, I started CrossFit. As I got more into it, I began to realize how much all the stress was negatively impacting my health, both mentally and physically. In January, I officially quit my research position and decided that I would just take the comprehensive exam for my M.S. instead. Instantly, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I was finally able to take the time I’ve been needing for self-care. I think what made the final push was attending T*Camp at the beginning of January. It made me realize definitively that my health was more important than trying to do ALL the things. I figured I should take this opportunity to really focus on myself while I could. It’s the first time since being in school that I haven’t had to worry about how I’m going to pay my bills, etc. I am so thankful that my husband has allowed me this time, especially before I have to get a “real” job.

But still, even though it has been somewhat stressful, transitioning is one of the best things I have done. It’s definitely not easy. Coming out to people is hard. You just never know how someone will react. Will they treat you differently even if they say they are fine with it? For the most part, I’ve had a really positive experience with coming out and just going about my life. I am thankful for this because I know a lot of people don’t have such good experiences, and I really feel for them.

The one thing I’ve learned is that even though transitioning is wonderful, it can still be exhausting and overwhelming at times. To those who are thinking about or who are transitioning, make sure to give yourself that personal time you need. Sometimes it’s easy to think you can do everything, but I think it’s healthier to take a step back and drop some of the less important things. One of the reasons most people transition is for their own mental and emotional health, so don’t overdo it.

On to my photos!

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I can’t believe it’s been a year already. It went by slow and fast all at the same time. I also have less than 8 weeks until top surgery!

From now on, I’ll only be doing a photo update every other month. I feel like the changes are starting to slow down. A lot of my body composition changes from now on I think are mostly going to be from working out and eating right.

I am excited that the hair on my tummy is finally visible in these pictures without having to take a close up shot.

I’ll be posting some comparison photos either later on today or over the weekend. I also hope to get a sound clip of my voice posted.

Until then! =)

11 Months on T (continued)

All I can say is more hair. That’s about the only thing that I notice these days in terms of changes. I’m sure there are other changes, but they don’t really stand out to me.

I went out to lunch with my friends a couple of weeks ago. One of them accidentally called my she, but corrected herself. After that, she told me that she always thinks of me as August now and gets the pronouns right about 89% of the time. My other friend and I questioned her about the 89%, it seems like an odd number. She said she made it up, but she gets it almost all the time. This actually made me pretty happy to hear from my friends who have known me for a very long time (11 and 13 years) that they have changed the way they think about me now.

So, the reason this post is two days late is because I drove up to San Francisco to meet my surgeon, Dr. Mosser, for top surgery in person. My friend that I was staying with actually had surgery with him last summer, and he had a follow up appointment, so we ventured into the city together. It was actually pretty nice having someone to go with rather than going to the office by myself. I already had a virtual consult with Dr. Mosser back in October, but he took a look at my chest again. I have a lot of extra skin, so he reiterated that double mastectomy with free nipple graft is my best option. He also commented that it was good that I don’t have extra skin on my sides so that will make the scars slightly smaller. All in all, he and his staff were super friendly and nice. The hospital room is booked, and all I need to do is get my insurance papers in order. The only question I had was whether I should focus on muscle gain or fat loss. He told me that since I don’t have a lot of fat in that area to lose that for the best results it would be better to work on building up the pectoral muscles. So, that’s my goal for the next 3 months or so. I’m actually planning on talking to my coach tomorrow about the best way to approach this.  I will also be speaking to our nutritionist about how much and what types of food I should be eating in order to do this properly.

In other news, I won a free month of yoga for having the biggest improvement on one of the benchmark workouts we used to test our progress. I went to my first session this morning. It was pretty terrible, and by that I mean, I’m really not flexible. My muscles are super tight. They always have been. It was a good experience. I’m looking forward to see how I progress in the next month. The session I went to was at 8:30 this morning. I didn’t want to get up earlier than I had to, so I decided to do my injection after yoga. Normally, my muscles are pretty hard/tight, so I experience some resistance when sticking the needle in my leg. Today, it slid in so easily and was relatively painless. I definitely attribute that to doing yoga (it was hot yoga, at that. The room was around 95 degrees and pretty humid, so I was drenched in sweat by the end of it). I’m interested to see if this happens again next week (if I do yoga beforehand again).

The photos aren’t that great. I was in a rush this morning, and didn’t have time to take multiples. They’re also taken in a different location in my room now since I rearranged furniture after my roommates moved out. The shadows should be less variable now since I get more light from the window.

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20140327 Body

20140327 Full Body