My Top Surgery Journey

The story so far:
I was waiting until I was 18 so that I could travel to the mad fabled land of Victoria to get top surgery. Then once I'd turned 18, covid happened, barring me from travelling interstate. Even when things got better, I was worried about travelling to Victoria and getting stuck there. Eventually I decided I'd had enough. We might be dealing with the ebbs and flows of covid for years and years and I'm not going to wait around for it to be over to chop my bazoingas off.
This ended up being exactly the right choice - I got top surgery on July 22, 2022 and my results RULE.
Anyway, in the months leading up to top surgery, I used this weblog to talk about my thoughts and concerns. This was especially helpful since I decided pretty early on not to tell my friends that I was getting top surgery, opting instead to keep it a secret until about two months later, when I threw a surprise top surgery reveal party.

18/09/22, 4:24pm - 58 days post-op
Finally had my surprise top surgery reveal party yesterday! It was perfect. I welcomed everyone in, concealed in my big cloak that I'd made out of a black sheet from an op shop. I was regretting the cloak thing a few hours before the party because in the past few days we've truly left winter, and it was way too hot to be swathed in fabric. I stuck with it though, and it paid off because spending the first like, hour of the party dressed like some kind of shakespearean crone really helped generate a sense of mystery. I'd told my friends that there was a surprise and a secret theme, so everyone was asking stuff like "what's with the cloak? is it directly related to the surprise or is it just to generate mystique?" and I was having a great time giving small hints which only served to confuse people more - because of course, there's no chance they'd guess "secret top surgery" as the reason for the party. Then when the time came, I went into this storeroom/cupboard to take off the shirt I'd been wearing under the cloak and to start the music - Weird Al's 'Like a Surgeon', for obvious reasons. I went out with every part of me fully concealed by the cloak and bobbed in time to the music for the first two choruses, then when the chorus started, I very quickly yanked off the cloak, revealing my chest. Like my chest itself, the reveal was better than I'd even hoped.
After the reveal, we all talked for a bit and I explained everything about when I'd had top surgery, who knew the secret and why, etc. Then I blew some bubbles for my dog to play with for a bit, and brought out the boob cupcakes. After everyone had had cake, I brought out the pass-the-parcel. It contained:

There were a few of each of these, with the greatest thing - a bunch of shirts I'd screen-printed to say "I PARTIED MY TITS OFF at Andy's surprise top surgery reveal party" with a little cartoon of me on a guillotine getting my boobs cut off. Making those shirts was so fucking stressful because I had a bunch of setbacks so I only got them finished on Thursday, so I was super relieved that a) they were finished in time, and b) my friends loved them.
The last thing we did was tie dyeing the shirts, which only about half of us did because the other half wanted to keep them white.
I'm so happy that it turned out so well, and equally happy that I can be open now.

2/08/22, 5:09pm - 11 days post-op
Yikes! I was planning on just typing up my entries from immediately before and after surgery and not actually writing anything today, but that last entry leaves kind of a scary cliffhanger. Don't worry, everything was fine!! The nurses forgot to put gauze between the medical binder and my incisions when I was leaving the hospital. A small amount of bleeding is fine and normal, and the only reason it was showing through the binder and freaking me out was because there wasn't any gauze there. Phew! I do still wish I'd spent another night in hospital, though, cause that shit was scary. I ended up messaging my friend who took care of their now-ex boyfriend when he was recovering from top surgery with the same surgeon, so that was very reassuring. Plus, it's not as though it's going to ruin the surprise for anyone at the party, because this friend currently lives on the other side of the country.
Anyway, everything was fine, and the nurse at my one-week review said that everything so far is healing perfectly. I mentioned in the last entry that I got to see my chest the morning after surgery. I was expecting it to be a lot gorier than it was, but actually it looked great. I've only had like, one small bruise this whole time, which is crazy.
I do have to say, though, that after 11 days of rest and recovery, I'm sick to death of it. Especially the pain and lack of mobility. Can't wait to be able to live my life normally.

23/07/22, 11:38pm - 1 day post-op
I got to see my chest for the first time this morning and it was perfect, but just now I noticed spots of blood leaking through my surgical binder and now I'm totally scared that I've fucked something up and I'm going to lose a nipple or something. Wish I'd stayed another night at the hospital. I'd be way less scared there. Since I'm at home, I don't even know who I'm meant to ask for help since it's almost midnight on the weekend. I hate this medical binder. I hope everything's ok. To have everything this good and then lose that would be so devastating.

22/07/22, 8:40am - surgery today!
Still in the waiting room but now I have my phone with me so I know what time it is. The fact that soon I'll go to sleep and wake up post-op keeps hitting me and I'm glad I'm wearing a mask to hide my total glee.
People keep leaving and getting changed into surgical gowns or whatever along with dressing gowns and those hairnets for feet. Hope I'm next.
One guy here is asleep, if you can believe it.
I have my backpack with me, which is annoying cause I meant to leave it with my mum. Everyone else has just one bag but I have my backpack and the li [the note cuts off here because I was called up by a nurse to get changed and hand over all of my things, which I didn't get back until that night]

22/07/22, some time not long after 8am - surgery today!
I'm in the second waiting room and Mum has my phone, which I only just realised. You wait for admission and then they take you to a second, secret waiting area. There are two TVs but almost everyone else is facing one that's right over my head, to it feels like everyone is looking at me.
I'm wearing shorts that are entirely too short. In my sneakers and shorts and hawaiian shirt and jumper I look like an English dad who's up early coaching a soccer team.
Man, I'm so hungry. I've been up since 5 and I've been hungry the whole time. I'm not even tired, even through I had 4 hours of sleep. I'm just HUNGRY and getting thirsty. Can't wait to be knocked out.

21/07/22 (still), 9:06pm - surgery (still) tomorrow!
Ok, I just shaved my chest. First of all, shaving boobs is way harder than you'd expect. Second of all, I'm having a complete freak-out worrying that I've fucked up by shaving my chest. What if I wasn't meant to and now I can't get surgery tomorrow because of it? I was fully convinced that I should've just let it be by the time I finished one boob, but then I shaved the other one anyone because, well, it would be fucking weird if I showed up with just ONE boob shaved. Man, I'm a wreck at the moment. I'm just so worried about any little thing that might fuck it all up. Oh well. What's done is done, I guess, and since it's too late to call the surgeon's rooms about it, I guess I'll just have to see what she has to say about it tomorrow.

21/07/22, 1:44pm - surgery TOMORROW!!
I have the same dread I felt before I went on T, where I feel as though at the last moment something's going to go wrong and it'll turn out that I can't get surgery at all. I'm trying not to think about it. Apart from travel anxiety, that fear that it'll be snatched away when it's so close I can taste it is the only thing holding me back from total giddiness. I don't know how I'll be able to sleep tonight. I just keep thinking "this time tomorrow..."
Today, I washed my binder. Tomorrow morning, I'll put it on for the last time. Then I'll leave my house and go to the hospital, where I'll go to sleep and wake up high, and then I'll spend the rest of the day and the whole night in the hospital, and then I'll come home. Then I'll spend a week watching tv and sleeping badly and then I'll go back to my surgeon's offices and have my drains out and see my new and improved chest. I'm so excited. I don't particularly care if the drive sucks. I've had panic attacks in cars on the way to hospitals before. I'm not looking forward to trying to fall asleep tonight, but I've slept badly before. I'm not looking forward to waking up early tomorrow morning, but I'll live.
It's finally happening!

20/07/22, 3:36pm - 2 days until surgery.
My mum read a bunch of articles this morning about what the best foods to eat while recovering from surgery are, so now our fridge is the most stocked it's been in the past few years. While she was out shopping, the surgeon's rooms called with my check-in and fasting times - I need to be at the hospital at 8am, the latest I can eat is 3am, and I can drink 250ml of water an hour until 8. That means we'll be travelling during rush hour, so I am NOT looking forward to the drive there.
Had the same experience last night of trying to sit sleeping up, failing to fall asleep for 2.5 hours, lying down, and immediately falling asleep. No nightmares this time, though.
Washed my bedding this afternoon and my damn sheet is torn, so now I'm using this pink one from the cupboard which I think used to belong to my Pop.
Tossing up on whether or not to shave my chest before surgery. I know you're meant to shave your armpits, mostly for ease of cleaning while you can't shower, but nobody's told me whether you're meant to shave the area that's being operated on. I think I'm just going to do it, but also man it'll be weird and dysphoric to see my chest without chest hair.
Another thing off my list, I used up the last of my sweet potatoes last night. I used them in a soup with lentils and corn, which turned out really well. I kind of wish I'd made it later, cause I doubt there'll be any left by the time I get back from the hospital, but we'll see.

19/07/22, 12:22pm - 3 days until surgery.
Man, I haven't been particularly SCARED about like, something going wrong with recovery or like, my results being all fucked up or something until last night I had this string of nightmares which involved that kind of thing (among other more universal nightmares, about driving and stuff), about my boobs barely being smaller or my nipples being split open like fruit or accidentally massively stretching out my scars while sleeping. Woke up unusually emotional. I'm just so tired of all this planning and waiting and not knowing and worrying. I want to wake up tomorrow and have it all be finished.
I remember when I was booking my surgery date, I had the option of either Wednesday (tomorrow) or Friday (3 days away) and I went with Friday so that the first two days of recovery would be on the weekend - I did this to minimise the amount of work my mum would have to miss. At the time, I remember thinking "ha, I bet when I get really close to July 22, I'm going to be mad with myself that I didn't book surgery for the Wednesday". Well, I wasn't wrong. It'll be worse tomorrow and the day after, I'll bet, because I'll know that there's a world in which the surgery's already done.

I still don't know when in the day my surgery will be. I hope it's not early enough in the morning that we'll be in rush hour traffic, but I also hope it's not particularly late in the day. Maybe it's because I spoke to my godmother the other day, but I keep thinking about when I was seven and my family went and visited my godmother and her family in Switzerland, where they live. Travelling internationally and getting surgery have a lot in common, what with all the panic and planning and being expected to sleep in uncomfortable positions. Anyway, our flight left sometime in the afternoon pretty deep in the afternoon I think because I don't think we left for the airport until after midday, but I was excited and had been counting down the days (you have to understand, this trip remains the only time I've left the country to this day, and even the thought of being on a plane was unbelievably thrilling) so I was up early in the morning and ready to go, and I remember sitting waiting on the front steps with my little AFL AusKick backpack for hours while my family, who all had a better grasp on time than I did, took their time getting ready. I don't know why that feels so relevant. I guess I kind of feel the same way I did back then. When you're super ready for something, having to wait and wait feels worse and worse.

18/07/22, 12:16pm - 4 days until surgery.

There's other stuff too like buying lozenges, and stuff which I need to buy but can technically send members of my family off to get post-op. I've given up fully on getting my curtain back up before surgery, because I'd have to go to bunnings and I'm too scared of getting sick for that. At this stage, I'm very focused on these granular things which I need to do and the minute adjustments I can make to make recovery easier.
I might write entries for this weblog immediately before and/or shortly after surgery, like while I'm still in the hospital, but they probably won't show up on here for a while.
I'm looking at routes to get to the hospital, and while it kind of depends on the time of day, I don't think the drive will be too bad.
I slept sitting up last night. I slid down a fair bit during the night but all in all it wasn't too bad!

15/07/22, 2:15 pm - 7 days until surgery!
We're really on the home stretch now! Surgery is one week away. This time next week, I could be on my way to the hospital, or waiting in the hospital, or being operated on, or waking up with no boobs. This morning my brother and I watched a new episode of a TV show and I felt annoyed that I'm not going to see the next episode as soon as it comes out because I'll probably be in the hospital. Imagine that! It's so current and real now that it almost feels like it's already happened. I was thinking about the whole thing - the waiting and preparation, the surgery, the recovery - last night and thinking about how even after surgery it's not until later that I'll get to see my chest, and it'll be even later until it looks normal. We place a lot of importance on the actual surgery, the 1.5 hours or so you spend on an operating table, but really it's just one day in the middle of a long process, you know? I know I'm kind of repeating myself here, but when I went on T I was very sensible and realistic about the fact that I wouldn't be changed by it immediately, but it's harder to do that with surgery because I know that this change will begin much more suddenly.
Anyway, I'm at the point now where I've resolved not to leave the house until surgery, as to avoid being coughed on etc by the hordes of anti-mask conspiracy hippies in my town. I'm just going to hunker down, eat sweet potatoes every day because I just harvested a bunch from my garden, ride my exercise bike, take my zinc and vitamin c, write, play stardew valley, and hope that the germs don't make it inside my house.

9/07/22, 4:49pm - 13 days until surgery.
Holy shit! Every time I don't add to this weblog for a few days and let myself stop counting the days, it's like I've suddenly jumped way forward in time. Surgery is now less than two weeks away.
I had lunch with my grandparents on thursday, and they wished me luck and gave me advice - they're both retired medical people (my granny was a nurse and my granfer drove ambulances for years) so they've got some level of expertise, plus old people just kind of know about surgery from it happening to them and their friends. They've made me really nervous about it getting postponed because on the day there's a scratch on my leg or something, but I've never heard of that happening with top surgery and anyway I'm being really careful.
The same fear of postponement has caused me to be seized by hypochondria. All of a sudden I have COVID, sunstroke, and a UTI (all in my head, of course).

The prepping of my room for recovery is almost done, excluding putting my curtain up and some stuff that'll only be done the day before. My big sitting pillow is here, and I'm trying to get myself used to using it. My method at the moment to get myself adjusted is to try waking up in the morning and going back to sleep in a sitting position. I THINK it worked this morning, but I'm not sure. Also, I think that when it comes to sleeping, the neck pillow might do more harm than good, since the sound of the foam filling moving around is so fucking loud in your ears.
Having the sitting pillow is allowing me to troubleshoot issues with my setup. For example, my milk crate/bedside table is too far back to easily reach from the pillow, so I'll need to move it forward.
I'm also worried about sliding down and rolling onto my side in my sleep. You know what I wish I had? The sleeping setup from the ISS. Weightless but strapped in place.

3/07/22, 3:31pm - 19 days until surgery.
I watched Everything Everywhere All at Once last night and immediately had to call my surgeon and cancel my top surgery, because that movie blew my tits clean OFF.
Man, I'm glad that the surgery's soon, but I'm going to miss making that joke every time I see something really cool. Maybe I can adapt it so that it's applicable post off. Like maybe when I wanna stress how crazy something was, I rip open my shirt and say "you see these scars? I got them when that shit blew my tits clean off" or something. OH SHIT, speaking of shit that blew my tits clean off, I caught the train to art therapy on Friday. First of all, remind me to never ride the train on a friday afternoon again. But also, as soon as I left the house it became clear that something was just kind of awry about the whole day. Lots of sirens, lots of people driving weird. Then while I was at the train station, I saw a magpie carrying a WHOLE RAT. Woah! I had no idea magpies were that strong. I tried to look up how much weight a magpie can carry, but there doesn't seem to be figures on it. They steal sets of keys sometimes, but I don't know that keys weighs more than a rat.
The weirdness didn't stop there though. Once I was off the train, I saw a guy driving a car while actively eating rice with chopsticks.
Another thing that's crazy is the fact that surgery is only 19 days away. Less than 20 days, can you believe it? I'm having the same kind of dreams I had around the time I scheduled my first consult, where I'm running late for the surgery. Actually, I'm having really vivid dreams in general. Last night I had a dream that I set my hair on fire in a mcdonalds and watched in the bathroom mirror as my head went up in flames. It was amazing. But that's off-topic.
I got this lamp yesterday that holds two bulbs and that we've set up to be controlled by my phone or by voice activation, so that it'll be easier to turn lights on and off when I'm post-op. The original plan was that my brother might buy it off me later, but I kind of dig the dark, towering presence it provides from its place in the corner of my room.

29/06/22, 9:58pm - 23 says until surgery.
I know it's bad writing to start every other entry this way, but MAN is it feeling close at this point! Although in a weird way, the closer it gets the slower it seems to approach. The closer it gets, the more irritating it is that it hasn't happened yet. I watched this video by a woman talking about her experience of getting a breast reduction last night, and even though she and I have very different reasons for getting boob surgery, I relate a lot to many of her leading up to the surgery. In particular, she spoke about how in the time between her consult and her surgery date, she became even more hyper-aware of her body and that made it even harder to tolerate her body in the mean time. I ABSOLUTELY feel that same way right now. I'd bet that's the way it is with most people waiting for a life-improving surgery, but don't think any of the videos I'd watched talked about it until that one.
Seriously, I'm so aware of my tits all the time right now. I've always hated the feeling of them moving when I walk, but at the moment it's right at the front of my mind. My boobs, boobing, boobily. Putting on a binder and having to deal with that patented gc2b armpit boob is more infuriating than ever.

I've been taking my therapist's advice of making the recovery period less scary by planning what media to watch while I'm bedridden, so that I'm partially even looking forward to being stuck in bed. It's working, by the way! Whenever I see something I'd like to watch or rewatch, I think to myself "hell yeah, this'll help pass time during recovery!" Although I have to be mindful of the fact that it may be uncomfortable/damaging to LAUGH for a while, which sucks cause I'm a total laugher. Also, I'm assuming that I'm not going want to draw while I'm bedridden, and probably not read either since I never feel like reading when I'm sick and that's the closest experience I have to base my assumptions on. Those things are easy fixes though, cause all my art supplies are in my room and I've got plenty of books both on my phone and on my bedside table.

28/06/22, 5:46pm - 24 days until surgery.
My mum has a cold and I'm kind of stressing about it. She did a rat test which came back negative but even so, I'm scared of catching whatever she's got because if you have a productive cough (yuck) in the four to six weeks before surgery you need to "contact the rooms and discuss with your surgeon". I can hear her coughing aggressively in the kitchen right now. Terrifying.

24/06/22, 2:02pm - 28 days until surgery.
My mum continues to tell anyone who will listen about my upcoming surgery. She's been doing this for weeks and while I found it kind of annoying at first, cause what business of theirs is my top surgery, but honestly at a certain point it's more funny and sweet. It's kind of crazy how far she's come since I came out, when she openly opposed me being trans. I think part of why she's so supportive now is because she feels guilty about how things were in the first year or so after I came out. Not that I'm complaining!
Anyway, because word of my top surgery is being broadcast to everyone my mum encounters, I'm getting a lot of messages of support from unexpected places. For example, one of my mum's coworkers is apparently very excited for me, paritally because he's also getting top surgery in a few months! He's cisgender, but apparently there's a genetic thing in his family where all of the men have boobs (probably all of the women too, but that's not that notable).
More unexpected support came in the form of a message I recieved this morning from my Granny & Granfer. My Granny said that when she had her mastectomy, it wasn't as bad as she expected, and that the worst part was having the drains out, although it was easier for her because she only had to worry about one side. I didn't even know that my Granny had had a mastectomy - we're not related by blood so I guess it's not relevant to me in terms of family medical history. It seems as though when you've got an upcoming mastecomy, it's revealed to you that everyone you've ever met has either had one or is about to have one too!

22/06/22, 3:15pm - 30 days until surgery!
Surgery is one month to the day away! Can you believe it? I'm a blur of excitement.
I went to the op shops after surgery yesterday to get stuff for recovery. I got a neck pillow, along with a few button-up shirts and pairs of pants because everybody says "wear sweatpants to surgery" because of comfort and ease of dressing and undressing. I have some doubts about how necessary that'll be because most of the people saying this seem to be wear tighter pants in everyday life than I do. Still, good to prepare for. I also got this shirt which I love and which looks so good on me it's like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants but with only one person. It also only cost a dollar, which even for the op shops is a bargain considering it's in perfect condition. Auspicious!
Mum asked me today if I'm nervous. It's a difficult question to answer, because while I'm nervous about certain specifics - the small possibility of dying, going under general anaesthetic for the first time, sleeping in hospital, the drive home - I'm really not nervous about the surgery itself. I'm ready for it to be done already.

Speaking of Mum, I was talking to her and Grandma the other day about going under general anaesthesia. I think Mum's got some sort of mild trauma around anaesthesia. She was talking about how it's scary and weird and like dying a bit, and I was kind of surprised because I didn't know that she'd been under general anaesthesia, so I asked when she had been. She said something like "when your brother was born because there were complications" but then corrected herself and said she'd had "another procedure" later, when I was little, but that she'd been under a few times for "procedures". Because of the vague way she phrased it and the timeline, I think I know what she was talking about. I just didn't realise that they put you under during abortions. Anyway, mum's experience of anaesthesia being limited to abortion and complications with the birth of her firstborn would explain why she feels that way about anaesthesia. Grandma is more positive - says it's just like going to sleep, or even just like losing focus for a moment, but that when she woke up from her leg surgery years ago (motorcycle injury) she was shaking uncontrollably even though she wasn't scared or anything, and that a nurse explained to her that it was because your body knows it's been through a huge shock.
Anyway, while mum was talking about how scary it is to go under general anaesthetic, she was saying how it's like dying. And she said "It really is like dying for a little bit. I think the greek root of the word 'anaesthesia' means 'the little death'" and I had to look at that poor woman who was clearly recalling some shit and tell her "You're thinking of la petite mort, which DOES mean 'the little death', but it's french, not latin, and it means orgasm". For the record, I then looked it up and the greek root of "anaesthetic" means "insensible/imperceptible".

20/06/22, 2:36pm - 32 days until surgery.
It's really feelin' close! Called the surgery to clear up some questions abt finance - my surgeon isn't registered with my health fund's medicover plan, which isn't ideal, but that's life. Should I do a will? The only thing I really care about is that my nudes etc are destroyed, Aubrey Beardsley style. Maybe I'll write it down and seal it with "only open in case of my death" on it or something. I heard that a note you've just kinda written and signed does count as a legally binding will, but only if it's handwritten, so I guess I'll do that. I'm not gonna bother googling it though, cause I don't actually care that much whether it's legally binding so long as my friend gets the right instructions, and anyway I don't think I'll die.
After seeking counsel from my various family members, I've chosen to stay overnight at the hospital, which is kinda freaky. I chose to do it because of course it's better to be where the professionals are, but also I'm lucky enough that I've never stayed in a hospital before - never even been in a hospital bed. Actually, that last bit might not be true - I have a vague memory of briefly being in a bed at some hospital when I broke my arm when I was 6. Slight tangent, but the whole saga of me breaking my arm as a kid was crazy, cause I broke my arm on the first day staying with family friends on an island (the same island my mum is constantly on now) which had no hospitals on it. Also, due to an entirely unrelated injury I'd gotten playing baseball the day before, my pyjama pants were cemented to my knee by a disgusting mass of scab, so I had to take the ferry back to the mainland in my pyjamas and in pain. Actually, however much it hurt, I remember even at the time thinking "sure, I can't seem to move my fingers, but my arm can't possibly be broken, because surely a broken bone hurts more than this". I've had that feeling a lot since, about different things. Anyway, when we got to the mainland I don't know what was going on - maybe it was a holiday or just the weekend - but for some reason my mum couldn't find someone who was willing to treat me, so we were ping-ponged arounds between hospitals for hours while they refused me painkillers. That experience and going on T are my main hospital experiences. This hospital experience will be better than that, I should hope.

17/06/22. 7:06pm - 35 days until surgery.
Ok, it's really starting to feel close now! 35 days, holey moley!
My mum was on the phone last night and she was talking about my surgery. I'm not sure what exactly she was talking about or to who, but at one point I heard her loudly and angrily(?) saying "there's a big difference between wanting to have children and wanting to breastfeed". Huh? I mean sure, but who the hell is she talking to who's saying shit about me having kids and breastfeeding? I wish she'd just put me on the phone, cause I've got a thing or two to say to anyone who asks "what about breastfeeding?". When I went on isotretinoin it was kind of eye-opening as to how ridiculous the amount of screening you have to go through to get gender-affirming care is. Isotretinoin has the potential to fuck up your whole situation both physically and mentally, permanently in some cases - damage to your vision can be permanent, and the medication can make you suicidal. Since I have a history of mental illness, I needed a note from my therapist (my regular therapist, not even a specialist) saying I was mentally stable enough and aware of the risks. Apart from that, the only red tape was that I had to sign something promising not to get pregnant while on the medication, and promise that there was no chance that in the future I'd become a pilot. I didn't have to show that I had a persistent, well-documented desire not to be a pilot!
Anyway, I'm watching videos of drain-emptying right now. I know they'll show me how it should be done at the hospital, but chances are I'm gonna need help from my mum emptying them, and I want to find some videos to show her to prepare her.

15/06/22, 4:48pm - 37 days until surgery.
Second consult went good! I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the second consult, so I assumed it would be more or less like the first one - sitting down with my surgeon to talk surgery. That IS how it starts, but I probably spoke to my surgeon for about a minute, cause I didn't really have many questions, except "could I maybe get a broad timeline of recovery", to which the answer was no, cause it's so individual. That's the reply I was expecting, though.
That's the first part, and then they kick you back to the waiting room and the nurse comes to get you. Then the MAIN part of the second consult begins - getting photographed and fitted for the surgical garment. I was kind of expecting getting my chest photographed to be weirder or more awkward or something, cause I'm boring and I haven't really had my tits out around a stranger before, but it really wasn't. It's much more awkward to be walking around fully clothed with my chest all day than to be shirtless for a few minutes in front of a medical professional. Wait, what am I saying? I've totally had to be fully shirtless around a stranger before, when I was like 16 and had to get my heart rate monitored or whatever with those wires that they stick onto your chest. I guess I wasn't TITS OUT then because I had a piece of that weird blue medical paper fabric stuff to cover the boys with. That was wayyyy worse than this though, cause I was in a bad mental place at the time, had recent self-inflicted cuts, had just had a panic attack, and wasn't on T yet so I was more uncomfortable with my chest. Totally different situation.
The second consult has to be at least two weeks before surgery, but boy am I glad that mine was 5-ish weeks before surgery because now I've got time to take in all the instructions for the final two weeks before surgery. Did you know that you can't take vitamins or drink herbal teas or green tea for two weeks before the topsy? However, they DO reccomend you take vitamin C and zinc to aid healing. Also, you need to refrain from eating salty foods for two days before and two days after surgery. I'd never heard that before!
I also need to have my forms done and do digital check-in at the hospital by two weeks from surgery - 8th of July is two weeks prior for me, by the way. They only need you to scan and send the pages that you fill out, rather than ALL of them, which is a relief. I might try printing out just those pages at home, cause my bitch of a printer can't get through the whole thing and I wanna avoid going to officeworks.

Tuesday 14/06/22, 5:28pm - 38 days until surgery
Had an absolute comeapart this afternoon because I thought I needed to change my PIN because my second consult is tomorrow and I assumed I'd need to pay the same amount for the second as the first. I proceeded to spend an hour having issues with the bank, and once the issue was identified, it became clear that there was kind of nothing I could do about it but wait, which was NO GOOD cause the consult's tomorrow. I was freaking out to the point where I called my mother in a panic and explained the problem, and she said that I should call the clinic and ask to pay early by direct transfer, so I did that and to my surprise, they said that there isn't actually a cost for the second consult, so crisis averted.
I'm very tired right now. I've been trying to get my sleep schedule into a good place, so there's that jetlaggy kinda disconnect, and yesterday I had art therapy which I had to get up kinda early for (well, didn't HAVE to, but my anxiety forces me to plan journeys fully expecting every little thing to go wrong) and spend a kinda long time on the train to get to, and today I did a bunch of cleaning. Needless to say, I am NOT looking forward to getting up early tomorrow to go to this consult. At least it's not too long a train trip, about half an hour and since mum's coming home tonight I'll be able to drive to the station. I'd drive the whole way only I'm scared of trying to navigate the valley by car, and anyway it's not enough of a travel time difference between driving the whole way vs just driving to the station and taking the train.
Anyway, what do you think of my top surgery themed art? I finished that one in the top right corner yesterday in art therapy. Those stiches that nurse is doing? That's real thread which I stiched into the collage, which is pretty cool, plus I always love to do a montage of skin. I'm pretty proud of both of them.

Sunday 12/6/22, 12:06am - 40 days until surgery.
40 days! I'm so excited. The other day I was at my grandma's place (we live in the same house but she lives in her own apartment downstairs) and she has one of those photo storage-and-display box things where you can have a bunch of photos in there and only have one showing at a time, and I noticed that the picture that she's got on display at the moment is this one of me as a kid, having a bath in this big laundry sink she used to bathe us kids in when we were little. I was probably about four in this photo, maybe on the older side of three. Normally, seeing pictures of me shirtless before puberty makes me feel kind of sad, kind of dysphoric I guess - like I'm seeing something that I didn't appreciate enough when I had it and which I can't get back. I remember being 11 and thinking "I guess this is it forever until I die" and dearly hoping that there's such a thing as reincarnation so that this for lack of a better term be-titted existence wasn't FOREVER forever. 11 and looking forward to death. Jeez, that's sad to think about.
At the time, I remember feeling angry that I hadn't appreciated not having boobs enough while it lasted. I don't know that that's true. It was my natural state of being, especially since I'd never known anything else and since it never really occurred to me that I was going to have boobs one day - I'd always imagined that I'd grow up to be a man and go through a typical "male" puberty. In many ways I was right, but when I was 11 I didn't have any way of knowing that. At the time, I was in the midst of a rude awakening where I was confused and angry at myself for not appreciating what I had.
Anyway, seeing that photo now, so close to my surgery, was a trip because like, I'm about to be free from it all. I'm about to have a flat chest like I figured I'd always have. Of course, it's not the seamless transition I'd imagined as a kid. Most obviously, I'll have scars, and it's not like top surgery's going to give me a dick (unless some REALLY wacky mishaps take place in the hospital). But isn't that adulthood? This is real life, and real life doesn't need to be exactly how I figured they'd turn out when I was a kid. But gender-wise, I'm closing in on a version of real life that's a whole lot better than what I ever could've imagined it could be when I was 11, and I'm really glad for that.

Tuesday 7/06/22, 3:35pm - 45 days until surgery.
45 days, can you believe it? I haven't updated this weblog or checked how many days it was in a while as I was busy, and suddenly it's so much closer. I think it's only really going to feel close once it gets below 30 days though, or possibly it won't feel super close until July. My brother was trying to tell me last night that it'll sneak up on me, which I denied, but we'll see. I guess he does have more surgery experience than me, so maybe this is a whole phenomenon. And again, part of me thinks that there'll be this part of me that refuses to believe that it's actually happening until it's actually happened, like with T.
My second consult with my surgeon is in about a week, and I'm looking forward to it. Come to think of it, I should probably start making a list of questions to ask, like I did with the first consult. Mostly questions about the specifics of recovery times, cause even though I KNOW that everyone's different, I want to build a projected timeline.

Sunday 29/05/22, 2:56pm - 54 days until surgery.
I went to my best friend's birthday party last night and ended up staying over because when I was trying to get a rideshare at 1:30am the internet was closed until further notice, so I'm slightly hungover as I write this. It was a great party, although there were a few moments where I almost mentioned stuff relating to top surgery and blew up my spot.
Allow me to explain.
At the very beginning of me actively pursuing top surgery, I decided to keep it a secret from my friends in order to have a beach day with everyone where I just whip off my shirt and surprise everyone. Funny enough, but in the months since then the beach day idea has snowballed into me planning what may be the best and funniest party of the century.
Picture this: you are invited to a party at my house. This in itself is kind of weird and mysterious, since I'm a recluse who has never thrown a party that was any more than a movie night. You have received instructions to simply enter the patio via the back gate and to make yourself at home (there will have to be signs up so that my friends don't accidentally home-invade my neighbours, who on either side have some pretty big dogs). You enter as instructed. There's music playing and snacks and drinks out, but I'm nowhere to be seen - I am upstairs, and will only emerge when everyone has arrived. Once everyone's there, the music that has been playing at an ambient volume until now comes to an abrupt halt, and is replaced with something else, possibly chopin's funeral march, as I descend the stairs in a floor-length black robe, head bowed and face concealed. I slowly take my place in front of everyone, and again the music stops. There is a pregnant pause, and another piece of music starts (I'm THINKING weird al's 'like a surgeon', although there are other songs which are still in the running). As the new music starts, I tear away the cloak. I am shirtless and, shockingly, post-op. I then proceed to perform a choreographed (or, realistically, semi-choreographed) dance routine. Naturally, everyone is losing their fucking minds. After (or possibly during) the dance routine, a boob-shaped cake is brought out.
That's the broad strokes of it. At first, I was planning on having it be very funeral-themed - I have this thing I made ages ago as a joke where I took a template for those programs you get at the beginning of funerals and made a joke funeral program for my tits - you know, "Andy's tiddies will be remembered by those who knew them as "like if Chewbacca had big anime honkers". They are survived by their two nipples", "Please join us following the service for a reception at the nearest rock-climbing gym, a location sure to remind us of Andy's absolute fuckin boulders", a ridiculous poem, an order of services which included speeches from my left nipple and my right nipple as well as a choir singing 'Milkshake' by Kelis, that sort of thing. So when I started thinking about this as a party, at first I was very married to the idea of it being very much funeral-themed - everyone is told to wear black, there's floral arrangements, everyone has to sit in chairs with an aisle down the row.
The thing is, I feel like it would be hard to make my patio/backyard look like a stereotypical funeral. Whenever I try and put it together in my head, it ends up looking a bit shit. So I think it's going to end up being themed around boobs and top surgery in general. I'll go into the specifics of THAT plan another time.

Friday 27/05/22, 4:17pm - 56 days until surgery.
So, I've done a lot of googling and a lot of youtubing wrt what to wear to the hospital and while recovering on surgery, and everyone pretty much says the same thing - loose shirts that button at the front, and track pants. Basically, you wanna dress like Ricky from the hit TV show Trailer Park Boys. To your right, you'll see that I've prepared a helpful mnemonic to help you remember how to dress for top surgery.

Fun fact: since my surgery date is July 22, my new chest will share a birthday with George Clinton, Rufus Wainwright, and Willem Dafoe.

I'm really trying to keep my excitement in check. I managed that really well when I went on T, because I don't know how things are in other places but at the children's hospital where I went on T, it's like a year where appointments alternate between them making you testify your identity and them managing your expectations about going on T, warning you that you might get acne or gain a ton of weight or grow an untenable amount of body hair or that your voice might still be high and you might never be able to grow a beard or whatever, and you have to understand all that if you want to go on hormones. So much so that when I finally went on T, I was basically prepared to get MORE feminine, and every change with the exception of acne (because even divorced from appearance, acne huuuurts) was fantastic. So I'm trying to use that same sort of thinking with surgery, but the thing is I'm not some pessimistic 17-year-old any more and I know that logically, there's no way in hell I'm going to wake up after surgery with BIGGER tits, unless there's some sort of wacky Jane the Virgin-style mixup. That would naturally lead to a rom-com type sequence of events where I meet whichever poor woman went in for a boob job only to wake up having had the old toppy choppy and while at first our personalities clash, we eventually fall in love. Even in that, the totally impossible worst-case scenario, I at least find love.
The closest that can happen in REALITY is that I'll hate my results, but I mean, it'll still be flat and it'll still be mine, you know? And with T, most changes take a while to kick in (VISIBLE changes, anyway - you're really warm and so horny to the point where it feels like you might be going insane within the week), whereas surgery you go to sleep pre-op and wake up post-op (hopefully). But I know it's not as binary as that - I won't even see my chest for a while after surgery, and even once the surgical binder and dressings come off, there's still healing to be done. Not to mention - and this is something I've thought about a lot - my beloved chest hair will be shaved before surgery, and since I haven't shaved my chest before, I don't know how long it'll take to grow back. So in a way it's as much of a waiting game as T is.

Oh, also, good news! My brother always complains about my cooking and says he'll buy me a sitting pillow for surgery recovery as long as I read and internalise Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.

Saturday 21/05/22, 1:24am - 62 days until surgery.
Preparation mode. Preparing for surgery feels kind of like preparing to have a baby in that it's a lot of thinking about what you need to bring to the hospital and what you need to have ready when you get back. I've watched videos about preparing for top surgery before, mostly when I was younger because when you're a young trans person who isn't supported in their transition it means a lot to watch that sort of thing in order to imagine your future, and it feels kind of crazy to finally be watching them in order to prepare for my imminent rather than distant future.
Below is a list I've compiled of things I'm going to try and get prior to surgery to have at home:

And to bring to the hospital with me: The only one of these which ISN'T something recommended by one video or another is the sleep mask, which is on the list because a month or so ago, curtain brackets in my room fell out of the fucking wall. When I tried to install new brackets, I discovered that you can't actually get screws or wall plugs far enough into that particular bit of wall to properly attach brackets - that was why the last set of brackets got fucked up. Fortunately I have roller storm shutters on the outside of my window so I can at least kind of control the amount of light coming through my window but it still fucking sucks, and also I'm worried that while I'm recovering, the limited range of movement I'll have will prevent me from being able to turn the crank thing that brings the shutters up and down. So, I need to prepare for the possibility of not being able to block outside light from my room in any way.
The list of stuff to bring to the hospital is kind of complicated because I don't know whether I'll be there overnight or not. I hope not - my ideal surgery timetable is like, early-ish in the morning and home before rush hour, but that's getting back to the issue of what the drive home will be like. I saw someone say that after surgery on the day, the drugs make you fall-asleep-if-you're-sitting-still-for-more-than-a-second tired, which is kiiind of good news because it means hopefully I'll be asleep on the drive home, but also I can't count on that. One time, at the height of my anxiety, I agreed to a 1.5-hour-long car journey on the terms that I'd be knocked out on sleeping pills the whole time, only I didn't fall asleep and it was the most nightmarish experience of my life, so you understand why I can't just say to myself "I'll be asleep the whole drive". Come to think of it, that experience of being drugged up and panicking for what seemed like forever on the highway is probably part of why thinking about the drive back makes me so nervous.

Wednesday 18/05/22, 6:23pm - 65 days until surgery.
Is it weird that the thing I'm most nervous about wrt surgery is the car ride home? Allow me to explain: I'm pretty bad with car travel. Without going too much into it, being in a car is the perfect mix of trapped and exposed to really fuck with my agoraphobia. I've also never been under anaesthetic, never been prescribed painkillers (I have been on opiates, I don't remember which because they weren't prescribed to me lol, and frankly I ended up regretting the whole experience because I forgot that I had to vote like 3 hours after I took them. Ended up being a really fucking weird voting experience for unrelated reasons too, but that's another story) so I kind of don't know what I'm going to be like a few hours after surgery. I also don't know what TIME it's going to be in the day when I'm headed home because they don't tell you when in the day the operation is until like two days before, so there's a lot of variables that are putting me on edge. Also, there's a chance that the ride home will be chiller than ever before.
Here's the thing - even if I am panicking on the way back, that's just a terrible car ride. I've had those before. The main thing I'm actually SCARED of is getting COVID right before I'm meant to have surgery, but I have slightly more influence over that. I'm going to a party in 10 days time and then after that I'm going to spend two months totally isolated, slathered in Dear Evan Handsanitiser. Which to be fair is pretty much how I live anyway. My biggest threat there is that my mum's friend group is a total petri dish so it's only a matter of time before she gets it again. Oh shit, what if she gets it while I'm recovering? What do I do then?

Tuesday 17/05/22, 1:51pm - 66 days until surgery.
Everything went well with the psych eval (except that it ran long, which is fine cause I got some hours in driving to art therapy instead) and I just got off the phone resceduling my surgery! It's now on July 22, MONTHS earlier than it was scheduled to be!
I'm so happy. Tits off 2022, here we come!

Monday 16/05/22, 10:33am - surgery scheduled 141 days away.
My psych eval was booked for late september and my surgery booked for october 4, but late yesterday afternoon I got a call from the psychiatrist (who until now has been a ghost) saying that he'd had a cancellation and did I want to move the evaluation up to 11AM TODAY? and of course I said yes. I barely slept last night. I've got a two hour long evalution in like 20 minutes as I type this and then I've got to haul ass to a suburb on the polar opposite part of the city to do art therapy. Ordinarily I give myself about 3 hours travel time so that I have leeway to miss the train or something but today I've only got two hours between when my appointment ends and when I need to be there. aaaaaargh.

we're going home