Well it's finally here. After 357 days of waiting, tomorrow I will finally be having my top surgery. Last night out with the tits was spent eating sushi with my mom and later contemplating gender identity, sexuality, gender politics, and family dynamics with a couple of my brilliant and beautiful cousins. I am so proud of how smart and critical they are of what society tells them they should be. It was a real blessing to sit down and have an open honest conversation with my family.
Today was the last day of feeling awkward about my chest, the last day of feeling betrayed by my body, the first day of really feeling hopeful for a happy future. I took my vitamins. I had my shower. I took one last long look at the beasts in the mirror and I feel absolutely no regret about having them removed. I have delayed allowing myself to believe that this day would ever actually arrive so thinking that in just a few hours the boobs will be gone forever is still kind of surreal. I won't really believe it until I wake up and they are gone gone gone.
I have kept myself really busy the last few weeks to try to avoid thinking myself into an anxiety attack or depression and it worked, right up to the last minutes. Now months of anticipation and years of shame will disappear in only a few hours and I will finally wake up a GI Joe in a GI Joe Box....more or less.
Goodbye, So Long, Farewell, Scram!
It was a pretty long day since I was too excited to actually get any sleep the night before. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am and I had to be at the hospital by 6am. I was awake every hour and finally at 4am I decided to just stay up until it was time to go to the hospital. On arrival I was still afraid that they were going to tell me that my surgery was cancelled...I had been anxious about a last minute cancellation for weeks. But I was ushered to my bed in the day surgery ward and given the gown and housecoat, little blue slippers and some awfully tight "socks" which were really a torturous version of thigh-high nylons. They were to keep blood from pooling in my legs during surgery which helps prevent blood clots. I had to go into surgery wearing nothing but the gown and the thigh highs. No underwear or anything.
I was pretty nervous and was having a hard time believing that I was really going to have the surgery. Trying to imagine how I would feel, how I might look was still unfathomable at that point. I was wheeled up to the operating waiting area where the anaesthesiologist came and talked to me for a few minutes then I waited for my surgeon to come up and mark out the incisions and placement of the nipple grafts. Once that was done I was wheeled into the operating room and waited some more for everything to get organized- the antibiotics to be mixed and my IV which had to be inserted a second time since he punched through the vein the first time. Everything seemed to take a really long time and I was getting anxious. All I wanted was for them to knock me out already! I didn't want to see all the instruments being unwrapped, or hear the chit chat about procedure, and having my arms strapped down to the operating table before I was unconscious was a little unpleasant as well. Finally the magic was pumped into my IV and off to dreamland I went while the surgeon went to work.
I woke up in the recovery room in a lovely haze of morphine and under a toasted flannel blanket. I slept a while there floating in and out of some odd dreams before I was wheeled down to the day ward once again. There I drank some water and some gingerale but my throat was really sore and I had a hard time staying awake for more than a few minutes at a time. Around lunchtime I started to hurt quite a bit and the incisions were burning so I got another shot of morphine which knocked me out for a couple more hours. I really wanted to make it back to the rental house before rush hour so tried to get my nausea under control with a shot of gravol.....which made me sleep for another hour. Finally I got up and did some walking to the bathroom and back which made the pain worse and my nausea flare up really bad. I usually get sick once after having anaesthetic and as much as I wanted to just get it over with I was worried about how much pressure it would put on my chest.
Eventually we left the hospital and I tried my best to wait till we got inside to get sick but I only make it to the top of the stairs. Thank Goodness they sent us home with two or three sick bags...the kind you get on an airline. After that I felt so much better I had a little something to eat and another nap on the couch. We watched a little TV and emptied my drains once or twice. I wasn't in too much pain but got my mom to pick up an ice pack at the pharmacy when she filled the antibiotic prescription. We never did fill the prescription for pain meds as I had some T3s I brought from home which seemed to do just fine. I decided to sleep on the couch to stay propped up instead of wallowing around in a bed and fighting with a bunch of pillows. Heading back to mom's tomorrow for the remainder of my short term recovery. Won't get to have a look at the new chest until Monday....four days to the reveal!
Recovery Days 1& 2
|Day One Post-Op|
It's been kinda difficult trying to keep the days organized when I have been spending quite a lot of my day napping. It seems I can only keep my eyes open for a little while after taking pain meds so my day is sort of broken up into short spurts of lucidity between luxurious codeine naps.
Traveling home from the hospital was a bit of an adventure; an hour and a half on a highway. The road is pretty smooth but of course there are spots that are a little more bumpy than others. The ride took a bit of a toll on the chest as the bandage was rubbing and made the incisions burn quite a bit. Once home, I enjoyed a cup of coffee and some more pain meds which meant of course another nap. I was outside though which was nice and eventually came in for some supper. One of the side effects of anaesthetic is constipation. Ugh. So I tried to encourage my intestines to get moving by taking a short walk. That was probably not the best idea as it was pretty painful. I think I might try to keep exercise to a minimum at least until I get the binder off. Nausea has been a bit of a burden that I think is related mostly to taking medication on an empty stomach but might also be related to the amount of trauma my body has experienced in the last two days.
I have a bandage and binder wrapped around my chest, There are dressings sewn into my skin over my grafts. The binder is held in place over my shoulders with a makeshift straps. The drains are the most painful and awkward of everything so far. The tubes are stitched into my skin and run along the inside of the bandage to the drain bulbs on the outside of the binder. They have plastic tapes that I can pin to the inside of my shirt or the outside of the binder. The rubber is irritating against the skin so I have put a t-shirt on over the whole thing and pinned the drain bulbs to the inside of a long sleeved shirt that I am wearing over top of the t-shirt. This keeps the tubes from snagging on anything and pulling. I am already a little anxious about having the drains removed but will try not to worry about that for a few more days.
Emptying the drains is a pretty grim business too. I used to think I had a pretty strong stomach but somewhere along the way I have become a little squeamish. The drains are basically a vacuum that sucks all the blood and fluid from the surgical site that would otherwise build up under the skin and cause excessive swelling and bruising. Every eight hours or so I have to open the bulb and drain the fluid into a container to be measured. I need to keep track of the amount of fluid so I measure it and write down the amount collected from the left side and the right side. It's actually kind of grossing me out but something I have to do for only a few more days...thank goodness.
Yesterday was a pretty rough day. I was in quite a bit of pain in particular around the drain sites and along the path of the drains under the incisions. I have been having heartburn which has been keeping me awake at night. One of the side effects of anaesthetic and codeine is that it slows down your bowel. This has been making me feel pretty crappy (no pun intended) probably more so than anything else. On top of that the binder/bandage. I've been wearing since the surgery is gets looser every day as the swelling in my chest goes down. With all the extra movement of the bandage, my drain sites and dressings (which are stitched to my body) are getting pretty irritated. I have been trying to get my body back on a schedule but it is not cooperating as quickly as I'd hoped.
Recovery Days 3 & 4
Today I went to a family gathering that involved church. It has been a really long time since I stepped foot through the doors of an established place of worship for any religious purpose. On her 90th birthday my grandmother wished that before she dies her entire family would accompany her to church. You can't deny a 90 year old a birthday wish like that so I went. I put aside my feelings about church and religion and despite being sore I went and sat with my family in the small town church.
Once again I was honoured and moved by my family's acceptance of my transition. I was most proud of my father who was sort of put on the spot and asked to introduce his family to his family (our extended family also attended...his cousins and aunts and uncles) and without missing a beat he introduced me as Marcus as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I could have jumped across the table and gave him a giant bear hug. I love being surprised by my dad. Sometimes he shows me that I don't give him enough credit.
I had my mom wrap an extra layer of fabric around my chest and tape it to snug things up which made a big difference. Tomorrow we are headed back to the big city for the first (and hopefully last) post-op visit with the surgeon who will take off the bandage and dressing and hopefully remove the drains (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease). I will finally get a look at my new chest!! I will definitely post photos as the recovery progresses and you can get a glimpse of my surgeon's fine handiwork.
Just a few more hours and maybe finally once and for all it will sink in that they are really gone, that I don't ever have to wear another bra and I can finally get on with living my life!
The Big Reveal!
|First look at the new chest!|
When I arrived at the hospital I checked in and waited only a few minutes before being called into the exam room. I stripped off my t-shirt apologizing for the way I smelled since I hadn't showered for quite a few days. The nurse cut away the binder and tape, removed the dressings, and finally peeled away the steri-strips that covered the incisions. I have dissolving stitches the ends of which hang out where I used to have cleavage and under my arms. Then I was treated to the luxury of a saline wash to clean up the gunk that was trapped under the bandages after surgery. I tell you after five days without water or air my skin felt alive!
|Grafts are looking good|
Ice has been my friend for sure and the relief it offers has been better than any pain medication. I am hoping it will help bring down the swelling under my arms. I started using Arnica ointment in the area around the incision as well which is supposed to be a good topical treatment for pain, swelling and trauma. I have picked up some high potency Vitamin E and will be going to the pharmacy to see if I can find some silicone scar treatment. Taking both of these as soon as possible should help minimize the scars.
I have some serious nerve damage and for now there are large patches of my chest that have no feeling. For right now I am ok with that. Recovery is painful and as nerves and blood supply start to re-establish themselves and things heal up I know that a lot of the sensation will return. I do feel sharp twinges and aches and the itchy feeling is a signal that things are healing up.
|Grafts will stay covered while they heal|
One Week Post Op
This time last week I was waking up in the recovery room at the hospital after having my top surgery. Today I am sitting out on the patio at my mom's with the cat enjoying the beautiful weather planning my trip home. I want to sleep in my own bed, have more than four shirts to choose from and take a long hot shower under the faucet with pressure like a fire hose. I want to see my cats and the midnight sun and maybe just maybe make some prints before I have to go back to work. I want to get out with my friend in her new boat and watch her reel in my giant 20 lb lake trout, (hey I can dream).
The first week honestly seemed to fly by but since I haven't been very mobile - unable to drive or walk too far, I have felt pretty stuck. As the swelling goes down, the bruising is starting to take it's toll. My skin is sore to the point that even goosebumps are painful. The area around my stitches is hard and bruised and really sensitive to touch even though it's numb.... I know it doesn't make any sense. I found a gel-roll which is basically a tensor bandage that has silicone on one side. I leave it in the freezer overnight and wrap my chest tightly in the morning. The light compression helps immensely with the pain and the cool helps relieve pain and reduce the swelling. I have been using ice packs under my arms and on my chest at least three to five times a day. I tried using second skin burn pads over my incisions but because they are still very uneven they didn't stick. I had to tape them in place which was extremely uncomfortable.
My nipple grafts are ugly. There's really no other way to describe it. They are black and scabby and coated with ointment which makes them weepy. I have to change the dressings every day which means more tape on my already sensitive chest not to mention yanking out some of my precious few chest hairs. Also, now that the swelling has come down a bit and the nerves aren't quite as compressed I am getting weird stinging pains where I used to have nipples....great...phantom nipples...just what I need.
I am happy with how things are progressing for the most part. I am uncomfortable if I move around. Reaching for things over my head is not happening but I am not having any troubles washing my hair or putting on a t-shirt. Now that my breasts are gone I find that my belly sticks out quite a bit more than I like so I guess some sit-ups will be in my future!
I finally got a haircut which is great in the hot weather but will have to go to my guy back home to get it cut properly. I tire out pretty easily and will definitely take advantage of the next week taking it easy and resting up, not lifting anything heavy and making sure that I can make it through an eight hour day when I finally return to work. It's not really a vacation feeling this sore and not being able to do things like drive. Unfortunately I think I will have used up all my vacation time by the time I return to work so getting a vacation to actually relax will be a long time coming. Perhaps I'll even go someplace that has a pool!
Two Weeks Post-Op
Two weeks down and four to go till I am back fishing from my new kayak, sleeping on my stomach, playing and enjoying the rest of the summer. I have got to remember that no matter how good I am feeling I need to be careful and take it easy. I have been doing everything my surgeon told me when I saw him to have my drains out. I called his office yesterday to ask a couple of questions about post-op care of my grafts and incisions and the receptionist called me back today with the answers. Apparently there was a few things I missed.
Now I am pretty sure that I wasn't high when I returned to the hospital to have my drains removed and see my surgeon. I wasn't asleep and I'm sure I didn't dream it. I know what I was told at the post op visit and there was no mention of keeping my incisions covered. I was told to clean the grafts, apply antibiotic ointment and change the non stick dressing every day. This was the exact opposite of what he told the nurse I was to be doing. I should have been covering my incisions with paper tape and left the dressings off my nipple grafts. Huh? Is it really possible that I got the information totally backwards?
So now I am confused and unsure what the heck I am supposed to do to minimize scarring and promote healing. I feel kind of pissed that I missed an opportunity to minimize my scarring leaving the incisions uncovered. I have been sort of making up my own recovery plan which includes treating the nipple grafts with high potency Vitamin E cream and supplementing my diet with zinc, vitamin E and vitamin C.
I have kept the nipple grafts covered but the right one has healed up more quickly than the left. I am keeping the left covered with antibiotic ointment and a dressing until the scab comes off and I can let it live more comfortably under just a t-shirt.
Arnica ointment helped a lot the first week with pain and swelling. It was cooling and not greasy so I am happy to continue using it until the tube is empty. I began using the vitamin E cream on the incisions after having the drains out and the dressings off. Not having the incisions covered has affected the healing for sure. The right side of my chest near my armpit has begun to pucker and get bumpy so I have tried to undo the scarring damage caused by having it uncovered the last seven days: I am trying Second Skin moist burn pads. They are similar to the silicone gel pads but are about half the price.
Once my six weeks is up I will continue to work on treating the scars and might consider trying to purchase some silicone gel pads. In the mean time I will keep the paper tape over the incisions in an attempt to smooth and flatten them out. Bio oil is also something that I will try to see if I can help fade the scars.
The drain sites are still giving me a considerable amount of pain and irritation and my skin is definitely over sensitive to that pont that wearing a t-shirt feel a lot like wearing sandpaper. Things are tight and sore and achy around the incision sites and I get strange sharp electrical pains deep in the tissue every once in a while. The itching I don;t mind too much as I know it means things are healing but not being able to scratch at it because my skin is so sensitive is its own special kind of torture.
Sleeping is getting easier and I find I can roll partway onto my side now which is saving my back and helping me sleep through the night. I am used to sleeping on my stomach and hope that soon I can return to my sleeping position of choice. I will be back in my own bed tomorrow night for the first time since surgery but I'll have to share the space with a cat or two...
All in all the past two weeks have gone by pretty fast. The first week crawled by a little more slowly than the second which seems to have disappeared more quickly than I would have liked. I am feeling sad about leaving the great comfort of Mom's house and care as I don't get home as much as I'd like.
Three Weeks Post-Op
When I called the surgeon's office they told me I was to keep the incisions covered with paper tape to help flatten the scars out but I'm pretty sure I developed a sensitivity to the adhesive on it so I tried using the advance healing bandage on them instead. I wore those over the incisions for a week straight but the pain was finally too much and I took them off which was a special kind of torture all its own. I took everything off the incisions and I am applying high potency vitamin E cream to the incisions at least twice a day and for now I am enjoying a huge releif from the pain. I really want to help my body heal with a minimum of scarring but I can't deal with the aching skin anymore. Constant irritation is making me cranky!
So only a few more short weeks and I see my family doc who will hopefully give me the OK to return to life as I knew it. I plan to make up some time hiking, fishing and kayaking before the summer is over. If I'm lucky, September will be beautiful and warm enough to enjoy at least a few weekends on the water. The countdown to my summer is on!
To be honest, my recovery from this surgery has been more difficult and painful than I anticipated. I was in quite a bit of pain for the first three weeks though not enough to warrant taking pain meds. My skin is still very sensitive and some days it makes wearing shirts absolute torture. But ice is great and works wonders for the burning sensation and when the aching gets to be too much I will eventually take an ibuprofen.
Things are progressing along with the actual recovery. The incisions are feeling pretty good and since quitting the paper tape and switching to Vitamin E cream and Bio-oil, I am finally beginning to feel like a real boy! I have to tell you though I still feel like I am forgetting something when I get dressed in the morning....I feel so naked under my shirts!
I started giving the area around my incisions a bit of a massage this week. The stitches are dissolving and I haven't seen any sign of them coming to the surface. When I massaged the area tonight after a shower I did feel a snapping which I think was the stitches breaking under the skin. Hopefully that will help alleviate some of the puckering and rigidity under the incision.
One thing I am kind of concerned about is the hard areas under my skin. There are a few places where the tissue feels really dense and tough. I am not sure if this is swelling or an accumulation of fluid left over from the bruising. I know that when I had an incision under my chin it took weeks to return to normal but now two years later you can hardly see or feel the scar. I am definitely going to ask my doctor about it and if need be I will seek out some ultrasound therapy if it turns out to be scar tissue.
I am really excited about how things are healing up. I was thinking that there hadn't been much change but then I took a look at the photos I have been taking every few days and from the first reveal to now, things have really changed a lot! I guess when you see something every day you don't notice the changes so much. After looking at the photos I was pleasantly surprised bu how well things are progressing. I look forward to documenting the experience and sharing it with you!
It has been really liberating to finally feel like things are coming together. It has taken a long time for me to come to terms with being transgender and to finally be in a place where I am truly happy with who I am has been a very long and often painful journey not only for me but for a lot of other people as well. I think realizing that I can't make anyone love me, or accept me has been a really hard lesson. I just have to live to be true to myself and the people who can accept that are the ones that truly matter in the end. That's a lot easier to say than it is to live. I am lucky that my family have been supportive. I can't imagine how hard it must be to transition without the love and support of your family.
I have been getting some really positive feedback through comments and I just want to say thanks to everyone who has written to let me know that they read this blog. I really appreciate your comments and I hope that you can get something for yourself from my experience. I know a lot of times the internet will be the first place you get a chance to really "see" what being transgendered is like for someone else. It is nice to know that you have shared similar experiences and feelings. It makes me happy to know that there is comfort between us in these small moments knowing that we are not alone.
I have been worrying a little about how my chest looks and yes I know it is still early in the game. I haven't really been able to get answers to all the questions I had about how long things take to recover. I have been massaging my scars and I have one spot on my right side that is particularly chunky with scar tissue. I have been worrying about whether or not my right pec will ever return to a normal shape and if the loose flab and remaining swelling that reminds me of the boob that used to be there will EVER go away.
I put the bio-oil or generic version of it on my scars once a day when I remember and I have a couple silicone scar reducing pads that I want to use but just haven't got around to patching on. I know the bio-oil will reduce the appearance of the scars but I am more concerned about the scar tissue under the skin than at the incision site. One thing I am really excited about is the chest hair that seems to be sprouting like crazy. If I am lucky enough to be a fuzzy guy then I will worry a lot less about how things look on the surface.
While I was Googling scar management and chest surgery, this page Recovering from Gynomastia caught my attention. Not only is it about chest surgery recovery for MEN but it answered ALL the questions I had and even a couple I didn't! If you've recently had top surgery or are planning to have it in the future this is a great resource to keep handy when you start to worry about how things look. The recovery time is L-O-N-G. So while your initial recovery will be approximately 6 weeks the actual recovery time to see final results will be more like 12-18 months. Just another thing for a trans person to count.
Eight Weeks Post-Op
I have become pretty lazy with the oil and vitamin E cream but I am trying to get back into the routine of massaging the scar tissue and applying the bio oil before bed. I am still a little concerned with the right side since it is quite a bit "looser" than the left. I am really happy with how the left side looks but I am concerned I lost quite a bit of nipple and a lot of what at first appears to be "areola" is actually scar tissue. If the scar tissue fades to white I will have to get the rest tattooed on which is no big deal I guess. I still have hopes that the right side will settle down and smooth out. I am going to start working out the pec muscles a bit and see if the dog ears and skin will tighten up and smooth out. The shooting pains are mostly gone except when I massage the scars but once they fade I am sure they will hardly be noticeable. In other news the fur is coming. Hairs area appearing around the nipple area and the pecs are getting fuzzy....looks like I'll get at least some chest hair which I am now totally stoked for.....almost as much as the slowest moustache ever.
Three Months Post-Op
Three months ago I went under the knife to have my breasts removed and while I was less concerned about how it would look than I was about finally getting them off my chest I am excited about how things are progressing. The puckering and swelling has gone down considerably and the area I was most concerned about has definitely healed up better than I was anticipating. Recovery has been a lot like watching yourself get old...you don't really notice that you aren't 16 anymore until you look back through your yearbook and wonder when you ever looked so young! The scars don't change so much as you'd notice from day to day but looking back over the last 3 weeks I am amazed at how quickly and how well things are going! At the one year mark I will be able to look back and see how much things have changed.
The biggest thing I've noticed over the last month is how much the scars are flattening out. I know it will take quite a bit more time for them to fade but I am happy with how things are looking. The other thing that is really exciting is the amount of chest hair sprouting up! While it is still pretty fine I'm watching it fill in slowly....almost as slowly as my moustache! I have been noticing that I have bouts of itch but from what I understand that is a sign of healing. I continue to use the bio-oil (when I remember) and hope that the dog ears flatten out over the next few months. I am not in a hurry to get revisions and will wait at least a year to see how everything works out before deciding whether or not to pursue revisions.
I am so much more comfortable in my body and finally being able to wear the clothes that I've imagined for my whole life on a body that I'm starting to love is awesome. Shirts and ties are making appearances in my wardrobe and this year I am actually looking forward to winter and sweaters knowing that I won't have to wear a binder underneath. There will be extra room in my parka this year and after another long winter hibernation a brand new man will emerge in the spring!
|my dog ears aren't this cute|
I called the surgeon's office and asked about getting a consult for revisions via email. When I heard back, the result was a little disappointing but not really unexpected. Of course there was no way that I was going to pay more for the revision out of my own pocket than what the province paid for me to have the entire surgery in a hospital with anesthetic and the works. apparently there is a scale for what constitutes revision and cosmetic. I suppose if I had breast cancer and needed a new boob or wanted the dog ear fixed I'd be "allowed" but as it stands now I am only cosmetically disfigured? or perhaps my results are satisfactory on a scale of aesthetics (provided they aren't on anyone else's body but mine). Go figure.
Like I said before I have the most amazing family doctor EVER and he has lined up a referral to a general surgeon here in town who should be able to snip off the extra skin and sew up the two little flaps and splish-splash I'll be back in my kayak in just a few days instead of weeks. I have the appointment in just a few short weeks from now so will keep mu fingers crossed that the surgeon is willing and able to repair the pooches under my arms.
So till then it'll be sweaters and my parka which is probably a good thing since the temperature is still hovering around -20C!
If only things for trans people could work out as quick and painlessly as my most recent consultation. My family doctor referred me to a general surgeon here in town who works two week rotations as a locum. He spends approximately ten days seeing patients and performing procedures and he has quite a bit of plastics experience. He saw my little dog ears and within minutes I had an appointment to have them repaired. That appointment? it's not a year away, or a month even. It's happening in a week. And it's covered by my health care. Seriously.
When I told him that the surgeon who did my original surgery wanted to charge me $1800 to fix them and there was a short pause before he said Eighteen hundred? That's highway robbery. I'll say.So there you have it. Good things do happen. The ongoing saga of my uterus is another story but since this is a happy story I'll save that for another day.
So Tuesday March 27th in the early afternoon I will have the fatty little beaks in my armpits removed and then look out because the t-shirts are gonna get TIGHT-yo!
It's been 4 weeks since I had my chest revisions to take care of the dog ears under my arms and I have to tell you that I am feeling fantastic. I have mentioned once or twice before that I have the best doctor in the territory and probably the country when it comes to having someone who will stand up for you ad go out of his way to help me which he did by getting a general surgeon to do the procedure.
The surgeon I saw was awesome. No nonsense and to the point, and since he had some plastics background and by the sounds of it some experience with trans patients, I was shocked that after a 15 minute initial consultation I had a surgery appointment exactly one week later. Go ahead, read that part again, I did say one week.
And so there it was. no time to get nervous or fret or even think that holy crap I was going to have to be awake for this one. No kidding. The procedure is relatively minor but after 18-20 pokes of a nice fat needle full of freezing I was just nearly ready to run out of the place. But that was the worst part. IT took just under an hour to remove the dogears and sew me back up, dress the wounds and send me home.
I was offered a prescription for Tylenol 3 but passed. I stayed home from work the following day so didn't even really miss any work. I was a little sore for a few days and avoided putting my arms above my head. I have a few spots that are still tender and the dissolving stitches are still working themselves out but other than that it has been a pretty uneventful procedure.
Then next thing is to see if I can get my left nipple tattooed back onto my chest There is an awful lot of scar tissue there since the graft didn't take and I hope that a talented tattoo artists can fix that up for me.
As a trans patient, ok as the trans patient in the territory, I always feel so blessed to be able to go into my doctor's office and have him actually KNOW what is going on and how we can go about dealing with it and educating other medical staff along the way. I have to say that for the most part my experience here has been tremendously positive. I am so lucky to live in a country where medical care is seen as a necessity and is offered equally to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for it.
So here is the new me, at least from the outside! There will be lots of swimming this summer me thinks!