What you’ll need first
- persistence, especially if you’re younger than 35
- a little spiel prepared about how you’re transgender and you’ve thought about this surgery very hard for years and years and you’re definitely not going to change your mind and sue anyone
- private health insurance and a year of waiting, tbh. I was uninsured and that was pretty dumb, because it ended up being quite expensive.
- private health insurance is pretty complicated though, so you’ll also need to make sure that your plan will actually cover the surgery, and that your particular health insurance company has an agreement with the hospital your surgeon works with.
What you’ll need before the hospital
- you’ll need to tell absolutely everyone at the hospital that you’re vegan – or kosher, or halal, or anything that isn’t gluten free or vegetarian. You’ll probably have to explain what your wacky diet involves. You should especially make sure to tell the admissions nurse and the reception nurse and the first nurse you can see holding your chart. If you don’t do this you’re going to be eating lots of cheese I’m afraid.
- either a real tolerance for being misgendered, or a very strict policy of quickly correcting and/or educating anyone who misgenders you.
- a negative covid test
- a blood test from the right pathology lab
- to finish up as many projects as you can so you can have a nice relaxing time afterwards
What you’ll need at the hospital:
- clothes that aren’t tight around the waist, like drawstring pyjama pants, old stretched-out leggings and undies, or dresses. Elastic-waisted things are too tight, you want really loose breathable stuff.
- slip-on shoes since you won’t be able to bend down afterwards
- unpainted nails, the little finger clip that measures your oxygen levels doesn’t work otherwise.
- either no facial piercings or a little container for your facial piercings, because they’re going to ask you to take them out.
- an overnight bag that weighs less than 2kg, otherwise you won’t be able to pick it up to take it home.
- plenty of practice with the exercises linked in the previous post, it’s much better to be able to do them from memory than try and learn them when you’re sick.
- to tell all the nurses and anaesthetist everything you’re worried about, even if you think they’re silly. The anaesthetist gave me stronger anti-nausea meds because I told him I get carsick easily, for example.
- heaps of easy-listening podcasts and audiobooks and music and videos, since you’re probably not going to get much sleep.
- comfortable headphones, for the same reason. Wireless headphones are nice, since there’ll be so many wires attached to you already.
- toiletries like basic skincare and toothbrushing.
- a lack of addiction to caffeine or alcohol, because you’re not allowed to have them for a while afterwards, and going through withdrawal at the same time as recovering from surgery would be horrible
- your phone charger!
What you’ll need after the hospital:
- good recipes for some high-fibre snacks. Chia pudding’s pretty good, steel-cut oats are nice, bran muffins are rad, but I like two teaspoons of flax meal stirred into a cup of hot milk, it’s quick and tastes like the dregs of weetbix.
- a plan to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. I found it hard to remember to drink enough water and to remember how much water I’d drunk – scheduling two pots of (herbal) tea a day made it simpler.
- a medication tracker. You’ll have a lot of different pills to take at all sorts of odd intervals. My medication tracker was my girlfriend but you might also like to use an app.
- similarly, a reminder system for your hourly breathing and leg exercises.
- lots of panadol.
- some body wipes, since you might feel unsteady and unready to stand around in a slippery shower.
- a soft cushion to put underneath the bottom strap of a car’s seatbelt, to stop it pressing into your tum.
- friends to come and make you dinner and do the dishes and stop you walking very far even though you feel fine really, and someone you can call on in the night. If you can get someone to come and stay with you for 5 days or so, that’d be best.
- easy access to the loo at short notice, your bottom half’s going to be a bit weird for a while.
- a way to keep your cat from jumping on your tum for a whole month.
- the ability to sleep on your back (I just cannot do this and it sucked).
- at least 3 weeks’ leave from work, I’m told.