I Have A New Voice!

It was the first Friday of October. Surgery day! The wait for my throat surgery was not nearly as long as the top surgery. It was also nice to know I would be able to recover at home rather than a hotel like after my top surgery. As with most procedures, the hospital required that someone accompany me and be available to drive me home.  I asked the friend who had previously offered to go to Kansas City with me and she gladly said yes. I had a 6 am arrival time, so I arrived at her house early that morning. I’d attended my pre-op appointments at the hospital and followed all of the instructions I’d been given for the night before surgery. I was thirsty and kind of cranky, but ready to head to the hospital.

The wait to be called back to be prepped for surgery was short. Everything was going as it had been explained to me. There had been a couple of cancellations so my nurse had some extra time on her hands. She shared with me that her cousin is transgender and that some of the family was not as supportive of his transition as she. She also made sure that the other hospital staff used my correct pronouns. It was nice to have her conversation to help pass the time. Despite the surgeries that had been cancelled, there was still an unanticipated wait for the anesthesiologist and surgeon to stop by to see me. There was nothing on television and I wasn’t in the mood to watch anyway. I hadn’t slept much the night before, so I dozed on and off between visits from the nurse.

When the surgeon stopped by, he explained that he had decided to do a different procedure. The initial plan was that I would be awake during surgery and would be able to go home afterwards. Instead, he was opting for full anesthesia and an overnight stay in the hospital for recovery. When I explained to him that I had not planned to spend the night and that it wasn’t an option for me because of my pets at home and my partner being out of town, he agreed that I could still go home after I woke – with the caveat of some very specific assigned self-care.

Once I’d been checked by the doctors, it was time to roll me back to the operating room and get started. I was put under and all went well. The surgery took about an hour and a half. When I woke in recovery, I was still pretty groggy and was in a lot of pain. There was a compression bandage on my neck applying direct pressure to the front over the incision area. I had been told to expect the wrap, but I was not prepared for feeling as if my breath would be labored. The first words I spoke in my new, deeper voice were to tell the nurse that the wrap was too tight and that I needed them to loosen it. She indicated the monitor and told me that I was breathing fine. It took me over half an hour to convince them to get the doctor. The nurse said she could not adjust the dressing because it was necessary to keep it in place. The resident doctor that I’d met before the surgery was paged and arrived to address my concern. She agreed to loosen the dressing slightly but explained how it would be dangerous to release any more of the pressure. Once she secured the wrap again and stepped back to see how I was doing, the levels on the monitor indicated that my breathing had improved. I was still in pain from the procedure, but was now comfortable enough. I was given more pain medication through my IV and instructed to get some more rest before they would discharge me.

After a couple more hours I woke and was read my post-op instructions. The pharmacy came by with medication and more instructions to take home. I signed my understanding on all release papers and was advised that a nurse would be calling me in the next couple of days to arrange a post-op visit with the doctor at his office. I was wheeled to the curb to await my ride and go home.

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