I'm lying awake in the hotel room in Phuket for what will be our last night in Thailand, once I finally manage to get to sleep. In just under fifteen hours, we'll be en route to Singapore, and then to Heathrow to spend five days with Chloe before returning home. It's been nearly five weeks since we arrived in Phuket, and I've come down with my typical case of insomnia. I'm used to it by now; the night before any major trip I usually get three or four hours sleep at most, then crash immediately upon arrival. This will likely prove to be no different.

In a way, it's hard for me to imagine leaving. I've heard claimed in multiple print sources that it takes three weeks for the brain to adjust to any major change, from phantom pain in amputees to not reaching for the missing
cigarette pack in the pocket after stopping smoking. We spent just over that in the hospital, and leaving was something of a shock. Now we've been here over a month, and returning to England is going to be something of a culture shock, to say nothing of Philly. At least it'll be a few more days before I have to remember not to drive on the left side of the road. 

I woke up this morning incredibly aroused, the first time I'd actually been overwhelmed by raw physical desire since getting out of surgery, and it took effort to stop myself from trying to relieve it by whatever means necessary. I'm still healing down there, and Jessie and I are both under medical orders not to do anything for six weeks. We technically violated that two nights ago, but nothing got done that hasn't happened during dilation or showering, so that doesn't really worry me too much. Actively trying to climax, though... that's another matter entirely.

It's hard for me to believe that the changes are finished, in one sense. In another, it's hard for me to imagine how it was before the hospital stay. I can mentally remember how I looked, how it felt, et cetera. Just like the memories of myself from before my transition, though, the ones of my sex life prior seem... disjoint. They don't seem like mine. They are, and I won't try to pretend that I was always possessed of what I have now, but it feels alien to think about what used to be between my legs, even as I still find myself looking in the mirror and wondering why I look different.

I was hoping to see Dr. Sanguan one last time before departure, but the last time I called the hospital to arrange the appointment, I found out that Pim was out sick and likely wouldn't be back to work for the rest of the week.
Right now, I don't even know if they've scheduled a driver to come to the hotel to take us to the airport or if we're going to have to hire a taxi for the job. Being in the hotel has put all of the medical staff in the distance,
and things have seemed very out-of-touch as a result. I've felt stranded on a number of occasions. At least in the hospital I could hit the nurse call button if things got really bad. Out here, once the receptionist goes to bed,
we're cut off from the outside world unless I walk to a pay phone. It's made getting anything major accomplished seem more daunting than is necessary.

At least the hotel staff here has been very understanding. The front desk clerk asked us when we were leaving tomorrow and said we didn't have to check out of the hotel until 15h00 since flight wasn't until 19h. I've never
found that kind of accommodation in the US, or anywhere else for that matter. They've worked their cleaning schedule around our sleeping habits, and Jessie only had to remind them once not to turn off our air conditioning when they came into our room. It really is a nice hotel, and if we had been possessed by aliens or brainwashed by the government into coming to Thailand for a vacation, I certainly might have considered the Kata Poolside Bungalows for several seconds before turning it down in favor of someplace that had phones in the rooms. Still, it's hard to complain too much for under twenty American dollars a night, plus breakfast for both of us.

I should sleep, but I'm not tired. At least, I'm not mentally tired. I'm physically exhausted, but my brain is running on overdrive right now, freely spinning over a hundred ideas and never pulling anything conclusive out of any of them. Jessie and I talked briefly before zie fell asleep about the times in the hospital that I went into surgery, and how zie dealt with it all and how zie felt, and it's left me that much more aware of just what zie means to me, and how fortunate I am to have someone in my life that's so close to me. Right now, I almost wish zie were awake, so that we could cuddle more actively. As it is, I'll probably end up passing out snuggled up against zir back, arms around zir waist.

This whole trip is finally coming to a close, and I don't know how I feel about it. Everything I've done has, in the long run, been far more worth doing than I could possibly put into words, and at the same time there have been some experiences that I can only describe as traumatic and emotionally distressing, but necessary. I've felt alternately that I had made the best decision possible and that I had thrown away my only means of physical
pleasure. I've gone nearly two months with only testosterone, three weeks without even that, and now almost ten days with only estrogen and whatever my adrenal glands are generating, with all of the emotional rollercoastering
that that entails. I've discovered some wonderful local cuisine and spent nights dreaming of homemade chili and jambalaya. I've shared incredible emotional intimacy with Jessie and yearned for the company of others.
Ultimately, I think that this trip will fade into mostly pleasant memories, but a few bouts of pure terror will remain in my mind as dark patches in my rose-tinted hindsight.

I'm glad I did it all, but I hope I don't have to do it again. If I decide on the colon graft extension, I can't think of another surgeon I'd rather have do it than Dr. Sanguan, but that'll be many many months in the future, if at all.

I'm dating this entry according to local time back home in Philly, the time recorded on the computer, because at the moment I have no idea in which time zone I'm actually located and thus what time it really is. I'm on the plane,
stuffed into an economy seat nxt to Jessie on one side and someone sleeping on the other, one of the only people still awake on the whole plane aside from the cabin crew and hopefully the pilot.

I got, at most, four hours of sleep last night. I started to get cramps and pain around my groin at something like four in the morning, which necessitated me getting out of bed and spending an hour or so in the shower to keep the problem from getting out of hand, and then at some point after that I passed out cold, only to be jarred violently awake by a member of the cleaning staff pounding on the door calling me to the phone. I don't take kindly to being woken in that fashion, but as it was a call I'd been expecting, I can't really complain too heavily.

I spoke with Dr. Sanguan, and he told me that the insurance paperwork that both he and his assistant, Pim, said would be faxed to Hartford Life was, in fact, not complete and not faxed, which explained why I had received an email from my boss telling me to contact HR and find out why Hartford Life was balking at paying for my medical benefits. I explained things in an email to my doctor at home, and I can only hope that the matter will be resolved by the time I get back, but I anticipate much bickering with paperpushers when I return to Philadelphia.

Once the details of the insurance were resolved, Dr. Sanguan began questioning me about my progress with healing, how I was sleeping, whether I could urinate and control it, how often I was dilating, and so on and so forth. After he heard my responses, he said that there didn't seem to be a need for me to come to the hospital and that if I had any problems once I got home I could email him directly, which meant that we had only to wait for the hospital driver to arrive at 15h00 to take us to the airport. Needless to say, Jessie and I were both very pleased with that news.

The flight from Thailand to Singapore was easy, but the leg from there to London has been hell so far. I don't sleep well on planes in general; I never have. However, with so little sleep this morning—or is it yesterday now?—I feel utterly exhausted. Unfortunately, because I'm still healing from surgery, no matter what I may like to claim, there aren't any really comfortable positions for me. Every way I've found so far to squeeze myself
into this chair has put pressure somewhere uncomfortable, and a few times has led to outright pain. I'm back to sitting on the donut seat, which has a slow leak leading me to have to stand and reinflate it every so often, and either my neck or my back or my butt hurts from something not being supported or getting pushed into the wrong position.

At some point within—I hope—the next hour or so, I'm going to simply pass out cold from sleep deprivation, but it's equally possible that I'll be awake from one source of irritation or another until the plane touches down and I walk to Chloe's car. I'm almost certainly going to nap on the drive back to her house, though, and likely well into the local afternoon.


Three days left in Thailand, or rather three nights, and I do feel well enough, thankfully, to get up and go walkies on a pretty regular basis. We've seen very little of the local area, still, but that's mostly because the climate itself is inhospitable, and there really hasn't been much of interest that we've wanted to find in the area.

Actually, that's a misleading statement. We've both been very keen on the idea of finding clothing in the local style, but doing so in our sizes is no easy task. We easily tower over most of the natives, and the typical Scandinavian tourist looking for Thai clothes visits one of the numerous "quick tailors" that pepper the island, and apparently the country. Finding one-piece swimsuits—the specific item for which Jessie and I have both been searching—that would fit us ultimately took us to the local Tesco's, the British version of WalMart, where we found one item that would fit our needs.

Speaking of Tesco, we've been doing most of our shopping there since we got out of the hospital. It's not American by any stretch of the imagination, and yet in the short time we were staying with Chloe, we both felt so comfortable and at ease that Tesco's here has quickly become "a taste of home." Jessie's fallen in love with the store-brand ginger nut biscuits, and I don't start the day without a box of pre-mixed Milo, complete with hypodermic straw. It's a small comfort, but one that's helped keep us sane while we've both felt
trapped in this strange country.

Dilation is now at twice a day for about an hour, less often than suggested but for longer periods of time. I couldn't face doing it three times in the same day; if I did, I wouldn't be able to get anything else done at all. It's
not like I have anything to do but dilate, granted, but there's a limit to how often I'm going to do this to myself. There's still something debasing internally over spreading my legs and forcing hard plastic objects into myself to see how much I can take for a given timespan.

Dilation really isn't the big problem I have now, actually. When I went into surgery, I had long before resolved the self-image issues, but learning to actually adjust to my new physical arrangement has taken some effort. It's not that I didn't really want it. Far from it, in fact. The sensation of Jessie's finger within me, rubbing against the inside walls of my sex, has made it all worth it. However, everything has been repositioned, and stimulation that goes to one location might set off old nerves in my mind. Plus, arousal right now hurts, or it did for a while, while the tissues were still healing, and it's not helped that Jessie's been even more sexual than normal.

Everyone that's said I've been so lucky to have a mate that's been with me through the whole of the transition hasn't seen this side of things, I suspect. Healing after the surgery takes time, and it's only been two weeks, tops. Every time I've gotten aroused, it's caused me a great deal of pain. There really isn't any blunter way to say it. And with Jessie being more active than usual, it's been a lot of stress having to say "I can't do this right now." Turning down my mate, saying that zir advances have been physically distressing in ways I don't like, has really been upsetting. This is the sort of thing that I've never heard discussed, and I'm not sure myself how to handle it. I'm doing my best, and as always Jessie has been nothing but understanding, but that only makes the situation manageable; it doesn't make it go away. Only time and recovery can do that.

I heal quickly enough; I can only hope that this holds true this time as well.


We've been in a hotel—more like a bungalow room—for three nights now, and more than ever I'm ready to go home, or at least into some kind of accomodation that has a truly hot shower, twenty-four hour front desk and
cleaning staff, and phone lines in the rooms. To be sure, the hotel Pim found for Jessie and I is nice, but it lacks just enough basic amenities to be irritating without lacking enough basic Thai necessities to make our complaints sound real and not just like whiny American tourists.

I've again contracted food poisoning, again from the Heinz salad cream, and this time I've managed to run myself out of toilet paper at such an hour that there was no way for Jessie to fetch more from the front desk. I thus spent
the night more or less awake, getting up every hour or so to purge my intestines and then stepping into the shower to clean myself. As soon as Jessie is awake enough for me to shake violently awake, zie's going on a mission from Goddess to retrieve several bog rolls from the hotel staff.

I tried yesterday to call about getting the tickets changed myself, but the local QANTAS/British Airways office—which is in Bangkok—isn't open past 13h on Saturday, meaning my call missed their agents by an hour. Neither Jessie nor I could justify spending $1.40/minute, the best rate we could find, calling England to argue with their emergency staff over flight details, and so at the very least it's going to wait until tomorrow. Also on the agenda for then is a call to Pim to discuss the details of our accomodation and a request to find someplace more... well... American, for all the the word connotes.


I should've done this yesterday, but Jessie and I have been having some strange undiagnosable computer problems that appear to be related to hardware failure on the laptop. I hope the drive doesn't die on us; I'll be very upset if it does.

The surgeries all appear finished, so now of course I have the indignity of stomach flu or food poisoning or something to add to my discomfort. I haven't been able to keep down anything but water for the last thirty-six hours, and the aftertaste of some kind of weird salad dressing on the "salad" I got with dinner from a local restaurant a day or so ago, probably about the time the migraines really started getting bad, so I wouldn't be surprised to find out that I'd picked up some ptomaine or something else of the like.

I've given some samples to the nurses here and they said they could find out what was wrong and give me something for it, one advantage to getting sick while staying at a hospital. Now I just have to wait for them to do it and hope that it happens sooner than later. I don't want to be sick on the flight home.

Events transpired so fast today that it scarcely seems like we've had time to process them all, but at the end of the day I've had a little time to think about everything.

First, Dr. Sanguan came to the room this morning to make a last-minute inspection of the surgical site, and he said that one of the grafts was looking very good, and the other had a few problems but they were minimal and that I wasn't going to lose the graft, only the outer tissue around it, which means I have what looks like a crescent-shaped gouge around it. However, that won't take surgery to heal, only time and antibiotic ointment, which I'm to apply after dilation and showering. Further, he said I was in his medical opinion ready to leave the hospital and could check out tomorrow.

Pim then came to the room to collect the money for everything, the stay, the procedure, et cetera. The total came to USD5,500, almost half of what I had been expecting to pay at the outset. This puts me far ahead in the money
game, which means when I get back to the U.S. I can afford to pay off one of my credit cards almost immediately, and more importantly that when I get back to England, I can afford to take my sister and her friends out to a really nice meal somewhere.

Pim also said she'd take a look at our tickets and see what arrangements she could make to get us back to England as early as possible. I can arrange the onward transit from there to Newark by calling Continental's offices, but Pim's the expert in getting the out-from-Phuket routes hastened, and Jessie and I are both eager to get home, or at least out of Thailand. We've had our fun here, as it were, but now it really is time to go home. We'll probably have to spend a few days in a hotel here waiting for our flights, but that's far preferable to two weeks of delays.

I got up and about for real today for the first time since getting the first surgery, and Jessie and I got dressed and went to the local Tesco/Lotus market for lunch, and we picked up some tidbits here and there for other people,
which I hope will be well-received when we do get back home to deliver them. I of course overtaxed myself thinking myself to be Ms. Marvel, and by the time we made it back to the room I was on the verge of collapse, but it just felt so good to be mobile without that damn catheter that I was willing to push things, even if I shouldn't have done so.

I then came back to the room and handled dilation, by myself, for the first time from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I can now only handle Borodir; Aaden is just too big for me. I seem to have lost some diameter in the few days I wasn't actively stretching myself, but I'll get that back with reinforcements. I'm going to need it if I ever intend to put my new body to its intended task. It still feels a bit like a chore, three times a day every day for at least half an hour, but I'd rather do it and get used to having something up there of the appropriate size than not do it, lose more depth and diameter and then get torn the first time Jessie and I try to make love.

Then for dinner, we got dressed again and went down to the Big C, the other major shopping center in the area. This one doesn't involve a taxi, just a short walk down the road behind the hospital. We ate at the Japanese restaurant, during which we had a rather interesting talk that led to a few odd conclusions. I've often made the statement that what someone has between zir legs was unimportant to how that person should be perceived and treated socially, and thus Jessie has presented me with with challenge, or perhaps the order would be more accurate seeing as it did come from my master, of telling people "does it matter?" when asked if I've had the surgery yet. Having made such a big deal of my transition, now to work to elude the question of whether I've taken the "final step," or to avoid giving a direct answer, will be challenging.

Of course, I say "final step," when really the final step of my social transition was several months, perhaps even a year ago. This is isn't even the final step in my physical transition; I have much more electrolysis to do, and I anticipate more changes from the hormones now that I don't have the testosterone to fight. So, why then is this called the "final step"? What is it about the surgery that makes it the all-encompassing conclusion to the process? It's not the only irreversible step. It's not even the last in many cases, including mine. Why does it matter so much
what one has between one's legs? Others before me have said that we live in a society that intertwines the notions of sex and gender, and others after me will say it, and doubtless I won't be any more loudly heard than they
have, but still I feel the compulsion to point it out and decry it, even knowing that my protestations will be futile.

At any rate, everything for me to do in Thailand is finished, at least for now. Perhaps in the future I'll feel ready and interested to come back for the optional hardware upgrade, but for now the trip is finished, and in my
opinion, not a moment too soon. It's a wonderful place, but I'm ready to go home.


Dr. Sanguan stopped by the room about an hour ago, and he said that tomorrow
he's going to change the dressing on my side and my groin, and if everything
looks good he'll let me stand for a bit and walk around, but he still wants
me to take things carefully for a day or two, and then once he's removed the
catheter I should be able to get up and walk around without discomfort.
Already I don't hurt much, though I am sore from just lying still, and the
packing inside me isn't helping any with that.

Mostly what I'm fighting for pain right now is the steady but inconsistent
stream of migraines that have been hitting me at odd hours. It's always in
the same place, too. It feels like someone's shoving an ice-pick through my
left temple, and my vision swims while it's happening. I've had four of them
in the last two days. I have no idea what causes them, or how to get rid of
them other than lying back and trying to nap or else asking for massive
doses of painkillers that I don't even need for my surgical sites any more.
It's a little distressing to think that the headaches hurt worse than the
surgery wounds; the latter will heal in time.

Now it's just down to a waiting game. Waiting to change the packing. Waiting
to check the graft. Waiting to get the catheter out. Waiting to go back to
England. Even, as much as I'm looking forward to seeing Chloe again, waiting
to get home. I'm very weary right now, and I want to spend a night in my own
bed without any tubes or nurses around.

Hopefully it won't be too much longer.

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