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.