SRS in Bangkok
On February 19,2002 Chris and I got up early to catch our flight on North West Airlines for our much anticipated trip to Bangkok, Thailand to see Dr.Preecha Tiewtranon for my SRS ( Sex Reassignment Surgery) at BNHH (Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital)
I'd chosen Dr. Preecha after almost ten years of having living full time as a female and being on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HTR) and five years after I had had breast implants. After doing years of research I'd chosen DR. Preecha because I felt and still do that he is the very best at doing SRS based on the fact that he has performed over 3,000 of MTF over a 30 year period and has also done over 130 FTM surgeries. DR. Preecha has also been the head of Associate Professor of chairman of Plastic Surgery king Chulalongkar. President of the Society of aesthetic Surgeons of Thailand and President of Aesthetic Surgeons of Thailand which is a 7 floor hospital in the middle of Thailand. He has also studied in the United States. So for 'me' choosing him was the easy part.
After being on an airplane for 29 hours we finally arrived in Bangkok at about2:00 am in the morning to a pretty much empty airport and that is probably when it really sunk in that I was here to have a life long dream come true !! I was excited and frightened at the same time.and when the person who was suppose to meet us was not there, a little scared.. It actually took us another hour and a half to find our pick-up person and to begin our trip to the hospital from the airport which took about 45 mins of a wild drive through the streets of Bangkok.
Bangkok is and unbelievable big city with many modern buildings built right along side of some very poor sections. The majority of the people are Buddhist (which I am also) and are very humble and smiling people. They are unbelievably friendly, happy people that are so very poor that it will humble you. They just choose not to dwell on that as it is just the way that it is.
We arrived at the hospital at about 4:00 am and went through a side entrance to check in and after some language barriers we were shown to our room on the 4th floor. Although very tired we couldn't help but to look out our window at all the activity below as the city never sleeps and to marvel at all the huge skyscrapers. I'd never imagine that Bangkok was such a modern city !! After about 45 mins we tried to lay down for a much needed sleep and to see what was in store for us. Imagine our surprise when the phone in our room at about 7:00 a.m.) and we were told in very broken English to go to the 7th floor to fill out some paper work and to hand over all the results that I had done in the US to prepare for the SRS. These were tests done on my heart.(EKG) ,results of blood work, two letters from Doctors I've seen back home and to be weighed and signed in and was sent back to our room and told to wait for another call. So there we are trying to get a little more sleep when the phone rang about 9:30 and again in very broken English were told to once again to come to the 7th floor ,this time to see DR.Preecha himself! We get up there and now there are many more nurses and workers behind the huge front counter and were almost immediately escorted in Dr.Preechas office where we are to meet him. As soon as we are in his office he gets up from behind his desk and with the biggest smile ever greets us in a way that just makes you feel so safe. We sit down and he goes over my letters of approval and then begins to tell us about the procedure which is called a 'Penile skin inversion Vaginal Plasty' (try saying that 5 times real fast lol ) and then he has me drop my shorts to do a quick lookie / see and says there will be no problem. Also at this time I bring up the idea about having a Rhinoplasty done at the same time I was 'under' as my nose had been broken when I was young and I've always have had and unsightly bump that kind of always bothered me. Now of course there was a little more to this but this is the short version of what it was like. He also made sure that I had stopped my HRT for at least a month before this as that is also a requirement for SRS.
After a little bit of small talk much to my surprise DR. Preecha tells us (Chris and I ) that my surgery is scheduled for 3:00 that very day ! When I say 'much to my surprise' I mean that we both thought that we would have at least a day to adjust to the new surroundings and recover from our very long flight. This is going to happen in just a few hours and neither of us was thinking in those terms. So off again we go back to our room on the 4th floor to try to get some much needed rest but that is not to be either as we are called to the bottom floor of the hospital for more paper work and by time time we get our room again there is a nurse there to get me the prep work for my procedure. This is not the most pleasant thing to go through but needs to be done as you are to eat nothing for 24 hours before and they have to clean your bowels out via enema and you must have your whole genital area shaved. This part I did myself in the rooms bathroom.
So with very little rest and what seems like almost immediately after all the prep all of a sudden two nurse show up at the door to my room with a gurney to take me away!
When I awoke five or six hours later the first thing I remember is how much my nose hurt and seeing that Chris was right there next to me and that was the most beautiful site I could ever hope for. It takes a few mins for it all to register as you are awaking from a very deep sleep and I had all sorts of tubes in me and bandages in and on my nose and face. I can honestly sat that the nose hurt much more than the SRS itself as I have had many surgeries in the past which had much more pain than what I was feeling 'below, Of course I was given pain meds intravenously which helps a lot but still it hurts. I was able to take a self discovery kind of survey and with Chris help was able to recollect my thoughts enough to know that I came through everything just fine and that all had went well. Chris was able to produce a mirror that when I saw my face I was not quite sure who it was that was looking back at me.
I'm not too sure as what the first two days were like as I was in and out of sleep and outside of the Doctors and nurses checking on me I would have some in and out conversations with Chris and I remember insisting that she go out and enjoy herself instead of staying there with me all day.Chris was able to visit many temples and even signed up for a Thai Massage class to get certified as she already was in the US.I spent the time watching TV and just getting my strength back as although the pain from the surgery was very tolerable the weakness I felt was very evident. It's time to mention here that I received some of the very best care that I have every experienced while being in a hospital some that many US hospitals could learn a lesson from.
I think it was on the morning of the third day that two nurses came into my room with one of Dr. Preechs understudies to remove the packing from my nose which is all in all a very unpleasant experience. The Doctor who did this spoke pretty good English so I remember having a conversation about the skiing in Colorado as he was a Ski buff himself. Later that third day I was able to get out of bed and move around some although this proved to be a little uncomfortable. Outside of the window in my room I could see that there was a court a court yard with Palm trees and bushes although I was on the third floor and this caused me a bit of confusion because of the medication I was on but I do remember telling myself that I would do my beginning walking stages in that court yard.
Now, the first time I was up and walking I had a rolling device which I was able to put my IV and the two different tubes which were inside me below the waste on and hang on to and get around but the second time I got up to walk I just placed these tubes into a plastic grocery bag that I had brought with me and looped the handles through a belt to my waste. Everyone thought this was quite the site as I guess it hadn't been done before but I was excited about getting around and getting my strength back. I was able to on the second walk to get to the court yard and take one trip around which took over an hour with some steps on the way, all this of course with Chris at my side.
I believe it was on the forth morning that the team came into my room to remove the tubes and packing from the SRS and this is definitely a thing that I think would have been more pleasant if I was put back to sleep ! To the amusement of all, Chris brought up a chair to stand on and was taking pictures of all this ! As thought this were not embarrassing enough. She was even having the Doctor and nurses move aside as to get a better photo op. I found this to be funny and so unlike any side I have ever seen of her !
Over the next day or so I would get out of my bed to take the elevator to the court yard and take walks as to try to regain my strength as it's is amazing at how weak I was from the Surgery and of course with the very hot heat and humidity that Thailand is known for. I was able to take three of these walks every day till the day came when Chris came back from her Massage class one afternoon on the fifth day and announced that she had a Tut Tut with a driver waiting to take me for my very first outing away from the hospital! A Tut Tut is a very noisy ,three wheeled motorcycle kind of transportation which is very common on the streets of Bangkok and the biggest mistake that I made in this adventure was to forget to bring my 'donut pillow' which is issued to all SRS patients. You just wouldn't believe how uncomfortable the ride was without it. All I wanted to do was to have the driver take us down by a big river which I knew was close to the hospital from a map which I saw in the lobby. It was so exciting to get away from the hospital and to see some of the sites ?
Over the next few days I got stronger and stronger and would do several 'out of the hospital' outings and venture further away from the hospital on each one. After each one of these I would have to go to the hospital to rest up for the next one. Within 6-7 days I was able to do pretty much a full day of sightseeing and explore much of this wonderful city.
The care and results from the surgery were all just one huge and wonderful success. They have you begin the dilation ' process' on the 5 th day afterwards and this is three times a day for about a half hour each time. Although this is not a painful process it is also not a comfortable one either.
The whole experience Chris and I had in Bangkok was one that neither one of us shall ever forget. Every aspect of the surgeries went very well and for those of you who are wondering, everything works GREAT ! I know I may have left out some parts of this trip but I'm also trying to keep this short. If anyone has any questions I can answer please feel free to ask me either in the chat room or by E-mail. I would highly recommend a trip to Thailand for anyone who is thinking of having SRS. I'd even consider a return trip to the country myself. One last word; the ride home can be pretty unpleasant as it is a very long plane trip and you do remain little swollen and sore 'down there' for a couple weeks so be sure you don't forget your donut pillow.