It's done! At around 10:00am Liz Hills, with another nurse and a doctor, cut the T bandage (thank God) unsutured me, wetted everything extensively with a sterile solution squished from plastic tubes so that nothing would stick to my skin, and gently drew out the tape used for packing my new vagina.
And let me explode at once any myth that three miles of tape have been crammed within, and that extraction will seem endless. It was all over in a jiffy. And it didn't tickle either!
Then after a wipe, Liz gently inserted Little Joe, the smaller of the two dilators, showing me the right approach angle and explaining how to get Little Joe past the slight squeeze-point between the pelvic bone and muscle. Joe slid in very nicely at the first attempt, and at my request Liz used my little Leica to get some pictures of Joe in position. All unique, unrepeatable personal-history stuff!
Why 'Little Joe'? Well, if you are old enough to remember all the cowboy and ranching series on TV back in the 1960s and 1970s you'll recall Bonanza, and Little Joe was one of the sons of Ben Cartwright, the owner of the Ponderosa ranch, the other sons being Adam and Hoss. I just thought, since the smaller dilator ideally needed to have 'little' in its name, then 'Little Joe' was a fairly good choice! Whether it becomes permanent is one of Life's Immense Imponderables. As for the larger dilator, 'Big Jim' will do for now. There's clearly a wide area here for creative thinking!
After the first 'demo' they sat me in a chair for a short while, and then I was up for the first proper dilation by my own hand, ten minutes with Joe, followed by ten minutes with Jim. That went fine. Then it was into the ensuite bathroom for a bath, made only slightly awkward because I was still attached to the catheter (Mr Thomas will take it out personally later today - not long from now). What sheer unadulterated pleasure to sink into the warm water! I cried. It was ecstasy. And I cried more as the smells of dried blood and wound oozings in places they couldn't wash in bed were now soaked away. There really wasn't a lot to get rid of. I was far less bloody and matted with sundry excretions than I'd supposed!
I soaked, and for the first time felt this could really all be managed very well indeed. How very interesting it was to see only a cleft between two swollen bits, as I pondered my groin. I kneaded my bottom into life again. How strange: it was soft and wobbly, not the thin emaciated posterior I'd expected! How wonderful it would be to recover all the female curves rapidly.
Having drained the bath, I was shown how to douche, then it was back onto the bed in time for an absolutely amazing roast Sunday Lunch - chicken, potatoes, carrots, honey-glazed parsnips, stuffing, gravy. With ice cream to follow. Oh joy.
This is living! Or at least the first taste of a new era in my life. And to think I feared death as a possible outcome. But I hadn't known exactly how it would be. Now I do. Stout Cortez indeed, silent upon a peak in Darien, as he beheld the vast Pacific Ocean for the very first time. But I'm still more taken with Tennyson's Ulysses, who, in old age, calls his friends together for a last voyage of adventure; and especially the final two heroic lines that I quoted a few posts back:
To strive, to seek, to find
And not to yield.
Certainly that's how I'd now want to live my life.