Figuring Out Your Pre-Operative Appointments Before Your Transition
By Andrew Adams
I’m having phalloplasty in less than 3 months. Wow! Time has flown by. My surgeon sent me the pre-operative appointment schedule, as well as the post-operative appointment schedule. The surgery clinic is contacting my insurance to make sure my surgery is covered. I’m looking into recovery facilities and travel. It’s becoming real and I can’t wait! 3 months seems like a long time still, but it also feels incredibly short. Here’s what I’m doing to prepare now that it’s a little bit closer!
I’m taking care of my mental and physical health as best I can first. My surgeon recommended me try to lose a little bit of weight, and even though I do not intend to track my weight due to that being a little bit triggering to me, I’m still focusing on moving more. I’m going to the gym, building muscle, focusing on my surgery arm to build strength and dexterity in my arm and hand, going for walks, and doing exercise that I enjoy, such as martial arts. Speaking of dexterity, I know that during phalloplasty, they take several nerves from my arm and connect them in the new phallus, so my hand will require physical therapy to get my movement back. To prepare for this, I’m playing guitar and piano more in order to build as much dexterity as possible to hopefully make it easier to come back to those things after surgery. In terms of mental health, I’ve taken up meditation, focusing on my relationship with my body, the potential issues I could have during my recovery, and how even if all goes well, I will still be in a recovery facility and unable to care for myself for several weeks. I’ve been making sure my therapy sessions, my journaling, and my meditation is focused on all of these topics so that I can be in the best mental place I can be when surgery time comes around.
Another huge topic of consideration at this point for me is money. My insurance should cover the surgery itself, and I will likely be at a hospital in my network, but I will have an abundance of additional fees and things to pay for. Plane tickets, my out of pocket maximum, my deductible, the hotel room for my fiancé while I’m in the hospital, any supplies I need, food, and the bills back home while I’m out of work all need to be considered. Unfortunately, my best efforts of saving money aren’t going to cut it. I have a few options — care credit or similar medical loans, and personal loans. Care credit is good, it’s basically a credit card for medical use, but it has limitations on what it can be used for. Personal loans are more flexible, but tend to cost more per month to pay off and may have higher interest rates, which means you’ll be paying more overall. I’m going to be using a personal loan. This is because I want that flexibility to pay for not only the medical expenses, but also the travel, food, hotel for my fiancé, and things for my mental health, such as notebooks, a game to keep me busy and my mind occupied, as well as bills while I’m out of work. This is my plan right now, and I’ll change it if I need to as time goes on.
Overall, I’m so excited for surgery. I’m realizing how daunting a process my recovery is going to be, but I’m making progress and taking steps to prepare as best I can so that I can face the challenges head on. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
About the Author
Andrew (he/him) is a transgender student at the University of Central Florida where he is studying psychology in the hopes of becoming a therapist. He is a peer mentor for at risk teenagers at Aspire Health Partners, and he enjoys gardening, taking care of several pet reptiles, playing the piano, and replaying Skyrim on X-Box. While he has focused on his own growth and wellbeing recently, he has previously worked or volunteered with The Trevor Project, Point of Pride, GLSEN, March For Our Lives, and for local political campaigns as an advocate for LGBTQ rights. Specifically, he also is the plaintiff in an ongoing legal battle against his high school who barred him from using the men’s bathroom due to him being transgender, and that legal battle is still ongoing (See Adams v. St John’s County School Board). Additionally, as an Autistic ADHDer with a connective tissue disorder, Andrew is an advocate for both neurodiversity and disability rights.