Tomorrow I get to send my 1-month surgery to the clinic!
…Ok I know I’m actually a day early, but there’s no-way they’ll be there over the weekend, and I am eager to stop changing dressings. Even the very super gentle tape leaves welts on my skin, so I’ve been alternating between a sports bra (HEY dysphoria) or a minimal amount of tape (HEY soreness and losing my dressings halfway through the day). Yes I’m a fusspot, I know, but I was like this for the whole time the vest was on as well, so you should be used to it.
The big problem with recovery that I’ve found is – as I’ve said before – having no idea what to expect. I’m now not sure that they’ll need to do revisions on my chest, because I actually took the time to go and google what a cis-male chest looks like when the guy in question is not a muscular dancer/weight lifter/magazine type, and it turns out that I look pretty damn normal. Pop culture presentations of masculinity lied, who’d have thought it! That said, I also recognize that I’ve lost a ton of muscle mass and definition by taking a two-month break from my usual work-out regimen, and I can’t wait to get back to work. My shoulders have always been one of my favourite features and I very much want them back. Please and thank you.
The other thing I’ve been worrying about recently is nerve regrowth. My paperwork was very clear that I would feel the sensations of nerves regrowing over the first few weeks, and if you recall I absolutely did have weird nerve sensations. What wasn’t clear was how fast I would get how much sensation back, and I was a little irresponsible about not doing my research before I let myself worry. I mean, I knew there was a risk of losing some sensation, but I still have BIG patches where I can’t feel anything at all. Armpit down to bra-line, and the bottom-distal half of each side of my chest is still mostly numb… although I still have one odd nerve ending they missed right in the middle of my right side that tells me how cold my dressing changes are twice a day. Hang on little nerve, your friends are coming!
Today i got over my fears and looked on the internet, and it turns out that nerves regrow at the rate of… 1-4mm a day, and post-surgical regrowth is on the slower end of that. Scar tissue and inflammation will also slow down regrowth, and it could easily take a year or so for me to feel what I’m going to feel again. I checked in with a friend who also had surgery this year, and they confirmed that they’re also still missing some sensation, and recovering fine. There aren’t really any treatments or supplements that can help, although there’s a possibility that the right kinds of massage therapy could help break down the scar tissue. Wouldn’t you know it, daily massage is the next step on my recovery paperwork.
So it turns out that it’s really easy to panic and fret when you do something unusual to your body that’s not talked about that much on the internet. Here I am talking about it on the internet, and I am here to tell you that you are probably fine.