Monday, 10 October 2016

Chronic pain and the promise of surgery

Later this month I should hopefully learn what my chances are of getting this reconstructive surgery. During this surgery the existing vagina should get joined up with the perineum and labia created from the empty scrotum's skin. Unlike what one might assume, my main hope with this surgery is not to appear and function more like a regular female. My main hope is that it may reduce the chronic pains which I suffer from.

Since I was eleven years old I have had regular periods, for the longest time merely experiencing it as weird pains and discomfort which I sought to dismiss and ignore as best as I could. I was supposed to be a guy after all, so it had to be just common guy things like an upset stomach and skin rashes or something. That lasted until I learned about my intersex condition.

Especially after I went on hormone therapy my body began to change, and the period symptoms began to change along with it. I began to experience more serious cramps, as well as sore hips and painful lower back, and finally excruciating pains at the end of the menstrual phase. Pains which persisted even after I went off hormone therapy as my body was producing sufficient female hormones on its own. Pains which are bad enough that I have to take the anti-conception pill to lessen the symptoms.

While the ovulation phase of my periods is sufficiently painful - with a sore right side and hips as well as abdominal discomfort - the fun really starts with the menstrual phase. This one features severe abdominal cramps, headaches, pain and discomfort in the vaginal area and ultimately what feels like an inflammation in this latter area.

What this means is that no matter whether I'm sitting, walking, standing, or lying down, it'll hurt or cause discomfort. Together with the menstrual phase this lasts between one and two weeks. The absolute worst part of it has to be that visiting the toilet becomes painful to excruciating. On some days, trying to defecate feels as if shards of glass are rending one's lower abdomen into shreds, resulting in checking for traces of blood, or making sure that no streams of blood are running down one's legs.

A lot of my current life is about living with pain. Yet at least one knows the physical pain will subsides again and I usually get about one relatively pain-free week every month. Worse is not knowing what is happening inside of my abdomen and how bad it may get. Or whether I'm risking sepsis, an increased risk of cancer or merely suffer internal scarring every month.

With this reconstructive surgery I may finally get the answers I seek. The about eight sets of abdominal MRI scans which were made over the years cannot answer the questions I have. Being able to physically examine the area in question could answer so many questions, and hopefully lead to treatment options. Better yet, it may even be a partial fix in itself, if the pain after the menstrual phase is due to menstrual fluid irritating the vaginal lining or other tissues before my body can reabsorb it.

I really hope for good news on the surgery and that I may soon find out in which ways it will improve my life.


Maya

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