Since we had surgery moved from 6:00 to 9:00, Mary Jo and I had ample time to get ready without rushing around in the pre-dawn hours. I took a long shower, being aware of the possibility that it might be a while before I felt able to shower again. The shower, getting dressed, and getting ready to go felt to me very ceremonial. I remember thinking about how I was perfectly healthy and yet I was about to submit to a procedure that will enfeeble me for a couple of weeks. I also sat and talked with Mary Jo about how it feels as if my GID is gone and that I finally feel normal. It was like suiting up for battle with special dietary restrictions (Mary Jo ate with relish a pastry and coffee and I could have none), special clothes (no jewelry, makeup, etc.), and special mental preparation.

We took the shuttle over to Boston Medical Center around 8:45 and checked in. Not being allowed any makeup or jewelry or anything like that, I felt kind of neutral, but I got a very pleasant surprise when they put on my arm band — Dr. Spiegel had me registered as a 48-yr-old Female, so all morning I was getting calls for “Mrs. Bailey” and “honey” and “dear,” all based on that “F” on the papers. I think some people knew that I was neither fish nor fowl, but honestly, at this point, when you’re looking at surgery and serious things, gender presentation doesn’t matter that much, and it certainly didn’t bother me one way or the other as long as I felt I was getting good medical attention.

They called me in to the prep area at 10:00 sharp, and told Mary Jo she could go no further. I wasn’t ready to say good bye but we held a hug for a long, deep time, trying to convey to the other that we’re going to get through this and that we’ll all be OK, and then I was on my own.

Judy, a southern woman who had lived in Texas for a while, was my main nurse, assisted by 4th year medical student Ebony. They installed my IV and asked me the same questions that everyone else asked me all morning (presumably to avoid making a mistake). Dr. Spiegel came in and talked about what we were about to do, and when he asked me to remind him of my profession (teaching rhetoric, the reader will recall), he said, “that’s odd — you’ll be the third FFS for an American rhetorician I’ve done.” Employing all sorts of trickery, I couldn’t get him to violate his patient-doctor privilege, and thus remained in the dark about my colleagues who have had this procedure done.

Unlike the last time (and only time) I was under general anesthesia, I didn’t make it into the OR before I was out. We had been waiting for IV antibiotics, and Judy and Ebony said, let’s go ahead and get you asleep and we’ll get the antibiotic into your IV when it arrives. We started moving, and that was all I remember.

General anesthesia is funny because that very moment immediately dovetails into your first next moment, which, for me, was 7 or 8 hours later in the recovery room. I couldn’t see anything because my eyes were stuck or swollen shut, and that was frustrating — it also made recovery pretty strange, and I was happy to be finally wheeled up to my own room, where I apparently asked if Mary Jo knew I was out. The nurses said they had called her and that she was on her way to the hospital after her online class was over.

The night was just a haze, shuffling blind with nurse’s help to the bathroom, and adjusting the ice on my eyes.