Mary Jo and I woke today to a beautiful Trinidad morning, took a long walk around the state-named streets — Colorado, Arizona, Kansas — enjoying the victorian building style mixed with the adobe and the ranch house. I think my favorite street is Colorado, which runs E-W off Arizona Street: this beautiful boulevard has well-watered and -kept grass in its ample median and is lined with the nicest homes in central Trinidad.

Doctor’s orders were to eat nothing solid today, so I was limited to coffee and juice this morning, and I drank a few cups of chicken broth, many Frescas (which I haven’t tasted since childhood and now love, with its citrus base), and sparkling waters.

We went to the clinic around noon, where we signed paperwork, got prescriptions, met Dr. Bowers’ staff, and learned that we were to come back the next morning at 9:00 to prep for surgery. Dr. Bowers only does 1 surgery on Thursdays, and 2 surgeries on other days, so I would not (as it turned out) have to get up at 4:30 to go to the hospital for early surgery. We also got admitted into the hospital and got some blood drawn in preparation for the next day. We visited the pharmacy on Main Street and got our big jug of bowel prep, along with some other goodies for the two of us, then returned to the guest house. I mixed the prep, adding water to the fill-line in this gallon jug, shaking well, then storing in the refrigerator to make it easier to drink.

My friend Mary Rae arrived in the afternoon, and we talked a bit, but most of our interaction would take place in the hospital and in the Morning After House a few days later.

Mary Jo and I walked around the neighborhood again after lunch, visiting the nearby beautiful Kit Carson park, an upside-down bowl-shaped park with deep green sides, a huge gazebo at the top, and a big bronze of Kit Carson on his horse on the south side, facing west and looking left onto downtown Trinidad. Mary Jo and I had planned on trying to walk up to the Trinidad sign, and old-school, lit sign on the hill to the NW of downtown, and just west of the guest house, but we ran out of time. Mary Jo will be able to climb the hill on her own while I’m in the hospital, I’m sure. Instead, I had the first of 6 massages we bought for ourselves (3 for me, 3 for Mary Jo), and this masseuse helped me initiate a relaxed physical and mental space from which to begin my surgical experience. I think everyone should make use of Alissa’s services when they come here for GRS. She was playing some sort of oriental new-age music and I visualized myself suiting up for battle, both steeling myself to the chore which lay ahead of me and also focusing and meditating on the calm energy I would need.

The Evil Drink
I was supposed to begin drinking the bowel prep at 3:00, drinking 8 ounces every 10 minutes until it was all finished. I settled into our upstairs apartment with a straight shot to the bathroom, and began around 3:30. Much is made of the day before GRS and the chore of drinking the evil drink, the bowel prep. These fears, I am here to tell you, are simply overblown. It’s a salty drink that’s not difficult to swallow, but it is definitely the case that a chilled drink would be much better than a warm one. I found that holding my breath and downing the glass swiftly made the process pretty easy.

My routine began: drinking, sitting down with the laptop, watching the clock, visiting the bathroom when necessary and repeating. At 128 ounces divided by 8 ounces (more or less, as I just filled my drinking glass about halfway), the process took me 16 glasses times an average of 12 minutes, for a total of 192 minutes, or around 3.5 hours. All the visits to the bathroom were over by 8:00 or 8:30, and we sat around talking with Danny and Carol and generally trying to calm nerves. There was no point in going to bed early, as we could rise fairly late with no problems.

I previously reported to you that I haven’t felt anything intense about this trip, but I began to feel the gravity of my decision to come to Trinidad. The waiting this evening is quite difficult, but it’s great to have others to talk to. Everyone I’ve met here in Trinidad is nervous, or has been nervous, which is not to say anyone has doubts or regrets, but rather uncertainty as to whether the surgery is absolutely necessary, whether going through elective surgery when they’re healthy and transitioned is a good thing. I will undoubtedly write about the role of this guest house in the entire experience, but it seems to me that the space for all of us to share experiences, both before and after surgery, and to empathize with nerves and worries as no one else is able to do is utterly beneficial to me, as well as to Mary Jo. I cannot imagine doing this hunkered down over at the hotel on the highway, separated from the experiences and knowledge of those who are on the same journey.

We ended the day sipping a glass of scotch, as I was allowed 1 alcoholic drink. Being so empty and so tired from the bowel prep, the 18-year Talisker went straight to my head, and I could only drink half my glass. We jumped into bed to talk, as we have done so many times during these past 3 years, to reaffirm our love and our commitment to each other and to this strange, wonderful process, and to look forward to a second-half of our lives that in some ways is so alien as to defy recognition, but in some ways is simply a continuation of lives lived together.