Pre-operative Consult

Three weeks ago, I had an appointment to meet my surgeon. It was at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting. The hospital seems to be a new construction or has recently been renovated. The landscaping had not yet been planted, and I passed some heavy equipment outside. Inside was nice, but had confusing hallways, like all hospitals must. I found my clinic quickly. There was a guy I knew in the waiting room, waiting to see the same surgeon. He had gone online and found some pictures of the surgeon’s work and talked to a happy recipient of the same surgery, so he was very positive about her. After a longish wait and a nice chat with my friend, I was ushered into her office. She examined me, told me what sort of operation I’m to have and talked about recovery times.
She asked me to take off my shirt and produced a small tape measure, which she used to measure the distance between my neck and my nipples. One of my moobs has always been more droopy than he other, something exacerbated as testosterone has slightly (not entirely, alas) deflated them. “You’re quite asymmetric” she said, which suddenly called to mind the time I got my left nipple pierced. The piercer had gotten it crooked and had blamed it on my having “weird nipples.” It’s a good thing I already wanted to get rid of the moobs!
Anyway, what will happen is that the surgeon will cut off my nips, remove extra moob from around where the nips were, then re-attach the nips and sew it all back up. This method leaves minimal scars. I forgot to ask if I would have any feeling in any temporarily amputated parts, but it seems unlikely. Alas for that, but it seems like a worthwhile trade off and it’s possible that feeling may slowly return over time. When I had a tumor cut out of my finger, years ago, the top of my finger was numb for a couple of years, but is now normal. 

The surgeon explained that given my existing asymmetry, I should expect to have some later and cautioned me that if I got out a tape measure, I might be disturbed. (Buck Angel, who has a perfect chest had greater asymmetry than I, but he went to a Hollywood doctor and paid a small fortune. As I’m getting this for free and don’t plan a career in porn, I’m pretty ok with this.) So I will be keeping my odd nipples and my lopsided chest. Whatever. At least I’ll be able to cavort around topless and even do wild and crazy things like wear T-shirts. 

Any surgery carries an infection risk, which she didn’t seem overly concerned about. And there’s some chance my nipples would fall off, which, thankfully, is very rare. She blocked out 2 hours of operating room time, but it should be quicker than that. I’ll have to stay overnight in hospital. So the risks are acceptably low and I’m happy this is coming, but it is more serious and invasive than I had realised. 

I can expect to feel really shit for a week. Because Xena pulls on her lead, I probably can’t walk her during this time. Then, I can’t lift anything or do any exercise for 6 weeks. So no gigs for me, unless I get a roadie. I’ll also need to wear a post-surgical binder. She explained that the NHS did not currently fund the one she thought was best, although she’s been pushing for it, so I should try to buy my own. She cautioned me that it will be kind of pricey. How much? I asked. Around £50. She explained that if I couldn’t afford it, they could provide something else and I shouldn’t worry about it. So I’ll be that much out of pocket, plus the £7 copay on whatever pain killers. My first new T-shirt is going to say “God Bless the NHS.”

The surgeon asked me if I had anymore questions and I asked why she goes by Ms. rather than Dr. She told me that she, like all surgeons, was qualified as a doctor. But then she had done several extra years of training to qualify as a surgeon. It’s customary for surgeons to go by Mr or Ms to signify their greater level of training. She also said it had historical roots from the old days when surgeons/barbers had entirely different training than doctors, who just did bloodletting and prescribed drugs. It’s kind of weird that her profession is descended from shaving beards. I did not bring up Sweeney Todd, but I thought of him. 

After answering all of my questions and whatnot, I was sent off to have “before” pictures taken. The NHS documents everything, she explained. I got somewhat lost on the way, but a helpful woman noticed me looking lost and offered directions. On the way to the multimedia department, I passed several classrooms and a student examination in progress. St. George’s is also a medical school.
The multimedia department had a proper photo studio with lighting and backdrops. I had to sign a consent form which asked if my pictures could also be used for teaching. I said they could. The photographer explained my face would not be in the pictures. I told him that I had recognised somebody’s before pictures from his tattoos. The photographer looked surprised by that idea and I suspect may bring it up at a future meeting. For the pictures, I had to face different directions. It felt like I would imagine how getting a mugshot feels. 

And that was it. I went home. About 2 weeks later, I got voicemail scheduling my pre-op appointment, which will be 15 June. The operation will probably be two weeks after that, I think. I don’t know. It’s hard to plan things when I don’t know dates, but I’m pretty happy.

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Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

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