Sunday, 21 May 2006

From the other side of the miracle

Monday 21 May 2007

When I opened my eyes I was in a bed in another room. And I was in terrible pain. I cried, saying “It hurts” again and again and the nurse, who, two minutes before had confirmed that “no, I wouldn’t be in pain” (when I think back I'm totally on edge again), put me on a drip to relieve the pain.

I believe the operation took around twenty minutes and the anaesthetic approximately an hour.

I don’t remember the trip back to my room very well, it was as though I was in cotton wool. My room mate wasn’t there. I don’t remember her returning. I was dozing, I felt very tired, I was in pain …

I remember however my room mate demanding something to eat and the explanations from the nurses (we had to wait several hours before eating, the time taken for the anaesthetic to wear off completely, for fear of suffocating from swallowing the wrong way). And I remember also the nurse taking my blood pressure 3 or 4 times during the day.

The first of my circle to show themselves was my man. He came to see me around 4 pm, just when we were brought our tea (stewed apple, two butter biscuits and a madeleine). I was so happy to see him that I cried when he left.

Then I received my phone calls. My best friend first. Then my cousin. Then my mother. I had given her the clinic’s number but I didn’t think she’d phone me.

I still don’t know exactly what I felt when I heard her, but there was some relief in any case, and also pleasure. She asked me lots of questions, how it went, how I felt, was I in pain, when would I be leaving etc. … She told me to make sure I explained the whole sequence to her as soon as I returned home. That really pleased me that my mother was interested in me like that, it touched me. It’s rather new for me.

My mother then passed me over to my father who had just come home. He still had his distant tone, embarrassed. He didn’t speak to me much, just asked how I was, I think. There too, I don’t remember the words we exchanged well. I didn’t want to speak to him, I held it against him, his tone of voice, this distance that I felt, this rigidity.

To say that I was afraid he would give me a hard time, I found his near-indifference worse in the end. I am disappointed when I think of my father. Disappointed and angry.

The night was difficult, I took a long time to go to sleep, unlike my room mate. I was in pain, in spite of the painkillers which a nurse brought to me. I wanted to pee but I dare not, I was afraid of even more pain. And then there was this giant sanitary towel which irritated me too.

Next morning I was impatient again. I wanted to go home. Quickly. A nurse came to tell us that Dr Foldès was coming to see us and we had to wait to see him before we could leave the clinic.

While waiting, I chatted a bit with my room mate. She was 36 and had 4 children by an unhappy first marriage. The operation, in her case, was because she felt sexually frustrated. And also because she was afraid of her second husband leaving her if she weren’t more “playful” in bed. She told me that each time she gave birth or each time she saw a gynaecologist, she asked in vain, if it were possible to do something for her and her total absence of pleasure. She had heard about Dr Foldès on television and called him next day to make an appointment.

The doctor came by in a gust of wind. He gave us, my room mate and me, a prescription and a leaflet entitled “Immediate after effects of surgery to repair the clitoris”. Then he signed me off work until 25 May. He then explained to us very rapidly the care we should take, and then left again. I didn’t have time to write down what he said, I didn’t have time to tell him that I was in more pain on the left side of my sex than on the right, I didn’t have time to ask him if it was normal.

Before leaving he told us to call in three weeks to find out which days he was consulting and to turn up without an appointment on a day he would be there.

A few minutes later, after a call from the clinic’s reception, I went down (at the speed of a tortoise and that still gave me plenty of pain) paid the excess charge of 300 euros for the surgeon and the 9 euros that the telephone and television cost me.

My man arrived just when the young woman at the reception gave me a slip for the patient to sign, a hospitalisation slip, each with three copies (one for me, one for social security and one for the insurance company).

I was in an excellent mood, I chirruped with my love on the stairs on the stairs while going back up to collect my bag. I couldn’t stop myself smiling I was so happy. I wanted to hug everyone. The atmosphere was strange though. The clinic was very quiet on this holiday Thursday [Ascension Day], I had the impression that nobody was there apart from the young woman in reception and Dr Foldès’ patients who were walking around the corridors (I recognised them by their way of walking, so like mine).

I came across one on the stairs as I went down again. I smiled at her but she had a glum air which I didn’t understand. Life was so beautiful, how was it possible to be so sad?

My man took me to the pharmacy when we arrived back in Paris. I bought:

- Brexin [anti-inflammatory] (1 tablet to be taken each morning for 10 days)
- DiAntalvic (2 to 4 tablets a day in case of pain)
- A bottle of iodine and a packet of 100 sterile swabs (I have to do my intimate toilet 4 times a day with dilute iodine and the swabs and rinse thoroughly afterwards)
- A packet of soft cotton sanitary towels

Then he took me to devour an enormous entrecote steak. With loads of chips [fries]. To make me forget the depressing, and rather light as far as portion size was concerned, food in the clinic.

When I switched my mobile phone back on, I had a message from my mother who wanted to know if I had returned home and who repeated that she was 100% behind me. I called her back, I was really happy to chat with her. I told her about my room mate, about the delicious steak I had just eaten, my treatments … Before ringing off, she thanked my man for looking after me so well. It gave me great pleasure to feel her so nearby. It was lovely. I felt soothed when I rang off.

I also called my cousin. I had all the same had time to ask Dr Foldès how women living abroad could proceed in order to benefit from the operation. In reality it’s quite simple: all that’s necessary is to have insurance which covers overseas and which will pay for the operation. She need therefore to come to be examined by Dr Foldès who will give an estimate to be sent to the insurance company. As soon as they agree, she can make an appointment for the operation.

My cousin was delighted. So was I.

So that’s how these important days went by. I am happy to have set down the details here. For me, for other circumcised women, for my children later on, for the whole world in fact. Yes, I am happy. Even if I found the exercise curiously difficult …

[Original in French]

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