Thursday, 19 October 2006

The famous case of the stitches

Wednesday 17 October 2007

I have the real story.

For weeks I watched for my stitches to fall out. As long as they still hadn’t come out I couldn’t consider myself completely recovered. Those damned stitches were THE black spot of my healing. They exasperated me. And I watched for the day when I could tell myself they had come out.

I felt they were hindering me, I asked myself if they were going to be trapped in my reconstructed flesh. I was terrified all the same. I couldn’t forget them, saying to myself , “Oh it doesn’t matter if they’re still there”. I really didn’t at all want to live with these stitches transplanted on to my clitoris until the end of my days.

I am the sort who worries, so last week I returned to Dr Foldès and I had the real story.

There were no stitches any more. Not at all. Not for a long time.

No, no, no, no, it wasn’t possible. I felt them after all! They couldn’t have fallen out already, don’t you see. It was impossible!

Well, no, it was true. The stitches were dissolvable. So they had “disappeared” about five weeks after the operation, which would be around the last week of June.

I gaped at Dr Foldès. Speechless. I really couldn’t get over it. How was that, the stitches dissolved? How was that, they dissolved? Where did this news come from? Hadn't I understood anything?

It was unbelievable. For all these weeks when I thought I could feel the stitches, when I was waiting to see them flap about and then fall out in little bits, for all these weeks of worry and frustration, there were no stitches. There were no longer any stitches.

I immediately felt stupid. Really embarrassed I answered Dr Foldès that the consultation didn’t need to continue as I had come because I was worried that I hadn’t seen the stitches come out.

Hells’ bells, I could have made do with calling by telephone. But no. I had made the journey from Paris on a Thursday afternoon, leaving my work like a thief, indecently early, just to learn that my stitches had fallen out ages ago. This was unbelievable!

How could I have missed this critical information about my stitches? How had I not understood it?

There weren’t too many theories. Either Dr Foldès had never spoken to me about it (but I doubt that very much and his surprised expression confirmed to me that this was a fanciful theory), or I had misunderstood (that rapidly seemed to me to be right).

There was a total misunderstanding. Because of the verb “to fall out”.

We both use the verb “to fall out”, Dr Foldès and I, when we talk about the stitches and their disappearance. Except that we don’t hear it in the same way.

For me, when someone says of something that it’s going to fall, especially a stitch, I visualise a dropping. In the situation we are currently studying, I see the dropping of a thread. I see it leaving point A (my intimate area for example) and describing a straight vertical movement towards the base, this movement only being stopped by an obstacle on which the stitch is immobilised at point B (the bottom of my pants or the floor, for example). In fact, as I had a very precise image of the expression “the stitches are going to fall out”, I was sure that that was going to happen. The stitches were going to drop out and I would see them.

Except that for Dr Foldès, obviously, the definition of the verb “to fall out” in the expression “the stitches will fall out” isn’t at all the same. For him a stitch which falls out is a stitch which disappears. The way it leaves the flesh doesn’t matter, just the fact that they leave and “fall out” means “no longer in the wound”. He added that the fact that there was no appointment planned in the procedure for clitoral reconstruction for removal of the stitches showed that the stitches were dissolvable.

Certainly, that’s true. But I hadn’t thought about it.

On the way home, I was torn between incredulity and wanting to laugh. This news was astounding. And, on the RER which was taking me back to Paris, I was happy. There were no more stitches. Everything was over and I could definitely close this chapter of my healing.

All the same, in reality it had been closed for weeks, the weeks I was hesitating about going to see Dr Foldès to ease my mind. So, knowing that the end of my healing was already far behind me moderated my joy somewhat.

That evening I re-read the document which he had given to me the day after the operation and which had the title “Immediately after surgery to repair the clitoris”.

And it said: “The sutures used are dissolvable, so there is no need for them to be taken out, they will fall out themselves during the first five or six weeks”.

So, OK, OK, I had completely zapped the word “dissolvable” but I had retained the sentence, “They will fall out themselves in the first five or six weeks”. And that sentence could well say what it seemed to say, couldn’t it?

I think so: it seems to say that the stitches are going to come out by themselves. And fall.

So I have spent weeks waiting for the stitches to fall out, stitches which had disappeared ages ago.

So there you have the real story.

[Original in French]

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  1. hi,can someone tell me if the reconstruction of the clitoris is only done in france? what about england?

    do you have to be 18?

    what about if you are 16, or 17? will you need parental consent then?

  2. Fozia, I have a telephone number of someone you could call. She may be able to help you. Please send me an email on a.alapage {at} and I will send you the number. You may not have to be 18.


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