22 May 2007
Today I am walking almost normally. Almost. Because I am holding myself oddly when upright. I’m exaggerating the arch of my spine and as a result, obviously, I have backache after several minutes standing.
The daily reduction of the pain has been a lovely surprise on awakening since Thursday. I can’t really even say pain, at the time of writing these words. It’s more of a dragging feeling. As a result I have started to ignore my best friends, the painkillers.
Nevertheless, contrary to what you might think, it’s not better to be dragged than to be in pain. Far from it even.
The dragging is worrying enough that I have the impression that something is going to give way, causing a haemorrhage or destroying all the work of the surgeon. So I take note of my feelings, I change position when I feel tension increasing in the region of the operation. When I am sitting or lying down I need one or two minutes to find a comfortable position. And so, standing up, I hold myself in a way that minimises the tightening while letting me find my balance, to the detriment of my back.
The pain and the stinging have a use all the same: that’s what makes me diligent in the care I need to give myself. In effect, I have to carry out intimate cleaning 4 times a day with the sterile swabs soaked in dilute red iodine. And I have to rinse thoroughly. Which means using the shower head. And so I take a mini-shower each time. Four times a day. When waking (well that’s not too much of a problem it’s true, as I take a full shower in any case), at about 2:00pm then about 7:00 pm and finally before going to bed. It’s frankly annoying. So it’s fortunate that there is this pain, that there is this pulling. If I didn’t feel anything at all it would be very difficult not to skip some of the care.
The clitoris is a very long organ (approximately 11 cm/4 inches) of which only a little is found outside the body. Circumcision consists of cutting this end which protrudes, while damaging the labia minora at the same time.
In order to do the repair, the surgeon therefore had to remove the scar tissue from my circumcision, then he cut and disengaged my clitoris. He reconstituted a clitoral gland at the end which he then repositioned so that it would protrude. So that the clitoris would not retract to its anterior position (so that it doesn’t “go back” again) he “wedged” it and sutured it with reabsorbable thread in front of the labia majora so that they keep it in place.*.
In my case he also injected a product into my labia minora so thet they would take on the normal shape again.
The pulling and pain are from where? All my genital area is swollen, tight and sensitive. I also have a slight pink discharge (nothing compared with the haemorrhage I imagined when I saw the giant sanitary towels in the clinic on Tuesday evening, nor with periods either) but the flow is not much at all.
At the time of my daily cleaning, I use a little mirror to see how things are going. The day before yesterday, for the first time, I noticed a little pink button between my labia majora. My clitoris. The little piece of flesh, that was my clitoris!
Damn! My mouth drops open.
I have been so obsessed by the pain since leaving the clinic that I completely put to one side part of the reality: I HAVE FOUND MY CLITORIS AGAIN! For good!
Damn, damn, damn, it’s coooolll!!
So, true, I don’t feel it at all at the moment. I can only wait for the pain, the stinging, the pulling to pack up for good. That should be before next Wednesday at the latest. At that time I believe I will notice its presence (and that will surely be reeeaaally strange to feel I have an extra organ). For it’s own sensitivity, to “feel it internally”, that should happen after six weeks of healing.
I still don’t know too much of what awaits me on the healing of my labia minora …
I am not in any rush to know what I am going to feel. For now, my need, what I am looking forward to, is the moment when I will no longer have any disagreeable feelings.
I understand perfectly now what that lady meant when she said she “still felt circumcised in her head, in spite of the operation”. For the moment, I feel no matter what has changed in my body, there are unpleasant things which prevent me from feeling it and so realising it. And nothing notable has happened in my head. It has certainly noticed the theory of what happened last week, it knows my body has been reconstructed, but it remains an abstraction.
I am waiting, I am waiting, I know that it will come ….
- Victoire sur l’Excision, Pierre Foldès, le chirurgien qui redonne l’espoir aux femmes mutilées, l’excellent livre d’Hubert Prolongeau (Editions Albin Michel)
- Urofrance, le site de l’urologie française
- Excision - On peut soigner les femmes victimes d’excision - Doctissimo
[Original in French]