Friday, July 3, 2009

Adventures in Transition: Édition Internationale

A dear friend of mine recently had her GRS done up in Montreal. She's had a long history of complications from surgery, and sadly this was no exception--so yesterday her son and I hit the road and took a seven-hour road trip up to visit her. (It would have been six hours, but I always get lost--also, asking a truck driver for directions to a gas station when you speak a very imperfect French is a wonderfully Dadist exercise.)

She's doing a little better today, and was surprised and pleased to see us, so I'm very glad we were able to run up here.

It also reminds me of a few things.

This isn't the first time I've visited Dr. Brassard's clinic; I came here last spring, when I was considering using him as my surgeon. (I ended up going to Thailand when I decided to have more things done; it cost the same to go to India and Cambodia--and fly home via business class--as it would have cost to have everything done in Canada.)

Back then, I still wasn't sure when I would even want to get surgery; it wouldn't be until the fall of that year that it would take on a sudden urgency. I ended up hanging out over the weekend with a few of the patients who were waiting to have their surgery done--there was a very pre-op vibe.

Appropriately enough, thios time all the patients are post-op, the last group of surgeries before the clinic's summer vacation. And it carries me back to my own early post-operative days, the camraderie between me and the other patients who were staying at the hotel. (We had two pizza parties while I was there, and generally hung around in each other's rooms for a while; I also met the nicest person in the world there, a trans woman who had made the trip on short notice to be with her friend who was having the surgery.)

I don't use the word comrade lightly, either; we were like any group of disparate people thrown together by a painful shared experience--we bonded fairly tightly while we were together, but our natural differences pulled us apart afterwards. I've seen so many different takes on what we went through: from people who convinced this was the most important and transformative experience of their lives to grim-faced agnostics like myself who were convinced that nothing important would change after surgery. (I was wrong, though not necessarily about what the surgery did to me; it was how I felt about myself afterward that was the radical difference.)

The residence where people stay to recuperate here is quite pleasant, and is another what if place for me: because this is more or less what it would have been like to stay here had I done my own surgery here. In some ways, it would have been easier--on the same continent as my family, and my French is about eleventy-million times better than my Thai (and my French ain't that great, so you get the picture.) Not that I regret my trip, because I got to finally see India and Angkor Wat, and even use my French when talking to Frenchwomen in Thailand for their own surgery. But it is kinda nice to make it up here and see what it would have been like.

Meanwhile, I'm worried about my friend, but happy as well to be able to be up here for her. Send her some good wishes if you can.


  1. Will do. Glad you could be there.

  2. You're a good friend.

    And I don't mean just for the above :)

  3. Best wishes to your friend! Also, it's been a very long time since I visited Montreal, but I seem to remember very good food. zomg Poutine! I hope that you both enjoy some.

  4. Your friend is in my thoughts. Wishing her a smooth recuperation.