Dr. Suporn in Chonburi has an amazing setup, everything is coordinated and taken care of, from the hotel, the clinic just a block away to the hospital. He has nurses and staff that check up on use all the time and make sure we are ok. We are even picked up at the airport and driven back when finished. He is the only one in the world that ‘keeps’ patients for 30 days to make sure all is working correctly. He personally sees us once or twice a week and will do ‘corrections’ if needed during this time. His technique is vastly different from the ‘standard’ method for SRS and his results are known world wide as the BMW or Cadillac of the business. Also Thai medical practice is not hindered by insurance dictating limits on procedure costs, so this was full care.
They have the above picture on all the literature (books and instructions etc.) that they give us at the clinic. It’s a beautiful image of a chrysalis changed into a beautiful butterfly, painted in a beautiful Thai style. And, we are known as Suporn Butterflies! Although someone also coined the phrase ‘supornistas’! But what a beautiful and perfect icon this is and it so perfectly reflects what I have just went through. I kept this picture along with all the cards people sent me, close to my bed in both the hospital and the hotel.
Comparing my surgery with three other friends of mine that had surgery within the same week as I did – oh wow – did I make the right decision!! They were in the hospital 2 days, recovery in the clinics hospice for 4 days and then sent home! I had a 6 hour surgery, was kept in the hospital for 7 days and then stayed in the hotel for another 3 weeks before flying back home. For my friends, that flight home was excruciating! It was difficult for me, but omg – nothing like the pain they had.
It was a long exhausting trip from Hawaii, almost 21 hours long including two 6 hour layovers. Because of Lisa’s knee, we had a wheelchair for her. But a couple of nights before, I stubbed my toe on the bed frame, jamming the bones behind and hardly could walk, so I got a wheel chair too. We had the airlines contact the intermediate airports to make sure wheel chairs were waiting at each place. Good thing too. I never could have walked that far.
We had a 6 hour layover in Narita (Toyko, Japan). So naturally at some point I had to use the ladies rest room. The Japanese are way ahead of us in automation and that includes ‘toilet technology’!! Basically you have your choice of 5 different types of toilets all labeled on the stall door. They range from the standard US type, to the Asian hole in the floor, to three types of ‘automated advanced function’ toilets! I tried one of the advance electronic ones. Well, you can choose to have music played or a running water sound to ‘mask’ your bodily sounds, you can turn on a bidet type function to squirt water on your front, or on your back or both and you can have warm air blown on your bottom to dry it without the use of toilet paper. And I don’t even remember what the other 10 or 12 functions were. It was like programming a VCR – it was complicated and you needed an instruction book! Of course each button had an icon (if you could figure out what it meant) and words in both Japanese and English. I was sort of afraid to touch anything least flashing lights and disco music would turn on!
We arrived at Bangkok almost at midnight. They brought us through security in our wheel chairs, collected our luggage and brought us out front. There waiting for us was a Suporn staff member named Fon and the clinic van. It was a 1 hour drive from the airport to Chonburi, just south of Bangkok located on a bay off the ocean. We were checked into our hotel and whisked up to our rooms.
We had a deluxe room on the top floor (7th). Our room looked out the back and had a beautiful view of the hills and forest. There was a temple directly below us, a huge Buddha on the next hill over and a Chinese temple complex off to our left. Our deluxe room had a queen size bed (was larger than our size here in the states – almost a king size, but oh was it ‘firm’), fridge, mini-bar, two nice chairs, desk, large LCD TV which was also a monitor (which I found out the last day I was there ….). It was a very comfortable room.
Good thing too as I spent a month there without being able to go out much (due to a catheter I had to wear – a complication I developed). I have a feeling the design and layout of these rooms had some input from Dr. Suporn, especially the bathroom. There were a number of extra’s that you just don’t see in hotel rooms. For example, they had a special spray hose next to the toilet to wash ourselves ‘down there’. What was unique was that this was hooked up to a source of pure water. You can not drink the water from the tap – the hotel supplied bottled water (we would ask for 8 to 10 bottles a day as I had to douche with bottled water as well after a dilation), plus I was told to drink lots and lots of water after this operation.
We had a great view out the back of the hotel into the forested hills. Sometimes in the morning we could watch the steam rising up from the forest and swirling about. There was a temple directly below us, a large Buddhist statue on a hill over to our left and a huge Chinese temple complex to the far right. One day we watched a powered hang glider circle the skies above the Buddhist statue. Another day they had a celebration in the small temple complex directly below us, everyone bringing flowers, taking their shoes off and walking inside. Meanwhile, the local dogs were busy sniffing the shoes!
This floor had a large seating area with books and videos we could borrow. It had a large window looking out over the ocean too. Later, we would meet and sit with our ‘sisters’ in that area. Other “trans-sisters” had rooms on the 3rd floor. They also had a nice sitting area that lead out to a small deck where you could be outside and enjoy fountains, birds and a nice garden. Many people would pick up a lunch or diner and come up here to eat.
On the first floor of the Chon Intr hotel was their restaurant. It was open most of the time. The daily schedule once you are post opt was: you got up early in the morning, showered, dilated, cleaned up and got dressed. You would finish by 9 am then come down for breakfast at the restaurant with all the other sisters. We would have our breakfast (buffet plus omelet bar) and chat, compare notes, network and support each other. Then at 10 am sharp we all went back up to our rooms as the staff would come around at that time to checkup and exam our parts, see if we needed additional medication and let us know the next steps we were expected to do, including when we had appointments at the clinic or special events like sight seeing trips or trips to the shopping mall or to the beach.
One of the best parts of this entire experience was meeting the 30 or so t-sisters, most already had their surgery and were putting in their 3 weeks before leaving, the rest like me, were just arriving. Meeting and chatting with these woman provided a huge support platform that was invaluable – not just about this surgery, but about being trans*, about all our experiences and about being part of this international sisterhood. This was awesome and so very important to this experience. If someone could not leave their room, one of us would go to the store to get them whatever they needed, or to help in any way. It was a family – a sisterhood.
Lisa and I slept good that night.
In the van, they gave me a card with all the appointments for that next day. I had three different appointments, it was a busy day.
First, we met a person from the clinic who walked us over to the clinic (about 2 blocks away) – a walk I would be repeating often. There I was given my set of dilators (in a very pretty Thai decorated box, more about dilators in another post), measured for breast implants (more about that in a moment), given a book all about what was going to happen and discussed all the aspects of the coming days. I also had to give them the originals of the letters from my therapist and from my HRT (hormone replacement therapy) doctor stating that I met the WPATH requirements for SRS. Because of my age, I also had to give them the original letter from my GP doctor including the results of my cardiac stress test, verifying I was fit for surgery. Then they gave Lisa and I a very delicious cold drink (found out later when I asked for another that that was only for your first visit … ratso). The hospitality at the clinic, the hospital, the hotel – everywhere, was amazing.
Around noon the clinic van came to the hotel to pick Lisa and I up for a trip to the hospital. The clock in our room unfortunately was wrong and they had to call up to remind us! This was the preliminary checkup for surgery. It involved waiting in lines at a number of different stations. There were three other people with us – one like me was getting the initial checkup, the other was going in for her surgery (her friend was accompanying her). The clinic staff would come and get us and bring us to each station. I had my blood drawn, an EKG taken, xrays of my chest and chin area, blood pressure and of course weight. I was only worried about the weight – the limit was 205 pounds – I came in at 204.2 pounds – just under the limit. About 2 years ago, I started at 242 pounds and have been dieting and losing weight all this time to make this goal. Wow, made it. Today as I’m writing this, I’m at 197! I’m so happy to be under 200. My goal is 180 – I have some beautiful dresses that will look awesome on me at that weight – not to mention my swim suit!
When the van came back to pick us up to bring us back to the hotel, they also picked up a woman who had her surgery 7 days ago and was on her way back to the hotel. She didn’t look that well, but talking to her it became clear that she was in high spirits and no pain – just still under the influence of the drugs.
That afternoon I had my third appointment, this one back at the clinic and would be the first time I would meet Dr. Suporn. He does one operation each day in the morning, then in the afternoon sees all the post-opt patients and exams them. He also meets the new patients like me. As a result Lisa and I had to wait. During our wait we got to meet more of the women that were here – people we would see again at breakfast. Most of them were sitting somewhat uncomfortably on their seat cushions – something I will become very familiar with later. I had friended a number of people in the private Facebook page for Suporn and while waiting for my turn, two woman came up, asked if I was Sifan and introduced themselves saying who they were and they knew me from Facebook! Wow.
Finally it was our turn to see Dr. Suporn. Lisa came into his office with me, which was a very good idea. I get a reaction to Ibuprofen so they had to make sure to use drugs that were not of the same genre. Nurse Lisa and the doctor had a long conversation, most of which I could not understand – but was very glad Lisa was there to answer and ask questions. Whatever they talked about and agreed upon certainly worked!
Dr. Suporn then examined me and told us about his technique and what I could expect. He highly discouraged me from getting breast implants. As he put it – that was the easiest operation to do from a surgeons point of view but the most difficult and painful for the patient. Whereas SRS is the hardest on the surgeon but the easiest for the patient! Part of the difficulty with breast augmentation is that the implant is placed under the muscle and after surgery, for quite a while, the patient has to ‘move’ the implant around (massage it) to create and maintain a cavity under the muscle for the implant to move, making the result very real as it will move naturally the way it is supposed to. After hearing all that, I decided (and would thank the doctor later) not to have breast augmentation. Later, with the complications I had, I am very glad I made this choice.
We had a questionnaire that we (Lisa and I) filled out just before seeing him. One of the questions on the questionnaire was to rank three expectations of the surgery in the order that we thought was important. They were: vaginal depth, overall aesthetics, and sensate expectations (orgasmic). Dr. Suporn’s technique is different than any one else’s in the world and is known for being able to give you the maximum depth, much more than any other surgeon or technique (we are talking 7 to 10 inches here …..). And because of his technique, we get a fully functional bottom, with nerves in all the correct places and even the muscles are arranged as per a natal female. There is even the equivalent of a G-spot. He truly creates the Cadillac of SRS and is world renowned for it!
So, my choices? Well, depth does not mean anything for me – I’m married to Lisa and to be able to please her is the most important thing. So sensate was number one, then aesthetics. But he still wanted to know what depth I expected or wanted. I had no idea what to say – I did not want much, just enough – but what is ‘just enough’? Lisa and I looked at each other and said 5 – 6″. After the surgery I had 6″ – but that usually reduces and today I’m maintaining 5.5. Right in the middle of the range I asked for!
The next day we had free. But we were so tired from out trip and the whirlwind of the previous day that we spent the day in the hotel getting to know our way around. We had a wonderful diner in a beautifully decorated Chinese restaurant on the 2nd floor of the hotel.
Next post will cover the hospital stay.