Monday, June 06, 2011

Casa De Las Flores

Saturday April 23 was my first day waking up at Casa De Las Flores.  Despite the pain from my surgeries two days past, the quaint charm of my surroundings was not lost on me.  The walls had niches and inset areas, and everything was painted in unthinkable color combinations.  If someone painted a room yellow, green and pink in America, it would not work.  For some reason when you see it in Mexico it just feels bold and striking.  The colors were not the only reminder that I was not in Kentucky anymore.  Every flat surface and decorative niche was filled with beautiful Mexican folk art, and all the counters were done in tiny hand painted tiles.  A giant picture window looked out on the courtyard, which was an absolute wonder.  I had seen it online, but was still taken by surprise at its beauty upon arrival the previous day.

From the street, Casa De Las Flores looks like a small two story building that would not be big enough to have guest rooms.  It is situated on an urban street.  From outside you can't see any ground that isn't paved.   But once you step inside, you are greeted with office space and a large common area filled with lavish folk art.  The back door opens onto the garden courtyard.  Two story walls shield the area and exotic plants fill the space with surprising density.  Their variety and beauty are impressive.  Pavers lead from the outdoor dining area adjoining the front offices, across the courtyard in sweeping curves, to the rear building that contains the guest rooms.

From my angle on the bed, looking out the window gave the impression that my room was in a tropical rain forest rather than adjoining a courtyard.  The beautiful foliage blocked the view back to the front building completely.  At least 5 kinds of birds were calling constantly outside.

While the view from my bed was a wonderful combination of crafts and art inside, with plants and sun outside my window, I was still far from comfortable.  My head felt numb and strange, but not particularly painful and my throat hurt a little from my tracheal shave.  The main source of discomfort was definitely my breasts.  I had opted for 450 mL anatomical implants, and had chosen sub-pectoral placement.   That means that instead of placing the implants directly under my existing mammary tissue, they actually lifted the muscles of my chest and placed the implants under them.

It has advantages and disadvantages.  Some research suggests this placement makes a few complications less likely.  Plus, since the implants have more separation from the mammary tissue, they do not complicate mammograms as much as sub-glandular implants.  It also masks the edges of the implant, making it harder to detect their shape.  There are a few drawbacks, but the most immediate one is pain.  According to some articles, choosing sub-pectoral implant placement takes breast augmentation from medium pain levels, right past high and potentially into severe.

"Severe" felt about right this morning.  The compression bra still tore into my back and sides, and a sneeze felt like my ribs were breaking.  My breasts felt tight and my pectoral muscles seemed stretched and painful.  My arms were practically unusable.  Laying on my back made the incisions on my chest feel dangerously stretched.  I spent the night propped up on pillows so I could sleep sitting almost upright.  But I still needed help getting up.  It is fortunate that our friend Jen was there, because Kay was in no position to help me.  Only one day ahead of me in recovery, her mobility was almost as restricted as mine.

Kay did not feel like having breakfast the first morning.  I didn't either, but I knew my body was healing and that I needed nourishment.  So when Jen reminded us that it was time for breakfast,  I went reluctantly and Kay chose to stay in the room.

The breakfast was great.  I don't really know how to explain what it was, but it was delicious and filling. After breakfast Jen decided to have a walk around the neighborhood.  Kay chose to sit it out.  I thought walking might remind me that most of my body was still healthy and help me focus on the positive.  Plus exploring seemed a good way to take my mind off the pain. When we stepped out, we both imediately noticed a beautiful old cathedral a few blocks away.  I said I wanted to try to walk to it.  Jen seemed surprised that I would try for such a distance on my  first walk post-surgery, but was optimistic.

Walking did help me feel better.  The sun, the architecture,  and all the little nuances that distinguish a community filled my senses and thoughts, distracting me from the pain.  I kept up with Jen but breathing deeply hurt.  At one point I accidentally stepped off the curb and the sudden shock sent a wave of pain through my chest.

 A few days ago I had been staying at Hotel Morales in Guadalajara city center.  My last sight seeing day there, I had worn my favorite strapless floral dress.  I got quite a few looks and cat calls.  At one point I had been approached by a local guy who asked my name.  When I told him, he pretended not to hear me, so that I would lean in closer to repeat it.  He kissed me on the cheek.  It was more attention than I wanted, but at the same time it was all very flattering.

Those recent memories made my treatment today seem comparatively discouraging.  I felt like a freak, out with visible stitches over unhealed incisions on  my head and throat, and with my face still continuing to swell and bruise.  The thought was there.  "I did this to look better and feel more confident, and now I'm a disfigured freak."  I kept reminding myself that it was all temporary and that in a month things would be mostly healed.  It was hard to make it feel real though.

That walk was the first of many.  The next morning Kay came to breakfast and started exploring town too.  We kept venturing farther, and our walks became souvenir shopping trips.  We got to sample lots of local food, and take in quite a bit of local culture.  We both got stronger as we went, and toward the end we finally had enough mobility to cuddle at night instead of sleeping completely propped up side by side on pillows.  I think that made me happier than any other progress during recovery.

In the beginning, the pain didn't seem bearable, and it was hard to imagine being free of it.  But each day it was noticeably better so I kept reminding myself that eventually I would heal.  Often, I worried that I would run out of time to heal.  I couldn't imagine handling airports and planes, feeling the way I felt.  But by the time of our exit exams at the clinic, much of the pain was gone and I felt positive about the trip home.


AndiP said...

I am excited for you (and jealous). I am a M-F TS in Colorado and well on track to transition to FT soon. I have only had a hair transplant thus far and breast implants are likely on the horizon soon. You seem about 4-6 months ahead of my schedule as it unfolds. You look beautiful and I am relieved that your trip from Mexico turned out well. Stay in touch....Andi

Debra said...

I can relate to the sore throat hehe. My trach shave felt similar for the first couple days and I actually talked myself hoarse the first day (darn VLOGs!) lol.

I'm so happy for you girl!

Kay & Sarah said...

Glad you're healing well and your blog shows a great attitude for recovery. Enjoy Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shandy,
Your description of the center sounds wonderful, and it sounds like maybe it really helped with your positive mindset. I am so proud and happy for you!

Here's to a bright future!

Much love,

ms.shandy said...

Thanks everyone! @Andi I hope everythings works out great. Life is so so much better when you get to be yourself. :) @Debra I was very hoarse too, and it took me a month to get my voice back fully. Kept having Occasioanlly raspiness until just recently, and have just now gotten my full singing range back. @ Kay and Sarah. I have been back since May 1st. I'm just way behind schedule on writing. Thanks for the well wishes though! :) @Kate Casa De Las Flores was an amazing place to recover. So peaceful and relaxing. It is the first time I have the bed and breakfast thing and Kay and I hope to go back some day. :)

Anonymous T-Girl said...


You and i are about the the same age, and started transition at the same time, and began blogging about the same time.

i know our backgrounds are wildly different, but for some reason the similarities make me happy whenever something good happens for you. My SRS is in three months, but i can't afford to fix my face.

If you eventually decide to drop your blog, please email me and maybe we can connect in person soon.

Accents are the best, and i'd love to hear yours in person.

ms.shandy said...

Yeh, we have been on pretty similar paths, but we did choose to go different ways with our surgery budgets. LOL! Looking at how long it will take to save for it now, I sometimes regret not choosing to take care of GRS first. But mostly I'm pleased with my decision. Especially the breast augmentation. Being flat chested was always one of the biggest insecurities in my life.

Would be cool to hang out some time. We should plan that! And I hope your GRS goes awesomely. Always cool to hear from you!

Heidi said...

I'm glad to read that you are doing so well! You looks so happy (and beautiful) in your new profile picture. Congratulations! Here's to many happy years to follow ({})

Calie said...

Hi Shandy!

I'm so glad you both are doing OK and I'm sure the pain will lessen as each day goes by.

Thanks for bringing this option (surgery in Mexico) to everyone's attention.

Calie xx

ms.shandy said...

This was all back in April. I'm just way behind on writing and publishing. I feel great now! :)