My name is Adam. I’m a 23 year old trans man from Nova Scotia. I began researching information about transitioning about four years ago. My counsellor eventually referred me to an endocrinologist and I was able to start testosterone last year, and it’s going pretty well for me. I decided to go to the next step and have top surgery. I found out about Dr. McLean from some friends who have been to his clinic and there was a lot about him on the internet as well.
I connected with the beautiful and oh-so-helpful Liz (the patient coordinator) at the clinic through their website and then talked to her by phone. She told me that I could consult with Dr. McLean by telephone since he’s a long way from where I live. She arranged a time for that and asked me to send photos of my chest and to fill out their information form.
On the day of the consultation Lorilei, Dr. McLean’s nurse, called me and had a good talk with me about top surgery at the McLean Clinic and answered a lot of my questions. She knows everything! Then she put me through to Dr. McLean.
Dr. McLean asked me about my transition, about how I define my gender, whether I had changed my name, what counselling I have had, and about my testosterone treatments. He was also concerned about my social transition, whether I was living stealth and my relationship with parents, friends, and colleagues. He was interested in knowing which of the procedures I hoped to have and gave me his opinion based on my photographs. He wanted to be sure that all my questions were answered and I was glad I had written a list of them before the phone call. He was super cool to talk to and made me very comfortable with my decision.
The McLean clinic uses informed consent so I didn’t need the letter my psychiatrist gave me to allow me to go on T.
Then I talked to Liz again, and she gave me all the financial details and arranged my surgery date. She emailed me the information booklet. She suggested that I get to Mississauga the day before my surgery to meet Dr McLean in person and get instructions from Lorilei so that the surgery day would go smoothly. She also asked me to arrange to see my doctor for a physical, required for the surgery, and to go for basic lab tests. She gave me information about possible places to stay near the clinic. There’s even a hotel connected to the building so I thought I’d spend the first two nights there and then go to my aunt’s place in Toronto. The countdown had now begun! I was super excited with only 18 days to go until my surgery!
I had what Lorilei called a “telephone pre-op” for instructions and to answer my questions. After I booked my surgery, they had sent me a package of information including the “Informed Consent” that lists all the possible risks and complications. Lorilei made sure my questions were answered.
The day before my surgery I met with Liz, Lorilei and Dr. McLean at the McLean Clinic. I knew I had made the right choice to have it done there as soon as I walked through the doors. I was greeted by the wonderful front desk staff and the office did not look scary like the typical hospital or doctor’s office. It was a warm, friendly, inviting environment which really helped with any nervousness I was feeling which I didn’t realize I had until I noticed how sweaty my hands were. I was shown to a room where I was to finally meet Dr. McLean in person.
Dr. McLean examined me and we went over the procedure. He showed me how nipple grafts work. I signed the informed consents, a bit scary but definitely informative! I had already read them at home so I had my questions ready. I had a prescription for Tylenol 3 from my doctor at home. Lorilei explained that I didn’t need to buy dressings, as the clinic would supply them for me. I felt well prepared for my double incision mastectomy!
The next day I got to the office well before my surgery. Is it possible to be nervous and elated at the same time? I sure was! I was thankful that I didn’t have to go to a hospital, since everyone at the clinic is so friendly and welcoming. The nurse took me and my girlfriend into a little private room where I got changed. I got to leave my underwear on and didn’t have to take out my nose ring. The nurse started my IV and gave me an antibiotic through it. Dr. McLean came in and asked me if I had any final questions or instruction for him. He encouraged me to feel OK about asking anything because, as he said, later on it would be too late! He did some measurement and markings and showed me where my scars would be and where he was planning to put the nipple grafts.
Then they took me into the operating room where everything happened quickly. They connected a heart monitor, gave me some oxygen to breathe, and the anesthesiologist slipped something into the IV. The next thing I knew I was waking up with a nurse smiling at me in the recovery room. It was all over! It was the best sleep I’ve ever had.
My mom and girlfriend came for me. I felt I could walk, but the nurse insisted on taking me out in a wheelchair. I took my painkillers regularly, like they told me to and it really wasn’t as painful as I had expected. I was hungry by dinner time and ate a hamburger. I watched TV until bedtime. I woke a couple of times in the night. Maybe I had slept too much during the day.
The next day I went across to the office and the nurse changed my dressing and showed me how to do it. I was amazed see how flat I was! “WOO HOO!” With no drains and a simple dressing, it was really easy to take care of my chest. The only thing I had to do was keep the nipple areas dry. I found that I could do that and still be clean by sitting in a bathtub.
One week later I was back at the clinic to have the graft dressings removed. That was so exciting to really get an idea how my chest was going to look for the rest of my life. The nipples looked a little scabby but a week or two later were fine. It was great to be able to take a shower! I could already feel how much my life was about to change.
I was able to return home the next day. I’ve been in touch with Liz and Lorilei to let them know how well I am doing and I’m going to send them photos after 3 months. It’s amazing to finally have the chest I’ve always wanted and to be able to wear T-shirts without binding!Back