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Sex Reassignment Surgery in Montreal with Dr. Brassard
Tuesday, March 20, 2001. Georgi picked me up at 8:45 am for my 10:00 am flight. We arrive at Portland International, I unload my bags and we hug each other good-bye. I take a United shuttle down to San Francisco and, after an hour layover, connect to Montreal via Air Canada.
The first thing I noticed when I boarded the Air Canada jet was the size of the seats: several inches wider than their American counterparts; mine is in the front row allowing lots of leg room. A flight attendant begins handing out newspapers - I think I'm going to like this. The Air Canada flight was a cut above any American airline I've flown. The flight attendants were courteous and attentive, the food was better than the average American airline fare and they continued to hand out snacks and bottled water throughout the flight. I liked being called "madam" instead of the American contraction "ma'am" and it was interesting hearing them speak in French and English. When a flight attendant was announcing the usual boring preflight safety instructions, said this was a nonsmoking flight and "For those of you who are heavy smokers - like I was 10 years and 10 pounds ago - we have sophisticated smoke detectors in the bathrooms. Anyone caught smoking will be ejected from the plane and we don't supply a parachute." This was my introduction to delightful, dry French humor.
9:25 pm, Montreal time. We touch down at Dorval airport. It's cold outside, probably in the low 30s. A thick layer of snow blankets the edge of the runway. I get off the plane and all the signs are in French, so I follow the gaggle of passengers until we reach customs. I hand my passport to the agent, he gives me a quick, stern look and stamps it. To the baggage claim area: around and around the bags go and mine is no where to be found. I look over to the next carousel and see the two Canadian women I'd sat next to and, like good luck that's followed me throughout my transition journey, my bag strools by like it'd been waiting for me.
The instructions I'd been sent from Montreal were to call Mr. Clerk at his limousine service. I find a pay phone and called their number, a nice gentleman answers and says his son, Jean-Pierre, should be waiting me. Looking through the glass exit doors I see a young man in a coat and tie, holding a sign: "Miss Tara Marie Taylor." I pick up my bag, hand the form that I'd been given on the plane stating I wasn't bringing any plants, or other dangerous material, into the country to the customs agent. "Merci madam," he nods to let me through. A few minutes later I'm on my way to the residence in a limousine. Jean-Pierre was laid back and funny, joking with me the whole way. This relaxed acceptance contributed to the quality of the experience throughout.
Twenty minutes later we arrive at the residence, Jean-Pierre carries my bags inside where Francoise, a diminutive French woman, waits to greet me. She shows me to my room, which is clean, neat and has three single beds, though I was the only one in the room. On the middle bed are several forms neatly spread out along with a package of Fleet enema. I glance through them, they are the normal release forms that one has to sign before any major surgery. Sitting down on the edge of my bed I sigh, "This is it!"
Since I was a meal behind I find Francoise, dinner was served hours ago, she offers me a couple slices of German chocolate cake that I gladly wolf down. As Francoise leads me to my room we pass through a room with a TV, VCR and couches. There I met Sarah (who was having her surgery the same day as I) and Katey, who'd already had her surgery, but had contracted pneumonia and had to stay additional time until she recovered (For anyone who might be frightened about contracting pneumonia after surgery, there's only a 2 percent chance of that).
Wednesday, March 21. The next morning I awake around 8:00 am. Breakfast was French toast, a special treat as on weekdays we were expected to make our own breakfast from cereals, fruit, peanut butter, juice and coffee in the dining room. Talking to others I found people in various stages of transition: pre-op and post-op, from male-to-female and female-to-male. Lunch was a tomato pasta dish and salad; the meals were always good and plentiful. There was always fruit and tea available. After breakfast one of Dr. Brassard's assistants, Diane, tells me to get the forms that'd been on the bed. They are the release forms saying the surgery was irreversible, male orgasms would no longer be possible (like I cared) and that complications were possible. Around 3:00 pm an impeccibly dressed Dr. Brassard came and met with each one of us individually. I found him to be friendly and personable. He asked if I had any questions: I asked how long was the surgery and how he created the clitoris (the surgery took about 2 1/2 hrs. and the clitoris was created using the glans and nerves of the penis). He then explained the possible complications, the most possible (10%) being a fistula (an opening between the vagina and colon). He then asked if I wanted skin grafts if there wasn't enough tissue to create adequate depth in the new vagina. I declined, saying I was lesbian, depth wasn't important and didn't want scarring (I have developed an interest in men since the surgery and probably should've had skin grafts). At 4:00 pm was our first enema. It was a simple matter of squirting the liquid in and a few minutes later there was the urge to go. It actually felt good to get cleaned out, though I know some avoid enemas like the plague.
Dinner was baked ham with potatoes and chocolate-vanilla pudding for dessert (I was surprised they let us eat after the enema). The three other girls and I who were scheduled for surgery the next morning were told to pack our bags for the hospital. At 7:00 pm a taxi arrives and the four of us pile in. Each step like this, riding the limo to the residence, filling out the forms, taking the taxi to the hospital, confirmed that this was really happening. What had been a fantasy was now a reality! Yes, I had butterflies.
Once at the hospital we were admitted and signed more forms and did our final enemas. We were asked if we wanted a sedative, my roommate accepted while I declined. However, I couldn't sleep and asked the nurse for one. In the typical sarcastic, but good-natured French-Canadian humor the nurse said, "Should I get a baseball bat?"
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