I spent years imagining the moment of waking up from top surgery. I would stand in the shower, head bowed, fingers massaging the sore muscles across my ribs, and let myself dream about summers without binding, of workouts and long runs unmarred by the nagging whispers of dysphoria, of wardrobe decisions unburdened by the need to conceal and protect.
I always thought I would feel a rush of relief, warm and bright. I thought I might laugh, or cry, and feel like Atlas straightening his spine. After seven months (and 9 days) I’ve felt all of that, but my recovery didn’t start out that way.
It started out with a small, dim room made of umber-colored curtains; with the familiar beep of my own vitals, with me turning blearily to my mom as she perched in an uncomfortable chair and mumbling in a voice that hadn’t quite returned yet:
“Didya geta chance to eat lunch?”