The most painful part of this recovery from my surgery is my mouth. The site where they took the skin for the graft is about 6 cm by 2 cm and it’s along the left side of my jaw. I’m happy that it’s only 6 cm long; the doctor told of patients that had 20 or more centimeters of skin harvested from the inside of their mouth. I can’t image what that pain must have been like. 

The site is healing quickly, I can feel changes in every couple of hours, but it just hurts while it is doing so. My urologist said that the hardest days would be days four and five of the recovery and that’s where I am right now.

I was given a prescription for “Radiation Rinse”. I had no idea what that was when they first gave it to me in the hospital; I asked a nurse if that meant I was going to glow and she said yes. She was giving me the rinse at one in the morning and she didn’t seem to have a huge sense of humor. It was the only time I saw this particular nurse, the rest of that evening I was covered by the nurse Melissa. Melissa and I had a very nice chat; she had been working in the One-Day Surgery ward for over a year after 20 years elsewhere in the hospital. She always wanted to work with the patients undergoing surgeries similar to mine because she knew my doctor to be top in his field and she wanted to make sure that his patients were off and running on a good start for recovery. She was the nurse that told me that patients from all over the country sought out my urologist for repairs in that delicate region. She was also the nurse that told me about all of the gender reassignment surgeries that he had performed in the past couple of years. She wanted to be there for those patients as well, to make sure that they were off to a good start.

It turns out that there’s nothing radioactive about my “Radiation Rinse”, it’s actually a mixture of Maalox, Benadryl and Lidocane. It’s called a “Radiation Rinse” because cancer patients that have burned mouths from their chemotherapy treatments use this same mixture to alleviate the sores in their mouths. My graft site in my mouth is of a similar nature so I get to use the same stuff.

As I make my way through this recovery I can’t help but think about how fortunate I am to be going through to fairly well. I find strength from the strength one of my best friends has exhibited through his cancer treatments. I think of the soldiers that come home with missing limbs and other “modifications” to their body from war. Comparatively the healing from my procedure is a walk in the park.

I’m a lucky man. I never lose sight of that.