1. 18:43 2nd Jul 2012

    Notes: 3

    Tags: transgender

    Bought the Goodfella

    I bought my first prosthetic to use for sex about three years ago. I got a fairly straight forward, semi-realistic looking one. Partly I didn’t know much about this stuff and partly it was inexpensive and had positive reviews. At this point, it’s getting old, I think maybe from the way I stored it for a while, the rod inside the shaft is weakening and I’m not too sure about using it much anymore. Plus, I never really liked it. I wanted something realistic, the person I was with at the time didn’t.

    I’ve thought about it, asked some questions, and looked around and I decided to go ahead and purchase the Goodfella. It’s made with the VixSkin, which gives it as realistic a feel as possible for something synthetic. From the pictures I’ve seen and reviews, it looks very realistic with vein lines, skin, etc. Also, the set up means it has balls that hang where they should; the part that inserts into the harness is behind the balls, meaning they hang free even while packing. This is the only model I found that does this. So on the scale of realism, this model seems to be the highest out there, without going to the extremes of I guess you could call them “legitimate prosthetic” that sell for $400+.

    It’s also the right size. A lot of models seem to be really long, generally being about 7-8 inches. Even the ones that are realistic models. Personally, I wanted something more in the average range of 5.5-6. My current one is 6 and it works just fine. This model is 5.5 inches. It’s a medium size girth, which is also good. Overall, I think this one actually fits the average size of a cis-guy, it’s about how large I’d want something that I was using, and falls into the comfort zone of my partner.

    I’m debated briefly between vanilla and caramel. I worry that the vanilla will end up being an unnatural kind of pale skin. I am very pale so in the past I’ve gotten the “pink” coloured prosthetic. Those typically don’t look like a natural skin tone, at least not to me. The vanilla is the option I went with, just because I don’t want caramel to be too dark and look wrong with my skin.

    Also, the price is definitely where I want it. It costs $126 normally. I found a 15% off code, that puts it to $107. Plus shipping, it cost $130 and should hopefully be here by Saturday. What makes it really nice is that I wasn’t really planning on getting it for a little while, with trying to organize school at the moment, but I just got an email saying that I’m getting about $80 for doing two parades with my unit. (The one parade was more than expected, the other I had actually forgotten about…) So I actually don’t feel bad going ahead with this and buying it.

     
  2. Long Overdue Review of the Pee-cock Product

    I bought mine in March of 2011. Since it shipped internationally, it took about 3 or 4 weeks to get to me, don’t remember exactly anymore. Either way, I’ve had it for well over a year. In terms of durability, I haven’t done anything special with it. I’ve worn it nearly every day since getting it and use it fairly regularly. It’s still in good condition. There’s a slight nick that recently showed up where the shaft and balls connect that I need to try to figure out what to do with, just so it doesn’t rip more. 

    Read More

     
  3. Some brief thoughts about financing later surgeries

    I know I said I wasn’t going to think about this for at least another year, and it’s not like I’m putting too much thought into it now, just kind of documenting some thoughts. 

    Anyway, I know that at some point during grad school I want to get a hysterectomy done. Partly because of health concerns - I want to get it done within a 5 year period of starting T. Plus I could lower my dose of T, which would be nice. It’s also partly because then I could finish changing all of my documentation and be done with the majority of my transition. 

    Depending on my grad school, I may be able to get insurance that covers the procedure. If I can, then I may only need a few hundred dollars to finance the surgery, which I’m certain I could save easily. If it can’t be covered, then I would go through something like CreditCare, which is a credit card for medical procedures. This is what I tried to do for top surgery, but I didn’t get approved because I don’t have credit. 

    My general thought that I was having as I was trying to organize stuff for school is that 1) I need to get a credit card. I don’t really care for them or the idea of them, but unfortunately it’s so important now to build a credit score that I need to suck it up and get one. I plan on getting one this summer and using it during the school year to buy the stuff I’d need to buy anyway, so I know I can pay everything off without a problem. This way, whenever I try to get the CreditCare card, I should be able to. 

    2) After I get back on my feet from this surgery and organizing school, I’d like to start putting just a little bit away every month to start preparing for this next surgery. Before I even try to start seeing surgeons and dealing with insurance, I want $1,000-1,500 put away just for the surgery. That way, if insurance covers it, I’ll have some money set aside to pay for any little things that come up not covered. And, if insurance doesn’t cover it, then I have money already put away to start paying off the bills from the credit card. I’m estimating the cost of this surgery to be about $6,000. So that amount would keep me a little ahead of the game. 

    My real hope would be to have this goal reached by / during next summer. At the end of the summer, I’d probably start doing my research on who to go to. Idealistically, I’d like to get the surgery done next winter break (the first winter break while I’m at grad school). But depending on my situation, money, etc, it’ll more than likely happen in two summers from now. 

    Like I said, I don’t intend on putting too much thought into this for another year. I’m not going to start researching anything until next summer, when it becomes a real prospect. But I did think that it was good to consider money matters a little bit now. It would definitely be good of me to put just a little aside, so I’m not doing what I did this time, where I had to come up with everything in one short period of time. And, if it’s going to take longer to arrange than hoped, I could just keep saving slowly. 

     
  4. Insurance, Money, Transitioning

    For guys curious on the breakdown of how much it’s cost to transition, how much insurance has covered, etc, I thought I’d write this up based on my personal transition.

    Firstly, my insurance states very specifically that it will not cover anything transsexual related, which includes therapy, hormones, endo visits, surgery, etc. However, as long as it’s not brought directly to their attention, they don’t seem to mind covering a bunch of things.

    Therapy:

    • 4 sessions for diagnosis
    • 3 sessions for T letter, check-up
    • 1 session concerning top surgery
    • 2 sessions for family concerns
    • A couple of misc sessions
    • Total = about 15 sessions

    Insurance covered all of these sessions. We have a $20 co-pay, but part of that is refundable through our insurance thing. So I personally paid about $60 out of pocket. My parents didn’t pay much more than that.

    Name Change (NYS):

    • Name change petition
    • NYS license
    • Cost to fax changes to college
    • School ID

    The petition was $210. The license was $42. My school ID was strangely free. The cost to send two faxes to change my records at school cost about $5. Total name change costs worked out to be about $257.

    Hormones:

    • 1 endo consultation
    • 1 “learn to inject yourself” lesson
    • 2 endo check-ups
    • 3 blood work appts
    • 4 bottles of T
    • 4 bags of needles

    Only the consultation and check-up had a co-pay, which were both reimbursed. The lesson and blood work were completely covered. The needles cost about $2 for each bag of about 15 needles (so more than enough per bottle of T). The T itself cost $80. My insurance would not cover the T, so the first bottle was $80, the second I got reimbursed through my family’s plan, the 3rd and 4th I had to pay the $82 for. Thus far, I’ve paid $244. I’m considering figure out how to pay through the online store my endo has suggested so that it only costs about $60.

    Top Surgery:

    • 3 consultation appointments
    • 1 blood work
    • $5,324 Surgery (break down was explained in an earlier post)
    • 3 Post-op check-ins (so far)
    • Gauze
    • Surgical pads
    • Vest
    • Palmer’s lotion

    The consultations and post surgery check ups were free, as the price is already worked into the cost for surgery. The deposit is 10% of the surgeon’s fee and thus worked out to $350. The blood work was covered by insurance. My father had a lot of gauze, so that was free, but I did have to buy some surgical pads, which cost about $7. The vest was included in the surgical charge. I really haven’t gone out of my way to buy anything for scar treatment or anything like that. I did buy a lotion to rub onto the area to help with the skin elasticity. The total works out to $5,338

    Total Transition To Date:

    $60 + $257 + $244 + $5,338 = $5,899.

    Future Expenses:

    • Hormones for the next five years
    • Nipple correction
    • Hysterectomy in the next 4 years
    • Change birth certificate

    In the next 5 months, I’ll probably need another 12 vials of hormones, as each vial lasts me 20 weeks and I just got a new vial. If I go through the online store, that will cost about $720, over 5 years. (If I paid through the pharmacy, it’d come to $960.)

    The nipple correction, if I feel it’s necessary, I believe will be free, as it will be done in his office under local anesthesia. Correction charges should be included in the surgical fee.

    The hysterectomy I’d estimate, out of pocket, is about $6,000. At least those are the estimate I’ve heard from other people. I expect that any blood work needed for the surgery will be covered by insurance. I’m hoping to try to get the surgery covered by insurance, but I’m certainly not holding my breath.

    In NYS, to change my gender on my birth certificate I need to have had top surgery and a hysterectomy as well as be on hormones. After I have the next surgery, I’ll changed my birth certificate. I believe it costs $40 or $50 to change.

     
  5. Top surgery, update

    Last Thursday, after the doctor drained the fluid in my left side, it looked flat and comparable to my right side. The doctor said I shouldn’t need the vest any more and that I didn’t have to wear it, which was really great, especially since it got so hot for a couple of days.

    However, my left side slowly looked like it was getting swollen again. It’s not that bad at all, not compared to how it was, but it worried me a little. I was hoping that it’d go down on it’s own after a day or two, but it hasn’t yet. So I’ve reluctantly decided to put the vest back on. Hopefully the compression will help. I’ll probably also try to ice it for a few days.

    My appointment is for Tuesday morning. Hopefully it’ll be doing better by then. If not, the doctor should be able to tell me what else I can be doing for it.

    Other than that, the right side is slowly but surely healing up and looking a little flatter everyday. My skin’s elasticity in my right side especially was never that great, so I’m aware it’ll take a little while to get where I want it. The bruising on the left side, even though it’s a bit swollen, has gone away considerably. The scars are looking good. They’re already healing up pretty nicely and don’t look like they’ll be much of a problem. The worst spots will be on the sides near my armpits.

     
  6. Top Surgery, payment

    For people wondering about the logistics / costs of top surgery, I just wanted to share how much it cost for me at the end of everything:

    • 3 pre-surgical visits - $0, no co-pay without insurance. Cost covered in surgeon’s fee. 
    • Blood test - $0, covered by my insurance. (Just don’t tell them that…)
    • Pain medication and nausea pills - $6, covered by insurance
    • Surgeon’s Fee - $3500. 10% paid as deposit, the rest in full 2 weeks in advance. This covered all visits plus the vest. 
    • Hospital Fee - $1070. Paid 2 weeks in advance. 
    • Anesthesia - $889. Paid 10 days in advance. This price was for 2.5 hours, an estimate of how much would be needed. 
    • ~4 Post-Surgical visits - $0, no co-pay. Cost covered in surgeon’s fee. 
    • Refund check - $204. The estimation was high by about 40 minutes of anesthesia. 
    • Unknown bill - $68. I have no idea what this is for. I was billed for it the day of surgery and received the bill a few days ago. I wasn’t warned that any other bills might be necessary. It seems like I was charged for some kind of test they ran, but they didn’t inform me that that would happen, they didn’t take any blood or a urine sample. So I don’t really know. 

    Total Cost: $5261 + $68. 

    The original estimate I was given was for a total of $5560, which is what I’d been aiming for. I only ended up paying $5460 and then received the refund of $200. So it actually ended up being cheaper than expected. 

    Since I did it locally, gas costs was nominal and I had no other travel expenses because I simply went home. 

    I actually owe my mom $314, since that’s how much she loaned me to help me pay for it. I’ll be giving her $100 from the refund check and using the rest for some other things I have to do, but it’ll make me feel better to start paying her back. 

    I have to call on Monday to ask about this other bill because it’d be really lovely if it was a mistake or something. I really don’t know what it’s for… 

    I also wanted to say at the end of all of this that the entire experience, in many ways, was a really positive one. For one, it’s helped me feel more in control of my life. This was something that I really wanted and needed to do for myself. I put a lot of effort and work into it and I made it happen. In the end, I feel really proud of what I accomplished. Secondly, I’ve never really held a real job, I’ve never tried to save this much money, and I’ve never dealt with bills before. This was a positive reality check for me. Just learning to how to save properly while still enjoying myself, plus how to balance work and school and a life. I also had no idea what I was doing before with the bills, but I managed to figure it out. I tried getting credit and failed, then figured out how to pay out of pocket. I learned how to pay bills, get checks from the bank, that I have a limit on how much I can spend daily… Lots of fun things. 

    What I think I liked most about this experience is that I did on my own. I went out and found a job. I worked hard and had a positive work experience. I found the surgeon on my own, figured out how to do all of that, and arranged the surgery by myself. I figured out how to pay the bills on my own and did it all on time. But I also found that I did have my parents support. My mom helped me with the small difference in what I had earned and what it cost. My dad was there for me the entire way through the surgery and the week following. 

    And now that it’s all over, my plan is to take this next year easy and not worry about transitioning for a while (one exception, sometime soon I’m going to try to fix my gender with social security). I definitely want to get a hysterectomy and I want to do that in the next 2-3 years, for personal and health reasons. But for this next year I want to focus on healing from surgery and the other changes T will still cause. I also want to focus on school, being in a relationship, getting into grad school, and my writing. I’m pretty sick of saving money, so I don’t even want to think about that for a while. I think next summer I might look into whether or not my insurance will help me with the hysto but I’m neither very hopeful on that nor too focused on the possibilities just yet. 

     
  7. Surgery Update

     
  8. TMI post about post-op recovery

     
  9. 1 week Post-Op Consultation

    Just got back from the surgeon’s. Today marks day 7 (if you include the day of surgery) since surgery. 

    The good news:

    - The surgeon actually didn’t have to touch my nipples. After adjusting the skin, he found that they sat almost exactly where he wants them and assumes that after my skin tightens up and settles, the nipples will place themselves pretty darn well on their own. This means no nipple sensation loss, which I’m actually pretty excited about. If I decide later to re-size the nipple, he’ll do it in his office under local anesthesia. (Which I think means it’s free, since corrections don’t have surgeon’s fees and I don’t have to pay for the hospital or anesthesia.)

    - The right side looks good. It’s got that kind of caved in look right now because the skin needs time to tighten up and everything. It’s kind of gross to look at, not going to lie, but it’s about what I expected it to look like.

    The bad news:

    -  The drain on my left side seems to have gotten clogged. Which means that there was a lot of old blood left in on that side. So, not going to lie, when I saw it, it triggered some dysphoria. That side was rather swollen, which make it look like there was still breast tissue in. So that unnerved me. The surgeon drained out the blood by hand (this was not pleasant). It still had some in there, which he thinks will partly drain on it’s own and partly get absorbed. To help with matters, the vest stays on except while I’m showering and he’s going to take a look at it again next week to see how things are. There’s a possibility he might have to make a small incision and get the blood out, which he’d do under local anesthesia. 

    Overall, I’m happy with the results. I’m kind of annoyed that the left side had some issues, which means it’s going to take a bit longer to heal, mostly because the skin’s been stretched for the entire past week and hasn’t started healing. I also have to admit that, as much as I knew the “caved in” look was probably going to happen and that I still have weeks before my chest really gets to a place where it’s evened out, there’s still a part of you that wants to just see a perfectly flat chest once the bandages come off. My dad commented though that it looked better than he expected and I’m kind of curious what he thought it would look like. 

    I am hopeful that everything will keep looking better and better as the next week and next couple of weeks pass. Though I’m not very happy about the damn vest. :(  It’s markedly more comfortable though than a binder, so at least that’s an improvement. 

     
  10. Extra Small Binder For Sale

    As mentioned earlier, I have a few binders I don’t need anymore. I’ve already gotten an offer for the small, so that leaves me with an extra small, white, trip top binder from underworks. (Go to their site to get measurements, to make sure this will fit you.) 

    The binder wasn’t worn too much. It’s still in good condition and the colour is still fairly white. 

    I’m looking for about $10 for the binder, plus $5 for shipping. 

    If you’re interested, message me and we can talk about it. I’ll likely be giving it to the first who responds. I would prefer to help someone out who really can’t afford their own and needs one.