05 August 2009
Every six months I have a vistit with my opthamologist. It usually begins with a field-of-vision test. I sit in front of a device that looks like a cross between a flight simulator and an arcade game from my youth. There's a "cup" where I rest my chin; the opthamologist's assistant stretches places a patch over one of my eyes.
Then she flips on a switch and tiny points of light flash at irregular intervals across the screen. I'm supposed to press a button when I see one of those lights. Sometimes there is a short, intense pulse, like a disco strobe light, in the middle of the screen. Other times, there is a faint flicker around the periphery of that screen; sometimes I'm not even sure whether I've seen an acutal flash or an "echo" of one of those brighter pulses.
If you're my age or thereabouts, you're probably familiar with what I've just described. If you're younger, well, now you know have something else to look forward to.
Now, imagne that those pulses and flashes are tingles, twinges, pulses, throbs or jolts of pain, or simply of sensation. You know that you've felt some of them and respond or react. Others, you're not quite sure that you've felt them. Or you know that you've felt them, but you're not quite sure of what they are. Perhaps they are echoes or memories of some other pain or shock you once felt.
If you can imagine what I've just described, you understand something of what I'm experiencing right now.
Not that I'm complaining. I knew that after my surgery, I would have sensations that in some ways differed from the ones I had before the surgery, not to mention what I used to experience before I started taking hormones.
Back in the days when I was the "before" photo, I, like most men, would at times feel that surge of electricity in my crotch. And, well, you know what the result of that is: what I like to call the lightning rod.
But now I feel that surge coming from within me and, for a second, I expect to see a bulge through my clothing. But, of course, I don't have to worry about that. Instead, I feel the throb of my new clitoris and a pulsing--like the opening out of a beating heart--in the area around it. Once I reorient myself to this new sensation, I enjoy it, frankly. It makes me anxious to find out what my first orgasm will feel like.
Still, I wonder when I will no longer have the sensation- physical or mental--of a phantom penis. Or how long it will take before my consciousness will instantly, and without any thought on my part, connect those sensations with my new body parts. Hopefully, that day isn't far off.
I'll say this much: I much prefer all of those spastic physical sensations to all the rage I used to feel over events long past and people long gone. This isn't to say that I'm never, ever angry. But only recently did I realize the degree to which I was reacting to the "aftershocks," if you will, of my experiences. Until a few years ago, I was having the same kinds of arguments with other people that I used to have with my father when I was twenty years old. And I hated nearly all men because three of them molested me when I was a child and because various male teachers, coaches and others tried to "toughen" me up by humiliating, harassing or even beating me. Not to mention that I thought I had no choice but to live as one.
Being angry when whatever or whomever you were angry about is gone really can screw you up in all sorts of ways. I know that from experience. At least now I know that my phantom physical sensations are at least the first steps toward experiencing my own body, and a connection with someone else's, in the ways I've always wanted.
That much, at least, is as clear to me now as that short, intense burst of light at the center of my field-of-vision test.