“One Soul, Two Lives” is a true story, a hunt for inner strength.
I was born in poverty, as a boy. But I discovered my true self: a female soul. Boy or girl, man or woman? Not a simple question. I experienced the transformation from M to F, with indispensable ups and downs. The development of a gender identity is a long and complex process, a learning process.
I wrote this as a message to the world. No breaking news, though being transgender is still a taboo. I experienced the inner strength to share this story, crossing borders with positivity.
An excerpt from the book:
On D-day I had a lump in my throat from ebullience. I thought to myself, Boy what an experience, as I said goodbye to my sister.
The nursing staff on duty transported me to the operating theater. Seeing is believing. She/he paced over the floor as I faced the white hospital walls to the last stop. Sunlight appeared on my face through the windows of the hall, and suddenly I felt a glow come over me. So quiet. I felt so peaceful and warm. I thought of my mother; my mother being present meant the world to me. I gave my mother my last look and thought.
We rolled into the (cold) operating room, and he surgeon welcomed me:
“Hello, Mrs. Mulkens,” he said.
Cold, metal surface. Suddenly I shivered. They asked me to sit on the operating table. They took off my surgery camisole and pinned down the insertion places for the implants and where my vagina/vulva had to be manufactured on my naked body with the finesse of a Pablo Picasso.
I woke up in the recovery room after a six-hour operation. Nauseous, disappeared/disconnected from the earth. Shivering, convulsing, and in pain, I could barely move. I fell asleep, as the side effects of the anesthesia were too much for me to bear. When I woke up the next day, there was something different about me. I felt relief and a clear head. The pain was still there. I looked like a mummy, bandages tied around my body.
I don’t remember much about the first day, only that the pain was continuously present. I was cared for by nurses and I was very thankful that they did such a nice job. Empowered, I could take this final step.
One soul in two lifetimes.
After a long period of mummification, it was time to remove the bandages. Bandages from my bosom and my vagina, as well. I was terrified when the nurses removed them, but it had to happen. It wasn’t going to be a pretty sight, so I prepared myself.
The strong smell of ether made me gasp for oxygen during the treatment by the nurse. Ether is a tool used for dissolving the glue leftovers in order to release the bandages faster and more easily. Still, it smelled so bad. I had catheters…one on each side of my breast…and they had to be removed. These catheters were used to catch and drain the blood after surgery. They dropped some ether again on a medical towel to remove the remaining adhesive bandage.
Despite the pain, I was oh so happy to meet and greet my own breasts and welcome them into my life.
The next day, they planned to remove the catheter from my vagina. I was thinking, Oh God, save my soul!
A painkiller gave me the physical rest to get through the rest of the day. The evening made its appearance and I enjoyed a movie on TV. The night turned out to be very long. I could not sleep, thinking about what would occur while removing the catheter from my vagina.
The next morning, the nurse came to me and wished me a good morning and prepared me for the removal of the catheter. I was happy but scared at the same time. The lady came back…again with that awful ether. She held a medical cloth to the bottle. I held my nose closed and breathed in through my mouth. She carefully pulled the bandage off, I could see it happen but could not continually focus myself, because my eyes were tired.
Layer by layer, she took off the bandage, occasionally dipping the medical cloth in the ether. I saw the first signs of “new skin,” similar to newly generated skin after a sunburn. The new skin was pink, almost transparent. Not a pretty sight, I can tell you. Also, it was all swollen and it looked like one big open wound.
The nurse reassured me, “The swelling has yet to pull away, and then it will all improve.” I believed and trusted the lady on her word; she was the expert and had several patients before me. The bandage was gone, and the catheter was going to be removed. My heart was beating faster, but I made an effort to stay calm. I saw the catheter connected to my vagina, and nurse said, “OK, here we go.”
She took the catheter and tried to give a “click” to loosen it, but it did not give any kind of response. In addition, I felt the terrible pain. I began to get all stuffy. A second, then a third attempt on her part…and this time, I held my mattress as support against the pain. I was shivering all over my whole body. She said, “I leave this to the doctor.”
The doctor asked the nurse what was going on. She explained in detail how and what was happen, and his response was, “Let’s see.” He took a pair of tweezers and tried to source the connection of the catheter with my skin/vagina to remove any leftover clotted blood. He saw the cause: a coagulated blood clot between the wound and catheter. He removed it with great caution.
Because of the swelling, I could hardly see what he did. The blood clot had been removed, unfortunately not without pain. But now the catheter had to be removed, and that was the biggest and apparently the most painful part of the process. The doctor gave a click on the catheter to the right, and I felt and heard the “click.” He asked me to stay calm and take a deep breath. Said and done. Inhale…OMG! It felt like a hot knife cut through my skin.
It happened in two phases, and then…I could breathe again.