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Dear New Leaf Hyperbarics, I recently underwent gender confirmation surgery (GCS) in Arizona on August 15, 2019. After 10 days in the hospital, one grueling and painful flight home, and one day of shopping to restock fresh fruit and veggies, I spiked a 102.7 degree fever and spent a “lovely” evening at the emergency room in Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital.  The fever was due in part to excessive physical activity the day prior (damn my love of fresh spinach and Rainier cherries) combined with dehydration, significant dehiscence wounds, and mild infection around my surgery site. I beat the fever after 8 days and was eager to resume the hyperbaric treatments I was doing as part of my recovery from a significant concussion. I knew I should check with my care team at The Meltzer Clinic before resuming treatments, but I was concerned that they may be unfamiliar with hyperbaric oxygen therapy and, as a result, may not recommend I resume my treatments.

Fortunately, both my surgeon and the nurse assigned to monitor my recovery were familiar with HBOT and were fully supportive. My nurse had actually worked in hyperbaric medicine in Arizona, treating elderly and diabetic patients in a 12-person hyperbaric oxygen chamber prior to joining the clinic that performed my GCS. His support for my resumption of HBOT was enthusiastic. In discussing the resumption of HBOT, my nurse and I knew there could be positive results for speeding up the healing of my dehiscence wounds. We were curious enough about the potential for rapid healing that we developed a plan to monitor my wound healing progress with routine photographs. I took a picture of my wounds and sent the photo to him the morning before I had a treatment, and then each morning and evening immediately following a treatment for the next three days.

Even though no one has ever described me as being shy or timid, I am a somewhat private person and I am not going to show photographs of my crotch (no matter how happy I am with my results) to prove how HBOT helped speed up my healing process.  I will however describe the results of HBOT on my healing. If you’re easily grossed out by the discussion of medical complications, you may want to skip the next paragraph.

After each one-hour treatment we saw significant healing and wound closing within approximately 36 hours. The best example of this is a wound I had named “Gertrude.”  Gertrude was big, bad and ugly. She was a combination of a large, painful labial hematoma and massive dehiscence wound which extended from the base of my vagina up to about two-thirds of the way up my right labia. Gertrude would actively and randomly “flood Vaginaville” like a lahar headed for Orting, but with much less warning.  By the second morning after the first treatment, Gertrude was significantly less painful but more impressively, she had stopped bleeding and closed up to about half her original size.  Similar results continued with each treatment. The decrease in size and reduction in discharge of the remaining dehiscence wounds were definitely accelerated following HBOT.

GCS is significant surgery. HBOT has helped me recover much quicker, allowing me to regain my stamina and return to work much faster than breathing regular, run-of-the-mill air at normal atmospheric pressure. And as an added bonus, the staff at New Leaf Hyperbarics are awesome human beings – welcoming and inclusive of all people regardless of gender identity or expression. Thank you for providing HBOT in our community!