First off, I’m here to answer questions and support folks who are going through a challenging and rewarding process similar to my own. Being able to ask people questions before I started HRT and before I traveled to Thailand for SRS was invaluable in my decision making process and in calming my nerves. First and foremost I’m hear to share my experiences and help make yours wonderful. My time in Thailand was not traumatic in fact it was absolutely wonderful and transformational. I wish that for everyone. So just because I am offering services for which there are associated expenses, don’t hesitate to contact me even if you aren’t interested in those services. I’m happy to email with anybody and everybody who would like me to answer questions and share experiences. That said, I have started offering some more hands on, Doula Services when they are requested.
In Person Doula Support:
Going it alone for any surgery or other medical procedure is difficult. Doing so for a deeply personal and major surgery like SRS is especially difficult. It’s only natural to have a million questions and concerns going into it. Between 2008 and 2010 I made three such journeys to Bangkok, Thailand. The first for my own surgery with Dr. Chettawut, and then twice with other women. During these three journey’s I learned a lot about myself and a lot about how people experience SRS in Thailand. I learned that patients who did not have a support person were much more isolated and often had little or no contact with other patients or caregivers. Those with a friend or family member there to assist them were able to make friends, move around a little, and have real food at meal time. For me, the best part of the entire experience (other than getting a Vagina which was really the best part!) was getting to meet all the other patients and sharing our stories. I met wonderful women from around the world, many of whom I maintain friendships with.
I recognize that everyone needs and wants something a little different from their journey and everybody’s experience is deeply personal and thus needs to be personalized. I am a very easy going and flexible person who is able to meet a wide variety of needs. Some patients want 24/7 attention and moral support, while others want me to get them three meals a day and otherwise leave them be. My role is to meet your needs, whatever that need may be. While I don’t have specific medical training I have extensive experience as a support person. I’m a professional home care provider for elderly folks as well as children with disabilities. I’ve volunteered on sexual assault crisis hotlines and been an abortion clinic escort. I’m calm and patient and truly will be there to meet your needs and make your experience the best it can be.
If you are flying from the North East I’m happy to travel to you and fly with you to Thailand. Otherwise I will plan to fly over on my own and meet you the day you arrive. I’m happy to help with navigating Bangkok taxi’s, attending consultations with your doctor, and generally making last minute preparations for your surgery. I’ll then stay with you for the duration of your hospital stay if that is your choice. Some patients choose to keep a hotel room during their hospital stay so they don’t have to bring all of their belongings to the hospital, in which case I could stay some in the hotel and some in the hospital depending on your specific needs and wishes.
I’ll stay with you throughout the duration of your stay in Thailand (typically about 4 weeks). In person doula services also include skype or email support both prior to your trip and during your recovery period back home. While thus far my personal experience is limited to Thai Surgeons, the general procedure is very similar around the world. If you are going to a US, Canadian, or other surgeon I am perfectly happy to come up with a Doula Support arrangement that will work for your situation.
Skype/Email consultations and other Electronic Doula Support
I recognize that the additional expense of a second plane ticket is unrealistic for many folks as it would have been for me. Therefore, in addition to full service in-person doula services I offer sliding scale phone, email or Skype consultations both before you leave and while you are in recovery. I’m happy to have email conversations with anyone at any time. If you want to Skype me for an hour a night the first week post-surgery, we can make that happen. If you have a hundred thousand questions when you’re packing for your trip, I will do my very best to answer them or to point you to someone who can. If a friend or relative is planning to go with you but is nervous about the whole thing, I’m happy to talk to them as well and try to give them some tools so that they can be the best support they can be for you.
What I require:
I recognize that SRS is ridiculously expensive and even unattainable for many people. Most people save up for months or years to be able to have their surgery. If affordability is part of your decision to travel to Thailand every added expense is a hindrance. I get that. I saved up for a long time for my surgery and a couple extra thousand dollars would have been somewhere between challenging and impossible. That being said it’s not cheap to go to Thailand. My ideal would be to support multiple people on a single trip or to even have enough clients to live in Thailand 4-6 months of the year. However, I’m not there yet. As of now in order to join you on your great adventure you would need to provide me with airfare (typically around $1,500 paid before I bought my ticket). I’m super flexible otherwise. I’m fine sharing your hotel room while you are in a hotel if that is your preference and even sleeping on the couch in your hospital for as long as you are there.
In addition to airfare I would love a modest weekly stipend for food and around town transportation as well as a sliding scale fee for taking a month off of work. Details can be worked out on a case by case basis. I am perfectly happy to help with fundraising or other creative solutions to make this work (I’m really interested in crowd-funding and think that would be a great way to go. I’m confident that in most cases the fees associated with my joining you could be raised or mostly raised through a indiegogo type fundraising campaign. The most important thing to me is for you to not have to go through this alone. I will help in whatever way I can.