A few days ago I mentioned I’d be having my top surgery consult soon. Since I don’t see much info about physical transition in Europe besides the UK I thought I’d share my experience. Specially with my experience as a person from the Netherlands going through their medical transition in Belgium, which isn’t even uncommon. Because the two big gender clinics (the only two with surgeons and I think maybe even endos) in the Netherlands are both in the north. For me Ghent is the closest out of any gender clinic.
So far my experience in Ghent has been amazing. The entire hospital seems to run a lot more efficient than Dutch health care on average and the gender therapists (the two I’ve met at least) are very friendly. And even if the system (which is mostly nationalised) is not, they are very non-binary and autism friendly.
Now my appointment two days ago was another matter. It was incredibly exhausting, so I needed a rest day before I could write about. I’m also really glad my mom was there, because she can handle stress a lot better than Luna.
In general I felt really disappointed, but there were positive aspects too. The main reason I’m disappointed was that I was hoping to walk away with a surgery date. Instead I got a second consult. The second reason I was disappointed were the surgeons manners. I know doctors aren’t exactly famed for their manners, but this was something else. This man was such a Doctor™ he just walked out on us at the end of the consult, without letting us know that it was in fact the end of the consult, not caring if we had questions or not.
First we spent 45 minutes in the noisiest waiting room ever because he was still in surgery. So it makes sense that he was in a hurry, but who is too much in a hurry to say bye. Anyway, while we had to wait I had to fill in a question form. Some of the questions weren’t really a problem, although it would have made sense for them to know from the ‘referral’. But apparently since it’s the same hospital all they do is just make an appointment. They also wanted to know some medical history, which makes sense, but is so hard to answer on the spot. The one thing I did appreciate about the for though, is that they cared to know your chosen name, since lots of people who come in there haven’t been able to change it legally yet.
When we finally got called in my brain was already pooped, so once again, good thing my mom was there and I mentioned the question I had ahead of time. He couldn’t be bothered to read the form, so instead he asked me the questions he cared about himself. Which luckily included my name. He also asked if I was a transboy (his word(s), not mine), for fox sake, I’m 26, but oh well.
After the questions I had to take of my shirt etc and he basically observed what had to be done. It all went so quick it felt like him telling me “yep, there’s two.”, although in reality he said quite a bit more than that. What it boiled down to was that I can’t have keyhole, which I kinda already knew, so that it has to be double incision. The main thing I found very positive was that he immediately also noticed that my chest sort of continues in fat on my sides and he mentioned that he’ll remove that too. That’s an immense relief.
Then came another big disappointment, but this one wasn’t the doctors fault (or the hospitals fault for that matter). Because I’m from the Netherlands, before they could continue they had to have green light from my insurance, which could take about a month. The doctor had no idea how to deal with it though, so he called in someone who did. I’ll skip the paperwork, but it boiled down to them doing most of it. They suggested we’d make an appointment for over 6 weeks instead of waiting to make an appointment until we heard back from my insurance. They also suggested to call my insurance if we hadn’t heard back in three weeks.
Now at this point we were suddenly left alone in the room. Neither my mom or I had any clue wether it was done or not, but since I still hadn’t been able to ask my question we figured we’d stick around. The doctor had left his phone behind, which kept ringing, so we figured he had to come back. But the lady who helped us with the insurance stuff ended up coming back in and picking it up. We had been able to ask her a quick question, but both of us understood differently. Then she ran off with the phone. Eventually we decided to wait in the doorway and when she came back out of her office she noticed and we were finally able to clear things up and to ask my question, which she answered greatly.
So then we were off to make a new appointment and that’s it.
TLDR: The surgeons manners were horrible, but I feel confident in his abilities as a surgeon. I still don’t have my surgery date and won’t until october, but hopefully it will go fast from there. I hate that once again my insurance can gatekeep.
I think that was it. In two weeks I’ll have my first appointment in Rotterdam for my physical health. In three weeks I have my appointment with the endo. So I’ll keep you posted. Bye!