* * *
Back in Henning’s office, one of Ali’s first questions him is why he does what he does and in particular, why he does it for free.
"The reason is because you didn't ask for this. It was done to you. If I can help you and I charged you for it, then it would be like I'm making a profit off of your misfortune, which isn't right," he said leaning back in his chair. Ali listened to him intently, sitting upright, making sure to absorb everything he said.
As the consultation continued, Henning approached the topic of sexual pleasure and feeling. “I think I don’t feel the excitement other people feel,” Ali said, describing her lack of interest in sex.
“That’s because the ability to feel those things were taken away from you at a young age,” said Henning. He described the surgery to Ali and what she should expect to feel over the next few months. While she doesn’t need to come back to see him for follow-up appointments, she is required to see a doctor in Brooklyn and send Henning updates on her condition.
“Once my surgery is over, I’m going to share information about [Clitoraid] on Facebook,” said Ali. Her logic is that casually posting a link to the organization’s website on her Facebook profile would draw interest but not incriminate her. No one talks about these things, she said, but “all the women I know will secretly look into it.”
During Ali’s consultation with Henning, he explained to her the effects of the surgery. Ali, who had done extensive research on the possibility of the surgery not working or restoring sexual pleasure for her, nodded as he spoke. Henning pulled out photos of before and after photos of women to show her what she may look like after the surgery and Ali, leaned over inquisitively looking at the anatomy. She leaned back after looking at the photos and confidently proclaimed, “I don’t know what’s going to happen and how this is going to go but no matter what, I know I’m going to be happy.”
* * *
On the day of the surgery, Ali took a taxi to Oswego Hospital where Henning was already waiting for her. She was both excited and anxious she said. Excited about the possibilities of her new life post-operation, anxious because she had a confession to make and she was worried that because of it the surgery wouldn’t go as scheduled.
Henning recommends that patients come with a friend or a significant other. The hospital in Oswego requires a patient to be accompanied out. Ali had mentioned earlier that she had a friend to accompany her, but in reality, no one was coming. “I was told that the hospital requires patient’s to have an escort after surgery and I was worried that my surgery might be postponed. I truly wanted to keep it secret,” she admitted after the fact.
She was also worried about complications and what that would mean for her. “[My friends and family] didn’t know where I was or what I was doing, so if something went wrong I don’t know what would have happened,” she said describing her anxiety about the procedure.