Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is there a doctor in the house? (The Quest, part three)

After two not-so-brief interludes, we return to The Quest.

With any good sequential/loooong story, this is where you would find the recap page, but I'm not doing that here. Instead you can read on with optional link-clicking to archived material.

We are at part three of, as the first post said, an unknown-part series. With the end of part deux I teased that a doctor would be found, and indeed a doctor has been found!

Well, in reality, several doctors were found. It has come to light in this process that there are two key factors beyond skill and price when selecting a doctor for elective surgery: convenience and hospitality. It's kind of like choosing a Bed & Breakfast, except with scalpels and sutures.

As we've previously discussed (and I say "discussed" because in my head you all talk back to me as I type) Vasectomy Completion Reversalists (or VCRs [man, I really like parentheses]) are relatively sparse. This means that many of their patients have to travel long distances to see them. Let's not forget the matter of paying for the reversal, which causes some patients to travel even farther away just to save a few hundred, or thousand, dollars.
But really, most of the VCRs in a general area fall into the same general price range so it becomes a matter of looking at your additional costs, and like I said, convenience and hospitality.

Most of the VCRs we looked at offered special rates at local hotels for their patients (usually 10%, sometimes more). Of course as a semi well-traveled young man, I realize that a hotel room can cost a different rate each night just depending on how busy the hotel is, so small discounts are usually b.s. and can be beat. For example, when my wife booked the hotel room near the doctor we chose, she wanted to use the 10% discount my union membership offers. Just to check, she went to the hotel website seperately and was offered a cheaper rate than with my union discount. Internet Age lesson #1: shop around!!

Geography lesson: This blog originates from the green dot. This puts us in a nice central location in regard to some larger cities with VCRs, giving us some nice options. We found several doctors in Ohio and Kentucky and narrowed down our choices to three: 1 in Louisville, Ky and 2 in the Cincinatti, Oh area. One of the Ohio guys got cut just because we couldn't find enough information online. This kind of thing is all about RESEARCH! Get with it! Internet Age lesson #2: put your business information online!

The Louisville doctor, Dr. Chris Schrepferman, is impressive. He met all of our requirements, obviously, since he made it this far. I spoke with his office on the phone a couple of times; very nice people. They offer a hotel discount and they have a special set up for their out-of-town patients. Depending on your life and schedule, this can be pretty convenient, but it might also be a little restricting, as it was for us: You make one trip in to see him on a Thursday. Consultation is in the evening, then you go for pre-op bloodwork, stay the night at the hotel. Surgery is Friday morning and generally you will be the only patient he sees, maybe one other. He then asks that you stay in town that night and come back to his office Saturday morning for a post-op check before you leave town. Total cost was around 7500 (that is all medical expenses, sans prescriptions, not including hotel cost) Honestly, not a horrible price or deal considering the amount of attention you receive and the general level of care.

Over in Ohio, we have Dr. Shane T. Russell who certainly seems to be pretty awesome. I was actually able to correspond with Dr. Russell directly which was convenient and reassuring. He actually helped answer a LOT of our questions and his website is a great resource for anyone looking at issues with male infertility, even if you aren't anywhere near Ohio.
He is very thorough and very detailed oriented. Dr. Russell has a bit more flexibility in his schedule, again with a limit of two patients per day if he is doing a reversal. Obviously he prefers to schedule surgeries for the morning, and generally, he okays you to travel later that day or the next morning. The consultation can be at any time since it will be a little while prior to the actual surgery. Yes, the one drawback is that Dr. Russell asks for an in-office consultation before agreeing to, and scheduling, the surgery. It is a matter of caution on his part, and completely reasonable in my opinion, but not necesarilly that convenient (Many VCRs offer an over-the-phone consultation). His total cost is around the 6800 mark (not counting the cost of two trips to Cincinatti)

All travel costs accounted for, we figured these two were pretty even. While I would certainly recommend them to anyone, they just weren't the answer for us because we are in a bit of a time crunch. With my teaching schedule, we need flexible scheduling and a single trip. So we looked a little bit more, widening our search until we found this guy:

Dr. Michael Daniel
of Burlington, North Carolina. Our travel time just about doubles, but that is the only snag that we have. While I haven't spoken directly to Dr. Daniel, I have spoken with several of his office staff and the head nurse, all of whom were very helpful and extremely nice. It was a huge relief to be able to talk to one person who could answer various questions (the nurse gave me info on payment options, etc.! ). Again, he meets all our general criteria, and already the hospitality is looking good! Consultation and surgery are on the same day, just a few hours apart so they can do whatever tests and prep while I go fill my prescription for pain meds (whoo hoo!). They recommend staying the night somewhere close by, but at the end of the day it is up to me. They were very honest and helpful in regards to recovery time. Generally all we'd been hearing was that it is usually a little more uncomfortable than recovering from the initial vasectomy, but nothing bad. Dr. Daniel's office suggest a good two week period before I work since I'd be on my feet a lot. They were also honest with me that it will be sensitive longer than before. (I almost left out the word "sensitive" on purpose...) Total cost: 5800

So the 1,000 dollar difference more than makes up for the extra gas money while hotel costs (2 nights - drive down, stay, surgery, stay, go home) really stay about the same, if not cheaper since it is a smaller town.

Oh, and they can get me in the first week of August. Yes, that's right, I'm about a week and a half away from being reactivated (and having a scrotum that looks like Leatherface).

Don't worry loyal reader, there are a lot more twists and turns to this story before we even get to the surgery! Stay tuned for Being an X-man ain't all its cracked up to be (or The Quest: part four)


  1. Also should mention that people on the interwebs say good things about Dr. Daniel, too. In situations like this, it's best to take your cues from the interweb people.

    And my other two random thoughts were...

    -Maybe you should set up a paypal account on here to sucker people into donations. :b

    -You keep talking about how your scrotum is going to look post surgery, like a sctotum is a beautiful, amazing creature before any surgery. You need to look at a scrotum way better if you believe that.

  2. Said like a woman who has looked at her fair share of scro... should I really be saying these things about my wife??