On Tuesday the 30th I had my vasectomy reversal performed by Dr. Jarvi at Mt. Sinai Hospital. From start to finish, this was my experience.
First, lodging. Where you stay is up to you, and depending on your preferences you might go with something different, but I stayed at a budget hotel with my wife and daughter. Specifically, we stayed at the Toronto Rooms & Suites, on Spadina Avenue in the heart of Chinatown. I picked this hotel partly because of the very nice price, but mostly because it’s two minute drive from Mt. Sinai. If you choose to stay here, be aware that there is only paid parking available behind the hotel. The price is very reasonable – I paid $24 for two and a half days of parking – but it is a short walk from the parking lot to the hotel. All the same, I didn’t use my car to drive to the hospital and instead caught a taxi. The hotel I stayed at was astonishingly clean and despite a few things missing in their amenities, it was a great stay.
Second, arrival. Assuming you’re getting a cab ride or your travel partner is dropping you off, then you’ll go to the main entrance of Mt. Sinai on University. Patient admitting is straight ahead and on the right, and after getting checked in you’ll keep going straight and then left into surgical check-in. If you’re a Canadian and have a travel grant to have filled out, Dr. Jarvi will complete that for you himself before your surgery.
Third, the wait. Before your surgery, you’ll receive a letter from Dr. Jarvi’s office showing your surgery date and admitting time, and also a document in the email with some pre-surgery questions that need to be signed off by your local doctor or even a walk-in doctor and then received in the mail by Dr. Jarvi’s office a minimum of three weeks before your surgical date. The six page questionnaire will be put into your surgical portfolio, but you will need to bring the admitting form with you. Special note: the time listed on this document is not the time of your surgery, but the time by which you should be admitted to the hospital. I had an admitting time of 10:30, so I arrived to the hospital by 10:15 and was seated in the surgical waiting room by 10:40.
Fourth, the other wait. Once you’re in the surgical waiting room, you’re going to wait a while. First a nurse is going to ask you some standard questions (allergies, confirm name, emergency contact, who will pick you up) and put an IV lead into your hand. You’ll sit down to wait some more before Dr. Jarvi himself comes out to chat with you about the procedure and go over his last-minute double-checks. He told me that he wants me to call his office to speak with him at six weeks after the surgery, and then he wants to see me again in person three months after the surgery. After that you’ll sit back down and wait some more before the anesthesiologist comes out to do her last-minute double-checks. All this while, Dr. Jarvi has an assembly line of patients all going through the exact same steps. Not all of his patients are receiving the same procedure, but my vasectomy reversal took two hours, plus a little bit more time in recovery, so all told I was at the hospital from when I arrived at 10:15 until I left at 4:00. If you’re diabetic, then you need talk to Dr. Jarvi’s office about this before you get there or else you’ll be following the same instructions as everybody else: absolutely nothing to eat or drink (except water) from midnight before the day of surgery. After my surgery, I went back to the hotel and rested for about a couple hours before eating a huge dinner of rice, noodles, and Korean BBQ from the restaurant next to my hotel. Yum yum.
Fifth, the surgery. For my procedure, I decided to have a vasectomy reversal for pain relief. A portion of the vas on the right side was completely removed, and the vas on the left was reattached to let things flow naturally again. For my surgery I was dressed in a standard surgical gown (open in the back), given what they called a “house coat” which is more like a thin bath robe that I could close in the front, plus a hair cap and paper slippers. For the surgery I was walked into the surgery room, had my house coat taken away, laid down on a very narrow table, and covered with a blanket. The doctor assisting Dr. Jarvi went over the very-last-minute double-checks (confirming my identity and procedure and that I still wanted to proceed), and then the anesthesiologist came in. After that, the next thing I know is waking up in recovery. Dr. Jarvi uses dissolving stitches and surgical glue, so my incision sites were covered with small pads that were glued on. Dr. Jarvi had either left the hospital for the day when I woke up, or else he was in surgery with another patient, and I didn’t see him again before I left. The surgical team will place a big, puffy pad under your scrotum, and then put you into a pair of supportive underpants. The pads glued onto my scrotum are to be left on for three days – you can sponge bath during this time, but of course no showering because that would dissolve the glue – and you’ll also be instructed to not bathe or otherwise submerge yourself in water for a period of 10 days after the surgery. When you’re ready to change this pad, my suggestion is to fold a single athletic sock in half and place it under your scrotum inside your snug underpants for the same effect.
Sixth, the escape. Since you’ll be receiving general anesthetic for this surgery, you will not be in any condition to drive a vehicle or even walk down a hallway unassisted. The upside to recovery at the hospital is that they’ll feed you crackers and cheese (Cracker Barrel brand cheese, no less) and give you a choice of water, apple juice, or ginger ale to drink. The downside is that the hospital isn’t a hotel and as soon as you’re ready to go, they want you to go. For this reason, the nursing staff will very politely but insistently get you to contact your travel partner. They will absolutely not let you leave on your own, and will only let you leave with somebody who understands what’s happened and is ready to help you around. I was able to text my wife just before I was going into surgery so she was ready to come get me about two and a half hours later. In my case, after the nurses helped me get dressed, they sat me in a wheelchair and pushed me out to the rear entry where my wife was waiting with the cab for a short ride back to the hotel. I really encourage you to take a cab to the hospital, and have your travel partner pick you up in a taxi, because that’s about the easiest possible way to deal with parking but also to ensure door-to-door pick-up and drop-off. I also encourage you to dress for comfort when you leave for the hospital: slip-on shoes, warm socks (cold hospital floors), pajama pants, shirt, and hoodie. You absolutely will not want to wear jeans or anything with a belt. Dress for comfort.
Seventh, the recovery. Speaking for myself, both the vasectomy I received and the recovery I endured over two years ago were extremely painful. I spent days icing my groin, and even then had to ask my original urologist to prescribe something stronger. In the case of the vasectomy reversal, I’m practically pain-free right now. I’m slowly walking like a penguin, and my scrotum is a little bit swollen, but so long as I don’t jostle myself or walk too much I’m pretty much pain free right now. Dr. Jarvi prescribed me Celebrex once daily to control inflammation, and since it’s basically Aleve on steroids it’s safe for me to pair it with Tylenol. The nurse who spoke with me in recovery said that I could ice my groin, but honestly I don’t even feel the need. Dr. Jarvi’s office said that I’ll need 10 days off work for recovery, but the nurse I spoke with insisted that I do absolutely no heavy lifting for a full 2-3 weeks. If you have a job that keeps you on your feet or requires heavy lifting, then you need to plan for at least 2 weeks but up to 3 weeks away from work.
Eighth, the full recovery. Dr. Jarvi informed me that my pain would probably spike for a few days after the surgery, then recede, and over the next 3 months I would see greater and greater benefit. He reminded me that this procedure is effective in 75% of men, but this is the same thing he told me at the initial consultation. I only had my surgery yesterday, but so far I haven’t experienced this temporary spike in pain that Dr. Jarvi described. Maybe I’m just lucky for a change? At any rate, I’m still feeling a little out of sorts from the general anesthesia and am moving slow to avoid bumping myself, so I’m in no shape to drive. I could not have done this surgery and trip on my own, and I encourage any man reading this to accept that he must have a travel partner. You can not do this solo.
Ninth, final comments. On the whole, I found the experience largely stress free. Taking a taxi to and from the hospital avoids the hassle of dealing with parking and the hospital staff are absolute pros. Granted it’s only the 2nd day after my surgery, but so far I feel very satisfied with having my vasectomy reversal performed by Dr. Jarvi at Mt. Sinai.