August in Miami: Orchiectomy at the Reed Centre
By: Grace Bock
Like many who identify as trans I have put a great deal of time and energy into researching this unique life experience. When it came to looking into an orchiectomy it was no different. Countless hours were spent reading personal narratives, educating myself about the procedure itself as well as in choosing a physician to perform the procedure. As has been the case many times in the past the resource I relied upon most was the Internet due to the wealth of available information.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “timing is everything”, when it came to scheduling my own orchiectomy this old adage held true. This summer was to be a busy time for me in that I was selling a home and moving to a new city to continue graduate school at a top-notch university. Additionally, I had also undergone a two-stage procedure on my left eye prior to my relocation requiring a great deal of careful planning. The goal was to squeeze the orchiectomy between settling into my new city and the first day of the fall semester in late August. I was hoping, too, to find a surgeon in a locale a friend and I would find desirable for a few days of rest and relaxation. Whereas this may sound like a misguided way of making such a decision, things worked out wonderfully in my choice of Dr. Harold Reed at the Reed Centre in Bay Harbor Island, Florida.
I first became aware of Dr. Reed on the TWR web site where I was able to link to his own site (a link can be found on my main page). There I found a great deal of useful information about Dr. Reed’s experience, which was an important element in choosing a surgeon. Being satisfied with what I saw I decided to send an email to learn more. Much to my delight it was Dr. Reed himself who responded to my inquiry and this direct contact has continued to this day, nearly two weeks post-operative.
It soon became apparent how thorough Dr. Reed is. In many ways he goes beyond what others may require with respect to psychological and medical clearances prior to performing a procedure. Yet this attention to detail is perhaps indicative of the final outcome. I am in good health and had had a physical shortly before my decision to undergo an orchiectomy; however, there were other tests that were requested. In fact, my medical clearance with the Reed Centre, for a procedure done under sadation, seemed more thorough than one done by a prominent teaching hospital under general anesthesia. Also standard to Dr. Reed’s practice is that his patients are required too obtain two letters of psychological clearance, one of which must be from a psychiatrist. Soon a date was scheduled for early August, flights were booked, reservations made at the Bay Harbor Inn and soon we were on our way.
The procedure was scheduled for 9:30 on a Thursday with a 1:00 PM consultation the day before. Upon our arrival on Wednesday I was immediately impressed with the appearance of the reception area, which is elegantly decorated and very comfortable. Both my traveling companion and I were greeted ever so warmly by Anne and asked to complete some paper work. I had heard so much about Anne during my research and found her to be just as others have; she is wonderful! Upon completing the forms it was Dr. Reed himself who invited me back into the clinic – prior to joining him, Anne had me provide a urine sample. Once in his office Dr. Reed introduced me to a visiting surgeon who had authored an impressive text on genital reconstructive surgical techniques. After reviewing physical and lab results my general practitioner had provided, Dr. Reed then ran through a list of basic health questions. He was warm, with a good sense of humor, yet a bit business-like at the same time. I was relaxed and confident – good thing – in that the physical exam was next.
If you’ve had a physical before – and you will if you get to this point – the details are not important. I will offer, however, that during the exam Dr. Reed did make me laugh! Once the physical was complete I had time to talk more with Dr. Reed to ask last minute questions. Since I had a good understanding of what to expect we spent just a few moments together as he described exactly what the term radical bilateral orchiectomy meant and then outlined what to expect post-operatively. We covered topics such as the pressure dressing, pain management, and antibiotics. Before I know it we were on my way out into the Florida sun
The next morning I arrived at 8:30 AM; a schedule change had been made so I was invited to come in earlier. I was shown to a locker area and bathroom in which I would undress and lock away my belongings. I then made myself comfortable in the recovery area and a short time later was escorted into the operating room and assisted onto the operating table by Anne. Moments later I was all hooked up, Dr. Reed had begun my IV, sedatives were introduced, I was shaved, a local anesthetic was injected, and the rest is kind of a fuzzy memory. I believe I have some recollection of the procedure, however, the next real memory was that of lying comfortably in the recovery area with an ice-pack on my surgery site. I dosed for a while until I began getting hungry. I was fed a nice lunch and was feeling wonderful, ready to go by mid afternoon with a prescription for antibiotics and pain killers and an open invitation to stop in the next day for a post-operative check up.
Up and out and into the Florida sun by mid afternoon. It was a bright sunny day and it felt good to be outside. Although my movement was some what restricted by the pressure dressing, I felt no pain. In fact, I never did feel the need to use anything other than Extra Strength Tylenol to manage the slight discomfort when I stood up or sat down. Although I was hoping to lounge by the pool that afternoon and get some sun – I couldn’t go to Florida without improving my tan – I opted for the comfort of my bed for the next couple of hours. By evening, however, my friend and I were out on the veranda enjoying the balmy evening. We ordered room service and called it an early evening, however, not before we both checked in by phone with those we love.
The next morning we were wakened by a call from Dr. Reed around 7:30 AM. Being that he had several patients at the Inn, he was coming to do rounds and offered to stop in to see me as well saving us a walk to the clinic. His visit was brief, a quick check up and he was on his way. Next visit was planned for early the following morning, Saturday, prior to our departure for the airport. We spent the early part of the day around the pool and later at a mall on the bay in downtown Miami. We did walk quite a bit that day and I was surprised how well I felt! Next morning the dressing was removed, I was cleaned up a bit and sent on my way with some final instructions. Dr. Reed offered a handshake but I felt a hug was more in order, which he graciously returned.
In conclusion, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my orchiectomy experience. Much to my delight, there was only minor discomfort and the recovery has been rather uneventful. Both Dr. Reed and his staff were a joy to meet and I will likely consider them again as full SRS is in my future. I come to this conclusion in that they delivered exactly what was advertised with professionalism, style and grace. Most importantly, perhaps, I was treated wonderfully! Additionally, I would recommend the Bay Harbor Inn. The service there was good, the food wonderful and the proximity to the Reed Centre a plus. Lastly, however, I am not offering a blanket endorsement of the Reed Centre as “the” ultimate in trans related surgical facilities. What I am saying, however, is that after carefully researching my options, and there were quite a few to choose from, I found the Reed Centre to offer the best for me with the end result a satisfying experience.
Here it is nearly six months later and my impression remains the same. One problem I have heard about orchiectomy prior to SRS is scarring. However, my experience is quite the opposite – there is no scarring and the operative area is as soft and smooth as has always been the case.
At the moment I am beginning to plan SRS for next year. Although there is a desire to proceed sooner, time is tight – after all; good things come to those who wait. The Reed Centre is my choice for SRS due to its service, attention to detail and a warm comfortable feeling I felt the first time around.