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Old 07-18-2007, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Olive Branch, MS
27 posts, read 67,248 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello All,

I ran across this site while looking up information, got excited and registered to post. Hopefully I will be a long time poster with your help!

I wish to impose on those who may be familiar with Le Bonheur in assisting me with some firepower to convince my wife that a move to the area will help retain our sanity and improve our quality of life, all the while providing the medical attention needed by our son. Her concerns are well-meaning, but I do not think well founded. If you will allow me a little background:

We have lived our whole lives in the 'burbs of Washington, DC. Springfield, VA to be exact. In my opinion, a real rat hole of an area I have wanted to escape for some time now. A little over 10 years ago my wife and I were blessed with our only child, Jonathan, whom we discovered only a day after his birth he was entering the world with major heart defects!

Through God's grace and the genius of one of the top pediatric cardiology surgeons in the country, Dr Akl, working right here in our own back yard, we now have a relatively happy and healthy 10 year old son. We have lost Dr. Akl to cancer not long ago and it may be off topic, but to understand our love and appreciation of this man, cut and paste the following link and have a look:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/24/AR2006 (broken link)

Anyway, over the first three years of his life, Jonathan's heart was totally reconstructed, and as Dr. Akl told me after one of his constructive surgeries Jonathan will never play football, but he can golf, and that was the best news I could have ever heard! Yet, Jon does have limitations - the surgery left him with scar tissue across his heart, resulting in the need for a pace maker, (has had one now since the age of 3) and a slightly leaky heart valve which has been under the watchful eyes of his cardiologists since the end of the last constructive surgery, but it has neither improved or worsened over the years. Other than pace maker swap-outs every few years, Jon has been pretty much surgery free for the past seven years.

I will spare you all the hows and whys, but we now have the opportunity to get out of DC in a very easy fashion...work and money will allow for it, yet when I discuss moving out of this armpit of an area I am met with the end of discussion statements that goes something like this:

1. "We can't leave Jon's pediatric cardiologist group. They worked for Dr. Akl and the heart reconstruction was a procedure that only Dr. Akl performed and only the cardiology group knows how to continue follow up or respond if something begins to go wrong"

2. "Dr. Akl didn't know if his procedure would last as Jon grows and he may very well need more surgery, or even a heart transplant sometime in his life"

(I do understand the Doctor's procedure was very unique...the left chambers of the heart were completely under-developed and could not be repaired, therefore the heart was rebuilt to operate on two-chambers versus the normal four. Jon runs and jumps and plays normally with other kids - he just gets tired faster than they do...but when he does, he sits, rests, and jumps back in the game! And as for the time expectancy of the procedure, the Doctor did tell me, in almost a joking manner, that he would guarantee the surgery for 12 years. When I asked why only twelve, he laughed and said he has been doing this procedure for twelve years and all of his patients are doing fine...he finished that by saying next year, I may tell you I guarantee 13 years . Again, sounded good to me at that point in our lives)

3. "Jon's pace maker needs replacement every two years or so when the battery runs down, and that also has to be done by surgeons that know Jon, and Dr Akl's procedure"

So, I have asked the wife if she has talked to the cardiologists here about pediatric cardiology care in the Memphis area, and I am not discounting her as being untruthful, but she states she has and the doctors tell her they no very little about it. I do find that a little hard to believe with Le Bonheur there in Memphis...and St Jude's, although SJ seems directed more towards diseases.

Now, I have not called his cardiology group myself, but I will. Of course we feel very close to those doctors and the staff...Jon gets Christmas and birthday presents sent to him each year, and they throw annual Heart Patient Picnics for all of the kids, so they feel like extended family to us.

I will also be calling Le Bonheur and looking a pediatric cardiologist groups in the area...I am sure there are several practices around that hospital. But the real magic of forums such as this is the personal knowledge of people in the area who can relay information and "opinions" without prejudice or concern for lawsuits. Thank goodness for that!

So listen, if you have read this far, bless you. Again, if you have any ammo I can use, or should know about in the opposite direction, please let me know. Maybe I will soon be on the other side of this forum answering questions of potential neighbors.

Best,

Jon's Dad, Ron
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Olive Branch, MS
27 posts, read 67,248 times
Reputation: 10
Gee, my first post and I start with a typo in the header - good job, huh?
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Old 07-18-2007, 01:20 PM
 
1,352 posts, read 3,902,650 times
Reputation: 1274
I don't know a thing about your question and hopefully someone will chime in. But this web site enables you to browse by state and city or specialty. Maybe it can help.
RateMDs.com - Doctor Ratings and Reviews
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Old 07-18-2007, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Olive Branch, MS
27 posts, read 67,248 times
Reputation: 10
Tama...I am sure it will. I'll go have a look at it now!!!! Thank you so much!

Ron
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Old 07-18-2007, 08:22 PM
 
376 posts, read 1,705,457 times
Reputation: 158
I have had the pleasure of working with the pediatric cardiologists at LeBonheur, specifically Dr. Joshi, and they are wonderful. He has a wonderful bedside manner and is extremely intelligent and capable. I would schedule an appointment with him to talk to him about it. If he has never done the procedure or heard much about it, he will likely be willing to learn whatever is necessary (which is easier than you think). LeBonheur is an excellent hospital. They are on a mission to turn it into a top 20 children's hospital, and they are well on the way. Soon, they will start construction on $325 million hospital tower, though the old hospital is more than adequate. If you still want to live in the area but don't find UT Pediatric Cardiology adequate, then Arkansas Children's is only two hours away, and I think they are well known for their cardiac program. But good doctors are always excited to take on new cases that they don't know much about and they are willing to do the research to make sure their patients get the absolute best care. If they aren't capable of that, then they will tell you that and refer you to a colleague that can. Dr. Joshi is one of those doctors, and I bet that his colleagues in his group are the same way.
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Old 07-18-2007, 08:25 PM
 
376 posts, read 1,705,457 times
Reputation: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tama View Post
I don't know a thing about your question and hopefully someone will chime in. But this web site enables you to browse by state and city or specialty. Maybe it can help.
RateMDs.com - Doctor Ratings and Reviews
Those rating websites are little more than a gimmick. The best way to find a good doctor is to talk to doctors that you trust and ask them. The second best way is to "interview" doctors you are interested in. Talk to them and see if you like them. If you do, then your instincts are probably correct. If you don't, then keep looking.
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:10 PM
 
1,352 posts, read 3,902,650 times
Reputation: 1274
TennReb I think one has to take the web site for what it is. A chance to see if there is a trend in opinion. Everyone doesn't have the time to "interview" many doctors in such an intensive fashion and some doctors charge for that time, I think. I also haven't had a lot of success getting the doctor I like except through other patients' accounts, not another doctor's. I might ask his opinion or true if it were an esoteric problem or emergency that would be the route to go. After checking the web site, one could then narrow down and eliminate and then interview. And combine it with the recommendation of one's own physician.
Unlike students who might rate professors based on easiness or friendliness or good grades most patients are not doing that. Asking friends opinions of doctors is often suggested as a way to go as part of the process. One just has to remember these people are strangers and it could be a hack job. I think it is possible to use them as a starting point or a part of the process. Just my opinion.

Last edited by Tama; 07-18-2007 at 09:32 PM..
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Old 07-20-2007, 04:48 AM
 
Location: Olive Branch, MS
27 posts, read 67,248 times
Reputation: 10
Tennreb and Tama,

Thank you both so much for giving me your thoughts...I have spent a great deal of time researching Le Bonheur now, as well as the capabilities of the center and the background of the staff. I feel very comfortable with my son's health care at the facility...now I justr have to give it all to the wife...It's funny, I almost feel like I should do what I do at the office....put together a Powerpoint Presentation...

Again, thank you so much,

Ron
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Mississippi
3,927 posts, read 8,360,932 times
Reputation: 11409
Ron,

Is your wife from the South? Have you guys visited the area? Is she afraid that a move down here will mean no more city life? Or is her main concern the type of care that your son will receive?

I like the option posted above, to contact them and set up an appointment with the dr's. and to take a few days to come down for a visit, not only with the doctors but with the surrounding area to find out if you/your family will fit in and scout out possible neighborhood sites where you feel you would like to live.

This would be a first step in deciding what was best and right for your family. Also, you didn't mention, but I figure a job opportunity is what would lead you here? What type profession is your wife in? If she could find something compatable here that would help to lessen her anxiety.

Please keep us posted on how this progresses.

aiangel
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Old 07-27-2007, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Olive Branch, MS
27 posts, read 67,248 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by aiangel_writer View Post
Ron,

Is your wife from the South? Have you guys visited the area? Is she afraid that a move down here will mean no more city life? Or is her main concern the type of care that your son will receive?

I like the option posted above, to contact them and set up an appointment with the dr's. and to take a few days to come down for a visit, not only with the doctors but with the surrounding area to find out if you/your family will fit in and scout out possible neighborhood sites where you feel you would like to live.

This would be a first step in deciding what was best and right for your family. Also, you didn't mention, but I figure a job opportunity is what would lead you here? What type profession is your wife in? If she could find something compatable here that would help to lessen her anxiety.

Please keep us posted on how this progresses.

aiangel
Thanks aiangel,

It is not so much the job opportunity...I work out of my home doing government contract and business development work for a large agency. My wife does not work, and has not since the birth of our son. He is our only child and we do probably watch out for him much more than we should, but we both like her being available for our son whenever he needs her. Yet that leaves us with my whole point of relocating...here in DC we may continue to survive, but we will never flourish!!!

You asked if my wife was from the south...she is an only child, born in Tulsa, OK, and relocated here as a toddler. So yeah, she is concerned about culture shock. I was born here in the suburbs of DC back in the early 60's but into a large southern family who had recently relocated from the coal mines of southwestern Virginia and eastern TN. My father's success in this area brought the exodus of his brothers and sister, and their spouses and kids, and as a result, I grew up in a very rich southern baptist environment...kind of an urban redneck.

I certainly don't want this to seem all about me, but over the years, every member of my family has left the area for a slower way of life. My parents were gas station owners here in DC through the 70s and 80s and sold out to relocate to the Shenandoah Mountains where they bought a little country store and ran it for over 20 years until my mom passed a few years back. My brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins have all moved their respective families out of the DC area - most to the rural areas on this side of the Blue Ridge mountains.

My wife actually has the stronger connection to north MS. The last tie we really had to this area were her parents, who have recently moved to Olive Branch. They have a great number of family and friends in the area and in helping them relocate, I made trips to the area as well...including one trip about this time last year where I spent a week with her father house hunting for them throughout Desoto County. Needless to say, I fell in love with area and the way of life as well.

My wife has spent time there as well...but unfortunately not within the past 15 years. Her recall of the area is Olive Branch 15 years ago...ya know, no Starbucks, no Panera Breads, no Macy's, etc. But I have gotten her over that debate through talking with family and friends there. The next arguments then were health and school. I tackled the school issue and then began moving on to the health issue.

I did try to get her to travel to the area with or without me, but up until recently she has spent the past 4 or 5 months casually tending to an elderly friend in the early stages of Alzheimer's...dropping by each day, taking her shopping, etc., so she felt she could not get away. This dear woman just moved out of state to be with family.

I realize I am probably boring you to tears here, but we are now at the point where the home we are in as renters is being sold. We had just began looking at homes to buy when our son came along and never got around to buying. We spent the first three years of his life living in and out of the hospital and wondering what the next day would bring, and then the next several years with our heads in the sand wondering what would happen next. Regardless, we could certainly stay here, but we will never be able to be first time home buyers.

The home we are in now, a 45 year old 1600 sf split level just sold for $525,000. ..we could never afford the mortgage without the equity from another home sale to put down. A paltry $5k or $10k down payment we could actually handle would still leave us a mortgage of several thousand a month. Not that I would not want to upgrade, but I have looked at several comparables in Desoto that sell between $95k and $129k, depending on location. What a difference. Mortgage payments on much nicer homes in the area would still be far below what we would pay for rent here.

So we have the perfect opportunity to go to a wonderful place and not live hand to mouth in an area where we will not be worried about high crime and gangs and yeah, I know it sounds paranoid, but with DC being the number one terrorist target in the world right now, you never know what could happen here. Her parents are there and want us there as well, especially to be reunited with their grandson. Believe me, they devoted so much time to the care of our son, and to us, as he went through his tougher times that I am sure he thinks of them as parents as well. I'm sure he would have never learned to spell Cat without his "Ammie" forcing a book in his face everytime she was around him.

I should tell ya that as of right now, and not without the help of people such as you giving me directions to research info, she has committed to giving it a try . We plan on heading down in late August to headquarter briefly with her parents, get Jon in school and find our own place. I have impressed her with info from the schools, public and private, as well as with Le Bonheur...and shown her that if nothing else, Children's Hospital in Little Rock is a short distance away. LR Children's is renowned for pediatric cardiology and is very, very closely tied to Arkansas Univ's Pediatric Medical Sciences Department. Oddly, we have a family friend who has been a professor at the university for years, so we have been using him to ferret out info as well.

I cannot thank you and the others here for all the wonderful info and experiences you have given and I hope to be able to ask more along the way!
If you made it this far, thanks so much and see ya soon!!!
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