Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Debi: Big City Blessings

Along with the many other things I appreciate about living near a big city like Chicago (the city border is five blocks from my house), I have come to be deeply, deeply grateful for the availability of unparalleled medical care. If you have insurance (and of course, this is a whole other political discussion that makes my blood boil, but we're not writing a political blog here...), you can get excellent care in any number of hospitals. If you are a child, Children's Memorial Hospital, here in Chicago, is one of the best in the country.

We discovered just how specialized the care at that hospital is when our younger daughter was diagnosed at a year old with a serious congenital heart defect. It turned out, after we got the diagnosis and began furiously searching for information, that the two doctors who have done the most research on the condition -- and who perform most of the corrective surgeries for it nationwide -- are here, at Children's Memorial. They did the surgery for our Sammi, and while I have nothing to compare it to, I found the care at the hospital to be just wonderful.

Now, our older daughter, Ronni, has been diagnosed with another congenital defect, this time of the bladder and ureters. She'll require surgery to correct it, and so we had no hesitation in choosing the pediatric urology faculty at the same hospital to guide us through the process. Earlier this week, she had to undergo a scan that we knew would take a long time, involve a lot of waiting and remaining very still, and might, in other circumstances, be quite frightening. The people at Children's Memorial, however, know exactly how to handle this -- and I had some good ideas, too.

That picture above is of Ronni undergoing a DMSA scan. Sitting next to her, holding her hand, is her best friend. That best friend, along with her mom who is one of my best friends, came with us and was allowed to stay in the room during the procedure. The radiology techs have rigged a DVD player to their machinery so that children undergoing their scans can watch a movie while they lie still and wait. Since the scan takes 90 minutes or more, this is a lifesaver. Ronni's best friend was set up in some chairs with some pillows and allowed to lie there with Ronni, watching the movie, holding her hand, keeping her company, the entire time.

The kind of population density around here can be daunting to those who are used to living in the suburbs or, like Stori, in the country...but it is a great comfort to me to know that there is unlimited personal opportunity surrounding me at all times. Meeting friends as dear and as kind as the ones who came with us to the hospital this week, having a hospital this excellent nearby, having the infrastructure to support our easy movement through our days here -- all these things make me feel safe, loved, supported, and cared for in an environment that probably looks like none of those things from the outside. Isn't it glorious how we look at the lives we've built for ourselves? I feel lucky, every day, to live here.

(And, by the way, the test went well. There is no damage to her kidneys, and so, while she'll still need bladder surgery, it is likely to be the last step in our journey. Thank goodness!)

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