Monday, September 1, 2014

Changing Cities, Transitioning Care

From my perspective as an adult with CHD, one of the most unsettling things about moving to a new city—aside from saying goodbye to family, friends, and the city that I've called home my entire life—was making sure I got connected to another quality ACHD clinic. In late June, I moved from my home in Chicago to Washington, DC, to pursue an exciting new job opportunity. Having fallen out of CHD care once before (as a teenager)—and having just gone through my second open heart surgery six months prior—there was no way I was going to let my CHD care fall by the wayside again.

I would be lying if I said the move wasn't without a little bit of worry. I have wanted to move out to the east coast for a few years; and this new job was a professional next step I didn't want to pass up. But to leave my ACHD team at the University of Chicago (who had seen me through so much over the last couple years and provided excellent care throughout) was certainly cause for at least some anxiety.

With my connections to ACHA and the larger CHD community, I knew I wouldn't be going through this alone and could (at the very least) turn to the ACHD Clinic Directory as a starting point. But when you've built a rapport with your cardiologist and the medical team at your hospital, it's tough to say goodbye and move on—even when you know the time is right to do so. Fortunately (in this case anyway), the ACHD community is relatively small; and I was able to get a recommendation from my ACHD cardiologist in Chicago for one here in Washington, DC. I had my first appointment with my new cardiologist last month and don't think I could be happier. While it will naturally take some time to develop a similar rapport to what I had with my medical team in Chicago—and I'm really hoping to not have the same opportunities to have as in-depth of a connection (read: caths, stents, surgeries, etc.)—I feel confident that I am in good hands here.

When I walked into the clinic at the Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program (WACH), one of the first things I noticed was a display of brochures for ACHA's 2014 National Conference—a good sign! My nerves were calmed even further when I actually met with my new ACHD cardiologist—Dr. George Ruiz—who had taken the time to thoroughly review my records from Chicago in advance and who was genuinely excited to welcome me to the adult congenital clinic in DC. He was so pleased to see how well my recent surgery went and impressed at the results of my post-op stress test. It felt like we had established a connection right away.

In some ways, I think Chicago will always be my home; and whether or not DC will become a long-term residence for me is yet to be seen. But having gotten connected to a local ACHD doctor to establish care for myself here definitely makes this east coast locale a bit more comfortable. I'm excited to see where this journey takes me next!