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Saturday, May 10, 2008

What Would You Do?

Those of you who know me well already realize that I've spent the last couple of days in a dizzying, all-consumed thinking haze. I've had three near sleepless nights, trying to figure out how we're going to make this surgery work. OF COURSE, I realize that *I'm* not the one who has final say, and that this is an opportunity to put some hardcore trust in God. However, knowing something and FEELING something are two completely different things.

As I've been playing out different scenarios in my head, I'm starting to wonder if we're going to be faced with a really difficult decision. Okay, ANOTHER really difficult decision!

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy is a surgery that is offered in hospitals other than St. Louis Children's. In fact, I believe that there is a doctor in Vancouver, BC who also performs the surgery. SDR is also offered at Shriner's Hospital in Minneapolis (a couple of kids who go to Ellie's therapy center have had SDR there, in fact).

The difference between Dr. Park in St. Louis and other SDR surgeons is in how the surgery is performed. Dr. Park cuts less nerves in the spine, and the recovery time is much shorter. According to Dr. Park, and outside research I've performed, here are the benefits to *his* SDR technique over the others:

Reduced risk of spinal deformities in later years
Decreased postrhizotomy motor weakness
Reduced hip
flexor spasticity by sectioning the first lumbar dorsal root
Shorter-term, less intense back pain
Earlier resumption of vigorous physical therapy

I have to inquire of our doctors as to the validity of these claims, but from what I can tell in my initial (and non-medically trained) research, these are pretty accurate points. Also, from what I can tell, Dr. Park is *the* best SDR surgeon in the WORLD. He's performed over 1600 of these surgeries. Of course, I'm not sure how experienced doctors in Minneapolis or Vancouver are.

Here is the kicker, and where the decision becomes TOUGH: The surgery in Canada or Minneapolis would likely be FREE. Seriously. Shriner's even pays for transportation, hotels and meals.

So, assuming our insurance won't cover a dime of the surgery in St. Louis (which I think will be the case because a form of it IS offered in Canada), is it worth $40,000 to go there, to Dr. Park? Or should we go the "free" route?

It seems sick and wrong to be factoring cost into the medical care of my precious kid. I hate that it's a consideration. But, it IS.

So, what would YOU do?


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll be the first to bite. What would I do? I'd pay through the nose for the experienced guy. I'm of the "spend all your cash on the best thing available" school of thought, and even more so when it comes to the health of my child. If it were me and Oscar in this position, I'd want to shell out for the peace of mind and his best chance.

Is that what you should do? Babe, I don't know. "Should" is kind of a subjective term here, you know?

I don't say this a lot (because I don't do it a lot) but I'm praying HARD for you guys these days. I'm praying that you have the wisdom and the clarity and the strength to sift through all the variables and the "what if"s and come to a decision that gives you peace.