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Time Capsule Connie Bretz

Finding the right doctor can sometimes be an arduous task. Often, you want a doctor who has just the right background and understanding for your medical needs.

I thought I finally had the right one until last week.

Just to let you in on a little information about myself, I spent the first three years of my life in and out of a hospital. I have a long history of physical, hearing and breathing problems. I am an achondroplastic dwarf with a tracheostomy tube to aid my severe case of sleep apnea.

Therefore, finding the right doctor to suit my needs is important. For the first 20 years of my life, I traveled approximately two hours by car and/or train twice a year to see various orthopedic and otorhinolaryngologist (ears, nose,, and throat) specialists at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.

After graduation from college and seeing nearly all of my doctors retire, I finally decided to going to specialists in the Philadelphia area. I saw one ENT (ears, nose, and throat) specialist near my home for my trach for about two years. He didn't help me very much.

One night, I spent eight hours in the emergency room of a hospital when my trach was clogged and no one could help me except for myself. The partner of my regular doctor came to the emergency room and told me that my nearly 15-year-old pediatric trach was too small for me. Right there on the spot, he gave me a new trach, only it was two sizes larger.

Without an anesthetic, he put the trach tube in my neck. Imagine putting a square peg into a round hole and that's what the procedure felt like. While I had a bigger trach, I had trouble adjusting to it. I spent about three months wheezing and had a strong shortness of breath walking up stairs or walking any signicant length of time.

After two years of little progress, what seemed like a dozen hearing tests, and extreme discomfort in my neck for three months, I decided to switch ENTs. My family doctor recommended me to a doctor in Philadelphia.

Being very skeptical after what I experienced with the first doctor, my family and I took a chance to see this new doctor in the city. The doctor immediately took one look at me and new it was the wrong size trach tube for me. He immediately scheduled surgery and two weeks later, I had the correct size and I was breathing better than I had been in nearly two years. No more shortness of breath and no more discomfort.

Even though I had only seen this new doctor once, I knew I had the best. No beating around the bush. He knew what he was doing.

I saw the Philadelphia doctor for about six months with check-ups about every six weeks.

I had my latest appointment scheduled for last Thursday when I received a phone call from his office on Jan. 19 asking for a cancellation. I couldn't understand the reasoning. Maybe, he had surgery that week. The only thing that the receptionist told me was that I couldn't reschedule until Friday.

Knowing how hard it was to get an appointment right away, I was a bit dismayed by the phone call. I called back as soon as I could on Friday but there was no answer. Something must have been wrong.

I finally got through to the receptionist on Tuesday to reschedule the appointment but to find out something that could only be considered shocking.

The doctor passed away sometime last week as a result of a heart attack. My jaw dropped in disbelief when I heard the news. Just when I thought I had found the perfect doctor, this happens.

Now, my search for a doctor will once again continue. It's terrible what happened to the nice man who was one of the top specialists in his field. My best wishes goes out to his family.

Kevin Leitzell can be reached at kleitzell@phoenixvillenews.com.

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