Another one of the people who have been such an encouragement along the way.
Upon learning of Rudy’s diagnosis, the efforts I made to research HLHS treatment at UCLA led me to the Pediatric Cardiology website. As I looked for points of contact, I came across Dan Levi’s webpage where two things caught my eye: a title listing him as Director of the Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship and an undergraduate degree from Stanford. I confess I’m not a very good alum and can’t remember a time I played the alma mater card (after all, it might not mean anything more than my dad and his writing a lot of checks to the same place 20 yrs ago), but it was worth a shot if it served to give me some leverage with someone in authority in the place my son needed treatment. So I sent an e-mail explaining our diagnosis, asked what treatment might look like at UCLA and closing by pointing out our common Stanford tie but making it clear that this didn’t imply any inappropriate obligation.
The next day, just minutes after I got a “GO CARDINAL” e-mail telling me he would be calling shortly, Dan rang me on my cell phone. Consistent with the conversation I had a day earlier with Gary Satou, I found comfort in speaking to someone knowledgeable in the scary mystery thrust on us. Dan had good information, wise counsel and, more than anything, apparently as much time as I needed to ask questions and have information repeated. He informed me of the steps UCLA had taken recently specifically in bringing on Brian Reemtsen to handle cases like ours. He made it clear that I should contact him via phone or e-mail at any time if I had need.
Rudy’s early arrival prevented any chance of us having a chance to get acquainted ahead of time, but shortly after Rudy was placed in the CTICU, I met Dan in person. I’m beginning to fear conversations with Dan as with each one we land on another common connection: Stanford, people at Stanford, his parents live in SB, I’m acquainted with his aunt and uncle, we were born in the same town in NJ…I fear we’re not far from discovering that I bullied him at summer camp or egged his car in high school.
We’ve discovered so much about each other because Dan is personable and makes a point of stopping by and checking on us about as much as he checks on Rudy. Right now, he’s not directly involved in Rudy’s care but, like most around here, seems to keep tabs on the Norwood patient. There have been a few days where he’s come by and made mention that he wasn’t actually on floor duty. Before we could compliment him on his dedication he explained, “I only come up here because the tea is free and buying it downstairs everyday would be really expensive.” Given my reputation in every place I’ve worked of making excuses to drop by offices with free coffee and tasty snacks, I applaud Dan.
As Monday was a particularly rough day that left us unsettled, Trish and I were touched that he made a point of stopping in quickly just to offer some empathy stating “I don’t want to come by when things are only going well”. In the years ahead, his specialty of heart catheterization will have him involved with some of Rudy’s key procedures down the line. We’re grateful that coming back to UCLA for these will not only be a chance to receive excellent care, but a chance to see a friend.