A Tribute to Dr. Ross!

A tribute to my Cardiologist, Dr. Elizabeth Ross on the occasion of her retirement…

Here’s how it started.  I entered the office on March 11, 2016, just as I had for every other check-up, echo, and stress test appointment, and was greeted by a staff member sliding the glass panel that separated us and checked in as usual.  As it turned out, it was not really “usual,” more like my new normal as I checked in with my new married name.  I noticed and was quick to point out, “Hey, Dr. Ross needs some business cards out here.” “Oh, no, she’s retiring soon, so…” Whatever she said after that I cannot recall.  Time stood still.  I heard nothing more.  That was it.  It hit me.  Bam!  Totally blind-sided and completely unexpected.

Well, no, not completely.  I mean, my grandfather and my dad are the only retired people I know.  Who retires?  It’s 2016, aren’t we all wired to work until we drop? “This cannot be happening,” I thought.

Of course, as with all life-altering news, I immediately sat down and texted my mother.  “Lauren, (big smile) come on back!” I was taken out of the shock and sadness and swooped back to the exam room by Dr. Ross herself.  This act of being greeted by the doctor and then invited to get up on an exam table with fabric and not paper are unique to this office, and I should know, given the number of DC area doctors I have seen.

We had the usual visit, “weigh yourself” (how kind) and “let’s get an EKG on you!”  Dr. Ross told me that mine is the only birthdate she knows by heart and that is because she’s entered it into that machine so many times.  I’ll take the flattery!

Asked to share a short message and focus on the role she may have played in my life was not an easy task.  I have pondered where to begin every day since March 11th and there are so many ways and days she has mattered much to me, but the most important and unforgettable time was in the middle of the night, closer to early morning, somewhere between 2 and 3 a.m.  I had mailed Dr. Ross my annual Christmas letter and she very nicely sent me one back.  As a result, I had her street address from the return envelope.  No doubt, I programmed that in my phone right away.  So at 2 a.m. on a Memorial Day weekend while lying on the emergency room gurney I used my iPhone, went to the white pages app, entered Ross and N Street and hit dial.  Her terrific husband answered after maybe two rings.  He sounded pretty groggy and as I sheepishly asked “is Dr. Ross available?”  He said not a word but handed her the receiver and immediately I heard, “This is Dr. Ross, how can I help?” in her same voice as if it were noon on a week day!

“They want to reverse my Coumadin and….” (I don’t even know what all I said) and she didn’t care anymore past that part either and said “why don’t you put the doctor on the phone?”  And just like that I’m handing my iPhone to some doctor who just walked in this ER and said “we need to operate right now.”  Fifteen minutes later that poor man, who was not a young doctor, walked in and said “I don’t think I’ve ever been schooled about so much, so fast in all my life.” Ha, ha!  I knew Dr. Ross would set him straight!

I could go on, but really, need I say more?  She took me on when my pediatric cardiologist “fired” me when I went off to college.  She saw me through many things – medical and otherwise – like hair-dos, EKGs, boyfriends, echos, college days, flutter, weight gain, lab work, medication changes, and more.  Dr. Ross didn’t specialize in congenital heart defects, but she specialized in me!  The last thing she saw me through was yet another procedure related to the downstream effects of congenital heart disease.  And following that, I’m off to my honeymoon!

There is no proper way to close this letter.  I love you, Dr. Ross, and I thank you so much for the last 17 years of my care.     

Your Favorite Patient,

Lauren Elisabeth Smith Ridgway
Atrial Septal Defect



The “Walk” Was Successful ~ Thank YOU!

Three months ago I posted on here about the Adult Congenital Heart Walk taking place in Wheaton at Brookside Gardens.

In the meantime, with the help of 42 donors, I was one of the top five fundraisers for the 2016 Washington DC Area Congenital Heart Walk!  Just $3 shy of $3500!  Smallest donation:  $5.  Largest donation:  $500.  Love felt:  All of it!

This year I was supported by my parents, siblings, in-laws, husband, aunts, uncles, friends in Hong Kong, family in Germany, friends closer to home, friends of my parents, colleagues, Do More with LES clients, families I babysat for, even my (retiring) cardiologist – so much love far and wide!  Thank you so much!

Last Saturday I participated in the walk.  See, I cannot say I “walked” because that would be lying.  I managed to be handed yet another medical speedbump and was forced to be pushed in a wheelchair by my fabulous husband and a few little helpers.  It was vascular surgery on my legs so that I can make an international flight across the pond for our upcoming honeymoon and physically, actually walk.  I opted to travel, thus saving my leg and requiring the wheelchair.  Big bummer, but still lucky enough to participate!

My brother-in-law, his cute daughter (almost 3), my step-daughter (9), my girlfriend, and her son (also, almost 3) and my dear ole dad walked alongside.  My amazingly supportive (and thankfully strong) husband pushed yours truly in her wheelchair!  Thank goodness for the carousel afterwards.  The sun didn’t come out, but it didn’t rain on us either, so it was a terrific morning surrounded by love and support.  Even at 39, I still feel like a pretty lucky kid at that event.  It was nice to see friends from Children’s National there, too.

Thank you to my forty-two donors, and if you’re reading and haven’t yet done so, it’s never too late to give, as the cause and research will always be there.  Thank you from the bottom of my ticker!  Cheerio!



heartfelt thx



A Referral Turned Friend, Two Times Over

A co-worker of a long-time Do More client, who we will call Dee, needed Do More earlier this year and so, I happily helped out and more got done! 

New client, Ellen, was happy to have found me and appreciated all I had done so much, that she mentioned my services and capabilities to a neighbor. She asked if I would be able to help this neighbor, who is also a dear friend of hers and I said, of course!

Little did I know!

Turns out Ellen’s friend, Marie needed to have some surgery that “they” said would be “same-day”.  So, without knowing Marie for one second before the morning I picked her up at her home, we became fast friends as we high-tailed it thru morning rush hour traffic to the hospital. 

I dropped her off at the main entrance and went to park the car. 

Once I re-entered the hospital, it didn’t take long to find her at the registration desk. She didn’t need me. She’s got this!

Next we were off to “the bowels of this building” to check-in for surgery and pre-op.  Marie checked in as the patient and checked me in as her “driver”. They took my cell number down and gave me her secret code number to protect patient identity (Hello, HIPPA!) so I could track her progress through the day. 

They took her back and then told me I could go back and join her a few minutes later. (Huh? I’m just her driver?)

So, I went back, saw her in her hospital and pre-surgical best and took her personal belongings bag and kept it close. I met the doctor and told him to take good care of my new friend. She loved telling everyone “I just met her this morning when she came to get me but I feel like I’ve known her forever.” Mostly because, in the waiting room we talked about everything from her kids to her grandkids and what got her into having to have this surgery in the first place.  Heaven forbid you make AND deliver homemade chocolate chip cookies to the kind neighbors who dig you out after the blizzard!

Anyway, long story short, I left Marie there for surgery and they would call when she was in recovery.  I double-dipped and took another client that day.  Upon my return to the hospital I found her sawing logs in the recovery room.  Nowhere near waking up, I soon realized that this “same day surgery” in and out procedure was going to go on to well past the sun went down.  She eventually re-joined the land of the living but finally agreed that she was just still too out of it to go home. 

Using my “medical background,” as she stated she was so relieved that I had, I booked her a room for the night – you know it’s bad when the patient opts to stay put overnight, and it was far from a Hyatt, trust me!  Luckily the doc I snagged in the hall was the same one I saw the next morning as he was walking out of her room handing her her discharge papers!  So, 24 hours later, I was departing the hospital, with patient, who was finally back to her spitfire self!  I’ll spare my readers of the stitches coming out pictures! You’re welcome!

Call her a satisfied client or a new found friend, it’s one and the same and we have kept tabs on each other ever since!  I love my job, friends, clients and referrals!  Keep ‘em coming!