Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Kidney/Liver Recipient Dedicates His Time to Mentoring Children after Successful TV Sports Career

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Paul Scotti

Robert Duffy, kidney/liver recipient, stands in front of his car, with a smile on his face.

After 35 years on the road as a video technician for the CBS network covering major sporting events including the Super Bowl, the Olympics, SEC football, the Masters Golf Tournament, and the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, Brooklyn native Robert Duffy was living a very active and busy life that kept him on the road about 240 days a year. At 60 years of age, his diabetes was under control, and he otherwise seemed healthy as he led a life of irregular hours, extended travel and living out of hotel rooms.

All that changed in 2011, when he [...]

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Twin Sisters Share Many Things in Life, Including New Lungs

Posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Paul Scotti

Linda Foster (left) and Brenda Santinelli (right), 60-year-old twin sisters from Pensacola, Fla and patients of Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Linda Foster (left) and Brenda Santinelli (right), twin sisters from Pensacola, Fla and patients of Mayo Clinic in Florida.

It’s often said that twins share similar traits and have unique bonds that other siblings simply don’t have. Sometimes those traits are things one would rather not share with their twin, especially when it comes to a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

Linda Foster and Brenda Santinelli, 60-year-old twin sisters from Pensacola, Fla., are active women with a love of the outdoors. Hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and other activities were well-suited to both their lifestyles. Both sisters are in long-term marriages. Both have young grandchildren. They even both have 20-plus-year careers at Walmart in their hometown. Both were former smokers who quit several years ago.

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The Team Behind Team Lola

Posted on April 2nd, 2014 by mayoclinic

Lola points to her scar from heart surgery

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Most 13-year-old girls wouldn't see having a scar down the middle of their chests as cool. Lola Montilla, however, is not your average 13-year-old girl. When she looks at the scar on her chest from the surgery she had at Mayo Clinic to repair the Ebstein’s anomaly heart defect she was born with, she says it serves as a reminder that what doesn't kill us does indeed make us stronger.

"I really, really like my scar," Lola says, from her home in Puerto Rico. "Every time I look at it, it makes me think, 'Wow, I really did go through this, and I'm now back here at home.'"

Her mom, Mari Serrano-Montilla, says she and her husband learned that Lola would be born with Ebstein’s anomaly -- a rare heart defect that causes blood to leak back through the tricuspid valve, forcing the heart to work much harder than normal -- late in her pregnancy. "Our doctors here in Puerto Rico said she might need surgery, but it was a matter of just seeing how much progress she made," she says.

Outside of not being able to participate in competitive sports in school or go on any of "the cool rides" when her family visited Disney World, Lola lived the first 12 years of her life without much complication or difficulty. But then, just before her 13th birthday, things began to change.

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Patient Honors Her Liver Donor and Faith in New Book

Posted on March 26th, 2014 by Paul Scotti

Peggy Lyons blog story photoHildred "Peggy" Lyons' first signs of liver problems occurred back in 1968, around the time of her son's birth, when her physician noticed she had elevated liver enzymes. An otherwise healthy woman who worked and also volunteered as a fitness instructor at her church teaching several classes a day to both adults and children, Lyons dismissed it as pregnancy-related and didn’t gave it much thought for the next 30 years.

Unfortunately, her liver problems resurfaced right around the time she retired from her job at Proctor and Gamble in 1998. Lyons was told by her physician in her hometown of Albany, Ga., that her liver enzymes were more seriously elevated and that she should see a specialist for a diagnosis. He also told her to cut back teaching her exercise classes, something she was reluctant to do. After going to a medical center in Atlanta for an evaluation of her condition, she was left wondering what her next steps were as she grew progressively ill without any answers.

Lyons turned to her church for support, where her pastor and fellow members prayed and fasted, hoping for an answer. On the last day of a 30-day fast, her pastor received a call from "a total stranger" in her community who said, "The answer is in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Mayo Clinic."

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A New Chapter: Life After My Liver and Kidney Transplant

Posted on March 18th, 2014 by Paul Scotti

Written by Elaine Ginn, transplant patient at Mayo Clinic in Florida

Elaine Ginn with her book, PatchworkAs I sit here at the Mayo Clinic lab on the Florida campus waiting to be called for a lab draw of a dozen or so tubes of my blood, my mind returns four years to the time before my liver and kidney transplant surgery. I can't say I had given up, as that just isn't in my nature, but I had become so ill that I could imagine myself slipping into oblivion and perhaps not minding.

It was December, about five months before the transplant, and my two local grandchildren had come over to spend the night and help me decorate the Christmas tree. Isabel, who had just turned four, would carefully take each ornament from its storage box and exclaim, "Gramma, isn't this the most beautiful  'ordament' you have ever seen?" Then she would carefully place it on my condo-sized fir, about as tall as Isabel herself. She would admire her work and ask Javier, her charming 8-year-old brother, if he didn't also think it was beautiful. He would nod his head briefly, preferring to focus on the TV, where "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was commanding his attention.

After she had loaded the tiny tree with more beautiful 'ordaments' than it should have held, I finally tucked the two of them into their makeshift beds, with the proverbial "visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads." I made my way to kitchen to clean up the cocoa mugs and the dishes from dinner. While standing at the sink with my hands in dishwater, my little curly headed princess walked out to the kitchen and hugged my legs, murmuring something I could not make out over the running water. I turned off the faucet, dried my hands, knelt down to her level and asked her to repeat what she had said.  My heart melted as her soft little voice repeated, "You are my most love, Gramma. You are my most love." If ever there was a reason to live, this was it. If 2009 was to be my last Christmas, it would be enjoyed with a very full heart.

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Knocking “Care Coordination” Out of the Park

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by mayoclinic

Barry BloomWritten by Barry M. Bloom

When I arrived at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., that September day almost five years ago, my care for colon cancer was fractured and really a mess. I had suffered through a second bout of the disease, when the cancer jumped from the colon to the lung. After surgery to bisect the upper lobe of the left lung, I had just embarked on a six-month program of chemotherapy.

A local hospital had bungled the pathology from the original colon surgery in February 2008, discovered only when I went to a facility in Texas for a second opinion. As it turned out, at the time of the original colon resection, a trace of cancer was evident in a lymph node, doctors there discovered. Had my oncologist at the time possessed that information, he would have immediately placed me on a course of chemo. He didn't, and suddenly I had become a Stage IV cancer patient for the worst of reasons: medical error.

Just as bad, the surgeon who performed the original colon surgery did such a poor job sewing up my abdomen that it created an incision hernia. When she fixed the hernia, she told me she had inserted some mesh to pull the area together. That turned out to be false. The hernia surgery had to performed again. This time she demurred and sent me to another surgeon, who did the job properly.

No apology from the doctor or the local hospital has ever been forthcoming.

In the late summer of 2009, the second opinion confirming the spot on my lung, the biopsy, the surgery itself, and my first chemo sessions were reminded me of the times I was given flu shots in the pharmacy of a Safeway. My anxiety was at an untenable level, and as now the CEO of my own health care, I had learned an important lesson: the more doctors, clinics and hospitals involved without access to the same computer records, the greater chance for something to go wrong.

That's when Mayo Clinic became involved.

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Game On! … in Ruth’s battle with depression

Posted on March 6th, 2014 by mayoclinic

Ruth Tibesar and her physicians

Ruth Tibesar with the physicians she calls her "two knights" who she says inspired her and helped her in her battle with depression.

For many years, those lucky enough to share a work space with Ruth Tibesar, a lab technician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, had come to expect to hear at least one thing when they came to work every day: Laughter. Because that's just the kind of person Ruth Tibesar is -- she enjoys making those around her smile. But a little more than two years ago, that laughter disappeared soon after Ruth's mother passed away. Soon after that, Ruth suffered a mild stroke while at work, and it was while she was in the hospital recovering that she says she began to feel herself change into a person she and those around her no longer knew.

"I was angry," Ruth says. "I wasn't talking to anyone. Something had changed. But then I just went on like nothing was wrong."

Once she left the hospital, however, Ruth began to realize something was, in fact, very wrong. "I started to withdraw from things and stopped talking altogether, which is odd for me," she says. "I began to isolate myself. That was a real trigger that something wasn't right." As were the sleepless nights. "Insomnia was another huge trigger for me," she says. "It gave me too much time to think."

Still, she didn't feel like she needed help. Instead, Ruth says she went on living this way until she reached a point where she eventually just "went numb" inside. "I got to a point where I felt nothing," she says. "I had no emotions. I just stopped caring. I felt like a piece of mud -- like nothing. There was no spunk. No drive for the next day."

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Diet restrictions inspire new career

Posted on February 27th, 2014 by mayoclinic

Frances Shaw’s health and career mixed together in a muffin batter. With her perseverance and answers from Mayo Clinic, both her health and career as a baker and entrepreneur, are turning out golden.

Frannie Shaw with a package of her muffins.

Frances Shaw didn’t set out to be a baker. Her career essentially found her as she tried to find ways to manage her health and dietary restrictions, while still enjoying food.

In her senior year of college, while studying film, Shaw, now 25, suddenly found herself dealing with ongoing stomach and pain symptoms that had worsened dramatically. “I was really, really tired,” she says. And that wasn’t all. “I had bone pain and was instantly bedridden.”

Finding out what was wrong was not as instant, however. In fact, it was an odyssey that dragged out for seven years. “I saw every kind of doctor,” she says. Eventually, Shaw learned she had Celiac disease and an intolerance of dairy products.

After her diagnosis, Shaw eliminated gluten and dairy from her diet. “I did notice a big difference in how I felt,” she says. “But I was so hungry. It was hard to find the combination of gluten-free, dairy-free that tasted good.”

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