Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

August 31st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After Treatment for Pituitary Tumor, Pastry Chef is Ready for Sweet Smell of Ordinary Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jessie Brenholt is back to baking after tumor treatment.

Jessie Brenholt is a certified pastry chef who would like to open a bakery one day. “If the ingredients were free, I’d give out cakes to everyone,” she says.

For a while, the 23-year-old's dream seemed to be in jeopardy. After months of being sick with weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and vision problems, Jessie found that the source of her symptoms was a tumor on her pituitary gland — a small gland located at the base of the brain that makes a variety of hormones.

A neurosurgeon near her hometown of Hill City, Minnesota, found that the walnut-sized tumor was wrapped around Jessie’s optic nerve and located close to a carotid artery. Treatment to get rid of it could affect Jessie’s sense of smell and vision. Due to the complexity of the situation, the surgeon referred Jessie to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus.

“A pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see,” says Jessie. “My doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life with surgery and proton beam therapy.”  [...]

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Tags: clinical trials, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Pituitary tumor, Proton Beam Therapy

August 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Pain Rehabilitation Puts Brent and Nancy Berry Back in the Saddle

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Brent and Nancy Berry benefit from pain rehabilitation. During the holidays last year, Nancy and Brent Berry of Danbury, Iowa, went on a train ride with their children and grandchildren, after a two-hour car ride to get there. They’ve been horseback riding with friends. They’re laughing, running errands together, and hosting their grandchildren for overnight stays.

Not long ago, they couldn't enjoy any of those activities. Pain affected every aspect of their lives.

Brent quit his job several years ago due to medical disability. He has several chronic medical conditions, including inflammatory arthritis and chronic fatigue. He took prescription opioid and benzodiazepine medications for pain and sleep problems. He slept a lot.

Then Nancy got sick from the West Nile virus, caused by a mosquito bite. Her muscles swelled, her joints felt hot, and she had severe fatigue and pain.

"I was unable to do my normal activities," she says "I was in a downward spiral into chronic pain, and everything that goes with it — anxiety and depression. I felt like I was losing my life." The Berry's turned to the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic as what seemed like a last resort. Through the program, they found a new way to approach their conditions, along with renewed hope for the future.  [...]

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Tags: Chronic Fatigue, Dr Wesley Gilliam, Fibromyalgia, Inflammatory Arthritis, Pain Medicine, Pain Rehabilitation Center

August 17th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After Severe Rotator Cuff Injuries, Stuart Baker Found Relief at Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

StuartBaker805For Stuart Baker, flying was life. After beginning his career as a flight attendant, Stuart eventually earned a pilot’s license and flew for a major airline. But by age 40, this native of Winchester, Virginia, had torn his right rotator cuff twice, grounding his ability to fly.

It took seven years, three surgeries and extensive rehabilitation for Stuart to recover use of his right arm. Then, he damaged his left rotator cuff. But this time, he found Mayo Clinic.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Cederic Ortiguera, Florida Campus, orthopedic surgery, Rotator Cuff

August 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Coordination and Teamwork Make Simultaneous Surgeries Seamless for Heart Transplant Recipients

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

WilliamandMichale805Michael Tyler and William Tiger didn’t know one another before the summer of 2016. But they now share a unique life event. Both 55-year-olds underwent heart transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus on the same day, at the same time. Completing the simultaneous procedures was a milestone for the Transplant Center team in Arizona, who had not previously been called on to perform more than one heart transplant at a time.

“It was truly remarkable how the team came together,” says transplant coordinator Allison Smith, who said the offers for both hearts came in on a Friday afternoon. Extensive coordination and precise timing were crucial to providing the best possible outcomes for the patients.

“When we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,” she says.  [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Louis Lanza, Dr Octavio Pajaro, heart transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Michael Marranca, ventricular assist device

August 12th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Life Beyond A Heart Transplant is Vibrant and Full for Elmo Aquino

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

For years, Elmo Aquino dealt with persistent heart problems that eventually led to a heart transplant. Since then, he’s moved forward and has been thriving, both personally and professionally.

Fifteen years ago, Elmo Aquino, a resident of Orange Park, Florida, was an avid runner. He’d competed in Jacksonville's Gate River Run, an annual 15-kilometer running event, several times. But one morning in the summer of 2001, his active lifestyle came to an abrupt end when suddenly, while on a treadmill, he found he couldn’t run.

“I knew something was wrong, because I was used to running,” recalls Elmo, now age 43. He knew he needed medical treatment. “I could have gone to some of the other hospitals,” he says. “But with Mayo Clinic here in town, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Elmo was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy — a condition in which the chambers of the heart become enlarged — and he ended up in the intensive care unit. That’s where he first met Daniel Yip, M.D., medical director for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.  [...]

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Tags: Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Daniel Yip, Dr Jeffrey Hosenpud, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Mayo Clinic in Florida, transient ischemic attack

August 9th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Surgery to Get Rid of Seizures Gives Brad Lewis New Freedom

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After years of taking medication for persistent seizures, Brad Lewis had surgery at Mayo Clinic to eliminate them. Five years later, he remains seizure-free.
For 14 years, Brad Lewis never knew quite what to expect when he woke up in the morning. A rare genetic disorder, tuberous sclerosis, caused a variety of health problems. But the one that disrupted his life the most was epilepsy. At one point, Brad was having as many as 80 seizures a day.

“Seizures are so unpredictable. If Brad wasn’t having a seizure, he was worried about having a seizure,” says his mother, Bernadette Lewis. “It affected every minute of his life, whether he was at school, with friends or at home.”

Brad was also dealing with other complications from his medical condition. After trying many medications and going through multiple surgeries, Brad’s parents decided they needed another expert to weigh in on the situation. That brought the family to Nicholas Wetjen, M.D., a physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Nicholas Wetjen, Epilepsy, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Tuberous Sclerosis, seizures

August 5th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Double Lung Transplant Recipient Beats Cystic Fibrosis to Become A Running and Fitness Enthusiast

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After fighting cystic fibrosis for more than a decade, Tammy Bolerjack received a life-saving double-lung transplant at Mayo Clinic. Taking full advantage of her renewed health, today she’s fit and running strong. When Tammy Bolerjack was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 18, she found herself frequently in and out of hospitals for treatments to help her breathe. Running 5K races and half-marathons certainly wasn’t something she envisioned in her future. Little did she know then that eventually a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus would not only allow her to breath normally, but would motivate her to become a fitness enthusiast and a competitive runner.  [...]

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Tags: cystic fibrosis, Emergency medicine, Florida Campus, lung transplant, organ donation

August 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic’s First Lung Transplant Recipient in Florida Makes Most of Every Moment for 15 Years and Counting

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Richard and Janice Oppelt with transplant surgeon Dr. Cesar Keller. When Richard Oppelt arrived at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in early 2001, his lung capacity was minimal – only 21 percent of what it should have been.

A sandblaster for 24 years, Richard, from Melbourne, Florida, had developed silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, which can damage the lining of the lung air sacs, and cause scarring and stiffening of the lung, making it difficult to breathe.

"When talking with someone, I would have to take a break to catch my breath," Richard says. "I was so short of breath sometimes that my wife had to finish my sentences. I also had a hard time making it up the stairs in my house without stopping several times."
[...]

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Tags: Dr Cesar Kellar, Florida Campus, lung transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Silicosis

August 3rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Healing Baby Lucas’ Heart With His Own Cells

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A Mayo Clinic research team led by Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., is using Lucas Gutman’s own stem cells to try and save him from needing a heart transplant later in life. Jennifer Gutman calls the day doctors diagnosed her youngest son, Lucas, with hypoplastic left heart syndrome the worst day of her life. The severe heart defect, sometimes referred to as HLHS, was uncovered during what Jennifer and her husband, Brian, thought would be a routine ultrasound.

The startling news brought immediate fears for Lucas’ future.

Determined to help Lucas, Jennifer’s sister-in-law, a physician, reached out to medical colleagues for advice. One of the phone calls she made led her to Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Connecting with Dr. Nelson and his team has made the long-term outlook for Lucas and his family considerably brighter.  [...]

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Tags: clinical trials, Dr Timothy Nelson, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Karen Miller, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, regenerative medicine, research

August 2nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Tree Farmer’s Passion for the Outdoors Thrives Thanks to Palliative Care Team

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Roger and Sally Conklin welcome visits from Charlene Anderson, a palliative care nurse practitioner. Roger Conklin has a passion for being outdoors. A tree farmer for more than 50 years, Roger looks forward to the changing seasons and experiencing the cycle of planting, growing and harvesting.

Over the last two decades, however, health concerns have made his outdoor activities more challenging. During that time, Roger has undergone hip and knee replacement, been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and faced additional health issues related to his heart and lungs.

Medical care from his team at Mayo Clinic Health System, along with support from a large circle of family and friends, have seen him through each of these obstacles. And in October 2014, a new feature was added to the mix when Mayo Clinic Health System Palliative and Supportive Care Service became part of Roger’s care team, too.  [...]

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Tags: hip replacement, knee replacement, Mayo Clinic Health System, Palliative care, Prostate Cancer

July 29th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Seamstress Moving and Sewing Again After Complex Spine Surgery for Scoliosis

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Years of progressing scoliosis left Kimberly Kimmons in severe pain and put her vocation as a seamstress at risk. But a series of surgeries at Mayo Clinic successfully treated her condition, allowing her to continue creating unique fashions.Growing up in Central Florida, Kimberly Kimmons was an active child. She loved swimming, biking and martial arts. But at age 12, Kim was diagnosed with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that most often occurs during a growth spurt before puberty. Unfortunately, Kim’s family didn’t have the resources to fully address her spinal issues, and the scoliosis continued to get worse.

Years later, when Kim and her husband, Kent, searched for specialists to help fix her back problems, they found neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, who were confident they could help. But as they assessed her condition, Kim’s care plan became more complicated. In the end, she had three surgeries at Mayo Clinic to remedy back and neck issues. With time and recovery, Kim was able to reclaim her life.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Gordon Deen, Dr Mark Pichelmann, Mayo Clinic Florida, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Scoliosis, Spinal Fusion

July 27th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After Learning Flu-Like Symptoms Were Actually Thyroid Cancer, Mother Shares Advice to Help Save Others

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

BethSpreitzer805It was 2012, and Beth Spreitzer was busy with life. Mothering her fourth-grade daughter and taking care of a household left no time to get sick. However, after experiencing what she thought were too many common symptoms – fatigue, chills, fever – and not improving, Beth thought something else must be wrong.

"In the past, the most I'd ever have to fight off was a cold. I attributed my recent symptoms to being busy and getting older," Beth says.

During a routine visit, her gynecologist noticed her thyroid was inflamed and tender to the touch. This butterfly-shaped gland rests in the bottom of the neck, around the windpipe. It has two side lobes that you can't feel when the thyroid is its normal size. The gland secretes hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

Her doctor asked if she'd been sick. Beth confirmed that yes, she suffered from a fever and chills a couple of weeks earlier and even had a cold sore, which for her was uncommon. But she admits she didn't think much about the conversation afterward.  [...]

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Tags: Dr John Casler, Dr Michael Meneffee, Dr Steven Buskirk, Dr Victor Bernet, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Thyroid cancer

July 23rd, 2016 · 3 Comments

'All We Want Is for Evie to Reach 100 Percent of Her Potential'

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Evie McLeish at Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Center. The night before 8-year-old Evie McLeish’s brain surgery, her Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., told her parents, "I don’t want you to think of this as the end. This is just the beginning of a marathon."

The procedure was the start of Evie’s long-term care plan for treatment of a brain tumor. Along with the brain surgery, that plan included chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Due to her age and the location of her tumor, though, her doctors recommended Evie receive proton beam therapy instead of conventional radiation therapy.

The timing was right. Mayo Clinic had just begun a new Proton Beam Therapy Program at its Rochester, Minnesota, campus. And not only was this unique treatment readily available to Evie, it was relatively close to her family’s home in Ankeny, Iowa, just a three-hour drive away.

"We were dealt a big blow with Evie’s tumor," says her mother, Ali McLeish. "But there have been silver linings in this whole thing, including that we could get proton beam therapy without having to travel across the country."  [...]

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Tags: brain tumor, Dr David Daniels, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Medullablastoma, Proton Beam Therapy

July 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Volleyball Player Realizes Her Dream With Help From Her Mayo Clinic Team

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Volleyball player Brooke Johnson was inspired by her care team after her hip surgery.As senior captain of her high school volleyball team, Brooke Johnson was determined to lead her squad to the state tournament. Never mind that the team hadn’t made it there before. Or that her small school had never sent any athletic team to a state tournament. Or that Brooke had health issues that made playing a challenge. Not even that she required extensive hip surgery four months before the season started. None of that mattered to Brooke.

“I was convinced we could do it,” she says. “That’s what I was working toward, and I refused to give up.”

The obstacles in her path were significant. Her team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, worked with Brooke, though, to see her through to her goal. And in November 2015, her Heritage Christian Academy volleyball team made its first appearance in the Minnesota state high school tournament, earning third place overall.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Bruce Levy, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, orthopedic surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

July 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Unique Form of Genetic Testing Uncovers the Reason for Years of Mysterious Symptoms

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

SharonMills805When she was a teenager, Sharon Mills started having excruciating pain after eating. Medical tests found abnormalities with her liver but no reason for the irregularities or pain. She continued to experience the troubling symptoms for decades.

As an adult, Sharon moved to different parts of the country several times. With each move, she visited academic medical centers and underwent a wide variety of tests and procedures in hopes of uncovering a reason for her pain. No one could give her an answer, until she moved to Jacksonville, Florida.  [...]

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Tags: Consultative and Diagnostic Medicine, Dr Floyd Willis, Dr Paldeep Atwal, Family Medicine, Florida, metabolomics

July 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Refusing to Give Up After Devastating Accident, A Farmer Finds Help and Healing at Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Gene Franke is back on his feet after farm accident. When Gene Franke left his farm in rural Hayfield, Minnesota, driving a semi-trailer truck loaded with hay and bound for Oklahoma, he never imagined the return leg of his journey would be as a passenger in an air ambulance jet. But in September 2011, that’s exactly what happened.

A serious accident left Gene paralyzed and in critical condition. Doctors in Oklahoma didn’t think he would survive. Longtime patients of Mayo Clinic, Gene and his wife, Barbara, were determined to get him back to Mayo's Rochester, Minnesota, campus for care.

“The doctors at Mayo Clinic knew what was going on, and they assured us they could do something for him,” Barbara says. “We knew he had to get up here. The care at Mayo Clinic is like nowhere else. We’re used to it, and that’s what we wanted.”  [...]

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Tags: Mayo MedAir, Rehabilitation, air ambulance, neurosurgery, spinal cord injury

July 8th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Desperate for Relief From Pain, Teen Considered Amputation. Today, He's Back on Both Feet

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

The Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program gave Connor Bleakley the confidence to function at a very high level.When he was 16 years old, Connor Bleakley asked his father, David, if he could have his foot amputated. David thought it was probably a good idea.

By that point, Connor had lived with severe pain in his foot and ankle for years. He had gone through numerous treatments to relieve the discomfort, with little effect. A sophomore in high school, Connor was unable to walk without crutches due to intense pain. So when, in desperation, Connor asked to have his foot taken off, David didn't see any other choices.

[...]

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Tags: Dr Tracy Harrison, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Pain Medicine, Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program

July 1st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Remembrance Events at Mayo Clinic Give Family Time to Reflect and Share

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Carol Mannell remembers her sister, Kathy VanHulle, as a woman who always loved meeting new people and having fun. Carol Mannell remembers her younger sister, Kathy VanHulle, as a woman who loved meeting new people and having fun. Carol recalls how, despite being in the midst of receiving care for a serious illness when she was at Mayo Clinic, Kathy would take time to strike up conversations with people sitting next to her in waiting rooms. She would ask them to write messages in a journal she carried with her. Kathy and Carol would sing together in her hospital room.

Kathy even convinced members of her care team at Mayo Clinic to get up and dance.

“We had a lot of fun. Everywhere Kathy went at Mayo, we’d talk, laugh and get people to do the happy dance with her,” Carol says. “She had a big personality.”

[...]

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Tags: Dr Mark Litzow, Hematology Oncology, Mayo Medical School, Mayo School of Health Sciences

June 30th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Quick Access to Stroke Experts Through Telemedicine Makes All the Difference for George Hoggard

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

GeorgeHoggard805b George Hoggard knows a thing or two about the importance of a rapid response. A former firefighter, the 78-year-old Titusville, Florida, resident spent the better part of his 42-year career teaching astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center how to escape to safety in the event of an emergency on the launch pad. He also was a member of the rescue team that would respond if something went wrong with a space shuttle mission.

So when his right eye suddenly began looking left while watching TV on a Sunday evening in April 2016, George knew something was amiss. When he began feeling nauseated, he told his wife, Rita, he needed to get to the hospital.  [...]

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Tags: Dr David Barrett, Florida Campus, Mayo Clinic Care Network, stroke, Stroke Telemedicine

June 28th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After a Long, Long Wait, a Transplant, Gratitude and Goodbyes

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Randy Marlow with two of his transplant nurses. When Randy Marlow checked into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys Campus, he knew his hospital stay would be lengthy. He just wasn’t expecting it to last one year, seven months and 21 days.

As someone who needed dual heart and liver transplants, Randy knew the probability of two suitable donor organs becoming available at the same time was small. Moreover, his rare blood type, coupled with a buildup of antibodies from multiple blood transfusions related to prior heart surgeries, meant he would be incompatible with all but 10 to 20 percent of organ donors, according to his physicians.

So Randy, an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed snowmobiling back home in the Colorado Rockies, riding his ATV, and camping, shifted his perspective from action to endurance.

Patience became the operative word. "You have to take it day by day and wait for that right day, for the miracle," Randy says.  [...]

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Tags: heart transplant, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

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