July 27th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
It 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 â fatigue, chills, fever â 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.Â [...]
July 23rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment
The night before 8-year-old Evie McLeishâs brain surgery, her Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., told her parents, "I donât want you to think of this as the end. This is just the beginning of a marathon."
The procedure was the start of Evieâs 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 familyâs home in Ankeny, Iowa, just a three-hour drive away.
"We were dealt a big blow with Evieâs 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."Â [...]
July 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
By Linda Binner
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 hadnât 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.
âI was convinced we could do it,â she says. âThatâs what I was working toward, and I refused to give up.â
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.Â [...]
July 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
When 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.Â [...]
July 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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, thatâs exactly what happened.
A serious accident left Gene paralyzed and in critical condition. Doctors in Oklahoma didnât 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.
âThe doctors at Mayo Clinic knew what was going on, and they assured us they could do something for him,â Barbara says. âWe knew he had to get up here. The care at Mayo Clinic is like nowhere else. Weâre used to it, and thatâs what we wanted.âÂ [...]
July 8th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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.
July 1st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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.
âWe had a lot of fun. Everywhere Kathy went at Mayo, weâd talk, laugh and get people to do the happy dance with her,â Carol says. âShe had a big personality.â
June 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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.Â [...]
June 28th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
When Randy Marlow checked into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys Campus, he knew his hospital stay would be lengthy. He just wasnât 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.Â [...]
June 26th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.
It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a majorÂ stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.
June 25th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
For two weeks, 14-year-old Jackson Fisher was plagued by headaches, double-vision, nausea and weight loss. His parents, Michelle and Patrick Fisher, werenât sure what was wrong. But when Jackson came home one evening completely exhausted after lacrosse practice, they decided it was time to find out what was going on. The next day, they took Jackson to the emergency room.
What doctors found during that ER visit triggered a series of events the Fishers never could have anticipated and that eventually led the family to Mayo Clinicâs Proton Beam Therapy Program, where Jackson received treatment for a brain tumor.
âEvery single person weâve met at Mayo Clinic has been amazing, and we feel like we were meant to meet them,â says Michelle. âHis doctors told us they were going to fight for Jackson. Theyâve been forthcoming and explained things simply and honestly. I never second guessed his care. Being at Mayo Clinic has been the most positive experience of our lives.âÂ [...]
June 18th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
When David R. Daugherty, M.D., was growing up in Rochester, he walked to Central Junior High School with his father, Guy Daugherty, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
"Since our school was on dadâs way to the clinic, he made a tradition of walking with each of us kids when we reached junior high age," says Dr. Daugherty, when went on to join Mayo Clinic himself, as a psychiatrist. "We checked our progress by the bells in the Plummer Building. Hearing the chimes helped us get to school on time."
That youthful memory led to an idea: Could the carillon have a set of chimes that are unique to Mayo Clinic?Â [...]
June 17th, 2016 · 1 Comment
Successfully finishing a medical residency is a significant milestone in any physician's career. But when Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D., graduated in June 2016 from the Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, the achievement felt particularly sweet.
"It was an incredible success for me, since I actually started my residency in 2012, completed four months, and then became too ill to work," she says. "At that time, I wasn't sure if I'd ever reach graduation."
June 15th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
In time, however, the condition began to affect his daily life. Medication didn't seem to help. When Jim sought care at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, his doctor discovered an underlying heart disorder that had gone undiagnosed.
Doctors were able to address his heart problems with a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation.
Today Jim's heart is still in rhythm. The rest of his life picked up the beat. [...]
June 9th, 2016 · 1 Comment
Deciding to undergo a surgery to remove your colon is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it was one that Luis Coriano faced earlier this year. And he and his family wanted to make sure they made the right call.
Luis is affected by a rare genetic disorder called familial adenomatous polyposis that causes thousands of polyps to grow in the colon and ultimately leads to cancer. He knew that a prophylactic surgery to remove the diseased organ was the only way to prevent cancer from ravaging his body.
As daunting as the surgery was, however, more worrisome to Luis, was what came after the surgery. Namely, living with a stoma and an ostomy bag.Â [...]
June 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
"I told my doctor that if he had to cut my spinal cord and put me in a wheelchair to get rid of the pain, that's what I would do," Gary says.
Fortunately, that was not necessary. Instead, Gary found and enrolled in a clinical research trial at Mayo Clinic studying the effectiveness of a new technology to relieve nerve pain such as his. It made a tremendous difference. "I never imagined my legs feeling this good again," he says. "The study was a godsend for me." [...]
May 31st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
People often don't hear the phrase, "You are the most important person in my life today," especially from those other than family. However, Leslie Milde, M.D., has heard it often â from her patients. She is well aware of the significance of her role in the operating room, and the apprehension felt by patients about to undergo surgery.
Now the tables are turned, and as one of the first five patients undergoing proton beam therapy at the newly opened Mayo Clinic Building inÂ Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life â the team of specialists treating her spinal meningioma, a condition where tumors arise from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. [...]
May 29th, 2016 · 1 Comment
Just six months ago, every step for Amarachi Austin-Okoh was filled with pain. The 11-year-old from Nigeria had enough trouble walking. Things like running, playing tag or playing basketball seemed like a dream. But now they're things she can look forward to, thanks to a life-changing trip to Mayo Clinic.
Amarachi has a condition called Blount's disease. Her mother, Modesther Austin-Okoh, says the family discovered the condition with Amarachi was just two years old.
Todd Milbrandt, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon atÂ Mayo Clinic Children's Center, describes Blount's disease as "a failure of the growth plate to grow on the inside of the knee, specifically, the top part of the tibia." In Amarachi's case, her disease progressed to the point where she had severely bowed legs.
"We wish we could have seen her walk and be like other children," her mother says. "We were always crying for her."Â [...]
May 23rd, 2016 · 1 Comment
Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, sheâd made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.
Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling âoff.â Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.Â [...]
May 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
Jim Biles, M.D., understands cancer treatment. A urologist who specializes in cancer surgery, he has spent his career focused on helping people receive the cancer care they need. So at age 72, when Dr. Biles received his own diagnosis of an aggressive type of cancer, he knew how critical it would be to get treatment from someone with experience and expertise.
"When I found out I had a bone tumor, I started hunting around to see who could do the surgery. It turned out that there are very few people in the world I would trust with it," he says. "Not many do it, and even fewer have the experience that Dr. Sim does. He is the kingpin."
Dr. Sim is Franklin Sim, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. After a consultation with Dr. Sim, Jim decided to go through with a complex surgery at Mayo to treat his cancer.
"Being a doctor, I was pretty picky about all the details being well managed," he says. "It was exceptional. I really couldn't have had a better experience."Â [...]