October 19th, 2016
The email from a parent at her school in May 2013 took Nancy Shaver, an elementary school principal, by surprise. It was from Kati Walker, mother of two, who was on a mission: to donate one of her kidneys to Nancy, who greatly needed one.
Kati's message announced, "I'm going to be tested to be a kidney donor." Nancy, in her characteristic unassuming manner, replied, "Oh, how nice for someone!" Kati quickly replied, "No, it's for you, silly!"
Kati, two decades younger than Nancy, knew Nancy only as the principal at her childrenâ€™s school. Nancy knew Kati as a parent and active volunteer. But that email exchange launched a journey to a life-saving kidney transplant for Nancy and a bond between the two women that they attest will last a lifetime.Â [...]
October 19th, 2016
Retired elementary school teacher Jessie Brown takes time to enjoy the pleasures of daily life. She goes for long walks with her dogs, King Solomon and Baby Ruth. She spends time with her children and grandchildren who live near the farm where she and her husband, Tom, make their home in rural Marshall, Arkansas. She plans the holiday meals sheâ€™ll be making for her family, who are particularly looking forward to her much-loved turkey dressing at Thanksgiving.
This year, these ordinary enjoyments are especially meaningful, because for the last two years, Jessie couldnâ€™t do any of them. Confined to bed much of that time with a constellation of mysterious symptoms that left her immobile and in pain, Jessie wasnâ€™t sure she would ever be able to reclaim the busy, happy life she loved.
â€śMy face was swollen; my legs were swollen. I kept falling down. My hair and nails were breaking off,â€ť she says. â€śI had a lot of bad symptoms. I knew something was wrong. I went to doctor after doctor, but they all had a different opinion.â€ť
After almost a year and a half, Jessie was diagnosed with Cushing syndrome. [...]
October 17th, 2016
Oct. 23, 2015, is a date that Nikole Prins will always remember. Itâ€™s the day she finally learned the reason for the bizarre symptoms she had been dealing with for more than half her life. Nikki precisely recalls the time she heard the news. It was 1:24 in the afternoon when her doctor called with the results of an MRI she had the previous day.
â€śI was diagnosed with Chiari malformation,â€ť says Nikki, who lives in Owatonna, Minnesota, and received care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna. â€śNo one wants to be told at 21 that you have a brain malformation. I cried a lot.â€ť
For years, Nikki had experienced a range of symptoms that included lightheadedness, fainting and extremities that tingled when she stood up, as well as migraines that got worse while she was standing. As a preteen, she was told she was having syncope episodes when she got lightheaded. Later, physicians made the diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. But neither diagnosis nor any treatment had an effect on her symptoms. [...]
October 15th, 2016
For 22 years, South Carolina native Brentney Simon and her family thought she was living with a fatal mitochondrial disease.
From the time she was born, Brentney has faced a host of medical concerns. At first, her doctors didnâ€™t think she would walk or talk. Brentney proved them wrong. But over the years, she struggled with respiratory difficulties and heart problems. She contracted pneumonia several times and required multiple hospitalizations. Her physicians found a severe curve in her spine.
Through it all, Brentney never stopped fighting, living her life as fully as possible, even though participating in activities that most children and teens take for granted was a struggle. Despite her challenges, Brentney kept up with her schooling and enrolled in college, determined to get a higher education and realize her goals for a career.
Recently, Brentneyâ€™s health took a turn for the worse, and it was suggested her organs were failing. She refused to give up. Instead, Brentney came to Mayo Clinicâ€™s Florida campusÂ and throughÂ and Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine,Â underwent whole-exome sequencing in search of a better explanation for her health problems.Â [...]
October 13th, 2016
As a first surgical assistant for 23 years with Mayo Clinic Health System, Shari Callaghan was trained to provide the utmost in care to her patients. But the 55-year-old resident of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, says she didnâ€™t fully grasp the quality of care Mayo patients receive until she became one herself.
For 31 years, Shari had been an accident-free motorcycle rider. In September 2015, she was involved in a devastating crash. Shari may never fully know what happened that day â€” the traumatic brain injury she sustained despite wearing a helmet wiped away her memories. But she does recall an ever-present sense of support throughout the time she spent in the hospital at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
â€śI have been on the other side and am thankful,â€ť Shari says. [...]
October 11th, 2016
When he was born 13 years ago, Connor Johnson was a "miracle baby,â€™ according to his parents. Kathleen and Curtiss Johnson had struggled for years to become and stay pregnant. They had given up hope, when they discovered they were nearly four months along.
The miracle of Connorâ€™s life took on new poignancy in the fall of 2015, when the young teen was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood brain cancer. Despite the seriousness of the tumor, an intensive treatment regimen at Mayo Clinicâ€™s Rochester campusÂ involving brain surgery and proton beam therapy, provided Connor and his family the promise of a brighter future.Â [...]
September 29th, 2016
Editorâ€™s Note: Marty Weintraub, an entrepreneur, author, speaker and musician, came to Mayo Clinic in 2015 for a mammogram after noticing a lump on his chest. He wrote a compelling account of the experience on his blog, and gave us permission to repost his story.Â
From a San FranciscoÂ truffle shopÂ to an upscaleÂ St. Paul grocery store, Iâ€™ve been writing to share inspiration at the intersection of life experiences and my chosen profession, marketing. So it is with a keen eye, open heart and tuned ear I travel the world day-by-day, camera in hand.
Who would have thought we would unearthÂ profoundÂ lessons of empathy, immediately transferable to life and career, following an unexpected health issue and resulting treks to the Mayo Clinic. The experience I am about to share will have an indelible impact on me as a man and a marketer.
Mayo Clinic is aÂ shining city of healing and light. Each year more than a million precious human spirits find their way to Mayo for care. Patients flock from all 50 American states and 140+ countries, driven on a highly personal mission of body, soul and heart. The 6,600 staff physicians, scientists, residents and fellows across multiple campuses see most diagnoses over time.
Mayo helps toÂ soothe nervous visitors with its international-class artistic aesthetic.Â Patients and care givers experience everything from Warhols to the carved mother-of-pearl box and book donated by King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan. Suspended from the Gonda Building great room ceiling looms a staggeringly beautiful,Â ChihulyÂ glass installation. Beauty engulfs the visitor, easing fears and concerns â€“ if even for a few minutes. [...]
September 27th, 2016
If you go looking for Charles Metzler, youâ€™ll often find him out on the acreage he owns in the Rocky Mountain foothills near Casper, Wyoming. The 82-year-old spends his days tending his well-manicured lawn, caring for his troop of animals â€” ducks, rabbits, a pot-bellied pig named Mimi, and a miniature donkey named Haley â€” and working on projects to spruce up the property. He even acquired timbers from an old railway station that was being torn down and built a covered bridge over a stream on his land.
â€śI think I might have one of the only covered bridges in Wyoming,â€ť says Charles. â€śProjects like that are fun. I like to stay busy, and I like to be active.â€ť
For years, though, Charlesâ€™ activities were hampered by breathing problems. Chronic sinus trouble made breathing through his nose very difficult. He knew surgery might correct the problem, but he hesitated to go through with it.
â€śIâ€™ve had problems with my nose ever since my high school days. I saw quite a few doctors, and they all informed me that I probably should have my nose operated on, so I would feel better,â€ť Charles says. â€śMy problem was that I was always scared of having the operation. Then I met Dr. [Erin] Oâ€™Brien. It was just the manner in which she explained the surgery to me â€” what would occur and the benefits Iâ€™d derive from it. Her manner relaxed me. After that, I wanted to have that operation.â€ťÂ [...]
September 24th, 2016
Bryan Duncan didnâ€™t think twice about the lab tests he had as part of a routine medical checkup in the fall of 2014. A 29-year-old father of two small children, Bryan led a busy life, didnâ€™t have any health problems, and felt fine.
When the test results came back, though, they showed enzyme levels in Bryanâ€™s liver were higher than normal. This unexpected finding kicked off more than two years of extensive medical care. It brought Bryan from his hometown of Mountain View, Arkansas, to Mayo Clinic'sÂ Rochester campus, where he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, and where he eventually received a life-saving living-donor liver transplant.
â€śThe way my disease works, if I had waited for a deceased donor, I probably would have been too sick for a transplant,â€ť Bryan says. â€śBeing able to have a living-donor transplant opened up the opportunity for me to get the second chance I needed.â€ť [...]
September 17th, 2016
Scott Berry is one of five children. But he and his youngest sibling, David, share a very unique bond â€” a kidney, to be exact. On April 12, 2016, David gave his older brother a second chance at life by donating one of his kidneys to Scott for a transplant.Â [...]
September 17th, 2016
Shirley and Bob Gessner have weathered some tough times during their 56 years of marriage. But nothing could have prepared Shirley for the night of April 10, 2015, when she awoke at 3:30 a.m. to a thud â€” the sound of her husband falling out of bed.
â€śI asked him what was the matter, but Bob couldnâ€™t talk. He couldnâ€™t move, and I couldnâ€™t get him up,â€ť says Shirley about her husband, a former advertising executive and designer of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins logos. â€śI called 911 right away.â€ť
The ambulance took Bob, 82, to the hospital closest to his home in St. Augustine, Florida, where doctors confirmed he was having a stroke.Â [...]
September 10th, 2016
Travis McGinnis was just 30 years old when an insidious cancer was discovered in his brain. It had been growing there for some time, he says â€” his physicians estimated between five and 10 years. Had the stage-three oligoastrocytoma not been detected when it was, Travis would have likely lost his life. As it happened, thanks to care and treatment provided by neurologists and neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinicâ€™s Rochester campus, the only solid thing the father of three lost to the cancer was a fist-sized piece of his brain.
While having cancer was something he never wanted, Travis says the experience gave himÂ insights and gifts he would not have otherwise realized: deep appreciation for his family and friends, gratitude for the present, and faith in strangers who generously supported him.
â€śSometimes Iâ€™ll sit and think about everything Iâ€™ve been through, and it moves me to tears,â€ť Travis says. â€śIâ€™m alive and better for it. I wish I never wouldâ€™ve had to go through it, but at least it wasnâ€™t for nothing.â€ť [...]
September 9th, 2016
Editorâ€™s note: In this article, Alexandra Abreu-Figueroa, an intern in Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, shares her story and discusses why she participatesÂ in the First Coast Heart Walk, an annual event sponsored by Mayo Clinic.
Growing up, I was always overweight. During my teenage years, in particular, I struggled â€” losing and gaining weight over and over again. I tried different diets, pills and exercises while battling bullying, depression and societal standards that said I should try to fix my body.
As an adult, I made the decision to have a gastric lap band inserted to help control my weight, but it still didnâ€™t change my mindset.
Obesity is not out of the ordinary in my family nor in my culture. Most of my family members have had challenges with obesity at one point in their lives. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 42.5 percent of Latinos are overweight or obese. [...]
September 1st, 2016
â€śMy husband and I would have totally crumbled if the support hadnâ€™t been there,â€ť says Lynn Luloff, chief financial officer of Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, Iowa.
Luloff is one of many Mayo Clinic Health System staff who work at the Decorah medical center who saw their daily routines washed away the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 24, when 8 to 10 inches of rain led to major flooding in the area. Mayo Clinic Health System provides physician services and management services at Winneshiek Medical Center.
The crisis, according to leaders at the medical center, revealed an unwavering commitment by health system staff not only to serve patients, but also each other.Â [...]
August 31st, 2016
Jessie Brenholt is a certified pastry chef who would like to open a bakery one day. â€śIf the ingredients were free, Iâ€™d give out cakes to everyone,â€ť 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 â€” 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 Jessieâ€™s optic nerve and located close to a carotid artery. Treatment to get rid of it could affect Jessieâ€™s sense of smell and vision. Due to the complexity of the situation, the surgeon referred Jessie to Mayo Clinic'sÂ Rochester campus.
â€śA pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see,â€ť says Jessie. â€śMy doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life with surgery and proton beam therapy.â€ťÂ [...]
August 30th, 2016
During the holidays lastÂ year, Nancy and Brent Berry of Danbury, Iowa, went on a train ride with their children and grandchildren, after aÂ two-hour car ride to get there. Theyâ€™ve been horseback riding with friends. Theyâ€™re laughing, running errands together, and hosting their grandchildren for overnight stays.
Not longÂ 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 â€” 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 withÂ renewed hope for the future.Â [...]
August 17th, 2016
For Stuart Baker, flying was life. After beginning his career as a flight attendant, Stuart eventually earned a pilotâ€™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 thisÂ time, he found Mayo Clinic.Â [...]
August 16th, 2016
Michael Tyler and William Tiger didnâ€™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 Clinicâ€™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.
â€śIt was truly remarkable how the team came together,â€ť 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.
â€śWhen we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,â€ť she says.Â [...]
August 12th, 2016
Fifteen years ago, Elmo Aquino, a resident of Orange Park, Florida, was an avid runner. Heâ€™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 couldnâ€™t run.
â€śI knew something was wrong, because I was used to running,â€ť recalls Elmo, now age 43. He knew he needed medical treatment. â€śI could have gone to some of the other hospitals,â€ť he says. â€śBut with Mayo Clinic here in town, it was a no-brainer for me.â€ť
Elmo was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy â€” a condition in which the chambers of the heart become enlarged â€” and he ended up in the intensive care unit. Thatâ€™s where heÂ first met Daniel Yip, M.D., medical director for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.Â [...]
August 9th, 2016
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.
â€śSeizures are so unpredictable. If Brad wasnâ€™t having a seizure, he was worried about having a seizure,â€ť says his mother, Bernadette Lewis. â€śIt affected every minute of his life, whether he was at school, with friends or at home.â€ť
Brad was also dealing with other complications from his medical condition. After trying many medications and going through multiple surgeries, Bradâ€™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.Â [...]