Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Archive for November, 2012

Surgery at Mayo puts softball pitcher back in the game

Posted on November 30th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Brittany Rathbun playing softball

Brittany Rathbun returned to collegiate softball after surgery at Mayo Clinic.

When softball pitcher Brittany Rathbun developed thoracic outlet syndrome — a narrowing of the subclavian vein, which runs from the heart down the arm — a rib resection (removal) at Mayo Clinic restored function in her hand and put her back in the game.

Today, female athletes are experiencing many of the same sports-related injuries their male counterparts have for decades. "We're playing more types of sports and playing more competitively than ever before," says Brittany Rathbun, a fast-pitch softball player. "I not only delivered 80 to 100 pitches per game, but also did weight training on a regular basis to strengthen my upper body." Read the rest of this entry »

Novel treatment leads to liver transplant for bile duct cancer

Posted on November 29th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Doug YausDoug Yaus had always been an energetic, healthy man. "At 43, I had never even broken a bone," he says.

That was until April 1998 when he noticed in a mirror that the whites of his eyes looked yellow. "In just two days, my skin was jaundiced," says Doug. His family doctor in Xenia, Ohio, ordered blood tests.

As he waited a week for results, his appetite diminished. More tests followed, including an ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) scan of the liver. He then saw a local gastroenterologist, who did a CA 19-9 test, a tumor marker blood test. Doug was told his liver tests were "way out of whack." He wasn't prepared for what he heard next. Read the rest of this entry »

No more sweaty palms

Posted on November 29th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Barbara Moy"It's great to meet you," says Barbara Moy, smiling and offering her hand. The commonplace act of shaking hands is for Barbara akin to a miracle.

Since she was a child, Barbara has lived with a rare condition called hyperhidrosis. For persons with hyperhidrosis, "the sweat just pours off," explains Dawn Jaroszewski, M.D., a specialist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and an expert in treating the condition.

Hyperhidrosis can affect almost any part of the body. In Barbara's case, the sweating occurred primarily on her palms, making everyday tasks and social actions like shaking hands nearly impossible to perform.

Because the condition isn't life-threatening, hyperhidrosis is often not taken seriously by others. Yet the effects of the disease can be socially devastating. Read the rest of this entry »

The “new” Tiffany

Posted on November 28th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Tiffany HansonWhen Tiffany Hanson joined the speech club at school, her parents said to each other, "This is not Tiffany."

The teenager didn't like to be in front of people. Then she became a cheerleader.

The reason for the change? Tiffany had a temporal lobectomy, or brain surgery, to stop seizures caused by intractable partial epilepsy. Tiffany had seizures since she was 6 months old. Initially, they were infrequent. When she turned 5, they increased. The seizures were mild but left her exhausted. She lost all recollection of anything that occurred 24 hours before and after a seizure, leaving her with few childhood memories. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming full circle: Sharing a message of hope

Posted on November 28th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Ardell Lien and his wifeArdell Lien had always dreamed of one day sailing around the world. But when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, the retired military man from Caledonia, Minn., thought his sailing days were behind him.

"I was down to 150 pounds," says Ardell, "and everyone in town knew I was on my way out. I slept 18 hours a day and had to crawl up the stairs to my bedroom."

Then Ardell turned to Mayo Clinic. His doctors told Ardell that his kidneys had been damaged as a result of his heart disease. He would need a kidney transplant as well as a new heart. Read the rest of this entry »

Working Your Way Down and Out

Posted on November 27th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Chad HansonSince a serious car accident in 1998, Chad Hanson has learned a lot about goals and adaptations. As a patient in Mayo Clinic's Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Unit, he remembers the first time he was able to use the joystick on his wheelchair -- his fingers pushing the lever but not strong enough to pull back, his therapists standing close by, catching him before he hit the wall.

"It was great!" he laughs. "I didn't have much control that first time, but I told them by the end of the weekend I would be able to take my hand on and off the joy stick. And I did."

Chad broke his neck in the accident. "He was initially paralyzed from the neck down and required a ventilator to help him breathe," explains his physician, Jeffrey Strommen, M. D. "Over time his breathing improved to the point that he was able to get off the ventilator and transfer to the rehabilitation unit. His prognosis for recovery of walking was less than 3 percent but we hoped that he would at least gain some arm function to allow him to be more independent." Read the rest of this entry »

Seek and you shall find the answer

Posted on November 27th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Mike WuestFor more than four years, Mike Wuest was troubled by a tic, a twitching in his face that he could not get rid of. It started in his left eye and later moved to his cheek as well.

"I assumed the tic was from some stressful events I was going through at work," Wuest says. The tic affected Wuest physically, emotionally and socially. "As the twitching progressed, I became more and more reclusive. I just didn't want to be out in public."

Wuest's primary care physician thought the eye twitch was anxiety-induced and prescribed a medication, but it had no effect. The doctor suggested that Wuest might be a good candidate for mind control therapy, but beyond that had no more ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

Runner travels “cross-country” for experienced tumor-removal team

Posted on November 26th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Amy Haberman and Dr. Leibovich

Amy Haberman and Dr. Bradley Leibovich after the Twin Cities Marathon

Amy Haberman was diagnosed with a noncancerous tumor the size of a small football, lodged near her left kidney and colon. Her local physicians advised her to look for a medical center that specializes in teams of surgeons who can remove large tumors that have nerve involvement and a significant blood supply. While the tumor was slow growing, it was fatal if not removed.

Amy traveled from her home in California to Minnesota to meet with a team of Mayo Clinic doctors, including urologist Bradley Leibovich, M.D.

"We'd performed similar surgery before. We were optimistic we could remove Amy's tumor," says Dr. Leibovich. "Mayo Clinic has a large, collaborative surgical practice, and we are experienced at handling difficult cases referred from around the world." Read the rest of this entry »

“Hopeful life” after surgery to remove rare brain tumor

Posted on November 26th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Jacob Harpel holding a guitar

Jacob Harpel is back to doing what he loves — including playing music.

When 7-year-old Jacob Harpel was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, doctors told his parents, Koreen and Paul, that it was most likely noncancerous (benign) and slow-growing and recommended a wait-and-see approach to treatment. But with the tumor causing seizures and dizzy spells, the Harpels decided to seek a second opinion.

After extensive testing, a pediatric neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recommended removing the tumor.

"We were told that with surgery, there was a 50 percent chance Jacob could have permanent peripheral vision deficits looking down and to the right, and a 50 percent chance he'd experience speech or comprehension deficits or both," says Koreen.

The wait-and-see approach carried risks of its own. Read the rest of this entry »

Father, son travel 3,000 miles for a kidney transplant

Posted on November 25th, 2012 by Margaret Shepard

Noor and Hasan Hosein

Hasan Hosein was playing a competitive game of cricket when he began to feel unwell. But the 17-year-old from Trinidad, one of the most southern islands of the Caribbean, dismissed his weakness and headache, attributing his symptoms to the effects of traditional fasting for Ramadan.

"During this month, I typically feel weak during the day when I don't eat or drink," explains Hasan, "So I was feeling pretty normal for Ramadan."

When he collapsed on the field, Hasan's family first assumed he was dehydrated. But doctors soon diagnosed a serious kidney disorder, one that couldn't be treated with drugs. Hasan was in end-stage renal failure. Read the rest of this entry »