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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Archive for December, 2012

December 30th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Surgery to treat epilepsy leaves woman seizure-free

By Mayo Clinic

Carla HuelsmannCarla Huelsmann was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 2. Throughout her childhood and early adult years, she experienced mainly petit mal seizures. Occasionally, she experienced slurred speech and lost her train of thought.

Although she disliked having the disease, medication helped keep her seizures to a minimum and allowed Huelsmann to do many of the things she wanted. She attended college, got married and welcomed a daughter, Kelsey.

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Tags: Carla Huelsmann, epilepsy, Mayo Clinic, seizure


December 30th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Multifocal motor neuropathy

By Margaret Shepard

Cecilia VangorpCecilia Van Gorp woke one morning to find that she had lost movement in her right hand.

"I immediately called the doctor, fearing I had had a stroke," says Van Gorp.

A visit with her doctor ruled out a stroke. Several appointments with specialists and numerous tests followed, but didn't bring her any closer to a diagnosis.

As the weeks passed, Van Gorp's right hand would sometimes clench up, then eventually release. The muscles in her arm were beginning to atrophy, and she was losing strength in other limbs as well.

Finally, a specialist suggested that Van Gorp might have ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. He offered to refer her to an ALS specialist at Mayo Clinic or another medical facility. She chose Mayo. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cecilia Van Gorp, Dr. Brian Crum, Mayo Clinic, Multifocal Motor Neuropathy


December 29th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Scuba diving and fine dining are still on the menu for Miami man with neck cancer

By Margaret Shepard

John SavianoRespiratory health is important to John Saviano, a man who has led a healthy life, who doesn't smoke, and who drinks only moderately. For years, he routinely made annual visits to two physicians. He saw his regular physician for basic check-ups. Because scuba diving is one of the Miami Beach man's hobbies, he also saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist to determine that his nasal and ear passages were open to ensure safe diving and snorkeling. In 2003, however, a persistent sore throat sent him for an extra visit with his regular ENT physician.

The diagnosis was adult tonsillitis, and the initial treatment was antibiotics. When that treatment brought no improvement, his physician performed a tonsillectomy. John found recovery from that surgery painful and slow. After several weeks of pain, and further visits to the ENT surgeon, it was apparent that something was still wrong. As John put it, "My tonsil grew back." Something was in his throat and could easily be felt. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cancer treatment, John Saviano, Mayo Clinic, radiation therapy, tonsil tumor


December 29th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

An Arm-lifting Success Story

By Margaret Shepard

Harper BlommersLori Blommers used to cry at dance recitals. She knew that her youngest daughter, Harper, would never join the girls on stage because of injuries suffered at birth. Today, Harper is happily dancing away, thanks to an unusual surgery at Mayo Clinic that allowed her arm to move more freely.

When Harper was born on Aug. 26, 2004, she became stuck in the birth canal with only her head delivered. The pulling and the pushing after 27 hours of labor damaged Harper's collarbone and severed the brachial plexus nerves from her left arm.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves extending from the spinal cord that controls muscle movement and sensation in the shoulders, arms and hands. About 1 in 2,000 babies born in the United States suffer brachial plexus injuries at birth. "It's primarily a problem of big babies trying to get out of small moms,"says Mayo Clinic pediatric orthopedic surgeon William Shaughnessy, M.D. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Alex Shin M.D., Allen Bishop M.D., Brachial Plexus Clinic, brachial plexus nerves, Dr. Shaughnessy, Harper Blommers, Mayo Clinic


December 28th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Deep Brain Stimulation Gets Police Detective Back on the Job

By Margaret Shepard

Jeff Hughes and family

Jeffrey Hughes with his family.

The pain was unbearable, and the questions even worse.

Every month of 2005, Detective Jeffery Hughes of the Madison, WI, Police Department experienced 55 to 60 headaches, each lasting several hours. The headaches brought him to his knees in pain, but it was the recurring question from his daughter that hurt even more: "Mommy, why is Daddy crying on the bathroom floor again?"

The answer: cluster headache, a rare condition considered to be the most intensely painful primary headache syndrome. It sometimes occurs in more than one family member. So when Hughes, now 38, began developing episodic cluster headaches in 1992, he recognized them as the same ailment his grandfather had. For 13 years, Hughes suffered 5 to 7 debilitating headaches a month, an unpleasant pattern but one he learned to tolerate.

In 2005, no one knows why, his headaches suddenly mushroomed to 55 to 60 a month. With two headaches a day lasting for 6 to 7 hours, it didn't leave much time for anything else in his life. His primary care physician tried maximum doses of every medication and therapy--with no lasting results. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cluster headaches, David Black M.D., deep brain stimulation, Jeffery Hughes, Mayo Clinic


December 28th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Teamwork helps nurse find relief from rare tumor

By Margaret Shepard

Wendy CookWendy Cook was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis as a child, which has caused many small tumors to grow on various nerves throughout her life. Only one required surgery and none caused her significant pain.

But that changed when she began experiencing pain in her right buttock. Eventually, the pain became so intense that she scheduled an appointment with her hometown doctor.

When her doctor showed Cook, a nurse, her MRI results, she broke down in tears. What she had assumed was a small tumor was massive, located along her sciatic nerve and extending into her pelvis and rectum. Given the extent of the tumor, Cook's doctor recommended she seek treatment at a larger medical facility. She chose Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Mayo Clinic, nerve tumors, Neurofibromatosis, Wendy Cook


December 27th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Carter’s cranium remolding

By Margaret Shepard

Carter with his parents Kyle and Holly and his twin sister, BreahCarter Schlink has a twin sister, Breah. As babies, they were alike in many ways — both incredibly cute, similar button noses and fair complexion. When the twins were 2 months old, Carter's dad, Kyle, noticed something about his son that was different — his head shape.

It was flatter on the back and a little bit uneven.

Kyle mentioned his observation to the babies' doctor, who recommended the Schlinks try to keep Carter off of the back of his head for a few months to see if it would improve his head shape. During the day, Kyle and his wife, Holly, tried carrying Carter or toting him in a baby sling. During the night and naptime, they used a sleep positioner to ensure he slept on his side. These measures had no noticeable effect on Carter's head shape, so the couple consulted a specialist at Mayo Clinic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Carter Schlink, Mayo Clinic, Occupational therapy, pediatrics, Sherilyn Driscoll


December 26th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

“I wanted to do something for myself”

By Margaret Shepard

#ff4b33;line-height: 24px;font-size: 16px" href="http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/files/2012/11/heidi-cosmetic-2col.jpg">Heidi before and after surgery

Heidi had been thinking about cosmetic surgery for years. She decided to do it after her father was killed. "It was hard on me, and my family, and I wanted to reward myself for getting through it. I wanted to do something for myself." says Heidi.

Her reward was a septorhinoplasty (surgery to remove obstructions and improve the appearance of the nose), a chin implant and breast enlargement.

The 27-year-old had considered having plastic surgery on her nose for years. "I broke my nose as a child and I was always self-conscious about it," Heidi says. In addition to affecting the appearance of her nose, the injury narrowed her nasal passage on one side. Even after sinus surgery the problem continued to worsen. She wanted to breathe easier again and look better, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cosmetic surgery, Heidi Hockel, Mayo Clinic, Nho Tran, Oren Friedman, Plastic Surgery


December 25th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Of Heroes and Gold Medals

By Margaret Shepard

John Greller with his wife and sonWhen John Greller won three gold medals for swimming during the National Kidney Foundation's U.S. Transplant Games, he gave them to his heroes.

The first went to his wife, Jane, who has remained by his side, as John says, "in sickness and in health." The second medal went to his son, Brian, who donated a kidney to his father. And, in a surprising finish, the third gold medal went to his transplant team at Mayo Clinic.

"I thank God every day that I came to Mayo," says John. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: John Greller, kidney transplant, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


December 25th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Surgery puts an end to life-limiting epilepsy seizures

By Margaret Shepard

Melissa Bruesehoff with her familyMelissa Bruesehoff is a wife, mother, teacher and church council member — titles that for many years she couldn't imagine claiming. Bruesehoff was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 4 years old, and complications from the condition prevented her from experiencing many things that most people take for granted.

"During my school and college years, extracurricular activities weren't an option," says Bruesehoff. "I struggled with learning, and at times I worked with a tutor. I spent many more hours doing homework than a usual student." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: epilepsy, Gregory D. Cascino, Mayo Clinic, Melissa Bruesehoff, Neurology & Neurosurgery, seizures