Howard Snitzer will be the first to tell you heâs a lucky man.
âI just wish Iâd won the lottery instead,â he says, jokingly. But Snitzer knows his good fortune netted him something much more valuable: his life.
Snitzer, a 54-year-old chef, miraculously survived a cardiac arrest thanks to a flawless and unrelenting response from nearly two dozen emergency personnel, including many volunteer first responders. The group took turns performing CPR on Snitzer for 96 minutes, more than 30 minutes longer than previously documented out-of-hospital cardiac arrest durations.
Snitzerâs story begins one cold evening in January, when he headed to Donâs Foods in rural Goodhue, Minn., to buy a tank of propane for his grill. But Snitzer never made it inside. Instead, he experienced cardiac arrest and fell to the ground on the sidewalk just outside the store.
Dorylee Baez lives fearlessly.
Whether flying down a zip line or organizing a pancreatic cancer patient group in Puerto Rico, she plunges into life with zest.
The 31-year-old academic advisor at Universidad del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico, is known as someone who is tenacious, overcoming whatever obstacles get in her way to achieve and achieve her goals.
For instance, Baez attended college while simultaneously working and caring for her ailing mother who was suffering from lupus. After her mother died, Baez pressed on to honor her memory and completed a bachelorâs degree in education and a masterâs degree in college-level education administration. But then, at 29, Baez learned she had a large tumor in her pancreas. Not the diagnosis she was expecting when she went to the doctor.
Aplastic anemia carries with it a high risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding. It can develop at any age and can occur suddenly. In Kristen's case, signs that something was wrong included swelling and bruising around her ankles.
Kristen and her husband, Nate, drove from their home in Waverly, Minnesota, to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where her diagnosis was confirmed, and doctors outlined a treatment plan.Â [...]
Each year after their big Thanksgiving meal, Tess Wilson's family has a tradition of playing games in a gym to burn off some calories. For much of her high school and college years, Tess spent that afternoon sitting on the sidelines watching the rest of her family run around. Severe, chronic pain made it impossible for her to join in the fun.
Thanksgiving Day 2014 was different. On that day, Tess was in the thick of the action. She played capture-the-flag, hide-and-go-seek, soccer and tag.
"I was incredibly sore the next day, but not in a chronic pain way," she says. "I just used muscles that I had forgotten were there."
The change came as a result of Tess' participation in a aÂ clinical research trialÂ at Mayo Clinic that studied the effects of a new treatment for chronic nerve pain, called scrambler therapy. After two weeks of the therapy, Tess found relief from the constant pain that had been plaguing her for five years.Â [...]
Kim Goranson knew something wasn't right. For more than 10 years, she endured exhaustion, pain and bouts of confusion. But to her frustration, repeated medical evaluations revealed nothing. A high-energy real estate agent in Lincoln, Nebraska, Kim saw her successful career slip away as the symptoms took a heavy toll on her life.
"I had to quit working in 2010. I was only 50 years old," says Kim. "I thought I'd rest, get myself back together, and then get back to work. Instead, I got worse and worse. Many days, I didn't get out of bed."
Her outlook began to change, however, when Kim was referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Although it took some time to arrive at a clear diagnosis, her Mayo Clinic care team was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and determined that Kim had lupus.Â [...]
In just six years, Dick Feller had three open-heart operations, had both legs and an arm amputated, and was fitted with a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, to keep his heart pumping. That's a lot for one person to take. But with unconditional support from his family and an unwavering sense of humor, Dick hasn't let the experience affect his attitude.
"I have three stumps and a pump," Dick, 71, jokes. "And because I didn't want things to get boring, I had gall bladder and kidney stone surgery in between those other procedures."Â [...]
An avid runner, Judi Zitiello, 66, was forced into a six-week hiatus when she developed a meniscus tear in early 2014. TheÂ retired financial executiveÂ wasÂ always active â exercising, hosting dinner parties, and volunteering to run the JT Townsend Foundation, a Jacksonville, Florida, philanthropic organization.
Judi wasnât too concerned about the downtime at first.Â She knew her body would take time to heal.Â ButÂ the pain lingered. Then Judi began losing weight and her energy waned.
Todd Goldrick was living the dream. Good job. Loving wife. Two young, healthy kids. Weekends spent playing golf, softball, kayaking, hiking, running or just hanging around home with the family. But that changed suddenly in 2010, when he and his wife simply tried to buy some life insurance. He was just 28.
"Mine came back straight out denied," Todd says. "They told me the reasons. There was a whole long list -- high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a few other things that I don't remember exactly."
Before that day, Todd says he'd been to see his doctor in the MinneapolisâSaint Paul area "maybe every two years," so the policy denial came of left field. In fact, he says it scared him into doing nothing about it, at least initially. "I was kind of naĂŻve and a little scared to go back to the doctor," he says. "So I didn't do anything."
Six months later, he got a sinus infection that wouldn't go away, and eventually he went to urgent care, where some flags were raised unrelated to his sinuses. "They took my blood pressure, and it was 200 over 120,"Â he says. "At that point, they told me I needed to go to the ER."Â [...]
Maryâs journey began when she was in her mid-30s and started to notice a slight trembling in her upper extremities. âI thought I just got excited or nervous, scared or tired,â she says. âWhen others started remarking on my tremors, I decided to seek a medical explanation.âÂ [...]
Troy Chroniger enjoyed a busy, if hectic, life in Orlando, Florida, as a construction estimator and dad to three daughters. To relax, Troy, age 43, enjoyed sports and an occasional motorcycle ride with friends. Life changed dramatically one Saturday in November 2011, when he was out for a ride, hit a rough patch of road, veered and collided with a guardrail. He was rushed to a hospital in Orlando, where doctors diagnosed him with a debilitatingÂ brachial plexus injury.
"It was one of the worst the doctor said he'd seen," Troy recalls the physician saying. Of the five nerves that make up the brachial plexus in the shoulder, Troy suffered a complete nerve evulsion injury. His doctor referred him to Mayo Clinic, which performs hundreds of brachial plexus procedures annually.Â [...]
Written by Sara Jacobsen
Everyone who visits the Mayo Clinic has a story. Though my story may be a lot like all of the other patients who have come and gone through the Mayo Clinic system, I want to share my gratitude for the organization, facility and clinic that Mayo is.
The year 2013 proved to be a bit of a roller coaster for me. I started out with bowel and bladder difficulty that ultimately spread to affect my neurological system and breathing. I had seen every specialist and had more tests done than I ever knew were possible. In August, I started worsening. I was having difficulty taking a deep breath in, while having increased right sided weakness, fatigue and numbness. The whole array of diagnoses were thrown at me (ALS, MS, Cancer, Myasthenia Gravis, and everything in between). I was placed on oxygen at night and it was becoming difficult to have enough energy to care for my two young boys (ages 3 and 5). I continued to work as a nurse, but I wasn't as effective as I had been.
In October, things continued to worsen. I had to stop running because my right foot was becoming numb, and I had to limit my activity because it was becoming more and more difficult to breathe. By the time I decided to come to the Mayo Clinic (the best place in the world for medicine) in November, it was hard for me to drive home at night because of the numbness in my right foot, it was getting difficult to make it through a day of work, and I had no energy for my kids. The quality of life I had was diminishing quickly. [...]
Melissa Shultz, a freelance writer living in Plano, Texas, wrote an article for Newsweek online about her son Nick's mysterious illness and his diagnosis and treatment at Mayo Clinic.
Fatigue set in a day after Nick's dizziness started. Swollen glands followed close behind. Our general practitioner ordered blood work, including studies for mononucleosis and Lyme disease. When everything came back negative, we tried steroids for Nick's swollen glands and a round of antibiotics in case he had a bacterial infection. When the dizziness and fatigue persisted we wondered aloud if the culprit might have been the flu shot he received eight days prior. It was presumed he had viral labyrinthitis (an inner-ear disorder) that would pass in a week or two.
When it didn't, and his tonsils grew exponentially, we tried a different antibiotic. All the while, he was perched in a makeshift bed on our first floorâan overstuffed chair and aging ottoman with a twin sheet stretched to its limit. Suffering from extreme vertigo, Nick was unable to walk up the stairs to his bedroom. He could not lift his head without looking as if he were drowningand mostly slept the days away. School became someplace his friends went.
By April, I was losing hope when a teacher of Nick's who had been coming to our home to work with him, reminded me of the Mayo Clinic. I knew it was a place where doctors are paid with a salary, not per patient, and where the concept of teamwork is embraced. I made a number of calls, wrote up my own report detailing his illness, coordinated with several doctors' offices to have all his records forwarded, and within a month, we were on our way from our home in Texas to Minnesota....
My story begins in 1998. At the age of 32 I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. Because I was a breech baby at birth the doctors at home had told me that this was probably the reason why I was having problems. I was having the most pain in my left hip. I first went to see Dr Ray Emerson at the Mason City Clinic in Mason City, Iowa. He took a hip xray and diagnosed me from that. I am an RN and was working at the hospital so being on my feet all day was somewhat of a task at times. He suggested to me that a cortisone shot may help alleviate some of the pain along with an anti-inflammatory. So I took him up on his advice and took the cortisone shot. After about a week the shot wore off and it was back to the pain again. The pain was not yet unbearable at this point and nothing that the anti-inflammatory medication couldn't control. I continued to work as an RN and was on my feet many hours a day.
But the slogan on Haonan Jiang's T-shirt, which readsÂ "Tough asÂ Nails," is a more accurate summation of his spirit, and the fight he and his family have been waging.
The 11-year-old from Beijing, China, prefers to be called "Jack." He is suffering from what is known as an anaplastic astrocytoma, a grade 3 malignant tumor, according to his doctors at Mayo Clinic. The typical survival rate after diagnosis is one to three years.
Jack's parents, Ben and Lili Jiang, had promised him a trip to see America when he finished primary school. But instead of sightseeing, their focus is now on Jack and doing anything possible to stop, or at least slow, his deteriorating and deadly condition. [...]
When Lynn Witherspoon was diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted to move quickly. And she wanted to move to a place she felt would give her the care she needed. So she and her husband moved from their home in North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida, to be near Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.
"We live in a rural area, and I felt more comfortable going to Mayo for my cancer care," she says. She'd had relatives treated at Mayo. "So I knew what it offered and its reputation."
Lynn was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. She completed five months of chemotherapy, and had a lumpectomy and removal of some lymph nodes, followed by radiation therapy. Something told her she should take another step to protect her health.Â [...]
Christina Woodside starts off the YouTube video that chronicles her health journey by saying, âMy family is like every other average family in America.â Her story, however is anything but average.
As part of an active family, Christina, along with her husband and their five children, enjoyed running, biking, fishing and snow sports.
In 2013, on the day after Thanksgiving, that active lifestyle was interrupted by what Christina initially thought was strep throat. She went to urgent care at a clinic in her hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. A strep test came back negative. ButÂ her white blood cell count was extremely high, and thatÂ pointed to a more serious problem. [...]
When Virgil Jernigan came to Mayo Clinic for foot surgery, he was in for a lifesaving surprise.Â During an exam before his surgery, he mentioned to his nurse practitioner that he had been feeling fatigued and short of breath. So she ordered cardiac testing. Virgil was shocked to learn he had a leaking mitral valve â a potentially life-threatening heart condition.Â [...]
With more than three decades of experience as a nurse and nurse manager, Carol Bolton of Exeter, Calif., was acquainted with most medical conditions. But in 2004 when she began experiencing abdominal pain along with episodes of diarrhea or constipation, she was baffled by what it could be. Most likely, she thought, it was related to grief over the abrupt death of her husband of 35 years.
But when the pain persisted and grew worse, she saw a gastroenterologist, who ordered a computed tomography (CT) scan. Carol was shocked to learn that a mass (about the size of a quarter) had been found in her mesentery. The mesentery, a membrane that anchors the small intestine to the back of the abdominal wall, is comprised of delicate folds or leaves filled with blood vessels and nerves. [...]
The circumstances around her birth, however, were not as serene.
At her 20-week ultrasound, Caitlin learned her baby's heart was not where it was supposed to be and that it had developed outside of the chest wall. The condition, called ectopia cordis, is "one of the, if not the, most rare congenital heart defects,â according to Joseph Dearani, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiac surgeon.
âWe didnât have any idea that anything like that could happen," says Caitlin. "It was scary. The odds were stacked against her.âÂ [...]
Nobody knows better than Jon Jantomaso how precious every breath can be. The 49-year-old realtor from Seminole, Florida, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 2 months of age, and for the first 12 years of his life slept in a mist filled tent to help him breath and clear the mucus from his lungs. He has been in some form of physical therapy his entire life battling his disease.Â [...]