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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
I struggled for years with extreme fatigue, major skin problems, muscle weakness, escalating eye issues, and a host of other unexplained symptoms. I moved to Georgia with more and more symptoms. I developed relationships with new doctors and developed new symptoms â seizures and heart-related syncope. I went to see a neurologist, who began to run tests. In the meantime, I had regular quarterly blood panels by my regular physician, who upon reporting to me by phone noted no irregularities. I was told time and time again to stop chasing a diagnosis. My family continued to watch my decline.
After running numerous tests, my neurologist could only ascertain that I may have had some mini-strokes. My neurologist referred me to a major university hospital.Â After two visits, and being practically laughed out of the place, I began to have serious doubts about my symptoms and began to believe the many specialists and psychologists who told me it was emotional response.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 [...]
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.
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."
Imagine listening in real time to the thump, thump of your own heartbeat, the rush of your blood pulsing through your veins, and even the slightest twitch of your eyes - all in surround sound.Â Those are but a few of the symptoms that Wendy Tapper was experiencing when she arrived at the Mayo Clinic in May of 2012.
The Journey to Mayo
Outgoing and energetic Wendy, of Kansas City, Mo., enjoyed a career as a producer and publicist.Â Bringing people and ideas together was second nature to Wendy and aided in her determination to find the answers in her own health care.
For three years prior to coming to Mayo Clinic in spring 2012, Wendy went from doctor to doctor and endured batteries of tests, scans, appointments and misdiagnoses.Â Her rare condition ultimately revealed by Mayo physicians was masked in part by two distinct illnesses - breast cancer and a stroke.Â
While those illnesses and the treatments Wendy was receiving are life-altering, they were compounded with the escalation of an underlying third and separate issue.Â It was the escalation of her symptoms of dizziness, hearing loss and a drastically diminishing quality of life that brought Wendy to Mayo Clinic. [...]
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 [...]
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
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 [...]
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 [...]
Mayo Clinic's teen patient education print materials have a new look. The goal of this new design is to help teens engage and take responsibility for their health care and lifestyle choices.
The new design includes:
- Colorful pages
- Age-specific photos and other visuals
- Peer quotes
- Key health messages
- Short chunks of education content
Patient education specialists, designers and health care providers conducted research and used teen feedback to create the new look and tone.
To learn more about the Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center click here
This post was submitted by Amy J. Hahn Sattler from the Section of Patient Education.
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.
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 [...]
Raegan Cury didnât worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldnât go away. She was a healthy young woman, athletic, a former gymnast, and her initial chest X-ray showed what looked like pneumonia.
Even her husband, a pulmonologist, wasn't too worried, until she received a surprising diagnosis. âI never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,â says her husband, Dave Cury, M.D.
Raegan, who lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, had surgery to remove the cancer and woke up with just one lung, due to the extent of the disease. The surgery was followed by four rounds of chemotherapy, but in 2003, tests found cancer nodules throughout her remaining lung.Â
That was a dark period for Reagan and her family. She and her husband started their two young children, Chandler and Davis, in grief counseling.Â [...]
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 [...]
In this entry, Iâll talk about how the disease started and a look into how I was affected. Bear in mind that every case is different and you shouldnât conclude that youâll go through the same things I have. My case, in fact, is more dramatic than most.
I first suspected that something was wrong when I began to lose some of my mental quickness and my physical energy. I also had many other symptoms: bleeding gums, bloodshot eyes, flushed complexion, and abnormally long periods. I saw different specialists for each problem. Then a blood test ordered by my internist revealed very high red, white, and platelet counts. Referred to a hematologist/oncologist in my health plan, I was studied periodically by him but received no treatment. He thought perhaps I had Polycythemia Vera but wasnât sure. [...]