Maryâ€™s journey began when she was in her mid-30s and started to notice a slight trembling in her upper extremities. â€śI thought I just got excited or nervous, scared or tired,â€ť she says. â€śWhen others started remarking on my tremors, I decided to seek a medical explanation.â€ťÂ [...]
If youâ€™re diagnosed with a serious illness, itÂ can beÂ easy to get down and wonder why this is happening to you and how will it affectÂ your future goals and dreams. For 57-year-old Jim McGarry of Fruit Cove, Florida, a diagnosis of end-stage renal diseaseÂ that has required him to go on dialysis three days a week while he awaits a donor kidney hasnâ€™t gotten him down. If anything, itâ€™s given him the motivation to push himself to set and achieve new life goals.
â€śFinding out I had kidney disease in 2012, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10Â years earlier, was a wake-up call for me about how I was living my life,â€ť says Jim. â€śI used to travel a lot, didnâ€™t eat right, and didnâ€™t get enough exercise, but that all changed once I realized I needed to deal with my health issues. Then I started to make some much-needed changes to regain my health and re-evaluate the priorities in my life.â€ť
At the age of 47, Parry Winder was looking forward to a bright future. Retired from two decades as a test and fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, Parry had transitioned into a non-military role that he relished as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. But in an instant, an accident brought Parry's aspirations for his new career crashing down.
Left with debilitating pain, Parry was forced to quit flying. He thought he'd never return to the cockpit. After searching for answers for more than eight years, though, he found the Pain Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus was able to offer a solution. Today, Parry is pain-free and back in the skies again.Â [...]
David Edming, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, didnâ€™t want to slow down when he retired. TheÂ U.S. Navy veteran, age 56, took up aviation and purchased a powered parachute ultralight aircraft â€” a three-wheeled machine with a propeller that ascends when wind fills an attached parachute.
â€śThe thing with a powered parachute is you only fly in perfect weather,â€ť David says. He found that perfect weather on July 2, 2013Â -- aÂ beautiful day with no windÂ -- andÂ he took off from his hay field to pass by a local golf course, just as he had done many times.
After his flyby, he tried to increase altitude while making a turn, which was standard procedure.Â But this time, something went wrong. Although the wing should have caught the wind, it insteadÂ curled under, sending him into a nosedive. [...]
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. [...]
When Cheryl Sturdevant found out she had livedoid vasculopathy, she had no idea what it was. An uncommon disorder, livedoid vasculopathy affects the skin. For no clear reason, it often causes deep wounds in the lower legs and feet, and those wounds can trigger debilitating pain.
"I had symptoms from my calves down onto my feet. The wounds on top of my feet made it difficult to wear shoes. The pain was intense," says Cheryl. "I had been teaching at the time of my diagnosis. But I wasn't able to keep doing that, due to my symptoms. I started looking everywhere for information and help."
Both were hard to come by. Cheryl went to a number of doctors, including several specialists, but she was unable to find someone who could work with her to manage the disease.
She kept researching livedoid vasculopathy and found information about it on a Mayo Clinic website. That prompted her to make a phone call that would change everything.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. [...]
Most of us have known someone with cancer, either in our family or with a friend or an acquaintance. But cancer can be particularly cruel when it seems to target a specific family over and over again. For the Zepeda family of Miami, cancer has stricken a mother, her daughter, a number of other family members, and even the family dog.
Yadira Zepeda, a 67-year-old mother of four adult children, was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1991 and was told by her physician in Miami that she probably had two to four months to live. Not satisfied with what she heard and unwilling to give up after receiving that devastating news, at a friendâ€™s recommendation she came to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus for the second opinion that has given her life and hope for the past 24 years.
â€śMy Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldnâ€™t promise me a miracle, we would fight my disease with every available option, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and eventually with a bone marrow transplant which I received in 1994,â€ť Yadira says. â€śWhile itâ€™s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and Iâ€™m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasnâ€™t supposed to be here.â€ť
Yadiraâ€™s own battle with cancer took a back seat when in June 2008 her daughter Valeria was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after unexplained bruises began appearing on her legs and arms. Based on her motherâ€™s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease. [...]
Born with five congenital heart defects and suffering through several medical complications, Courtney needed both a new heart and a new liver. Previous surgeries at ages 2, 6, 12 and then again at 22, and numerous blood transfusions over the years, had caused her immune system to develop high levels of antibodies that would attack and reject foreign tissues.
She was told that her risk of organ rejection was too high if she received a heart and liver transplant in the usual order. HerÂ Mayo ClinicÂ doctors, however, turned her dire situation into an advantage, and she was one of the first in the world to receive an organ transplant in a way that was likely her only chance to survive.Â [...]
Brenda Bonds, a Mayo Clinic patient from Wisconsin, shared this story recently via email. To share your story, click here for options.
Pain is a fascinating phenomenon. The stronger it gets, the more it steals your life away. And I was clinging to mine. But four years earlier, a few random pains were only a minor annoyance.
Then six months later I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. Meanwhile, those strange pain attacks on one side of my head began to make my eye water. They would start with pressure that built to a peak of pain, and then faded away. Over the next three years I saw my primary doctor, an endocrinologist, an allergist, an ENT, a neurosurgeon and a neurologist about themâ€”but no one had a clue and so they continued.
Then this spring I began having more attacks that were growing in severity. I took naps in my car over lunch just to get through the day. I was tired all the time and eventually needed to take a medical leave from work. It seemed like everything in life triggered an attackâ€”walking, bending, showeringâ€”even light, sounds and smells. I became isolated in my home and thought I was eventually going to die from this.
One day I became so desperate for just a moment of relief that I sliced the top of my arm with a knife. The cuts hurt just enough to distract me from my head pains, and then the endorphins kicked in. It was like a two-hour vacation from hell.
By now it had been four years and still no one was medically helping me. My primary doctor wanted me to see a pain psychologist to help me â€ścope.â€ť Some of the attacks were up to a level 10â€”the worst a human being can feel. I was fighting to stay off the edge of insanityâ€”and there was no way to â€ścopeâ€ť myself away from it.
After endless arguing with my HMO and finally using my own savings, I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. There I met my heroâ€”a neurologist named Dr. Ivan Garza. He listened to me, considered all possibilities, and said he wouldnâ€™t give up until I was well. He solved my mystery, and though my recovery wasnâ€™t overnight, I eventually did get my life back like he promised.
It turned out that my condition is very rare. Itâ€™s called SUNA (short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with cranial autonomic features) and difficult to diagnose because thereâ€™s no test. But it is sometimes related to pituitary tumors. If you have pain attacks on one side of your head that builds to a peak and fades quickly, making your eye tearâ€”please talk to your doctor. And if he or she doesnâ€™t listen, find someone who will. Heâ€™s out there.
Marla Burkhart's story dates back to 2009, when she underwent an emergency cesarean section at Mayo Clinic eight weeks before her due date. Before the surgery took place, doctors discovered that Marla had a condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition that occurs in about 1 in 3,000 deliveries and causes inefficient blood circulation. Despite the complications, however, Marla delivered a healthy baby boy named Noah.Â [...]
On May 14, 2011, Nancy Capelle, a wife and mother of two young daughters, clinically died at the age of 40. She sufferedÂ spontaneousÂ coronaryÂ arteryÂ dissection (SCAD), a condition that blocks blood flow to the heart causing a heart attack, abnormalities in heart rhythm and sudden death. But thanks to the quick actions of a paramedic, she is alive today to tell her harrowing story of life and death.
What was so hard for Nancy to comprehend following her medical emergency, she says, was that in a blink of an eye and without warning, healthy young women can be stricken by SCAD and die. Yet it didnâ€™t appear from her research into the condition that the medical community was actively researching the tragic phenomenon. Perhaps it was because it was considered so rare that support for such a study would be difficult to find, she thought, or that finding enough SCAD survivors would be even more problematic.
Then Nancy came across an article in the Aug. 30, 2011, edition of TheÂ Wall Street JournalÂ titled, â€śWhen Patients Band Together -- Using Social Networks To Spur Research for Rare Diseases; Mayo Clinic Signs On.â€ťÂ For Nancy, this article changed the dark face of SCAD dramatically, and she would find herself and many other young women just like her able to see daylight again. [...]
When doctors in Mexico City diagnosed Mauricio Perez-Olegaray with liver cirrhosis, he thought the condition was the result of earlier alcohol consumption and a genetic predisposition. But at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., doctors discovered instead the silent progress of hepatitis C. For the next six years, a team of Mayo Clinic specialists cared for Perez, managing his symptoms with medication while monitoring his condition closely for any sign of the liver cancer that can be caused by the virus. When tumors were detected in the liver, Perez's name was added to the liver transplant waiting list while doctors used chemoembolization to shrink the tumors and prevent them spreading outside the liver. [...]
Many people experience a warning prior to a stroke. But often it goes unnoticed, especially when youâ€™re young and otherwise healthy, like Lorena Rivera, 44.
A nurse educator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rivera was the picture of good health. She didnâ€™t drink or smoke, had good blood pressure, and ate a healthful diet. She was also physically active. So when the mom of three experienced headaches and numbing in one arm, she wasnâ€™t too concerned. However, when she temporarily lost vision while doing errands one day, she became more frightened.
Rivera, it turns out, had been experiencing a TIA â€“ a transient ischemic attack â€“ which produces similar symptoms as a stroke but usually lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a TIA is a warning. About 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the first episode.Â [...]
Michael Slag holds in his hands a tumor â€“ or rather a 3-D print of the actual tumor that is growing at the top of his right lung. Doctors are using the 3-D printed model to aid them in planning the complex surgery to remove Michaelâ€™s tumor.
Mayo Clinic doctors diagnosed Michael with a rare form of lung cancer known as Pancoast tumor, a condition so rare that Mayo Clinic has only seen 60 cases in the past 20 years. [...]
Editor's Note: The following was written by Christine Lairmore of Lake Arrowhead, California.
When our daughter, Hayley, turned 14 on March 8, 2009, we took her to Disneyland to celebrate. After a day full of riding rides and eating junk food, she woke up vomiting and kept vomiting all night long and all the next day. Our previously healthy daughter never stopped vomiting after that day, sometimes vomiting up to 12 times daily. Severe abdominal pain followed about a week later. I started by taking her to her regular pediatrician, who thought it was a flu and advised minimal eating, increase fluids, etcâ€¦ just wait it out. It never got any better.
Watching our daughter suffering and not getting better, we took her to our local ER, fearing dehydration or something more serious. They ran some tests, suspecting food allergies (mainly Celiac Disease), did some x-rays of her abdomen, and ultimately sent us home with a prescription for Zantac. Days later, the blood test came back positive for Celiac Disease. We promptly put her on a gluten free diet, but there was no improvement to her condition.
Next we sought help through a G.I. specialist at Loma Linda Medical Center. He at first thought she was just constipated and prescribed a treatment plan for that. When she continued to worsen over the next week, he then performed an endoscopy â€“ which showed mild gastritis and duodenitis and, more importantly, it ruled out Celiac disease. However, this doctor kept saying she was fine, nothing was wrong, and there was no more testing or medicine he could do. I told him her pain was worsening, she was still vomiting 8-10 times daily, she doubles over from her abdominal pain, she complains of dizziness, begs and cries for help, and I am at my wits end. They prescribe Miralax for constipation, which gives her bowel accidents she canâ€™t control, and at age 14 she has to wear a diaper during long car rides. I have to literally beg the doctor, against his wishes, to perform a colonoscopy because she is still in so much pain and I fear we are missing something important. The doctor still has no answers and continues to say that the pain is â€śall in her head.â€ť
"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. [...]
Scott Gunderson is a typical working father of three young children. His days typically are full of meetings, play dates, golf games and helping manage his busy familyâ€™s calendar. You likely wouldn't guess that the 38-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a stroke survivor and heart valve patient. [...]
She first learned about Mayo in the early 1990s, when she was living in Montana with her family. At that time, her mother, Kelli Liptac, was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, and was referred to a specialist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Her chronic conditions would warrant multiple trips to Rochester over the years. She would ultimately land on the heart transplant list.
As Andrea approached college graduation in 2004 and began to consider where to apply her education as a laboratory technologist, she recalled her mother's visits to Rochester.
"My mom's treatment at Mayo Clinic indirectly influenced my decision to work here," Andrea recalls. She applied to work as a laboratory technician in the Protein Immunology Laboratory at Mayo and has remained in that role ever since.
Unfortunately, Andrea's Mayo Clinic experience went beyond her employment. She would learn she and her mother shared more in common than she knew, leading her on a Â a surprising and difficult journey she says gave her a different perspective on Mayo Clinic and a new understanding of the patient experience.Â [...]
Whether it be flying to the scene of a car accident or transporting a critically ill patient to a specialty hospital by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, the flight nursing specialty requires an experienced and skilled professional to make split-second decisions during intense situations.
A day in the life of a flight nurse is never the same. Tim Alden, R.N.,Â flight nurse for Mayo Clinic Medical Transport (MCMT) in Rochester, Minn., would agree that the flight nursing specialty provides a level of excitement that is difficult to match within the nursing profession.
As a flight nurse with MCMT, Tim's "offices" are in the back of a Eurocopter 145 or in the cabin of a Beechjet 400. Each aircraft is stocked with equipment and medication comparable to what would be found in an emergency department or intensive care unit. Tim and his colleagues must be prepared for any type of emergency and must be able to perform in any environment. Tim maintains advanced skills by completing continuous training and education.
I had the opportunity to interview Tim to discuss what a typical day in the life of a flight nurse was like and to ask questions about what it takes to become a flight nurse.
Mayo Clinic Medical Transport celebrates its 25th year of service this year. MCMT has grown to include three bases in Rochester and Mankato, Minn. and Eau Claire, Wisc.Â The MCMT medical crew is composed of medical directors, flight nurses, flight paramedics, as well as a Nursing Education Specialist and a Clinical Nurse Specialist.Â Specially trained neonatal and pediatric nurses and respiratory therapists are also an essential part of the Mayo Clinic Medical Transport team.Â Each year, MCMT collectively transports overÂ 2,000 patients. MCMT flight nurses also work on Mayo MedAir Ambulance, Mayo's fixed-wing aircraft, to transport patients across the country. MCMT comprises state-of-the-art aircraft designed to provide optimal care and enhance the safety for all on board. It goes without stating, however, MCMT would not be successful without the pilots, mechanics and Emergency Communications Center, as well as all of the team members that contribute to meeting the needs of our patients.
Flight nursing is only one of many specialties the nursing profession has to offer. For those interested in the nursing profession, click on the following link to learn more about over 60 nursing specialties at Mayo Medical Center. Tim would welcome any comments you may have on the flight nursing specialty or any other comments you may have.
This post was submitted by Mark LaMaster, nursing placement coordinator, Mayo Clinic in Rochester.