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 – 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. 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. [...]
When a doctor suddenly becomes the patient with a life-threatening illness, Mayo Clinic’s commitment to high-quality medical care that puts the needs of the patient first takes on fresh perspective, especially as it relates to the principle of compassionate care, which is a hallmark of Mayo Clinic.
Such was the case when Joseph J. Tepas III, M.D., a 68-year-old pediatric surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida, learned that the wheezing and shortness of breath he was experiencing turned out to be idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a potentially life-threatening disease that occurs from unexplained scarring of the lung tissue.
In addition to doing pediatric surgery, Dr. Tepas is a practicing trauma surgeon and surgical intensivist. He is the medical director of the region’s only pediatric trauma unit, and, as a retired captain in the Navy Reserve, appreciates the critical importance of maintaining a personal commitment to health and fitness. Dr. Tepas had always lived a healthy lifestyle and, other than some occasional allergy symptoms, never had any significant health issues. But lying dormant in his otherwise healthy body was a disease that was quietly scarring and shutting his lungs down.
I don't even know how to begin to tell this story, but I know I have to write down what has happened in my life over the past few years. It has been a roller coaster ride with new situations and events like never before.
In April 2005, while camping with my husband Noble and our dog Sam and cat JoJo at Lincoln Rock State Park, I had a weird vertigo experience which passed quickly but then some slight dizziness reoccurred off and on for about a year. After seeing several doctors I was diagnosed with an inner ear virus which they said would go away and it did.
Even before 6-year-old Ella Schultz was born, she was already a miracle and had beaten many odds. Because Ella's mother, Patty, was 42 years-old when she was considering becoming a parent, and her father, Ernie, had survived cancer, neither were sure they would be able to conceive a child. Fortunately, they were able to become pregnant quickly. Patty's pregnancy was trouble-free, and when Ella was born, on Christmas Day in 2001, she appeared perfectly healthy.
"At two months of age, however, Ella began to develop tan 'cafe-au-lait' spots on her skin, which are pigmented birthmarks," says Patty. "Because these spots can sometimes signal bigger health issues, our local doctor referred us to Mayo Clinic for testing." [...]