Camden Christopherson is an athlete: volleyball, basketball, softball, cross-country. She does them all. So when doctors told her, at age 13, that she had to wear a brace for 22 hours a day to combat scoliosis, and surgery to fuse her spine was likely in her future, Camden was devastated.
These treatments could help correct the severe spinal curve that had developed quickly during a growth spurt, her doctors said. But Camden didn't want to give up her flexibility and freedom of movement. And her mother, Teresa Christopherson, wasn't ready to accept that a brace and fusion surgery were her daughter's only choices.
"I wanted a second opinion," Teresa says. "I wasn't going to go forward based on one recommendation, so we went to Mayo."
At Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, mother and daughter met A. Noelle Larson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, who discussed another possibility with them: anterior vertebral body tethering, or VBT, a new surgery for scoliosis that doesn't involve fusing vertebrae together. It was just the answer they needed.Â [...]
I look forward to spring on the Mayo Clinic downtown campus in Rochester. The grass finally turns green after wintering under the snow, the flowers make their appearance and add an amazing burst of color to the campus, and the peregrine falcons return to their home atop of the Guggenheim Building. I enjoy watching the little fledglings turn from snowy white balls of fluff into adult falcons. This year, there are three fledglings to watch.
Thanks to a â€śfalcon camâ€ť that is fed live to the Mayo television system, visitors and staff are able to watch the falcons go about their daily life. A television with the channel set to the falcon cam can be found in the subway of the Mayo Building, next to the patient cafeteria. On occasion, I pass the TV on my way to and from meetings.
When I pass by early in the morning, the fledglings are frequently sitting at the edge of the nest looking for their mom to bring breakfast. Some mornings when I walk by mom has already finished her hunting expedition and is feeding her family.
As the days go by, the birds have less white fluff on their bodies and more of the look of an adult peregrine falcon. As I walked by the other morning (mid-June), I realized they are nearly full-grown. It wonâ€™t be long before they head out on their own and the nest will again be emptyâ€¦until next spring.
On a side note: each year, Mayo asks people to submit names for the new falcons. This year, the names were announced on the day the baby birds were banded. The names are: Thunderbolt, Aeroslick and Taraja.
Barb Sorensen is a consultant in the Department of Public Affairs in Rochester.
For years, puzzling symptoms and a troubling medical condition had stalked their family. Growing up in Taiwan, Vivian was athletic and seemed to be healthy. However, she began to lose strength in her early 30s and went to the doctor with her father, Paul. Vivian was told she had a heart condition. "But no one really explained the problem to me," she says.
At first, Vivian was able to dismiss the symptoms. She even competed in a triathlon at age 40. But as she watched another member of her family struggle with symptoms she recognized in herself, her own condition became harder to ignore.
Over time, Vivian's symptoms had taken hold of her life, affecting her daily activities. She was not able to talk for more than 30 seconds without losing breath. While eating dinner, Vivian would often have to lie down for half an hour before returning to her meal because she would become so tired and lightheaded. Vivian's fear of having arrhythmia attacks also hindered her social life.
"I was afraid to go out on my own even to take a simple walk in the park," she says. "I didn't dare do that by myself."Â [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
When Sean Murphy's chronic headaches set in, they first bothered him after physical exertion, then after a stressful day at work.
Within months, the headaches were constant, always localized in the back of his head. The pain became debilitating.
Murphy consulted his family doctor and was referred to a neurologist. His hometown physicians were stumped.
Murphy was referred to Mayo Clinic, where he was diagnosed with Chiari malformation type I, a rare condition in which the brain tissue at the back of the head protrudes into the spinal canal. The disorder causes a variety of neurological symptoms, but is treatable.
Mayo Clinic physicians initially sought to relieve Murphy's symptoms with medication, but as his health continued to worsen they decided surgery was his best option. [...]
Have chronic cluster headaches. 47 years. Any info on this exhsusting pain would be helpfull. Tried evrtything. Live in connecticut.
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.
For 33-year-old Tara Brigham of Jacksonville, Florida, living with a heart condition since birth wasn't something that was going to get in the way of living an active normal life. In fact, she says the heart transplant she received six years ago as a result of her condition has made her life even more fulfilling.
A Minnesota native, Tara was diagnosed with enlargement of the heart during a routine checkup when she was 1 year old. While she had not had any symptoms of a heart problem since birth, the enlargement was significant enough that her physician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus suggested that a biopsy of her heart should be done right away. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body to vital organs.
Tara's heart was monitored closely by her doctors at Mayo Clinic and later a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy specialist at the University of Minnesota. Since Tara was an active, healthy child otherwise, and what was known about her condition in children was limited, she was not put on medication, but doctors advised that she avoid strenuous activities.Â [...]
Look at Carl White today and you see a busy, content family man. A husband and father of two, Carl recently completed his bachelor's degree and now is pursuing a master's in social work. When he's not in school or studying, you'll likely find him either at his job as a health unit coordinator at Mayo Clinic Hopsital, Saint Marys Campus, in Rochester, Minnesota, or spending time with his family.
At first glance, Carl may seem like any typical, hardworking dad. Rewind a few years, though, and you'll understand just how far Carl has come and the enormous struggles he has had to overcome.
Back in 2009, Carl was consumed with chronic pain â€” the result of two serious accidents. He attempted to cope by taking steady doses of strong pain medication, along with a significant amount of alcohol. But it provided little relief.
"I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do," Carl says. "Time seemed to go so slowly while waiting for a magic bullet, a new medical breakthrough that would take all the pain away. I believed that all I needed was to have the right surgery or find the right pill, and I would be cured."
Â "I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do."
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Angry and discouraged after several years of dealing with the pain, he was not receptive when a doctor at Mayo Clinic referred him to Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Center.Â [...]
Audra Popp has a rare tumor â€“ anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, also known as anaplastic PXA. Only a handful of people are diagnosed with this condition each year. Audra is the first person at Mayo Clinic with anaplastic PXA to be treated with proton beam therapy.
Audra had 20 proton beam therapy sessions to try to destroy fast-growing cells possibly left behind after surgery.
But proton beam therapy is just the latest step in the battle against Audra's tumor. She's had five craniotomies since 2001, and she has a scar from her right ear to the crown of her head as evidence. She had surgeries at Mayo in 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2015. She also has had three regimens of chemotherapy through the years and six weeks of radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic in 2007.
The tumor has become more aggressive. And each time her surgeons think they have it completely removed, it comes back. [...]
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. [...]
Raegan Cury didnâ€™t worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldnâ€™t 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. â€śI never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,â€ť 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 [...]
After surviving two separate lung transplant procedures in 2005 and 2008, musician Larry Rawdon is sharing new ways of healing through music with other patients at Mayo Clinic in Florida. It was, after all, music that led him to Mayo Clinic and aided in his recovery after he was diagnosed in 2002 with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Prior to coming to Mayo Clinic, Rawdon had little hope of his condition improving. But a chance meeting in 2005 at a music festival with cardiothoracic surgeon Octavio E. Pajaro, M.D., changed his outlook on his condition and created hope for Rawdon and his family.
Dianne Shea thought that the fevers, chills, vomiting, nausea and endless bouts of diarrhea from C. diff would take away her independence. But after a fecal transplant, she says, "My life began again." Â
I've been a paraplegic and a Mayo Clinic patient for more than 10 years. My legs decided to stop working over a period of just a few short months due to a spinal tumor. So I didn't think I was a stranger to adversity. Then I met a nasty little bug they call C. difficile. The name is not ironic. At first I thought I had a very violent form of the flu with fevers, chills, vomiting, nausea and (the worst by far) countless, endless bouts of diarrhea.
My days were filled with nothing more than being assisted to the bathroom, cleaning up, getting back into bed, then starting all over again, weaker than before. I required around-the-clock care. I couldn't get dressed, could hardly eat anything, didn't have enough energy to do the smallest of tasks, and couldn't have any fun. Most importantly, I couldn't get through physical therapies for my legs.
Stewart Rosen was beyond anxious when he learned he had a tumor the size of a walnut by his right ear. The tumor was benign. But Stewart, an accountant by day and violinist by night, worried that removing the tumor, an acoustic neuroma, might affect his ability to play music.
"I'd never had any kind of surgery or hospitalization before," he says. And with the surgery he'd need to remove this tumor, Stewart knew that he'd lose hearing in his right ear. That wasn't all. "I was afraid a facial nerve might become paralyzed or my vision would be affected," he says.
Stewart noticed a change in his hearing in his right ear, and a friend had recommended he see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. That doctor detected a major difference in hearing between Stewart's ears and ordered an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. Unfortunately, the MRI pointed to an acoustic neuroma.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. [...]
Tara Kline understands that life can change in an instant. That's because hers has â€” twice.
A year after Tara, from the Twin Cities suburb of Burnsville, Minn., graduated from high school, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and told she would need a heart-double lung transplant.
"It was surreal," says Tara, who credits Mayo Clinic staff with helping her cope with the fear and uncertainty that accompanied the diagnosis.
"The wonderful thing about Mayo Clinic is that you are embraced by a team of providers that truly cares about you," says Tara, who became extremely close to her team during the eight years she spent on the transplant list. [...]
Respiratory 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. [...]