Kraig Gresham was 47 years old when he received his heart transplant, but his journey to that life-changing surgery began years earlier. Kraig was born with aortic stenosis — a birth defect that causes heart valves to narrow and obstruct blood flow. As a child he had heart problems as a result of his condition. Despite that, Kraig was able to lead an active lifestyle, participating in sports like soccer and racquetball from the time he was young.
As an adult, Kraig knew he would eventually need a valve replacement due to his chronic heart condition. But when he began having bronchitis-like symptoms in his 40s, he was referred to Mayo Clinic with a more immediate problem: he was experiencing heart failure.
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 Heather Spaniol woke up from the first of many surgeries to rid her body of a life-threatening infection that was decimating her tissues, the gratitude she felt toward the Mayo Clinic surgeons who’d saved her life was so strong, she didn’t even register how much trauma her body had sustained.
“I think I was in shock. I was like, ‘You’re all so great! I just appreciate everything you’re doing. It’s fine,’” says Heather, a mother of two from Rochester, Minnesota. It was June 2014, and she'd lost a major nerve and most of her right shoulder muscle, in addition to epidermal tissue on the back and front of her right side, to necrotizing fasciitis.
Today, Greta Stamper, Au.D., Ph.D., is a doctor of audiology in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. But her connection to Mayo Clinic dates all the way back to her childhood.
Growing up in Iowa, Dr. Stamper was introduced to Mayo at age 10, when her parents took her to see Michael Schultz, Au.D., an audiologist in the Mayo Clinic Health System. Diagnosed with a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss at age 8, she had made many visits to hearing health care professionals before she met Dr. Schultz. But he was different.
As much as she’d like to forget Sept. 15, 2016, it's a day Julie George will never be able to erase from her memory. That day, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, woman’s 21-year-old son, Dylan Walling, was riding his motorcycle on a highway en route to his grandmother’s house when the unthinkable occurred.
A slow-moving manure spreader had caused a traffic backup. Dylan passed three cars and then collided with the farm vehicle as it began to turn left into a field. Although he was wearing a helmet, it wasn’t enough to protect him. The right side of Dylan’s body took the impact, leaving him seriously injured. His liver split in two. He had a kidney laceration, a head injury, a broken femur and forearm, an ankle injury and a collapsed lung. His foot was broken, his heel pad torn, and his toes were broken so badly they were almost severed.
Just four months after being in a coma, Mike Short was crawling through tunnels, jumping over fiery logs, and scaling walls as part of a 5K race known as a "rugged maniac." The Georgia native owes his ability to participate in the race to the neurocritical care team at Mayo Clinic that helped him recover from a brain injury he suffered shortly after his 50th birthday.
Diagnosed with a seizure disorder in childhood, Mike had had only a handful of grand mal seizures in his life. But on April 9, 2016, while visiting a friend in Black Sheer, Georgia, he had another. It was his first in 10 years. The seizure caused Mike to fall and hit his head. He was transported to a local hospital where he had another seizure.
“I aspirated everything into my lungs and passed out due to lack of oxygen,” Mike recalls being told.
Oct. 23, 2015, is a date that Nikole Prins will always remember. It’s the day she finally learned the reason for the bizarre symptoms she had been dealing with for more than half her life. Nikki precisely recalls the time she heard the news. It was 1:24 in the afternoon when her doctor called with the results of an MRI she had the previous day.
“I was diagnosed with Chiari malformation,” says Nikki, who lives in Owatonna, Minnesota, and received care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna. “No one wants to be told at 21 that you have a brain malformation. I cried a lot.”
For years, Nikki had experienced a range of symptoms that included lightheadedness, fainting and extremities that tingled when she stood up, as well as migraines that got worse while she was standing. As a preteen, she was told she was having syncope episodes when she got lightheaded. Later, physicians made the diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. But neither diagnosis nor any treatment had an effect on her symptoms. [...]
Jane Fausel has always believed in taking care of her health. She loves working in the earth at her north-central Phoenix home, does water aerobics and Chinese breathing exercises, has never smoked. So she was shocked by the diagnosis she received in January 2007.
"Around Christmas, I started coughing severely," Jane recalls. "At first, I thought it was just due to the Arizona desert weather." But when Jane began coughing up pink-tinged fluid, she saw her doctor and underwent a battery of tests. The diagnosis was lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among both men and women. It claims more lives than colon, prostate and breast cancer combined. [...]
After this opera singer noticed something on her chin and asked her dentist to take an x-ray, they found an ossifying fibroma that had taken over all of her lower jaw. Susan Taborn needed to have her entire lower jaw and most of her bottom teeth removed. Mayo Clinic doctors and surgeons used her fibula to construct a new jaw. Susan now received a new set of bottom teeth, just in time for Christmas! Watch her inspiring story below:
Listen to her singing here:
Raegan Cury didn’t worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldn’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. “I never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,” 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.
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. [...]
As a father of three and the district manager for 11 large retail stores in Houston, Chad Fogle was used to being tired. But in the spring of 2015, he began experiencing exhaustion far beyond what was typical.
“Two hours of being out doing something would exhaust me as much as working 12 hours,” Chad says.
He also began having memory loss. Sometimes he would drive to one of his stores and not remember how he got there. Some days he’d have to go back to his car four or five times because he kept forgetting things.
“I was living in a constant fog,” he says.
The holiday season is much brighter this year for Laura Floeckhler, 45, from Orlando, Florida. Laura was diagnosed last Christmas with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disorder of the lungs affecting about 30 in every one million people. [...]
Brittany Blake, a nurse anesthetist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, has participated in many international missions trips over the past five years. But her recent experience as a volunteer with Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organization that sends floating hospitals to some of the poorest nations is the world, was different than any of her other missions. This time, she could put her medical training to work.
Thomas Hoffman of Spearfish, South Dakota, was 56 years old, weighed 235, and had been diagnosed with prediabetes when he began to diet. As the pounds melted away, his wife became alarmed at his rapid weight loss. Then one morning, he awoke and his wife told him he was completely yellow — not from the sun streaming into the bedroom, but from jaundice. Thomas went to a local emergency room.
“The doctor comes in and gives us the news: ‘You have pancreatic cancer. You’ve got six months to live. Get your stuff together,’” Thomas says. “What do you do?”
Over the last two decades, however, health concerns have made his outdoor activities more challenging. During that time, Roger has undergone hip and knee replacement, been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and faced additional health issues related to his heart and lungs.
Medical care from his team at Mayo Clinic Health System, along with support from a large circle of family and friends, have seen him through each of these obstacles. And in October 2014, a new feature was added to the mix when Mayo Clinic Health System Palliative and Supportive Care Service became part of Roger’s care team, too. [...]
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."
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.
Barry Connell couldn’t be happier to have his wife of 53 years, Maureen, back.
Though the couple spent 16 years traveling cross-country after Barry retired as president of a manufacturing company in Connecticut, nothing prepared them for the difficult journey they would embark on when Maureen’s health began to decline rapidly in 2015.
For the first five months of that year, The Villages, Florida, resident noticed his normally lively wife wasn’t as alert as she used to be. She was also much slower to respond to situations. Then, on Mother’s Day, Maureen collapsed in the bathroom of the restaurant where their family was celebrating.
That incident led to months of debilitating symptoms for Maureen, along with a series of ineffective treatments. No one could explain what was happening to her. In desperation, the Connells turned to Mayo Clinic, where they were able to finally find the source of Maureen’s problem — hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.
“After struggling with this for three months, we got a preliminary diagnosis less than 24 hours after arriving at Mayo,” Barry says. [...]
As a nurse for more than eight years at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, Jacklyn Traurig knew firsthand the value of the organization’s team approach to health care. But although Jackie was practiced at providing quality care, she didn’t truly see just how exceptional Mayo Clinic’s style was until she found herself in back-to-back medical crises.
A fall on the stairs landed Jackie in the Emergency Department with a broken back. Then, while still healing from the first event, Jackie fell again. This time, she slipped in a stairwell and suffered a concussion and broken collarbone. A CT scan following that fall revealed a brain tumor.
Despite all this, Jackie looks for the good in her experiences.
Morgan Burke spent years urging her father, Tony Burke, to make a doctor’s appointment. When Tony was 12 years old, he had open-heart surgery at Mayo Clinic to repair aortic stenosis. But as an adult, the 48-year-old avoided most medical care.
“I’m just that type. I don’t go to the doctor ever — unless I’m dead,” says the farmer from Plainview, Minnesota.
I have hit rock bottom and an all time low, so I'm deciding to share my story everywhere. I'm twenty one years old and I shouldn't be feeling hopeless. Please read my story, offer any help, but remain compassionate. Thank you.
It all started in mid May 2016. I was exposed to chlamydia from a partner who assured me they were safe, have been tested, and hadn't had unprotected intercourse with anyone else. Which were all lies that I choose to believe. This is where the painful journey (which is still happening today) begins. The following day after being exposed, I had painful urination. I thought it was most likely a urinary tract infection because we had sexual intercourse multiple times the pervious night. I never thought of an STI. I called and made an appointment, but couldn't get in until five days later.
May 27th 2016-
My first doctor visit. I gave a urine sample and she told me it was a UTI. I was prescribed: ciprofloxacin. A few days later, she called me and said it wasn't exactly a UTI but an infection is there. She asked if the medication was helping and I said yes because it was. Then she said keep taking it. So I did.
July 12th 2016-
I was back in the urgent care with painful urination. I thought maybe another UTI. I gave a urine sample, they said it looked like a UTI. I was prescribed: phenazopyridine & sulfamethoxazole-trumethoprim. The symptoms subsided for awhile.
July 27th 2016-
My test results came back from Plan Parenthood that I had chlamydia. I had an appointment August 1st 2016 to get the medication. It was a one time treatment of: Azithromycin. My partner (whom was the same as before) also got tested, had chlamydia and then given treatment. He had said that he knew who he got it from and had to have been exposed back in December 2015. Mine didn't go away after the first dose of treatment so after seven days, I went back. I got retested and given another dose of the same medication. Then tested again and was clean of all STI's. I had broken up with this individual after all of this.
September 6th 2016 @ 3:30 PM:
I was back in the urgent care because of painful urination. I was not given any medication because it didn't show up as a UTI. At least, as I'm looking at my chart online it doesn't show I was given any medication that day.
September 23rd 2016 @ 1:45 PM:
I was again, in the urgent care for painful urination. I had given a urine sample and had a pap smear done. The urine culture gave results that were of an infection. The Pap smear showed no problems with the vaginal area, no STI's, and no yeast infection. I was prescribed: niteifurantoin macrocrystak-monohydrate. The symptoms subsided for a few months.
-I'd like to point out that since August, I have been tested multiple time for any STI's. And, had gotten into a serious relationship with a long term, trustworthy person in October. But once a month, I get tested for any STI. -
December 4th 2016 @ 6:30 PM:
You can guess what happened. I was in the urgent care for painful urination. Had the urine sample done and again it showed an infection. Every doctor visit they always said, "it LOOKS LIKE a UTI." (They never said / say it IS a UTI.) I was prescribed: Ciprofloxacin. (I had no knowledge that I've already been prescribed this.)
-The symptoms didn't subside this time. I had made an appointment with a urologist at this point. I was to be seen on January 24th 2017. However, the painful urination came and went. It wasn't the most painful. It was more of discomfort.-
January 24th 2017 @ 2:45 PM:
I finally had an appointment with a urologist, a specialist!! I told him my entire story and said all my symptoms. Mostly it was the painful urination. However, I had some lower back pain and abdominal pain. I never thought twice of those symptoms though. I gave a urine sample, and it came back completely negative. He had diagnosed me with: overactive bladder. Stating I was having "bladder spasms." I didn't think this was what I had. I don't show any symptoms of it except painful urination. But I was prescribed: oxybutynin (orally). This medication was the worse.
My painful urination went from being moderate to severe severe. I couldn't (and this is not a lie) leave my bathroom for 3 whole days. At most, I'd be in there in and off again for 12 hours. But at a time, I'd be in there for 6 hours straight. I started making a bladder journal. I only took 7 full pee's during those 3 days. Otherwise, it was little, small extremely painful pee's. The worse pain of my life! I called the doctor 4 times, but he never called back. I had a check up on Feb 21st. But, I couldn't wait that long. My boyfriend had said he thought I've been passing (or trying to) a kidney stone. That it could have been logged. Or it was a kidney infection.
February 3rd 2017 @ 1:45 PM:
After being trapped in the bathroom for days, I finally could leave to get help. I went back to the urgent care. I had told the doctor my entire story. I was pleading that I needed something for the pain. After explaining my story, he just looked confused. (By this time, I'd become crazy. I wrote all my results down from previous visits, all the medications I've took, and my bladder journal.) I had to give a urine sample. He came back and said, "It shows blood in your urine. This tells me you have an infection or are passing kidney stones. I think you'd be in more pain if it was kidney stones." I was prescribed: nitrofurantoin macrocrystal-monohydrate. (I couldn't remember that I had been prescribed this.) but I was also prescribed: Hydrocodone. (Which was the answer to my prayers. This is the ONLY medication that has relieved my symptoms. I could go without this for a couple days. I wasn't reliant on this, but it helped.) The doctor also told me to make an appointment with the urologist and express how it's an emergency. Also said to stop taking my previous prescribed medication from the urologist.
February 4th 2017:
I felt like I was going to die. I no longer had painful urination, but other symptoms. I had a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, severe pain in my lower back, severe pain in my right abdominal area, extreme migraine, and I had goosebumps and shriving with 6 heavy blankets on me. I couldn't eat without wanting to vomit. I did eat though and drank plenty fluids. My fever went down within two days. My pain lowered to mild. I wasn't freezing anymore. That's when I knew, it had to be kidney stones or a kidney infection.
-In my opinion, I went with untreated chlamydia for months; I feel like it started infecting my other organs, like kidney. I've read that untested STI's create more problems. Because I never had ANY urinary problems before I was exposed. Doctors haven't agreed to my opinion, but haven't disagreed either.-
-I called and demanded an earlier appointment time. I expressed it was an emergency.-
February 14th 2016:
I went to see the same urologist. I told him my new symptoms and how what he had prescribed made my issue worse. He think told me, "Yes, I think you are experiencing something to do with the kidneys. It does sound like stones." Then ordered me to have a Ct Scan
February 21st 2016:
I had my first ct scan. Everything went okay, except the guy placing the IV inside me messed up a lot. I guess I have small veins.
-The painful urination came back after the night of the Ct scan. It wasn't severe, but discomfort. I had ran out of the medication that had worked for me. The doctors won't prescribe me anymore. -
February 28th 2016:
The urologist called me with my ct scan results. I was so happy to finally know what's wrong with me, except they had come back negative. He said I was "in perfect health." Asked me how my symptoms were and I said I still have painful urination. Then he prescribed me: trospium chloride. Which is used for overactive bladder, which I know I don't have! I am so angered.
I still have painful urination. I am the second day of the newest medication. It doesn't seem to be helping. I have lost all hope and almost checked myself into a mental hospital. I am having breakdowns. The pain has stopped me from working when I NEED an income, because I'm on the verge of being homeless. I've been suspended from college due to missing for doctor appointments. So, I have appeals in April to see if I can return fall 2017. I feel my life is over at twenty one. If anyone out there has any idea of what's happening to me, please reach out. Please help me. I've become lost when it comes to faith. I've had to give up a social life somewhat because the pain causes me to be in the bathroom for hours or I can't leave my bed.
-I haven't had any blood work, ultrasound, or X-rays done. I don't want to take anymore medication because it's affecting my system, I just want to figure out what's wrong and take what I need. I don't feel the urge the pee all the time. I can and do make it to the bathroom. The pain is at the end of the stream. Or I have small, short pees that burn. I have been tested multiple times for UTI and STI, all negative. In the urologist place, my results come back negative an infection. In the urgent care, my results say there is an infection present but they can't seem to figure out what. Diabetes runs in my family, which someone brought to my attention that it could be this. Please help if you can. My story is long, but dealing with this pain has been much longer. I can't do a lifetime of this. Thank you for reading and helping in anyway. It is greatly appreciated.-