Jack Cawthon unabashedly brags about the secret sauce that is a hallmark of his renowned barbeque restaurant in Nashville, Tennesse, Jack's Bar-B-Que, where tourists and locals line up for Texas brisket and Tennessee pork shoulder.
The iconic sauce remains a family secret and a vital part of the landmark restaurant located on the honkytonk strip on lower Broadway in downtown Nashville. These days, however, the Barbeque King is a fan of a whole different kind of secret sauce.
When Richard Oppelt arrived at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in early 2001, his lung capacity was minimal – only 21 percent of what it should have been.
A sandblaster for 24 years, Richard, from Melbourne, Florida, had developed silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, which can damage the lining of the lung air sacs, and cause scarring and stiffening of the lung, making it difficult to breathe.
"When talking with someone, I would have to take a break to catch my breath," Richard says. "I was so short of breath sometimes that my wife had to finish my sentences. I also had a hard time making it up the stairs in my house without stopping several times."
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. [...]
As a stock car racer, Paul Hamernik thought his frequent restroom breaks were an occupational hazard. He simply accepted that his bladder was small and his nerves ran wild — until he learned his PSA level was increasing.
"PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is a normal substance produced by the prostate, usually found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, infection or inflammation of the prostate, and benign prostatic hyperplasia," explains Lance Mynderse, M.D., a Urologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
"My local doctor suggested I go to Mayo and be evaluated," says Paul. "He said Mayo had advanced tests and procedures to diagnose and treat prostate conditions that weren't widely available." [...]
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.
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. [...]