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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

ENT/Audiology Archive

October 15th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Learning to Hear Again

By Hoyt Finnamore

Mayo Clinic patient Scott Malmstrom discussed the cochlear implant process. There are certain sounds that Scott Malmstrom had never known. He was born with hearing impairment, and it gradually got worse throughout his life. By fourth grade, he began experimenting with hearing aids. Over time, he became what he calls a “professional lip reader.”

Hearing aids didn’t help much with the type of hearing loss Scott had. “Where he struggled was speech discrimination – being able to recognize and understand what's being said,” he says. “That's where they eyes take over. That's what I've done over many years and became very good at it.”

But his diminished hearing did keep him from experiencing certain things, and he says it affected his communication with those he loved. Today, through the magic of cochlear implants, Scott is hearing new things and experiencing life in a way he hadn’t quite imagined.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cochlear implants, Dr Colin Driscoll, Dr Doug Sladen, Dr Lee Belf, Hearing Loss


October 6th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

“I Feel Like Me Again”

By Hoyt Finnamore

Carly Edgar poses with her dog, Merc, after her time at Mayo Clinic. Carly Edgar faced a mystery illness, the baffling effects of a rare autoimmune disease, and the prospect of reconstructive surgery, but she found hope and help at Mayo Clinic.

In January 2013, Carly Edgar, an otherwise healthy 20-something, found herself in the hospital and in severe pain. The pain seemed to originate from near one of her ribs, but her local doctors couldn’t identify the source. She spent a week in the hospital without any answer. She was released, but it wasn’t long until she was back again.

Carly rated her pain at 10 on a 10-point scale, but doctors started to doubt her symptoms. They gave her pain medicine, but they also recommended antidepressants. When her boyfriend noticed a bump forming on her nose, she was told it was likely just a pimple. After a second week in the hospital, with things only looking worse, Carly asked to be discharged, and she and her boyfriend traveled to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in search of answers.

Within a few days, Carly had her surprising answer – a rare autoimmune disease called relapsing polychondritis. The disease attacks cartilage, and it was affecting not only her ribs and her nose, but also her heart, where doctors at Mayo found inflammation. She admits that it was a difficult diagnosis, but it also gave her hope that treatment could control her symptoms.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Ashley O'Reilly, Dr Grant Hamilton, Dr Uma Thanarajasingam, reconstructive surgery, Relapsing Polychondritis


February 19th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Keeping a Positive Outlook Despite a Difficult Disease

By Hoyt Finnamore

Jayne BushmanFor her first 38 years, Jayne Bushman was a picture of health. But then one morning she woke up with an earache, something she says she'd never before experienced. Her first stop was to see her Family Medicine doctor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester who, unable to pinpoint the exact cause of her pain, sent her to Mayo's Department of Otorhinolaryngology. It was there that after a series of additional tests and examinations, Bushman learned she had much more than and ear infection. The diagnosis was Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare disorder that inflames the blood vessels and restricts blood flow to various internal organs.

The ear issues were simply one manifestation of the disease, which often affects the kidneys, lungs and upper respiratory tract. The restricted blood flow caused by the disease can damage these organs.

As Bushman listened to doctors explain her diagnosis, she says she felt "shocked." That only got worse after she went home and began using the Internet to research her disease. "The very first thing I did after my diagnosis is what a lot of people do, which is the very wrong thing," she says. "And I now tell any person I meet or talk to online who gets diagnosed with Wegener's disease to stay off the Internet. It'll do nothing but scare you. That's exactly what it did to me."

Still, Bushman says she only allowed herself to feel that way for a moment or two. "Initially, it was a huge shock," she says. "But I had three kids at home, I have a career … and I sure as heck wasn't going to let this get in the way of that. I've always tried to not live in my disease and to instead live with my disease.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Ulrich Specks, ENT, kidney transplant, Maureen Kelley, nephrology, Patient Stories, Sue Fisher, Wegener's granulomatosis


February 5th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

My Story — Seth Locketz

By Seth Locketz

I was diagnosed with eosinophillic esophagitis (EE) by another provider, who said I needed to have my esophagus stretched every six months with a balloon. I decided to get a second opinion at the Esophagus Clinic at the Mayo Clinic. Wow, am I glad I did! At first, I was given a soft steroid, which may the EE go away! Which was great news! However, then Dr. Alexander and his team did some additional testing of my esophagus, and they were able to figure out that my EE (for which I had 10 times the normal amount of eosinophils) was actually caused from eating eggs, peanuts and dairy! Through the great care of Dr. Alexander and his team, not only did I not have to have my esophagus stretched, I did not even need to take medicine!!!! Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Patient Stories, esophagitis


May 31st, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Born Deaf and My Miracle of Sound

By Makala Johnson

Lexi GrafeI was born profoundly deaf due to auditory neuropathy and did not hear a single sound until I received a cochlear implant when I was 4 ½ years old. My parents said that I was always a happy, sweet child and I was born with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. Throughout my life, I’ve had to deal with many obstacles due to my deafness that most people don’t have to deal with. However, my cochlear implant, this miracle of sound, gives me an appreciation of sound and richness to life that others may take for granted. Through it all, I’ve held onto my belief that you shouldn’t just live life, but love it! Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: auditory neuropathy, cochlear implant, deaf, Lexi Grafe, sound


January 25th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Physician Documents his Cancer Survival, Grateful to Mayo Clinic

By Makala Johnson

Dr. J. Campbell with bookI am Dr. J. Kemper Campbell, an ophthalmologist from Lincoln, Nebraska. I noted a small asymptomatic mass on the right side of my neck in December 2006. When needle biopsy established it to be a poorly differentiated metastatic cancer of unknown origin, I asked a colleague for a referral to the institution best equipped to diagnose throat cancer, and Dr. Kerry Olsen of the Department of ENT at the Rochester Mayo Clinic was suggested.

Dr. Olsen during his initial examination felt that the primary cancer would be found in the right tonsil and a modified radical neck dissection confirmed his impression, Although Dr. Olsen felt that the cancer had been completely removed by the surgery, further neck irradiation was recommended to be certain that no viable cancer cells remained.

After five years of careful followup at the Mayo Clinic, I was told that I had been cured. Most throat cancers are survivable if diagnosed early and treated aggressively. Previously associated with tobacco and alcohol use, squamous cell cancers of the oropharynx are now becoming more prevalent in younger individuals exposed to human papillovirus infections. Certainly no lump found in the throat region should be ignored.

To celebrate the five years between my diagnosis and cure, I published a book of poetry documenting the physical and mental stresses undergone by anyone diagnosed with cancer. The book, High Five, A Cancer Survivor's Poetic Journey, is available through Amazon and resulted because of the excellent caregivers at the Mayo Clinic.

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Tags: Dr. J. Kemper Campbell, Dr. Kerry Olsen, ENT, Metastatic Cancer, neck, Surgery, throat cancer


January 15th, 2013 · 8 Comments

Unraveling the Mystery of Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

By Makala Johnson

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.  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

Wendy TapperOutgoing and energetic Wendy, of Kansas City, Mo., enjoyed a career as a producer and publicist.  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.  Her rare condition ultimately revealed by Mayo physicians was masked in part by two distinct illnesses - breast cancer and a stroke. 

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.  It was the escalation of her symptoms of dizziness, hearing loss and a drastically diminishing quality of life that brought Wendy to Mayo Clinic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Balance, Dr. Charles Beatty, Dr. Daniel Blum, ear, Hearing, otorhinolaryngology, Round Window Occlusion, Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome, Surgery, Wendy Tapper


December 29th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Scuba diving and fine dining are still on the menu for Miami man with neck cancer

By Margaret Shepard

John SavianoRespiratory 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cancer treatment, John Saviano, Mayo Clinic, Radiation Therapy, tonsil tumor


December 22nd, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Family Pressure Brings Timely Treatment

By Margaret Shepard

Tom Sherrard and his dog.Tom Sherrard often told his wife, Kris, that they really needed to spend more time in Minnesota. Tom has vacationed in Northern Minnesota ever since he was a youngster. Today he, Kris, and daughters Megan and Sarah continue to vacation at the family summer home, where they enjoy boating, fishing, and all the lake has to offer. During 2006, they did spend more time in Minnesota, but it was farther south, at Mayo Clinic.

Tom first noticed a pea-sized lump on his neck in August of 2005. When he first felt it, he thought perhaps it was a swollen gland that would go away. Because his daughter Megan was to be married in a couple weeks, he didn't want to sidetrack the family from the wedding plans. So he put off seeing a doctor.

He finally made an appointment with his primary care physician in September, but ended up canceling because work got busy. He remained aware of the lump, which wasn't going away, and family members were asking about it. Finally his daughter Megan became very persistent, insisting that he needed to do something about it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: American Indians, Dr. Ian D. Hay, Dr. Robert L. Foote, Dr. Scott H. Okuno, Mayo Clinic, Radiation Therapy, thyroid cancer, Tom Sherrard


December 4th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Volunteer Firefighter threatened by Tongue Tumor

By Margaret Shepard

David Farrell and his wife.David Farrell lives and works in the small town of Holyoke, Colorado. The 6'2" volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) had always worked out and stayed in good physical condition. He and his wife, Nicolette, have two sons, two daughters, and three grandchildren. They enjoy motorcycle road trips, camping, and going to NASCAR races. In fact, he dates the first indication of the cancer on the base of his tongue as about three weeks after getting home from the Talladega 500 in Alabama.

When he arrived at the Speer Cushion Company that September 2004 morning, one of the women who worked for him asked, "What's that bump on your neck?" Dave had seen no bump while shaving only an hour and a half earlier, but when he went to a mirror, there it was, about the size of an egg. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: American Indians, David Farrell, ENT, Head and Neck Cancer, Mayo Clinic, tongue cancer