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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Neurology & Neurosurgery

January 13th, 2017

Walking Easy Again After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After enduring months of debilitating leg pain, minimally invasive spine surgery at Mayo Clinic got Dan Hofferber back on his feet.

After a 37-year career at a petroleum company, Dan Hofferber was looking forward to retirement. But in 2014, Dan started having trouble with one of his legs. The muscle in his left thigh would tighten up, causing unbearable pain that made it hard to walk.

“I was used to walking a mile or two, and I couldn’t do that anymore,” says Dan, who travels to Florida for spring training every year with his wife, Carol.” I couldn’t even walk from the parking lot to the baseball stadium.”

The pain prompted Dan to seek care in his hometown of Billings, Montana. After several months without relief, a family member urged him to go to Mayo Clinic. Dan took that advice, traveling to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. There, he met neurologic surgeon Mohamad Bydon, M.D. Dan was immediately impressed.

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Tags: Dr Mohamad Bydon, Dr Ralph Gay, neurosurgery, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spinal stenosis


December 22nd, 2016

After 20 Years of Seizures, Erica Laney Enjoys Life Following Epilepsy Surgery

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After years of trying to manage her seizure disorder with medication, Erica Laney turned to Mayo Clinic, where she had epilepsy surgery that led to a seizure-free life.

For much of her adolescent and adult life, Erica Laney, 31, had frequent petit mal seizures. Less often, she had grand mal seizures that led to loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. The cause of the seizures was abnormal electrical activity throughout her brain.

“The seizures started when I was 11 years old. I would experience three to four a month,” Erica says. “I was unable to talk during these auras and couldn’t remember anything afterwards. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster, and I was heading for the big drop. Then darkness came from behind me, enveloping me in a haze that would lead to a seizure.”

The Mims, Florida, native was diagnosed with seizure disorder and had a series of tests, including MRIs, CT scans, and electroencephalograms, or EEGs. Erica also went through intracarotid sodium amobarbital, or Wada, testing, which looks at language and memory on one side of the brain at a time. While under the care of an Orlando neurologist, Erica took several medications to control her seizures. But she was never fully seizure-free.

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Tags: Dr Robert Wharen, Dr William Tatum, Epilepsy, Neurological Surgery


December 15th, 2016

Learning to Live Well With POTS Brightens Daily Life for Christine Esposito

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Mayo Clinic’s POTS Boot Camp helped Christine Esposito understand how to better control her condition.

It’s a condition with no outward symptoms. But for the hundreds of thousands of teens and adults in the U.S. living with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, the medical disorder has a significant impact on their lives. Christine Esposito is one of those people.

Christine was diagnosed with the condition in 2002 by Mayo Clinic neurologist Jeremy K. Cutsforth-Gregory, M.D.

POTS is a disorder that affects a person’s autonomic nerves — the nerves that control involuntary body functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, perspiration, and bowel and bladder functions. Not everyone has the same symptoms, but the condition universally causes rapid heart rates and dizziness when moving from a resting to standing position.

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Tags: Dr Jeremy Cutsforth-Gregory, Neurology & Neurosurgery, POTS syndrome


December 10th, 2016

Successful Brain Cancer Surgery Puts Sunshine Back in a Young Mom’s World

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Tyson Cluever after brain cancer surgery. When Tyson Cluever, a 32-year-old mother of two from Benson, Minnesota, learned that she had an aggressive brain cancer, her first thought was of her children. At just nine months and five years old, her sons stood to lose one of the most important people in their lives if she were to share the fate of many individuals diagnosed with grade IV glioblastomas.

“It’s brain cancer, and you have between 12 and 18 months to live,” says Tyson’s husband, Jon. “It just totally messes you up inside when something like this happens.”

The couple’s next thought was to fight the cancer with everything they had.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: awake brain surgery, brain tumor, Dr Ian Parney, glioblastoma, neurologic surgery


November 21st, 2016

Complex Diagnosis Reshapes a College Student’s Future

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Plagued by debilitating symptoms, Reilly Steidle turned to Mayo Clinic. A comprehensive evaluation revealed a range of challenging but manageable issues, and gave Reilly a new outlook.When Reilly Steidle came to Mayo Clinic in the summer of 2013 at the age of 20, she brought with her two rolling suitcases full of medical paperwork and a hope that the physicians could make sense of the recurring headaches, chronic fatigue and widespread pain she’d been dealing with for two years.

Reilly had been a healthy college student majoring in business at Northern Illinois University in the fall of 2011. But by the end of the school year, the Plainfield, Illinois, resident had dropped out, debilitated by her mysterious symptoms. Reilly spent the summer of 2012 visiting doctors.

When no one could decipher her symptoms, she decided to try another approach. Reilly went to a chiropractor, who asked to see her MRI images. After looking at them, the chiropractor urged Reilly to get an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, confirmed by a Western blot test, to check for Lyme disease. Reilly did so, and on her 19th birthday, she received the news that the test results were positive.

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Tags: Center for Sleep Medicine, Dr Maja Tippmann-Peikert, Lyme Disease, Neurology & Neurosurgery, POTS, Transfusion Medicine


November 8th, 2016

Changing Minds While Learning to Live With Epilepsy

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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The first time Tehya Mrotek had a seizure during class, she had just begun high school. Most of the faculty and staff at Stewartville High School didn’t know how to respond to Tehya’s condition.

The school nurse recognized what had happened, however. The nurse explained it to Tehya when she regained consciousness from her tonic-clonic episode. But Tehya’s teachers and support staff weren’t very familiar with epilepsy and were not equipped to administer seizure first-aid, says Tehya’s mother, Tamra Mrotek. That was six years ago.

Within three years, not only had all of Tehya’s teachers and administrators become proficient in epilepsy education, but the town of Stewartville had received certification as a Seizure Smart Community from the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.

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Tags: Child and Adolescent Neurology, Dr Katherine Nickels, Epilepsy


November 4th, 2016

Multiple Medical Emergencies Give Nurse A New Perspective on Mayo Clinic Care

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After receiving treatment for two serious falls and going through a surgery, nurse Jackie Traurig has a heightened appreciation for the health care Mayo Clinic provides.

Jackie Traurig in the body cast needed to heal her fractured lumbar vertebra and with the nurse from Orthopedic Surgery who helped ease her nerves, Lori Pierce, who she calls “the biggest angel in the world.”

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.

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Tags: Dr Ian Parney, Emergency Medicine, Jacklyn Traurig, Lori Pierce, neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery


October 31st, 2016

A Mother’s Frightening Fight Against Autoimmune Encephalitis

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Mayo Clinic’s accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of severe autoimmune encephalitis saved Gloria Pena’s life and put her on the path to a full recovery.

It started with ear pain in the spring of 2014. Within a few weeks, Gloria Pena’s earache escalated into confusion and sensory loss.

“I thought it was a bad cold with an earache,” Gloria recalls. “But one day I picked up my son from school and didn’t remember the way home.”

From there, Gloria’s condition spiraled downward. Eventually, the 36-year-old mother of two ended up in an intensive care unit in a coma, diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis, a serious condition in which Gloria’s immune system was attacking her brain.

Determined to find help for his wife, Gloria’s husband, Emmanuel, brought her to Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. Although it took time, her Mayo Clinic care team was able to save Gloria and put her on the path to recovery.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr. William Freeman, encephalitis, Florida Campus, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Dr Sebastian Lopez Chiriboga


October 25th, 2016

Deep-brain Stimulation Helps A Pilot Return to Flight

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Ryan Uitti, M.D., and Beth McAllister with a self-portrait of patient Tyrone Nanton.

Ryan Uitti, M.D., and Beth McAllister of the movement disorders surgical team with a self-portrait of their grateful patient, Tyrone Nanton.

As a commercial airline pilot, Tyrone Nanton spends his days in a standard blue-and-white uniform. But in his off-hours, Tyrone’s creativity emerges in two favorite hobbies: creating colorful, elaborate costumes for carnival in his native Antigua, and painting. From 2006 to 2015, though, a tremor that got progressively worse made his hands shake so much that it kept him not only from those artistic pursuits, it eventually kept him from flying.

When the tremor started, Tyrone went to see a neurologist near his home in Brandon, Florida. To control the shaking, he was given a medication typically used for seizures. Due to regulations, however, the airline barred use of that medication. Tyrone had to find a different drug to manage his symptoms. Over time, however, even with an ever-increasing dosage of that medication, his tremor worsened.

“I couldn’t hold a glass with one hand. I couldn’t eat with a knife and fork,” Tyrone says.

At that point, Tyrone could not continue flying. He had to take medical leave and go on disability. Tyrone says he couldn’t imagine no longer being a commercial airline pilot. Seeking options after his local neurologist said there was nothing else that could be done, he decided to get a second opinion.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Deep Brain Stimulation, Dr Robert Wharen, Dr Ryan Uitti, Essential Tremor, Florida Campus, Movement Disorders, neurosurgery


October 24th, 2016

Spinal Cord Stimulator Eases Pain Without Creating Limitations for Paul Hesson

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

When he was 38, Paul Hesson was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, and the condition triggered significant chronic back pain.

“Back then, they said I had the back of a 75-year-old man,” says Paul, who is 75 now.

As Paul got older, his pain increased, and he had severe joint stiffness. He went to see several neurosurgeons in the Jacksonville, Florida, area and received differing opinions for how to treat his condition. Ultimately, he decided to use medication to manage the pain. But by 2014, Paul’s pain worsened to the point that it limited his day-to-day activities. He knew he needed to do something more.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Ronald Reimer, neurosurgery, Pain Medicine


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