Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Neurology & Neurosurgery

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

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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


October 17th, 2016

Diagnosis and Treatment of Chiari Malformation Spurs Nikki Prins to Reach Out to Others

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Nikki Prins enjoying time outdoors.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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Chiari malformation, Dr Grant Mallory, Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna, Neurology & Neurosurgery


September 10th, 2016

Persevering Through Brain Cancer, Travis McGinnis Remains Upbeat and Optimistic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Travis McGinnis rings bell after cancer treatment. Travis McGinnis was just 30 years old when an insidious cancer was discovered in his brain. It had been growing there for some time, he says — his physicians estimated between five and 10 years. Had the stage-three oligoastrocytoma not been detected when it was, Travis would have likely lost his life. As it happened, thanks to care and treatment provided by neurologists and neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, the only solid thing the father of three lost to the cancer was a fist-sized piece of his brain.

While having cancer was something he never wanted, Travis says the experience gave him insights and gifts he would not have otherwise realized: deep appreciation for his family and friends, gratitude for the present, and faith in strangers who generously supported him.

“Sometimes I’ll sit and think about everything I’ve been through, and it moves me to tears,” Travis says. “I’m alive and better for it. I wish I never would’ve had to go through it, but at least it wasn’t for nothing.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: brain tumor, Glioma, Hope Lodge, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, oligoastrocytoma, radiation therapy


August 31st, 2016

After Treatment for Pituitary Tumor, Pastry Chef is Ready for Sweet Smell of Ordinary Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jessie Brenholt is back to baking after tumor treatment.

Jessie Brenholt is a certified pastry chef who would like to open a bakery one day. “If the ingredients were free, I’d give out cakes to everyone,” she says.

For a while, the 23-year-old's dream seemed to be in jeopardy. After months of being sick with weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and vision problems, Jessie found that the source of her symptoms was a tumor on her pituitary gland — a small gland located at the base of the brain that makes a variety of hormones.

A neurosurgeon near her hometown of Hill City, Minnesota, found that the walnut-sized tumor was wrapped around Jessie’s optic nerve and located close to a carotid artery. Treatment to get rid of it could affect Jessie’s sense of smell and vision. Due to the complexity of the situation, the surgeon referred Jessie to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus.

“A pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see,” says Jessie. “My doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life with surgery and proton beam therapy.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: clinical trials, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Pituitary tumor, Proton Beam Therapy


August 9th, 2016

Surgery to Get Rid of Seizures Gives Brad Lewis New Freedom

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After years of taking medication for persistent seizures, Brad Lewis had surgery at Mayo Clinic to eliminate them. Five years later, he remains seizure-free.
For 14 years, Brad Lewis never knew quite what to expect when he woke up in the morning. A rare genetic disorder, tuberous sclerosis, caused a variety of health problems. But the one that disrupted his life the most was epilepsy. At one point, Brad was having as many as 80 seizures a day.

“Seizures are so unpredictable. If Brad wasn’t having a seizure, he was worried about having a seizure,” says his mother, Bernadette Lewis. “It affected every minute of his life, whether he was at school, with friends or at home.”

Brad was also dealing with other complications from his medical condition. After trying many medications and going through multiple surgeries, Brad’s parents decided they needed another expert to weigh in on the situation. That brought the family to Nicholas Wetjen, M.D., a physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Nicholas Wetjen, Epilepsy, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Tuberous Sclerosis, seizures


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