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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Neurology & Neurosurgery Archive

September 29th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Tracking the path of a stroke

By Hoyt Finnamore

Maryel Andison remains grateful she chose to come to Mayo Clinic for care after suffering a stroke. Maryel Andison was a university communications and fundraising specialist living with her husband and children in Winnipeg when she suffered a stroke. It was a warm Sunday morning, she was watering flowers, and she was just 51 years old.

Maryel waited three days before deciding to see a doctor. By the time she was referred to a neurologist, she learned there would be more delays, including waiting for the imaging tests that would show exactly what had occurred in her brain. But instead of allowing more time to elapse, she decided to seek advice from Mayo Clinic.

Maryel's ties to Mayo go back decades. Impressed with the cancer care a friend received at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, her parents became patients there in the 1950s. As a child, Maryel remembers visiting her mother at the hospital, where a half century later her husband's daughter would be a neurosurgical resident. Now, needing care herself, she saw it as a logical choice.

Ultimately, it was also a life-saving one.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Blood Clots, cardiac surgery, Dr George Petty, Dr. Hartzell Schaff, Neurology & Neurosurgery, stroke, transient ischemic attack


August 15th, 2014 · 12 Comments

Mystery Solved – Diagnosis Moves Patient from Frustration to Peace of Mind and a Plan

By iggeez

Karen Gibson at Mayo Clinic with her husband. I want to share my story to possibly help another person and to hopefully help others who are still facing their own health unknowns.

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: lupus, Myasthenia Gravis, Patient Stories


June 26th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

College Student Overcomes Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

By Susana Shephard

In her early 20s, Erin Ayub has big plans. As a college student in El Paso, Texas, she is also a musician and aspiring writer. She had to put her plans on hold for a bit while in a medically induced coma at Mayo Clinic in Arizona due to a rare illness — anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

Now on the road to recovery, Erin and her mom share her story in this video.

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Tags: Arizona, encephalitis, Erin Ayub, Mayo Clinic, Neurology & Neurosurgery, patient story


June 4th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Untangling a complex medical challenge

By Hoyt Finnamore

Amy Supergan with family members in Sienna, Italy.Amy Supergan has battled a host of difficult and painful disorders. Now she's found a way back to enjoying her life and her family.

In the summer of 2013, Amy Supergan took a trip to Italy. That may not sound extraordinary, but there was a time when being able to travel and enjoy a vacation with her family seemed like an impossible goal.

Amy faces a range of challenging medical problems, but at the top of that list is pain so debilitating she was forced to quit her career and give up an active lifestyle. But through the care she has received at Mayo Clinic and her participation in an innovative clinical research trial, Amy has found a renewed ability to manage her pain, and enjoy friends and family when she is able.

"Although I may never ski again or be back at work, with the help of all of my doctors at Mayo, I am now able to live independently with some assistance," she says. "I have found happiness in being more relaxed and appreciating some of the smaller things in life. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life as I did before." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: chronic pain, clinical trials, Dr Daniel Lachance, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Patient Stories, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Dr Kendall Lee


May 16th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

#StrokeMonth: From Victim to Therapist

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Stroke survivor Sean Bretz (center) with Lisa Lazaraton (far left), a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, his mother and aunt (right).

Stroke survivor Sean Bretz with Lisa Lazaraton (left), a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, his mother (center) and aunt.

It’s been almost three years since Sean Bretz collapsed. Unbeknownst to the then 23-year-old U.S. Coast Guardsman, a giant aneurysm had burst in his brain, causing a massive stroke.

“His prognosis was grim,” neurosurgeon Rabih Tawk, M.D., recalls. “We used every technology available to help him.”

Despite complications and issues, which required him to be induced into a medical coma, Bretz made an almost full recovery.

“I realize I was lucky and recovered pretty well. A lot of other people who have this type of stroke do not,” says Bretz, who attributes his success to the large team at Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Aneurysm, bretz, Dr Rabih Tawk, Rehabilitation, Sean Bretz, stroke, Stroke Center, therapy


May 9th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

#StrokeMonth: It’s a Numbers Game

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Written by Lesia Mooney, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mayo Clinic's Advanced Primary Stroke Center in Florida.

Members of the Mayo Clinic Primary Stroke Center in Florida host community events to help educate the public about stroke, stoke risk and ways to reduce risk.

Mooney (left) with other members of the Mayo Clinic Primary Stroke Center in Florida at a community event on stroke awareness.

795,000.
That's the number of people annually in the United States who have a stroke.

130,000.
That's the number of Americans who die each year due to stroke

$36.5 billion.
That’s the cost of stroke annually, which includes the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work related to stroke.

The numbers are staggering, at least according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stroke is a major health care issue, but yet I'm still surprised by the lack of awareness surrounding stroke.

There are many misconceptions about stroke, including that it’s an older person’s issue. In reality, stroke can happen to anyone, including children. I've seen patients as young as 18 and as old as 103.

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Tags: American Stroke Association, High Blood Pressure, high cholesterol, Lesia Mooney, MayoClinicFL, stroke, Stroke Center, strokemonth


May 2nd, 2014 · Leave a Comment

#StrokeMonth: TIAs – The Warnings Most Ignore

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Lorena Rivera with two of her three children.

Lorena Rivera (center), stroke survivor, with two of her three children.

Many people experience a warning prior to a stroke. But often it goes unnoticed, especially when you’re young and otherwise healthy, like Lorena Rivera, 44.

A nurse educator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rivera was the picture of good health. She didn’t drink or smoke, had good blood pressure, and ate a healthful diet. She was also physically active. So when the mom of three experienced headaches and numbing in one arm, she wasn’t too concerned. However, when she temporarily lost vision while doing errands one day, she became more frightened.

Rivera, it turns out, had been experiencing a TIA – a transient ischemic attack – which produces similar symptoms as a stroke but usually lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a TIA is a warning. About 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the first episode.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: American Stroke Association, David Miller, Kevin Barrett, Lorena Rivera, MayoClinicFL, power to end stroke, stroke, strokemonth, TIA, transient ischemic attack


April 30th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Enjoying a ‘New Normal’ After Epilepsy Surgery

By Hoyt Finnamore

Jessica Veach with husband, Colin, in Banff, Alberta.A few years ago, Jessica Veach’s life was going according to plan. She’d started her career as an elementary school teacher — a dream she'd had since she was 8 years old — and was settling into married life with her husband, Colin. Jessica was also successfully managing epilepsy, which she had been diagnosed with during her freshman year at Vanderbilt University.

But in 2010, something changed.

“After 10 years of having my seizures under control with medication, they came back with a vengeance,” says Jessica, who lives in Seattle. What had been occasional simple partial seizures were now frequent complex partial seizures. Soon, Jessica was forced to take a medical leave from teaching. She had to give up driving and many of the activities she loved. And the unpredictability of her seizures, as well as the exhaustion that set in after a seizure, limited the time she was able to spend with friends.

"Giving up my independence was very difficult," she says. "I was limited to places within walking distance, or I had to rely on friends for rides."

Even with the precautions she took, Jessica faced risks. One day while Colin was at work, she fell down a flight of stairs during a seizure. “I started to be scared to do anything on my own, because I never knew when a seizure might happen,” she says. “I decided it was time to explore all of my treatment options.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Katherine Noe, Dr Richard Zimmerman, epilepsy, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Patient Stories, seizures


January 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

For One Couple, Expert Neurology Care Makes All the Difference

By Mayo Clinic

Barbara and Jim Smith

Mayo Clinic patients Barbara and Jim Smith

In one brief statement, Barbara Smith can sum up the impact that the staff in the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona had on her and her husband as they faced several difficult and frightening medical problems: "They are our life-changing heroes." 

For 40 years, seizures were just part of life for Barbara. Dealing with them since she was a teen, she always assumed they were caused by epilepsy. But in 2007, the seizures became more frequent and more severe. At the same time, Barbara began having other problems, too. She developed a stutter and often had headaches. Walking became more difficult, and she had unexplained weight loss.

Barbara went to several neurologists. No one could provide her with answers. In desperation on a Friday evening, Barbara's husband, Jim, called Mayo Clinic to see if they could get an appointment. "That phone call changed my life," says Barbara.

Within a week, the couple arrived at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where Barbara underwent two weeks of evaluation, including five days of observation in the hospital's epilepsy monitoring unit. Part of that evaluation involved using unique imaging technology known as SISCOM, or subtraction ictal SPECT coregistered to MRI. Pioneered at Mayo Clinic, SISCOM is particularly useful in pinpointing areas of the brain where seizures occur. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cancer, Dr Katherine Noe, Dr Richard Zimmerman, Mayo Clinic Hospital, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Neurology & Neurosurgery, patient story


December 20th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Living Life to the Fullest After Epilepsy Surgery

By Mayo Clinic

Jill Staloch before and after

Jill Staloch with her daughter -- left, in the hospital in May 2012, before her first surgery, and right, in July 2013.

My name is Jill Staloch, and I had my first seizure when I was a freshman in college. Epilepsy never impacted my life, besides having to take medications and having a yearly appointment with my doctor. It wasn’t until 2010 that my life changed because of seizures. I had been seizure free for at least 10 years, but during my pregnancy, I started to have multiple seizures weekly.

During this time, I was worried about my baby’s health, I could no longer drive or be left alone, I was having difficulties doing tasks at work, and I eventually had to be on bed rest. Even after delivering a healthy baby girl, I continued to have seizures. I still was unable to drive and couldn’t be alone with my daughter, and my family worried about me. Epilepsy had taken control of my life. My husband researched different ways we could get help. He said we needed to go to the Mayo. I was resistant but knew something different had to be done.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Frederick Meyer, Dr Jeffrey Britton, epilepsy, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, Patient Stories