Neurology & Neurosurgery Archive
December 31st, 2014 · 1 Comment
“At first, they’d happen every six months or so,” says Dennis, of Liberal, Kansas. “Then, they got a little closer each time.” Doctors had no idea why.
“Dennis was healthy,” says his wife, Pat. “He’d been a strong athlete in high school.”
Over the years, the seizures kept coming. Medication didn’t seem to help. Eventually, Dennis was having three or four seizures a week.
“He had all kinds of seizures -- grand mal, petit mal, seizures where he’d just stare and not know what was going on,” says Pat. “The seizures happened with no warning. He could be in the middle of a sentence or walking to the car. Our sons were 1 and 3 when this started happening. It was very difficult, and very stressful. Dennis’ seizures were ongoing for 31 years.”
In 2006, a new neurologist who was caring for Dennis suggested the couple seek another opinion.
“He told us he just could not figure out why Dennis was having seizures,” says Pat. “He suggested we see a neurologist in Wichita. We asked about going to Mayo Clinic, instead, and the doctor’s face lit up.” Read the rest of this entry »
December 12th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
Written by Ron Christian
“Pick a plot and get your papers in order, you’ll be dead in a month.” That’s what the local neurosurgeon said. Those words served as my wake-up call. While my wife wept, I became angry. We had three very young children, and I was determined to see them grow up.
Weeks before, I had two seizures. The second seizure resulted in hospitalization, and within hours I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The local neurosurgeon did a biopsy and then gave his instructions on how to spend the little bit of time I had left … finding a plot.
After meeting with some of the best neurosurgeons in the country, we visited Mayo Clinic’s Fredric Meyer, M.D. Dr. Meyer was direct and to the point. He stated that although it was risky, the only option to survive was aggressive surgery. Even then, the odds for long term survival weren’t good. While not hopeful, at least Dr. Meyer was honest. When I asked him how many surgeries he did in a year, Dr. Meyer told me he averaged about 1,500 brain surgeries annually. He’s a no-nonsense, intelligent man and brilliant surgeon. We scheduled surgery for the next week. Read the rest of this entry »
August 15th, 2014 · 20 Comments
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 »
June 26th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
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.
June 4th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
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 »
May 16th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
“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.
May 9th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
Written by Lesia Mooney, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mayo Clinic's Advanced Primary Stroke Center in Florida.
That's the number of people annually in the United States who have a stroke.
That's the number of Americans who die each year due to stroke.
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.
May 2nd, 2014 · Leave a Comment
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 »
April 30th, 2014 · 1 Comment
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 »
January 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
By Mayo Clinic
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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