January 13th, 2017
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.
December 19th, 2016
“Mom, I’m going out!” Today this phrase rings through the Gramm home on a regular basis as 16-year-old Josie Gramm heads outside to work with horses at the family’s ranch near Glendive, Montana. An enthusiastic ranch hand who loves being with animals, Josie spends as much time as she can outdoors.
For almost a year, though, Josie wasn’t able to tend to her beloved horses or do any of the outside activities she so enjoys around the ranch. Most days she spent sitting in the house, overcome with pain that wouldn’t go away and unable to walk.
“At that point, I would have given anything to have her say “Bye, Mom!” and head out the door,” says Jessica Gramm, Josie’s mother. “She wasn’t able to do anything she wanted to do. It was bad.”
After months of medical care without any progress, the Gramms decided to take Josie to the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus. The decision made a world of difference. Read the rest of this entry »
September 17th, 2016
Shirley and Bob Gessner have weathered some tough times during their 56 years of marriage. But nothing could have prepared Shirley for the night of April 10, 2015, when she awoke at 3:30 a.m. to a thud — the sound of her husband falling out of bed.
“I asked him what was the matter, but Bob couldn’t talk. He couldn’t move, and I couldn’t get him up,” says Shirley about her husband, a former advertising executive and designer of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins logos. “I called 911 right away.”
July 16th, 2016
When Gene Franke left his farm in rural Hayfield, Minnesota, driving a semi-trailer truck loaded with hay and bound for Oklahoma, he never imagined the return leg of his journey would be as a passenger in an air ambulance jet. But in September 2011, that’s exactly what happened.
A serious accident left Gene paralyzed and in critical condition. Doctors in Oklahoma didn’t think he would survive. Longtime patients of Mayo Clinic, Gene and his wife, Barbara, were determined to get him back to Mayo's Rochester, Minnesota, campus for care.
“The doctors at Mayo Clinic knew what was going on, and they assured us they could do something for him,” Barbara says. “We knew he had to get up here. The care at Mayo Clinic is like nowhere else. We’re used to it, and that’s what we wanted.” Read the rest of this entry »
August 16th, 2015
But for people living with chronic pain, a daily, multi-week program is compelling if it can help them return to a more active lifestyle.
Established in 2011, the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus offers a robust and integrated three-week outpatient program for adults affected by chronic pain and symptoms. Read the rest of this entry »
July 2nd, 2015
Later, while pushing a cart at a grocery store, the pain returned with more intensity. So Ardis checked in at the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, Minnesota. While test results ruled out a heart attack, the team in the Emergency Department scheduled her for a stress test because of the pain she was feeling on exertion. Read the rest of this entry »
June 24th, 2015
Gloria and her husband, Floyd, were camping in South Dakota in August 2013, when her body’s temperature skyrocketed to 104.6 degrees, and her body went limp. She went from enjoying her time at a campground to being paralyzed from the neck down.
She was diagnosed with West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Most people infected with West Nile virus experience a slight fever or a mild headache. Gloria was in the minority – less than one percent – of people affected neurologically by the virus. She ended up being admitted to an intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Because of her paralysis, Gloria needed a ventilator to breathe. Read the rest of this entry »
June 12th, 2015
If Ty Wiberg, a 13-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has one guiding principle in life, that might be the one.
The Chippewa Falls Middle School student has undergone 16 surgeries, walks with braces and uses a wheelchair for distance. Ty was born with spina bifida, a spinal cord malformation. He also suffers from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain for which a tube-like shunt drains excess fluid. And he has limited sensation from the knees down, among other issues.
Not that any of that is slowing him down.
Ty mono-skis, distance races with his wheelchair, scuba dives, plays wheelchair basketball, swims and does karate. This past winter, he spent a week at a downhill ski camp in Colorado for kids with disabilities and injured veterans. This spring, he recently received his black belt in karate. Read the rest of this entry »
December 10th, 2014
Kylee Swensrud doesn’t want to talk about the bad stuff. About how the chronic back pain she’s been living with for the past few years caused emotional distress and drove a wedge between her parents, or the weight it placed on her older sister over concern for her. And she especially doesn’t want to talk about how it rendered a vibrant, outgoing teenager essentially lifeless.
“I don’t want to focus on how negative all of this was,” Kylee, now 19, says. “But I do want people to understand that I literally had no life. It truly was like a living hell. It was just this giant, rolling ball of ick.”
The culprit came suddenly and without warning when Kylee’s lower back gave out one day during ballet. “They thought it was just an injury,” she says. “Nothing was noticeable as a trigger point, so they just told me to rest and do some physical therapy.”
But after that rest and physical therapy, Kylee’s back pain was still there. Local doctors then put her on a pain medications and muscle relaxers that she says did nothing more than require more pills.
After those medications failed to help, Kylee says she then turned to heat and ice treatments. “But I ended up icing so much that I burst my skin and got these huge welts, because I’d just become so dependent on the ice,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »
November 21st, 2014
Look at Carl White today and you see a busy, content family man. A husband and father of two, Carl recently completed his bachelor's degree and now is pursuing a master's in social work. When he's not in school or studying, you'll likely find him either at his job as a health unit coordinator at Mayo Clinic Hopsital, Saint Marys Campus, in Rochester, Minnesota, or spending time with his family.
At first glance, Carl may seem like any typical, hardworking dad. Rewind a few years, though, and you'll understand just how far Carl has come and the enormous struggles he has had to overcome.
Back in 2009, Carl was consumed with chronic pain — the result of two serious accidents. He attempted to cope by taking steady doses of strong pain medication, along with a significant amount of alcohol. But it provided little relief.
"I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do," Carl says. "Time seemed to go so slowly while waiting for a magic bullet, a new medical breakthrough that would take all the pain away. I believed that all I needed was to have the right surgery or find the right pill, and I would be cured."
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Angry and discouraged after several years of dealing with the pain, he was not receptive when a doctor at Mayo Clinic referred him to Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Center. Read the rest of this entry »