Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

December 19th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Operating Room (OR) 10 and Dr. Charles William Mayo

By Hoyt Finnamore

 Read time: 5 minutes

Elaine Stewart poses in front of a painting of Dr. Charles W. Mayo.

Elaine Stewart poses in front of a painting of Dr. Charles W. Mayo.

 

Written by Elaine Stewart, Mayo Clinic Health System Home Health and Hospice

During a recent visit to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, I was reminded of some great memories from my days of working at Saint Marys Hospital over 50 years ago. I want to share some of those memories.

My first visits to Mayo Clinic and Saint Marys Hospital began in 1957. A family member was diagnosed and treated at Mayo Clinic for lymphoma, and I made several trips with him during his illness. He eventually passed away at the hospital in 1959. I enjoyed the visits to Rochester, so a couple of months after my family member’s death, I decided to seek employment at Mayo Clinic. My first stop was Saint Marys Hospital, where I was granted an interview with Sister Merici, the supervisor of Surgery. When I walked out of her office that day, I had a position as a surgical technician! No background check and no waiting period. Sister Merici didn’t tell me at the time, but later told me she hired me because my modesty and wholesome innocence appealed to her.

I was trained on the job by the nurse in charge of Operating Room (OR) 10. I was excited and a little scared, too, because my new job seemed like a huge challenge. And, I had no idea who I would be meeting, and working with for the months and years to come. When I found out one of these people would be Dr. Charles W. Mayo, well, you can only imagine how I felt! I only had started my new job as a surgery technician when he was scheduled to do surgery. I was worried about meeting him, but he made it very easy for me. I was mopping the floor when he walked in and jumped on my mop and greeted me with a warm smile and welcome. From that time on, I was totally comfortable with him. He never held himself above anyone — that’s the kind of person he was.

“Dr. Chuck” is what everyone called him, but I always just called him “Doctor.” As time passed, I did get to know him well. [...]

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Tags: Dr Charles W Mayo, Employee Story, Mayo Clinic history

December 12th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

From ‘Pick a Plot’ to Watching His Son Graduate

By Hoyt Finnamore

Read time: 4 minutes
Ron Christian has been able to watch his young children grow up thanks to brain surgery at Mayo Clinic.

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.  [...]

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Tags: Brain Tumor, cancer, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Neurology & Neurosurgery

December 10th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

An Answer to Chronic Pain Through Community

By Hoyt Finnamore

Read time: 7 minutes
Kylee Swendsrud found help in dealing with chronic pain through Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Program.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. [...]

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Tags: back pain, chronic pain, Pain Rehabilitation Center

December 1st, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Celebrating Nurse Anesthetist Education - Edith Graham Mayo

By Hoyt Finnamore

Art depicts Edith Graham Mayo providing anesthesia support for the Mayo brothers. To recognize the 125th anniversary of nurse anesthetist education and the role of nurse anesthetist at Mayo Clinic, Sharing Mayo Clinic will include a special series of posts throughout the coming year. These vignettes will describe how nurse anesthesia education has changed over time and will highlight influential Mayo Clinic nurse anesthetists. Those featured received their education at Mayo Clinic and went on to be instrumental in providing anesthesia education and make significant contributions to anesthesia practice.

Written by Darlene Bannon and Evadne Edwards 

In every pioneering achievement, there are visionaries, those who theorize and dream beyond the safe haven of the present. However, the visionary’s dreams would not be realized if not for the activist: one whose thoughts become action, who is flexible and accommodating, and who possess the drive to achieve and influence.

Edith Graham Mayo, Mayo’s first nurse anesthetist, was both a visionary and an activist.

​Edith has primarily been remembered as the wife of Dr. Charles Mayo, one of Mayo Clinic’s founders. Historically, her professional life as an anesthetist has received little mention. Edith Graham was Saint Marys Hospital’s first trained nurse, anesthetist and nurse educator. She was an integral part of the visionary team that founded what we know today as Mayo Clinic. [...]

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Tags: Edith Graham Mayo, education, history, Nurse Anesthetists

November 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

Learning a New Way to Live, With Pain

By Hoyt Finnamore

Carl White enjoys time with his family now that he's learned to manage his chronic pain. 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."

 "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."

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.  [...]

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Tags: chronic pain, Pain Rehabilitation Center

November 17th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Josh Russell Faces His Toughest Battle

By Hoyt Finnamore

Joshua Russell and his fiancé, Ashley, take a break during a horse ride. Josh Russell spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. But he says his toughest battle took place years after he left the military.

In early 2011, Josh noticed a bump in his stomach around his navel. He thought the bump was a hernia, and his doctor initially agreed. Josh was scheduled for surgery, but pre-op blood work revealed surprising news. Russell’s “hernia” was actually a tumor. He had testicular cancer.

“I was in shock,” says the Benton, Wisconsin, resident. But he didn’t have time to dwell on that. “I got the news on a Friday and started chemotherapy on Monday.”

Four months of treatment did little to slow the cancer. In fact, it was spreading.

“I had tumors from my groin to the lower part of my throat,” says Josh, whose prognosis looked grim. “After I finished chemo, they gave me six months to live. They wanted me to go home and start hospice.”

But that wasn’t a prognosis that Josh, then just 30 years old, or his family were willing to accept.  [...]

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Tags: Chemotherapy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Testicular Cancer, Urology, Dr Bradley Leibovich

November 5th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Not Ready to Slow Down

By Hoyt Finnamore

A second opinion at Mayo Clinic helped Harold Magy return to the active schedule he loves
Harold and Judy Magy enjoying a fall day in Minnesota.For years, Harold Magy was familiar with the inner workings of Mayo Clinic. As a mechanical engineer for more than two decades with a company that frequently worked with Mayo, he knew the ins and outs of many of the clinic’s complex mechanical systems in Rochester, Minnesota. But during that time, he was never a patient at Mayo, and he never thought he would be.

"I have had heart problems for a long time," says Harold. "I always took care of it with my local doctors. I didn't think about going anywhere else."

That changed in the summer of 2013. Harold's health had slowly deteriorated to a point that he had very little energy and spent most of his time at home. His wife, Judy, ultimately insisted he seek another opinion about the best treatment for his heart condition. Today, Harold is extremely grateful for his wife's persistence. Thanks to a revamped treatment plan developed by his physicians at Mayo Clinic, now at age 88, Harold has returned to working and teaching on a regular basis.

"Since I went to Mayo Clinic, I've gotten better and better," he says. "I feel mentally sharp, and I'm back to doing what I love." [...]

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Tags: Heart Failure, Cardiovascular Diseases, Patient Stories

October 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Patient Attributes Health to Excellent Care, A Generous Donor, and a Terrible Spider Bite

By Hoyt Finnamore

Jane Applen Anderson saw here health improve after a kidney and pancreas transplant.. You never know how an experience – even a negative experience – can shape the rest of your life. Decades ago, when Jane Applen-Anderson came to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus, in Rochester with her leg swollen to three times its usual size, she wasn’t thinking about what good could come out of it.

She would come to learn she’d been bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider. Mayo Clinic doctors treated her infection, removed the dead tissue, and worked to repair the damage done. They saved her leg, and they saved her life. That was just the first time.

While in the hospital, Jane was informed that tests showed her type 1 diabetes needed to be regulated more closely. Otherwise, she could lose her kidney function and her vision within the next year. Refusing to let the condition bring her down, Jane carefully followed her diabetes self-care plan. “You have to be a responsible patient, and do your part to follow your care plan,” she says.  [...]

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Tags: Brown Recluse, Kidney and Pancreas Transplant, Type 1 Diabetes

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