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Last week, 69 women from across the country gathered in Rochester, Minn., for the 8th annual Science & Leadership Symposium, a joint effort between Mayo ...
Participants at the 8th annual Science & Leadership Symposium -- a joint effort by Mayo Clinic's Women's Heart Clinic and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women ...
Just days after being told he had a tumor inside his heart, Ron Reffitt Jr., of Elk Rapids, Mich., was on a medical airplane headed to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Gazing down at Lake Michigan on that beautiful sunny day in January 2009, he wondered: Is this the last time I’ll see this? His symptoms began on New Year’s Day in 2009 — the day after his 42nd birthday. Reffitt woke with a cramp in his neck. The pain worsened as he walked to the kitchen, where he passed out. He roused and passed out again. At the local hospital, tests revealed fluid around his heart. Then came the real blow: he had a tumor in the right atrium of his heart. Reffitt, who works in his family’s construction business in Traverse City, Mich., was told he didn’t have long to live.
Editor's Note: Jillayn Hey, a Mayo Clinic patient from LaCrosse, WI, sent this story via email. I recently read an article titled; "Want to Heal? Tell Your Story. Narrative medicine boosts our bodies and souls", Utne Reader (Sept.-Oct. 2009). The basis of the article is that through telling our personal stories of illness and disease, we assist in creating a new story of wellness that facilitates healing and in turn directs a person towards recovery. This is just one aspect that "Sharing Mayo Clinic" provides. It is not only an opportunity for many patients and perhaps future patients to tell their unique stories to work their way towards health but it also provides a voice for its employees to share parts of their daily work which I know must include joy and sorrow as some of us become well and some of us unfortunately do not. In my opinion, this is just another area that Mayo is ahead of the curve in caring for its patients and obviously their employees as well. That said, here is my story:
Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the final post in a series of four. My wife and I flew in on Aug. 26, 2009, for my pre-op tests on Thursday, Aug. 27, and meeting with Dr. Suri. My pre-op was simple. A quick chest Xray and an electrocardiogram...boom...we were done by 10 a.m. We met with Dr. Suri and Nurse Practioner Erika Halverson at 1 p.m. The meeting was a brief 10 minutes, mostly for my wife to ask questions, because I was already past my questions. Dr. Suri left while my wife and I spoke with Erika. He knocked about five minutes later and asked if I wanted to meet someone who had the procedure done a year prior....of course I would...so he introduced me to a gentleman and his wife who appeared to be in their mid to late forties. I basically asked him the same questions I asked the other robotic patients I had spoken to, and got all the answers I expected. My mother arrived that evening. She insisted on being there during the surgery, which I was fine with, until I saw her for the first time Thursday evening. She walked into my hotel room and immediately started sobbing. My wife nor I couldn't understand a word she was saying, but as parents we understood what she was going through. I started crying, too. Even as a grown man, I can't stand to see my mother cry. My mother and I hugged for several minutes, she got a hold of herself, and the three of us went out for a nice dinner downtown. I didn't talk much. I let the two of them carry the conversation. I was obviously preoccupied.
Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the third post in a series of four. Check back Friday for the next installment. OK, now I had to understand if I was a candidate for minimally invasive mitral valve repair. I made an appointment for May and flew out to have some additional tests done and meet with Dr. Suri. I had a chest X-Ray and a CT scan. I met with Dr. Suri and noticed a few things right away: 1) He was younger than I expected, maybe in his late 30s or early 40s, 2) He was well dressed, wearing a suit similar to one of mine that had the Bill Maher sort of shimmer to it, and 3) He oozed confidence. As I questioned him about his technique, his success rate, and his approach, it almost appeared like he felt a little insulted that I was not as confident as he was in what he was offering. I walked out of this meeting intrigued, impressed, and slightly skeptical. As an analytic, I believe if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. I let Dr Suri know that I wanted to think this over and consider my options and I'd get back to him. I asked him two things: 1) How long of a lead time do you need to schedule robotically assisted surgery? He answered 60 days or so, while he runs the robot, he also has another cardiac surgeon in the room assisting. 2) How can I confirm that my insurance company will cover this technique? They had covered all of my previous tests, but I wanted to be sure that I wasn't going to be whacked with some seven digit bill. He put me in contact with their back office and told me they could provide the procedure codes so I could obtain pre-approval from my insurance company.
Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the second post in a series of four. Check back Wednesday for the next installment. Coming from Rochester, N.Y., I expected Rochester, Minn., to resemble my hometown. Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, a stone’s throw from New York City, I always felt a bit of compromise and simplification by now living in Rochester, N.Y., perceiving it to be a small community. The people are very friendly in Rochester, N.Y., and aside from the name, that is probably where the similarities stop. The greater Rochester, Minn. population is about 1/10 that of Rochester, N.Y. The airport is set amongst farms and is a short 10-15 minute cab ride from downtown. Mayo Clinic is composed of buildings (hospitals and administrative) downtown with a few exceptions. For example, St. Marys Hospital, where I had my surgery, is a mile from this downtown cluster. There are hotels all around and shuttle services run between the hotels, Mayo facilities, and the airport. There is even an underground walkway called the “subway.” With 38,000 employees, Mayo Clinic is Rochester, Minn.'s largest employer, and it's clear that most people around town respect and appreciate the importance of the facility.
Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the first post in a series of four. As a very active 44 year old male, I am extremely surprised to be writing this for many reasons. I'm actually sitting across the street from the Courtyard Marriot in a little park in front of Saint Marys Hospital, which is affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. You see, I was discharged from Saint Marys Hospital last night about 7 p.m., exactly 72.5 hours after having Dr. Rakesh Suri perform a successful minimally invasive, robotic mitral valve repair on me. It's partly sunny here and in the mid 70s, certainly not the nicest day I've experienced, but is definitely one of the most beautiful days I've been able to enjoy, with a mitral valve that doesn't leak anymore. This is my story. Happily married to a Sicilian for 19 years with almost 300 of her closest relatives living nearby, my friends and family are not surprised why I call Rochester, N.Y., my home. But when I broke the news to them that I was going to need heart surgery, they were all blown away. I have devoted much of my life to healthy living and nobody would have expected that I would have to endure this challenge, including me.
A CT heart scan produces stunning images of heart arteries and can diagnose serious disease, but it exposes a patient to the radiation equivalent of about 600 chest X-rays. While the risk of developing cancer from the radiation is unknown, it may exist and should make patients who have no symptoms of heart disease think twice before agreeing to such scans. “If a person has symptoms such as chest pain, the benefit of using these tests to come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan outweighs the small potential risk,” says Thomas Gerber, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus who was the U.S. lead author of an international study examining radiation doses in cardiac CT scanning. “However, the benefit of performing these scans in patients without symptoms is still unclear, and patients should know that.”
'Date Night' Takes on New Meaning for Heart Patient at Mayo Clinic in Arizona It would be hard to ignore the elephant in the room. This "elephant" ...
This particular morning, as I made my rounds, I knew I had to hold up my end of the deal as I approached the door of my last patient of the morning. I had not seen him for a few days, and the last day I had with him he was not feeling well at all. "Next time we meet, I will take you out to see the daylight, I promise." He pointed a tired, but determined finger at me "you better keep your word!" Today was the day I would take him downstairs to see the morning sky, to hear the birds chirping, to smell the early morning air. But, first things first. Clothes. Real clothes. No hospital gown for my favorite patient whom I had dubbed "Sinatra Guy." He had the eyes, attitude, and personality of the beloved star and one could not help to see a little Sinatra "spark" in those mischievous eyes. He had been with us for quite some time, and now, as he recovered from the last leg of his journey in the hospital he wanted so badly to be in real clothes and to go outside for the first time in a long time.
Here's a note we received this week from Kathryn Kuhlmann, the mother of a Mayo Clinic pediatric patient: My daughter, Abby, who is 11, had heart surgery at Mayo on May 29, and she recorded a short video tour of her hospital room to share with some family and friends. I'm contacting you at the suggestion of my sister Kelly Morse Nowicki in Continuing Medical Education who thought this might be the sort of clip Mayo would be interested in posting on its YouTube channel. As is probably typical of most experiences at Mayo, all the staff were very caring and informative. And for her to be up and about just two days after open heart surgery is a testament to the skill of all involved. We are very appreciative of everyone we came in contact with, and Abby would be willing to let her video be viewed by a wider audience as a way of showing another positive patient experience. Abby's video, which was recorded on a Sunday afternoon after her Friday morning heart surgery, is embedded below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdWa60koANA Here's a follow-up note with further details we received from Abby's dad: