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Read time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds When he was 26 years old, Dennis Schmitt had his first seizure. “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 time: 5 minutes 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.
Read time: 4 minutes 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 time: 7 minutes 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.
The sesquicentennial year for both the American Civil War and Mayo Clinic is coming to a close, and before it does, we’d like to use art to show how these two have connections that started over 150 years ago. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was once referred to as "still in wild water" for his calm and deft handling of the war effort. More than 150 years ago, President Lincoln appointed Dr. William Worrall Mayo as a Union Army exempting surgeon. Dr. Mayo assessed soldiers just like those depicted in the small, ambrotype and tintype photographs on exhibit in the Robert D. and Isabelle T. Davis Gallery at Mayo Clinic in Florida.
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.