• By Dana Sparks

The Flu, a Grocery Store Clinic and a Mayo Clinic Nurse May Have Saved My Life

October 18, 2015

Ron Petrovich and his Express Care nurse practitioner Dawn Kaderabek

This patient story originally appeared September 17, 2015 in Sharing Mayo Clinic.

My head pounded incessantly. With every sip of water, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades. I coughed and wheezed so hard that my stomach muscles ached. But as sick as I was, this would be one of my healthiest days, because a visit with a vigilant nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic may have saved my life.

After feeling really crummy for several days last spring, lying in bed "drinking plenty of fluids," and hoping whatever was ailing me would pass, I decided that I had waited long enough. I visited Mayo Clinic Express Care at one of the Hy-Vee Grocery stores in Rochester, Minnesota. That's where Dawn Kaderabek, a Mayo Clinic nurse practitioner, diagnosed me with Influenza B. She also noticed something unusual.

While listening to my heart, she heard a whooshing sound and asked if I had ever been told about a murmur. I said no, I hadn't. She told me that murmurs are not always dangerous but recommended that I get this checked out sooner rather than later. So I went to see my family physician at Mayo Clinic, who examined me, confirmed the murmur, and sent me for an echocardiogram test to monitor how blood was moving through my heart.medical illustration of normal heart and heart with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Just a few hours later, I learned I was dealing with more than the flu and that I have not one, but two genetic heart defects: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy  and bicuspid aortic valve.

I called my nurse practitioner, who has more than 30 years of nursing experience, to thank her for her for diligence and the tactful nudge to seek further medical attention. She said, "First, let me say I'm sorry to hear you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but I'm so glad we found it and you can start treatment. It is a diagnosis that is often silent and can be deadly, so I'm really, really glad you followed up and are being treated."

Click Sharing Mayo Clinic to read the rest of Ron's story.