Mayo Clinic 2011, Day 1


Today began with a super-quick breakfast at Subway (not to be repeated), some serious traffic on the 101-N, and lovely Arizona weather.

Because of the traffic we were 15 minutes behind schedule and barely made it to Mayo in time for my first appointment (we’d planned to be 15 minutes early).  We lucked out and found a parking spot with ease, were given a ride to the Specialty Building entrance (just like last year), ran up two flights of stairs (felt more like four), and made it to the Check-In desk embarrassingly winded.  After the routine “Can you tell me your birthday?” and a few formalities I was checked in for…

My First Appointment

January 10, 2011 @ 9:45 am

Mayo Clinic Specialty Building 3rd Floor Check In
Cardiology Testing
Cardiology Electrocardiogram (ECG)

After a two minute wait the same lady who gave me my ECG last year came to the east waiting room and called my name.  As we walked to her office, she verified my birthday (that’s twice, if you’re keeping count), and complimented me on my scarf

While I was, and am still, unable to remember her name, she remembered (or referred to the paperwork for) key talking points from our last visit.  She asked about my job, my husband’s students, and even commented on the fact my hometown was currently covered in snow and record-setting cold, just as it was last year when I visited.

Although cardiology recently relocated from a different floor, her office had the clean, homey feel I remember.  As you may know, getting an ECG involves some clothing removal.  While I typically abhor this sort of thing, the carpeted floor, wood cabinet covered walls, and yellow (not blue) lighting helped me feel less uncomfortable.

It took a few times to get satisfactory data, but since an ECG takes only a few seconds, I was in, hooked up, unhooked, dressed, and out in less than five minutes.  Incredible.  Within ten minutes of my appointment time I was back at the 3rd Floor Check In desk for…

My Second Appointment

January 11, 2011     10:15 am

Mayo Clinic Specialty Building 3rd Floor Check In
Cardiology Return Visit
Dr. GH (not his real name)

After checking in, and again being asked to verify my birthday (3rd time), I headed back to the east waiting room and began to compile my list of questions for Dr. GH.

Every time I have a doctor’s appointment (or meeting of any sort), I like to drain my brain onto a sheet of paper.  I list questions I want to ask, what I want to accomplish, and comments I expect to make.  I developed this habit in-part due to:

  • my mother’s example of impeccable and consistent list-making
  • my forgetfulness and tendency to make conversation, instead of progress
  • my experience in countless corporate meetings that get derailed or made pointless by a lack an agenda or an excess of ego (Perhaps, when I get back to work I will suggest we implement something like this.)

Once I completed the list I was able to relax.  I began to eavesdrop on a conversation between a middle-aged patient sitting a few chairs to my left, and a septuagenarian on oxygen seated across from her.  (If, by chance, any septuagenarians read my blog, I am not profiling based on appearance.  In fact, I know her exact, and very memorable, birthday.  It’s St. Valentine’s Day 1932, and I heard her verify it twice, so it stuck.)

They were discussing the diseases that led them to frequent Mayo Clinic, the duration of their various visits, and where they buy their handmade shoes.  Although I don’t have fancy-pants shoes, and I haven’t been at Mayo Clinic for more than two months, I somehow butted my way into the conversation (as I too often do).

Toward the end of our conversation, the other women began talking about pulmonary diseases and lung cancer.  Just as they did, an anxious man I estimate to be around 30 walked through our conversation, gathered the things he’d left in the waiting room during his appointment, and began to walk away.  As he did, he dropped a package of cigarettes.

The kind, but assertive woman to my left called him on his addiction with a disarming mix of honesty and humor.  “Here we are discussing pulmonary diseases and cancer as you drop your cigarettes.  It’s a sign.  You absolutely must quit.”  He rolled his eyes, mumbled something about having bigger problems, and disappeared into the elevator.

Around this time, I tweeted:

I sometimes feel more comfortable around “sick” people. They like to help each other. And they are slow to judge.

There she sat, deathly ill, arguabley worse off than most people in the waiting room, yet still concerned for the health of a complete stranger.  Although he may never take her advice to heart, I believe it is often true that the advice of a stranger or mere acquantice can be more harsh, thought-provoking, and action-promoting than the nagging of someone with whom you are close.

Both women were soon called back to their appointments, leaving me to think of what I’d learned.  Eventually I picked up a local magazine, found an adorable potential gift idea in said magazine, and waited.

When my appointment time rolled around, my name had yet to be called.  We chuckled that not being called back on time felt like a let down, and continued to wait patiently.  I admit, this would typically be what I expect to do when going to see a doctor (minus the patiently part).  In fact, I routinely wait more than 45 minutes after my appointment time to be taken to an exam room by a nurse.

But, as you’ve likely realized, Mayo Clinic is not typical or routine.  They are punctual, and have little-to-no leniency with patients who are more than ten minutes late for their appointment.  If you can’t make your appointment, they will give it to someone who can.  As I believe they should.

Finally, around 10:40 I was called back for my appointment with Dr. GH.  He welcomed me with a greeting that mentioned my state and my employer.  He teased me about being a complicated girl and speaking too quickly.  And, most importantly, he took the time to answer my list of questions.

Our visit was brief but thorough.  After the initial small-talk, we decided on a slight revision to my dosages, and were sent on our way by 11.  We hit up the In-N-Out near my in-laws and are calling it a successful day.

What a blessing to be here at Mayo.  I am grateful for the opportunity.

Have questions about what it’s like to visit Mayo or how to make it happen?  Leave a comment or, if you’re more comfortable, email me kate at mylifewithfibro dot com.


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