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Category: My Life

It’s that time of year…

…when the world falls in love.

Oh, wait.  That’s not where I meant to go with that.

my sweet restrung Christmas evergreen

It’s that time of year when I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, decorate with evergreens and lights, consume delicious treats, (travel to) visit with family, and prepare for a trip to Mayo Clinic.

You know… ’cause it’s December.

And that’s how we do.

I pray this little blurb finds you healthy and happy and enjoying the holiday season.  Thank you for your love and support.


Details to come.

Mayo Clinic 2011, Day 6

Written Thursday, January 20, 2011.

Today was the big day…

My Ninth & Tenth Appointments

January 20, 2011 @ 10:00 am & 10:30 am

Mayo Clinic Hospital 1st Floor 1 West

Radiology MR

Rad MR Brain & Rad MR Venogram Head

Before my 2009 MRI, a twitter friend suggested I wear my coziest, warmest, metal-free clothes to the MRI.  She sure knew what she was talking about.  Today I wanted to do the same, so I planned every detail of my outfit to work with the MRI… except the pants.  The only cozy pants I brought on the trip have zippers at the feet and would have to be removed during the MRI.

Not good.

So, my mother-in-law and I left Mesa early enough to stop by Walmart so I could buy a pair of yoga pants to wear.  The rest of the drive was a breeze, and we arrived early enough to allow me time to change in the hospital lobby’s handicap restroom, and make our way across the lobby to the waiting room with time to spare.

The room was packed.  Like a coin-operated washer in college housing.  Way. Too. Full.  And, as I walked to the check in desk I decided I rather wait in the lobby than endure that sort of unnecessary closeness with so many complete strangers.  But, after checking in and being told the radiology wing was running at least 45 minutes late, I turned around to find my mother-in-law had actually found a seat for each of us, and the bulk of the patients had apparently been called to their appointment.  The room was half empty.

And there was a large fish tank in the middle of the room.  How did I miss that?

I have a fairly short attention span.  To mitigate impatience and disinterest, I typically carry a notepad with grid paper, a red felt tip pen, a book, and my iPhone.  Today these items came in especially helpful with my extended wait.  I may not be a Boy Scout, but I know it pays to be prepared.

And it pays to have a fish tank.

About fifteen minutes into our wait a pair of Mayo folks came into the waiting room, climbed a ladder, and began feeding the eels in the fish tank.  Fascinating, I tell you.  Fascinating.  They also fed the fish, but it wasn’t half as interesting as the methods they used to feed the eels (even the shy guy that liked to hide at the bottom of the tank).

Almost as soon as the fish-feeding skit duo wrapped up, a tour group approached the outside of the waiting room.  The tour guide paused, explained the sort of appointments that took places in the wing, and explained, “We call this the fishbowl room.  Can you guess why?”


I honestly believe it’s a toss up between the fish tank prominently located in the middle of the room, and the large bay of windows overlooking the lobby through which tour groups in power suits point, gawk, and loudly opine.

Oh wait, maybe I’m being a bit too facetious.


While my mother-in-law got pumped for our upcoming trip to my favorite place by reading the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2011, I people watched.  The waiting room seemed like a beach with waves of patients coming in and out constantly.  Three of us were there for almost 45 minutes, but everyone else was there less than fifteen.  I was impressed by the apparent efficiency of the wing.

Eventually a very tall and very young looking man came to fetch me.  He walked me down a hallway that was much longer than I imagined there was room for in the hospital, and dropped me off in a secondary waiting room.  This room was like a Motel 6 version of the dressing room I used for my x-ray last week.  It was tidy, but it felt more like a typical doctor’s office than of my previous experiences with Mayo.  A bit tired and a bit dated.

I didn’t have to wait long for another young-looking person to come call my name.  She walked be back up the hall a bit, and into what looked a bit too much like a hospital room for my comfort.  Luckly we walked around another corner, that looked more like a phlebotomist’s room than a hospital room.

At this point I was a bit confused.  I’d gone through great lengths and a dozen phone calls to remove with “w/sedation” from my MRI order, but she was talking about putting in my IV.

Wait, what?

I’ve never had an IV with an MRI before.

My genuine confusion was only increased by the poor soul awaking from anesthesia in the corner who was obviously sick to his stomach.  Gross.

The sweet girl recognized my concern and began to explain what she was doing.  Good save lady, good save.

She got me all wrapped up in a detailed conversation about where I wanted the IV.  She made me feel like a tough cookie for picking my hand over my elbow (but really I just didn’t want to have to have my sweatshirt sleeve pulled up for the entire 90 minute MRI).  She explained that, rather than pull me out of the MRI to inject contrast half way through, Mayo prefers to insert an IV and keep things going (makes sense to me).  She did her job, and she did it well.

After she wrapped up the port part of the IV, she sent me back to the secondary waiting room where I debated… “Should I look at the IV?  Will it make me light-headed?  This sucker is annoying.  I’ve never seen one before, in my own hand.  I should look.  No, there’s nothing to be gained.  Ew, look.  It’s bleeding.  Look away.”  And so on.

The MRI (technically MRI, MRI w/contrast, and MRV) went a million times better than I could have hoped.  I got to wear my slippers.  I was out in less than 45 minutes even though they scheduled me for 90.  I stayed calm (much thanks to lots of prayer by loved ones and myself), played MarioKart in my head (mostly DoubleDash), and almost fell asleep.

Actually, I think I did fall asleep but awoke when I twitched and accidently opened my eyes.  Yikes!

After my MRI, I stopped off at the handicap restroom to throw my sweats on over my too-big yoga pants then headed outside for some…

Fresh Air

My mother-in-law and I enjoyed a lovely lunch at Kona Grill and walked down the way to get some MoJo Frozen Yogurt (third time).  In true Kate form I butted into the conversation the sweet ladies enjoying their frozen yogurt at the table next to us on were having.  They were a bit off on their information about Apple products, and I just can’t let that sort of misinformation be perpetuated, so my MIL and I answered their questions.  We’re pros.  Daniel would be so proud.

Thank You

So many of you offered support, encouragement, and advice in preparation for today’s MRI.  Now that it’s over I am able to relax and realize just what a strength your confidence and concern continue to be.  I pray tomorrow brings nothing but good news and more of the peace I feel this evening.

All this talk of cozy clothes has me thinking, “We’re in my jammies.”  Which as me thinking of this sweet little girl.

Mayo Clinic 2011, Day 4 and 5

This is a strange mix of notes I jotted down on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 and Wednesday, January 19, 2011.  I’ve done my best to piece them together into a coherent post that fairly shares what it’s like to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours.

Yesterday morning my mother-in-law and I made our way through morning rush hour traffic to the Mayo Clinic Specialty Building for…

My Eighth Appointment

January 18, 2011 @ 8:30 am

Mayo Clinic Specialty Building 1st Floor Check In

Hypertension BP monitor

Nephrology/Hypertension BP Monitor

As we waited in to be called back, we reread the packet I was given last week outlining the 24-hour bp monitor procedures.  It didn’t take long to realize I wore exactly the opposite of what they requested.  I wore a loose-fitting sweatshirt over a fitted, long sleeved shirt that I know works well under a blood pressure monitor… but the packet specifically prescribed a loose-fitting short sleeve shirt.


I considered switching shirts with my mother-in-law (who wore an adorable shirt today that perfectly fit the instructions I was given), but an often-unnecessary habit I have came in handy.  I always wear a tank top under my shirt, so I decided that when the time came I’d shove my long sleeve shirt in my purse and throw the sweatshirt back on over the tank.  Although I think the gray-on-gray looks a bit weird without a black shirt in between, I can’t complain.

Well, I shouldn’t.

But I might.

Anyway, the nurse (I think) who fitted me for the cuff was friendly and patient with my apparent complete disregard for the packet I was given almost a complete week in advance.  She explained the process, took my blood pressure on both my arms, and eventually determined my left arm would be the best location for the cuff.

Pride-Fueled Side Note: Although she did not ask, somewhere toward the beginning of my appointment I told the kind lady my left arm would likely be the best place to put the cuff, as it is the only arm medical folks are ever satisfied with for blood pressure, blood drawing, and pulse-finding.  And, although I am no medical professional, I am a professional medical patient.

I’ve learned from dozens (if not not hundreds) of blood pressure readings that my right arm must be some sort of miracle… a pulse-less, blood-less appendage good only for writing, using my iPhone, and shifting my Matrix into drive.  But, what do I know.  I’m only the ONLY person who has attended everyone of my doctor’s appointments.

She went on to explain how the cuff would limit my daily activities, how the monitor attempts to get a reading every 20 minutes, and how it’d only go off once an hour during the hours I told her I would be sleeping.  She fitted the strap of the machine to a comfortable length, ran the cords through my sweatshirt, and helped me put the sweatshirt over the whole contraption.

2011011801 BP Monitor Strap

She told me to keep a detailed journal of my activities using the clock on the monitor, which is 27 minutes ahead of reality and therefore a bit confusing.  And, finally, she informed me I don’t actually have an appointment at eight freaking thirty tomorrow morning. I can return the monitor to the information desk on the first floor anytime before 10am tomorrow.

Splendid!  I think I’ll be sleeping in.

Under Pressure

After getting fitted with the bionic bicept (or so it looked with my sweatshirt pulled taught over it), my mother-in-law and I headed to Paradise Bakery.  What was I thinking?  It wasn’t good the first time, and the second time did nothing to improve my opinion.  But, I did get to experience my first awkward blood pressure reading in public.  The sweet lady behind the register asked what I wanted to eat, and I just stood there, not moving a muscle, for almost a minute.  Like I said, awkward.

The drive home complicated readings, as the car movement (per the nurses warning) confuses the monitor.  And when the monitor gets confused it tries again… and again… and again.

Note to self: Avoid riding in a car for the rest of the day.  Sit here, journal your day, and appreciate this cozy recliner.

20110118 BP Monitor Journal

So, I got to sleep an extra hour this morning, which proved an unexpectedly wonderful thing when I realized just how annoying it is to awake every hour (sometimes more often) to a blood pressure cuff tightening on your sweaty upper arm.  I think I’d choose an awkwardly long pause in the middle of a conversation over what feels like an infinitely long pause when all you want to do is sleep.

Every reading caught me off guard, startled me enough to kick in my adrenaline, and complicated the typical roll over, fall back asleep routine.Plus, there’s only so much cord and strap on this thing, so I got a bit too close to this less-than-comfy (and less-than-stylish) contraption last night.

20110118 BP Monitor

Off the Cuff

The blue, padded creature is back at Mayo.  I followed the instructions, removing the cuff at the exact time specified, folding my journal (which I had to add a page to) and tucking it into the case.  I took a quick shower, changed my clothes (Yes!), and made the drive to Mayo Clinic alone.

I have to admit, handing that gizmo to the sweet lady at the Information Desk a few minutes before 10am felt a bit like turning in a final exam back in college.  I sure hope it went well, but mostly I’m just glad it’s over.

And, on a TMI note… the 24 hours with a bulging bicep kinda reminded me of this totally unrelated post I read way back when.

Mayo Clinic 2011, Intermission

This was written Monday, January 17, 2011.  I was exhausted after a long day at the park, and neglected to post it.  And, with that decision, my procrastination in posting my Mayo Clinic 2011 articles began.  I will be playing catch up this week, so don’t wander too far.

All great works have an intermission… why would Mayo Clinic 2011 be any different?


I wanted to make the most of my Mayo-free time in Arizona, and I’d say I succeeded.  Here’s a bit of what’s happened:

  • I fell in love with this salt cellar and pepper shaker set.  Trust me.  It’s stunning.
  • Jen got her birthday gift in the mail.

  • I spent far too long appreciating these.
  • Dan taught Spanish to kids across the country, from the parking lot of a Mexican market, using Skype, on an iPhone.  No big deal.  (Actually, he did this a week ago… but I had to share since he did it a second time during intermission and I didn’t get to take a picture.)


  • I felt like I was riding these, even while sitting still.
  • My sweetie flew home, worked Friday, then had all weekend and today to miss me… and look forward to what promises to be an impressive snow storm this Thursday.  He will probably get a snow day to sit home and think good thoughts for me and my MRI.
  • I decided I will order this when Dan and I finally celebrate our anniversary at our beloved Bonefish.
  • Beautiful… city and dancers.
  • I went to this lovely park to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Dan’s family.

20110117 Papago Park

  • This fascinated me.  I can’t believe I never saw the sun.
  • I liked this big squishy guy.
  • Daniel took care of two sick pupsqueaks.

That wraps up this evenings post.  As always, after thinking through my life, I’m feeling like a lucky duck.  I am grateful for this opportunity, and for this intermission.  I recommend you go think through your life.  I am sure you’ll end up feeling tremendously blessed.

Tomorrow I get the blood pressure monitor put on.  I will wear it for 24 hours.  That’s all I know. When I know more I will tell you.

Mayo Clinic 2011, Day 3

Last night I got a lengthy voicemail from my scheduler at Mayo.  She listed the appointments they’ve scheduled for me over the next week, including a new one for today.  Dan and I are taking the morning easy, but pretty soon we will head up to the Specialty Building for…

My Sixth Appointment

January 12, 2011 @ 11:30 am

Mayo Clinic Specialty Building 2nd Floor Check In
Radiology General X-ray
Rad Cervical Spine X-ray

I’d say they have this down to a science, but that sounds a bit obvious when it comes to medical things.

After checking in 15 minutes early, I was called back before I had time to take my seat.  (What a pleasant deviation from the typical doctor’s office experience.)  The kind lady verified my birthday (11th time, I think), showed me to an expansive and impeccably clean room of dressing rooms, explained just how much I had to remove,  and let me be.  If not for the whole hospital gown thing, I’d have felt like I was in a high-end department store with my personal shopper.

With some maneuvering and clever mirror usage, I was able to fasten my gown so as to prevent an unnecessarily awkward moment while I waited for my turn.  I took the time to text Dan to tell him I spoke too soon about being grateful my conditions rarely require me to remove my clothes, locked my dressing room with my stuff inside, put the curly 1980’s keychain around my wrist, and headed to the prescribed secondary waiting room… where I got to sit on a bar-height waiting room chair.  Who knew such a thing existed?  Not I.

Within give minutes a young-looking lady called me back.  She asked what was up and what we’d be shooting today.  I explained my understanding of the task at hand, she verified my birthday (12) and full name.  Although it took nearly a dozen, “just a smidge to the left”s, she was able to line me up just so into two different positions, take her x-rays, and send me packing in less than five minutes.  Perfect, I tell you.  Perfect.

Lunch Date

We had an almost two hours to burn before my next appointment, so we pulled out our UrbanSpoon app and went to work.  Long story short, it led us to a development with a Kona Grill (one of my favorite summer internship business trip stops).  Dan had never been, so it was the obvious and necessary choice for lunch.

While looking for parking on the way to Kona, I spotted a MoJo Frozen Yogurt place, so after lunch we strolled down High Street to grab some for the road.  I went for a mix of Original Tart and Apple Pie with kiwi and blueberries.  I think Daniel got cookies and cream.  Anyway, it was delicious.  The shop was immaculate, and the frozen yogurt was the best I’ve had.

We headed back to the hospital with me feeling a bit like a small child.  Why or how does frozen yogurt always seem to get all over your face?  It’s not that you can see it, or that it’s really even there, but it feels like your face is as sticky as sweaty baby fists. No fun, but totally worth it.

If you’re planning to make a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, I recommend you add CityCenter of CityNorth to your list of time-fillers.  It’s located just north of the 101 on the west side of 56th Street… less than two minutes from the Mayo Clinic Hospital and Specialty Building.  Shops, restaurants, and almost no people.  That part is a bit eerie, but the service was wonderful.

My Seventh Appointment

January 12, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

Mayo Clinic Hospital 5th Floor 5 East
Neurosurgery Consultation
Dr. M. K. Lyons

This was fairly short and sweet.  After the usual name and birthdate verifications, Dan and I were invited back to an office where we waited just a few minutes for Dr. Lyons.  He asked who Dan was, then proceeded to look directly at him while addressing me.  I had not realized how strange it is to have a conversation with someone who is not looking at you.  At first I thought, maybe he’s just like that.  Maybe that’s just how his eyes work, but then I remembered, “This guy is a NEUROsurgeon, I suppose his eyes can’t just be like that.”

About that time he began looking at me, when he spoke to me.  He went on to explain that he’d reviewed my MRI from late 2009 and he found no sign of a cyst.



The three folks who diagnosed me were wrong?

He assured me he’d reviewed his opinion with their top folks and they agreed.  If there is any cyst in my brain, it’s tiny.  So small as to be lost between MRI slices.

Lovely.  Best news in a long time.

This is why I am here.  Smart people, on a schedule, who make things happen.

In Other News

  • Dan’s decided he and I are aging amateurs… not young professionals.  I suppose I agree.
  • How do you pick the perfect gift?  This year I’m sharing my gift shopping process.
  • I can’t think of a more sweet or lasting way to spend $240. The Commission Project
  • I agree with POTUS: “If this tragedy prompts reflection & debate… let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”