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Category: Medication

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.

Kate Update: Medicine, Mayo, and My Doctor

Despite my dramatically improved health, I still have minutes, hours, and days when I feel positively dreadful. When I turn around in my chair at work I feel like I just road the teacups. When I get angry and my blood pressure goes up (in addition to the hardcore medicine I am already on that raises said blood pressure) I get disoriented. When I abruptly stand, I nearly faint. Every time.

So, when I am having a stressful day at work, and I turn away from my desk, stand up, and begin walking to the water fountain to refill what I lovingly refer to as my Ironman (bought it before the movie came out), you can imagine how I feel. My ears ring, my vision blurs, and I literally feel my heart pounding behind my eyes.

But after a minute I am back to normal.

And I thank my lucky stars for the family doctor who pushed me to go to Mayo, for Dr. General Hospital and the Mayo Clinic staff, and for family, friends, and coworkers who helped me when I felt awful all day, every day.

And some days, like today, I get to actually thank those people in person.

This evening, while at a sweet and hilarious dance recital, I ran into my family doctor of over a decade (the one who retired while I was away at Mayo). He is a wonderful man and my heart was happy to see him, to be able to say I feel wonderful, and to thank him. Because of his advice, my husband (and others who met me after I turned 12) are amazed at my energy, activity level, and organization. They’ve never known me to be like this, and are getting to know who I am, all over again.

I continue to be overwhelmed by the significance of this improvement in my health. And I will gladly deal accept the aforementioned “touch of the dizzies” as a daily (or so) reminder of what my life would be like without medicine, Mayo, and my doctor.

Fibromyalgia and the Flector Patch

Per my chiropractor’s advice, I went to visit a medical doctor Friday morning… except mine was out until today, so I saw the nurse practitioner.  Long story short, she thinks I’ve rapidly developed scoliosis.  And she thinks this rapid change in my lower back is causing my mid-to-upper back to pull to the right.  Or something like that.  She says it’s hereditary (even though none of my family has it).  And she says nothing can be done (even though she recommended two treatments).

The first treatment is one my chiropractor recommended nearly a decade ago, for another ailment with similar symptoms.  It’s herbal, helpful and heavenly in its effectiveness.  But I’ll talk more about it in a later post.

The second treatment is the Flector Patch.  And it seems to be working.  Best I can tell, and based on what she explained, it’s an anti-inflammatory patch for injuries, sprains, gnarly bruises, and the like.  It’s super sticky on one side, fuzzy on the other, and about 4″x6″.  You simply put it over the inflamed (or, in this case super-painful) area and it works its magic.  You wear the patch for 12 hours, then take if off for 12 hours, and so on.

The first day I didn’t notice a significant impact… Jenni Prokopy, the Founder and Editrix of ChronicBabe, had a similar experience.   I did, however, notice it felt kinda warm and a bit tingly.  The second day I felt more flexible and less stiff in my mid back.  Initially I thought this may have happened anyway, that perhaps my back had decided to get better.  But, during the 12 hours between wearing the patch I notice my back grows more stiff and the pain increases.   So I know the patch is providing relief.  Today was the third day, and I am officially a fan of the Flector Patch.  It is convenient and side-effect-free (thus far), but I am worried about the cost.  The nurse practitioner provided me with over a week’s worth of samples, and each came with a $30 off coupon.  Apparently these suckers are pricey.  But I’ve learned, and continue to learn, no price is too high for mobility.  And I continue to be grateful for my HSA.

Stay tuned.  I will let you know what my final verdict is regarding the Flector Patch.  As for Jenni, she said short-term use of the patch solved a tricky pain issue.  I hope my experience is as effective as hers.  And I pray the Flector Patch improves my condition quick enough to prevent a fibromyalgia flare.


My mind is blank… A provoked Kathleen Kelly

I feel like a provoked Kathleen Kelly.

Yesterday was a good day.

Before my brain could start with “a touch of the dizzies” I headed to Lowe’s to pick up a few thinks for our house. I got a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff and the decisions so I called my mom. She had a friend drop her off so she could help me wrap up the trip… and over $300 we called it quits. By then I was too dizzy so my mom drove us home with our perfect finds.

The trip wore me out, but not in the overdone sort of way. By bedtime I felt exhausted and in pain, but not miserable. On days when I overdo it my brain feels like a tripped circuit… not functioning at all. Last night I still had my brain (and some great stuff for the house).

But this morning I think it is on holiday. Perhaps I slept a bit too long. Or perhaps my dreams were so vivid I somehow did not get as restful a night of sleep as I am accustomed to. Last night (and the night before) felt like an all-night screening of Kate’s Brain on Drugs. I had vivid dreams of house guests constructing a fence around the yard, of Daniel tethering the Coachella flying pig to the deck, and of my hair being dyed blond as I created a plan to return the pig for the $10,000 reward. Bizarre.

A bit of a break…

It’s been too many days since I last posted. Since Tuesday I have had all sorts of ideas in my head regarding My Life with Fibro, but I haven’t had the energy or presence of mind to translate my thoughts into action. Finally, that has changed.

Wednesday and Thursday were exceptionally rough for me. It seems like withdrawals chose to show their face in the form of extreme emotional instability (like I mentioned Tuesday) and the most bizarre series of sensations in the southeast corner of my skull. The emotional instability had me feeling giddy, then devastated, then nervous, then itchy, lonely, negative, confused, overwhelmed, motivated, pessimistic, energetic, dizzy, tired, irritable, and so on in 5 minute(ish) rotations. Thank goodness that is over.

As to the bizarre sensations, the best description I can provide sounds absurd. It feels as though someone is attempting to suction my brain out of the southeast corner of my skull. I know, I know… you wonder how I know what that feels like. I don’t. But I am fairly convinced it feels rather akin to the sensation I have been experiencing for almost a week. When I am tired the sensation seems to quadruple in intensity.  What causes this?

And, finally, when will I learn to recognize the precise time at which I ought to stop an activity, so as to avoid overdoing it and feeling worse for the following few days?