Archives for category: Mayo Clinic

Why, yes … yes she has!

You know at gatherings, when people haven’t seen each other for a few years, generally some speculation ensues. Real or fake?  A lift or good genes? And in the most severe cases, who is that stranger?!

The Bionic Women (and friend)

Well, with great pride, the three of us pictured at our 30th high school reunion can state without a doubt, we definitely had some “work” done. Some serious work. From left to right: heart attack from spontaneous coronary artery dissection, repaired with double bypass surgery; an acoustic neuroma, successfully removed through brain surgery; and open heart surgery to graft an aortic aneurysm and perform a mechanical valve replacement. (No health issues for our lap man — he’s just a very funny accessory!)

It wasn’t by design, but we saved the shop talk until the very last. As people said good-byes and drifted out the door of the heartwarming gathering we’d enjoyed, the three of us found ourselves together. Like a last minute huddle, reliving the not-so-great highlights of our years since high school and gearing up for the time until our next reunion. By way of illness, we share a language and awareness you only gain through experience. We are well, at least for the moment, and that is truly all each of us ask. Because as we learned the hard way at an early age, things can always get worse. But day by day, they can get better too.

Thirty years have passed. It was enlivening to realize that within each of us, our 18-year-old selves still flourish. The bikini days may be gone, but I’m much happier being bionic!

[Correction: A Dose of Reality regrets our misstatement that “the bikini days” are over. Rock it, girl!]

 

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Nope, not a typo. Just a tribute to 2012, which truly was a lifetime crammed into 12 months. With a pattern of amazing, great, good, fair, fine, and ending up fantastic – I have no complaints!

As a family, we finished the year stronger and more focused than ever. As a mom, I earned intangible payoffs seeing my little boys become ever-nearer the age of young men. As a person, I experienced the fulfillment of hard work blooming into an adventure of hope. Nothing in life is certain, of course, but now more than ever, those of us with spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) have a growing body of research to look to from a dedicated research partner, Mayo Clinic.

What we are learning isn’t pleasant. Even though we each were assured that SCAD doesn’t recur, it does. Even though the party line has always been, “it’s rare,” it isn’t. Even though we’re told SCAD is a fluke, it does have associated conditions, such as FMD, which can create additional devastating health problems, such as kidney failure and stroke.

So, for those out there who believe SCAD is actually rupture of atherosclerotic plaque (i.e., it’s “our fault”), you are wrong. And if you’re one of the nonbelievers still of the mindset that interventional cardiologists cause dissections during unnecessary catheterizations, you’re wrong too. Sure, surgical accidents happen but for our population, “spontaneous” is the operative word. We still don’t know the “why” of SCAD or exactly what to do about it, but the Mayo Clinic SCAD research team is making progress.

For me, this New Year’s Eve wasn’t about auld lang syne, it was about turning the page on a life in the year — and it was a doozy. Cheers to you and 2013!