Sunday, December 20, 2020

My Trip to Mayo: 2020


Oftentimes in life, there is not a clear answer, especially when it comes to health. 
We are trained as students in the school systems to come up with the right answer on the other side of the math equation or produce the correct response for the years of the World Wars. We pass or fail the spelling bees and the answer is right or wrong on the SATs.

On the other hand, as we progress into college, if we have the *right* professor, we are taught a very important lesson: We learn the rules and then we learn when it is appropriate to break them. This is a lesson my bassoon professor Will Roberts taught me. I studied bassoon with him and practiced hour after hour to get the fingerings and timing down to produce the perfect solo line...only to then be coached to make it my own - to add my "voice" and my "heart" to the melody. As a rule follower, it was a challenging assignment, but one I am grateful I learned.

In this season of my life, I struggle with when to feel settled with an answer and when to dig deeper. With the health struggles I've faced these past 5 years, I've learned to ask more questions instead of simply accepting a diagnosis. Sometimes, my questions have led to positive strides and more answers, but sometimes they have delayed a course of action that would have helped if I'd accepted the guidance and started sooner. With each situation, it takes thought and research and prayer and community input. 

Most recently, a diagnosis I received did not feel right or complete. The consult with the doctor seemed to miss the mark. Maybe it was due to my lack of knowledge and understanding at the time or maybe it really did stop short of the root cause. Either way, I sought out a second opinion doctor. He agreed with my intuition - there was something deeper. After four months of additional testing, we still did not get to the root, and some additional symptoms progressed to a concerning level. 

After prayer and consultation with my husband and family, we decided to make a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. At Mayo, I will meet with a number of specialists to look at how my unique set of symptoms (GI, liver, and bone) are all connected (most likely) and how we can determine the right course of treatment. As a mom with two small children, I became overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to find and meet with three (or more) different types of doctors in different practices where we live, each wanting to do labs and procedures and have follow-ups. And how would I get them to "come together" to figure out what is going on? The thought of calling all three offices back and forth to ask questions, get approvals, and coordinate treatment was beyond daunting. It is also very difficult to schedule appointments with little ones and naps and preschool and life. My family is beyond helpful with watching the boys so I can make as many appointments as I can work, but it became just too much.

I completed a health questionnaire online for Mayo, and a doctor reviewed my information to see if I was a viable candidate for the program. Thankfully, I was accepted. We scheduled our visit to start on October 20, 2020. Mayo advises its patients to prepare for a 7-10 business day visit. It sounds long, but when I think about meeting with three or more doctors, having 2 or more days of labwork and imaging, and possibly undergoing a procedure like a colonoscopy while there, I think the time will go fast. 

We decided to take the boys and make it out to be a vacation for them (hey - they're 4 and 1, and this will be their first stay in a hotel room with an indoor pool in the lobby!). My brother-in-law did his residency at Mayo, so my sister-in-law gave us some wonderful ideas of activities to do with the kids. My parents graciously agreed to travel with us for the first half of the trip to be with the boys during my appointments so my husband can be there to support me and hear the guidance first-hand, and his parents plan to travel up for the second half of the trip, if needed. We are so thankful for the generous gift of their time, and our boys will LOVE spending their days with Grams and Pa and Nana and Papa. 

I've got my binder ready to go with all my medical records, and I'm finalizing packing all the food and goods we will need to start our extended stay. Thankfully our hotel room is an extended stay suite with a little kitchen, so I will be able to cook for us and my food sensitivities. There is much to think about, but the Lord is guiding each step.

My prayer for this trip is for the doctors to take in all the information, see what they need to see in labwork and images, and come together to determine the best path forward. I want to be strong and healthy to enjoy life with my dear family. I pray this trip will result in some answers to questions that have left me sleepless at night and in discomfort and pain during the day. I pray for more clarity and fewer unanswered questions. I am thankful for this opportunity.

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