A Trip to Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic. I could write a novel about this place.  The emotions, the medical care, the effect on my family, and the weather.  As you can see below, we went during a crazy time of snow storms and winter weather!
Although, I have been managing my pain with essential oils, we were still seeing symptoms and wanted to make sure that the local doctors were not missing a “zebra disease” (a rare, unusual disease that a local doc might not be familiar with or have seen any cases of yet).  So, we packed up our family (2 under 2.5) and headed to the opposite end of the country.  The boys went on a road trip, to drive up the many things it takes to travel with babies, while the girls flew (see picture below).  As I started to write, I wanted this to be smart and funny and helpful, but that brings out too many emotions in me, so I just want to tell you about it first, from the Mayo Clinic side, and then second, from the view of my kiddos.
I loved Mayo Clinic.  The doctors are fantastic.  Each doctor spends an average of 1-2 hours with you, reading your charts, x-rays, MRIs, etc. from “back home” and being very through with their examination.  They really hear what you are saying.  And they all talk to each other and share their findings, opinions, etc.  It is such a team.  When we first got there, my appointments were spread out over a period of two weeks (we only booked a one-week stay).  However, they have this super cool system called being a “Checker”.  Basically, lots of people cannot stay through the two-three weeks of appointments, so you can go sit at that doctor’s office as a “Checker” to grab the next available appointment.  What a cool system, we got through all of our appointments in 4 days!  We left with clear diagnoses and a good treatment plan.
This was my view as I passed the windows looking out of the Mayo/Gonda buildings:

So, they have decided my pain is fibromyalgia, my joint discomfort and inflexibility is rheumatoid arthritis (even though extensive blood work disagrees – but apparently 20% of people test negative for it yet have it) and my incontinence issues are called pelvic floor dysfunction.   So essentially, I am in for a life of chronic pain, and managing symptoms.  The treatment plan was to decrease stress and rest more (ha!! I have two kids under 2.5 and both are still in diapers!!).  They also told me to add water aerobics in a pool at least 84 degrees several times a week which I have just started doing.  My favorite part though was two different doctors who in their recommendation of “self-care” encouraged my continued use of my essential oils, especially since there is no “magic pill” for any of these chronic diseases and both of these particular doctors are pretty against the theory of “over-medicating”.  I so appreciated this attitude.  They were very aware of my home situation, as a stay-at-home-mom and the inability I have to be drugged and comatose all day from side effects of various medications like I was this past summer.  I loved that my doctors supported the medical decisions I was already making and that I could continue that at home without having to add so many prescriptions to my plate.  I am planning to look into biofeedback as that has also been recommended by Mayo for management.

For my kiddos – We billed it as a vacation, especially for our toddler, who was already aware “mommy sick”, “mommy boo-boo”.
We stayed in the cutest house ever to give us all the comforts of home and not feel like we were cramped and uncomfortable in a hotel.
Here is their VRBO link.
If you ever find yourself en route to Mayo Clinic, this place was da bomb!
There are quite a few cool places to take your toddlers and preschoolers.  (Daddy was on “Dad-duty”, while Mama camped out at the doctor’s offices all day!)
This place: www.bounceworldmn.com was amazing.  My son loved jumping and running around and being a kid.  His heart was full of joy there.

Another super cool place we found to take the young-ins was PipSqueaks, part of the United Way program of Rochester.

We also took advantage of a major snow storm to get all bundled up and play outside in the snow, and even build a little snowman.

There was lots of emotions on this trip.  For me, it was a lot of waiting, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear.  It was hard to be away from my kids.  It was awful being poked and prodded every day and doing different physical tests (for oxygen output, for heart stress, etc.) that my body felt like I had just survived three-a-days on a football team, and to come back “home” after each of the days was so hard.  There were moments of joy and laughter, especially watching my son play in the snow, or my kids play and goof around at PipSqueaks or taking my daughter on her first ever plane ride!  There were moments of celebration as we learned I did not have a deadly disease.  There were moments of hard news as I learned I will be dealing with a diagnosis of chronic pain for the rest of my life.  Yet, overall I am so glad we went to Mayo Clinic.  I am grateful my family accompanied me on this leg of our journey (yes, this leg, this pain journey is over 2 years old!).  I feel excited about life again, even with this diagnosis, that I can go forward and find a way to manage my symptoms and pain.  And I am looking forward to how the Lord will use all of this to His good and glory.

If you have questions about anything relating to getting to/from Rochester, things to do in Rochester or navigating Mayo Clinic – I would love to answer them!!

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