We just returned to the hotel after Paul’s first appointment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
How did we get here? Last year sometime, Paul started getting headaches when he coughed, sneezed or bent over. In December-January-February, a case of the coughing crud turned annoying headaches into suffering. An MRI and MRA ruled out the scariest stuff–there is no tumor, no structural problem.
With the speed of a glacier before global warming, Paul saw our primary care physician, an ophthalmologist and a neurologist. We lost 20+ years of medical social capital when we moved, but that’s another story. Paul began saying, “Sue thinks I should go to Mayo Clinic,” and everyone agreed, physicians included.
Since Paul’s case was not an emergency it took a few weeks to secure a spot. We were told to prepare for five business days of appointments: Tuesday, April 16 through Monday, April 22. Paul arranged for sick leave and I arranged for family leave/extended illness benefit. We reserved a room at the TownPlace Suites on the north side of town. It is a privileged blessing to have the medical insurance, cash flow, paid time off, and understanding colleagues to be able to come here, to be able to expect answers.
We packed for nine days away. It’s winter in April, so I packed clothes of varying weights. Although I haven’t worked out for two years, I packed exercise clothes and shoes. Paul packed, unpacked and set up our home office in our hotel room. We imagined making productive use of our time between appointments.
It took some doing to get to the right place for Paul’s 7:30 a.m. appointment. My romanticized view of Mayo Clinic was quickly dispelled. It is a medical industrial complex, albeit a beautiful one. We estimated 250+ people waiting in the lobby for lab work. “How did they keep track of all those vials?” I wondered aloud. Paul said, “they move on a conveyor belt.”
Paul was seen by Dr. Jonathan Smith, a neurology fellow. What a top-notch doc. After thoughtful questioning and listening, and a thorough exam, Dr. Smith laid out the plan to explore one likely and two not-so-likely causes for Paul’s headaches. Tonight, Paul will have an MRI of his neck/spine and an ophthalmology appointment tomorrow. Then we’ll pack up and head home. Dr. Smith will follow-up by phone with the results and a treatment plan.