MAYO Clinic


Untitled,  2001,  13" x 4" x 1" , ceramic

Untitled, 2001, 13" x 4" x 1" , ceramic


I’m back!

What an adventure…

Sorry not to have been able to post during my stay at the MAYO Clinic.   I’ll have all this technology figured out next time I leave town.

My intention for going to the Scottsdale,  AZ clinic was to get a solid baseline as far as what state of being my body is in at this moment and to be privy to any and all possible methods for attending to this health challenge on my plate.

I got all that and more.. in spades.   It was truly a remarkable experience.

The MAYO Clinic is a non-profit affair and extremely well endowed in light of generous gifting from grateful recipients of their care and expertise and champions of their mission which is to keep the patients needs,  comfort and care at the top of the list.   There is a huge philanthropic vibe in and around the place.  The money we spend there gets funneled toward research in every imaginable way a body could go askew.  Thus- they are on top of every new development,   diagnostic tool,  medication or course of action available. They are primarily Western medicine based but value highly researched complementary alternative methods as well.

Here are some highlights:


I saw a general internist and a neurologist to begin with.
Each appointment was an hour of compassionate,  intent focus on listening hard to my ‘story’.
The exam rooms are gorgeously appointed with a changing room within,  tasteful upholstery,  carpet,  soft lighting,  wall-papered walls and every nod toward comfort and ease you could ask for.

They each took a full history,  did an exam and asked me to go down 1 floor to scheduling to get the itinerary for the tests they had each scheduled.

It was alot of walking for me so I practiced asking for help by getting a wheelchair escort to the various places I needed to go.

The schedule I was given included 3-5 appointments with various departments per day;  MRI,  urology,  physical therapy,  bloodwork etc.  It was usually a 7:00 am – 4:00 day for me.   I wished I had had someone with me for support and just the physical demands of all this but was amazed at the fact I pulled it off myself.

What I have to say next is colored by my life as an artist.


A good deal of the remarkable healing experience of this place is it’s attention to detail.  There is BEAUTY EVERYWHERE..  I saw no boxy rooms.  Soft shifts in room shapes and lighting,  elegant wallpaper on the walls,  interesting and soothing artwork everywhere,  a color palate that settles your soul.   EVERYTHING HERE IS GEARED TOWARD A PATIENT’S WELL BEING.   It really was the most non-medical experience I ever had.   I became acutely aware how very much beauty has to do with the psychology of healing.   Made me feel proud of my line of work.  I was so affected by the importance of this element that I’m going to write a letter to the person in charge of interiors and choice of art in acknowledgement of their efforts.


I found smart,  alert,  compassionate people at every turn.  I experienced no impatience or anything other than a true love of their job and efforts to make sure I knew I was the priority.   Believe me,  this goes a long way in the ‘quality of life’ department.


I wore my favorite beaded bracelets.. three of them together cover 4″ of my wrist with bright green,  yellow,  red and orange beads.  I wore them because they make me feel good but they played a part I could never have guessed.  People stopped me everywhere to ask about them or compliment me.   Taxi drivers from Iraq and Sudan.  Fellow patients from New Zealand and Mexico.   The housekeeper in my hotel and the guy serving us in the cafeteria..  So many people chose to connect with me through my bracelets!  It made me realize that in an environment such as a medical clinic,  we all pull into ourselves like turtles.  It’s unfamiliar territory and possibly unsafe.  Unknown to be sure. We don’t know how or haven’t the energy to begin a conversation and remember we are not alone.  My bracelets gave people a safe entry and we were all immeasurably better for it.


I have primary progressive MS. None of the medications available work for this version of the disease. My options are to manage my symptoms the best way I can.

Both doctors I saw again at the end of my stay were genuinely despondent at the lack of tools and knowledge available to give me.  This news was not something unexpected. What I did NOT expect is the sense of freedom and power I take away from this experience armed with the knowledge I gained,  the tools available and the support system offered by this remarkable group of people.

I don’t have to expend extra energy wondering if I am not doing something that might make a difference. I have so very many people in my life who care about my wellbeing and there are so many stories about friends-of-friends with MS who have had success with such and such..  Of course, one hears that and wants to act if it feels right.. This is exhausting;  living inside possibility and the future.  My intuition has served me well in the choices I’ve made to this point and that is a nice piece of information for me.  Now I can rest with what IS.   This feels REALLY good to me.

I’ll likely write more on this at some point but right now, on the fourth of July, it is raining softly, I have a great book to curl up with and that is where I’m headed.


4 Responses to “MAYO Clinic”

  1. RB on July 5th, 2009

    I read your article today as I have a Google alert set up for any news that comes out on Primary Progressive MS. My husband has PPMS. He is currently in Costa Rica undergoing experimental stem cell therapy. He has met others down there that have seen great success with prior visits. I just mention it as we had too went to Mayo Clinic and were told there was nothing we could do for PPMS. However, we could not sit back and continue to watch a gradual worsening of symptoms. When we checked with our local physician about what he thought of the stem cell therapy he was somewhat dismissive. However, he wrote to the doctor we saw at Mayo Clinic. This doctor was only ‘peripherally aware’ of some of the various stem cell treatments going on outside of the US. So, I just wanted to mention this to you, it may be worth checking into. We too have dismissed many different wacky sounding therapies. However, we have spoken with people with MS who have excellent results with stem cell therapy. We believe there is a ot of merit to this type of therapy. Good luck.

  2. Phillip Retzky on July 5th, 2009

    oh, did I mention that I loved you? wow.

  3. Cathy on July 5th, 2009

    THANK YOU for that great response… I really appreciate it. Good to come home to after the whole Mayo thing.. When your husband comes home would you do me the giant favor of letting me know how it went?


  4. Helene on August 30th, 2009

    Thanks for writing this great blog I really enjoyed.

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