We were comfortably shocked with our final MMD meeting yesterday. He was a lot more openminded and seemingly more concerned than we had anticipated--understandable given our experience, but it craved noting. And, drumroll!, he also provided what might be an answer to the problem--but it is, to be fair, the easiest of answers and may not have popped up until now due to time as opposed to proprietary Mayo technology or insight. If it's not the answer, we're only a little further beyond square one and must move on. We'll move on anyway, leaving Rochester tomorrow at last for the Big Pomegranate I still call home. But it should be chronicled that if I hadn't asked yesterday's skin-sensation technician to test the right foot instead of the left, where I have permanent nerve damage from ankle surgery, she would have followed her orders to test the left, even though this information had been conveyed to MMD on Day One.
MMD also asked me if there were any other tests that I felt needed to be done. I appreciated the question--a doc who respects his patient's education about his own condition?--but I also didn't really feel that a doc should be asking a patient this sort of question and wondered if it wasn't just patronizing ego-candy. We want to believe in you, MMD--just do everything if you doubt yourself. Nonetheless, the man may have come through (or rather, my system may have made things more obvious, finally), and we'll find out more through the mail in the coming weeks.
So: Don't think you always come to Mayo for one (extended) visit and return with a cure, or even an end to your medical journey. That's sort of a misconception, and it should be known more widely that this place is much more like a major city university hospital than it is some super-unusual rare disease "let's get everything figured out immediately" kind of place. That said, some of its tests have been unusual and helpful, and it does figure out mysteries in one-week periods for others, I'm told. That's just not the majority. Too many people have told me that they return here frequently--not for treatment but for more chances to discover the culprit.
Another interesting Mayo fact: the docs don't trust pathology from outside labs. They believe their techs and docs do everything best. Which may be true but seems impossible in all regards on every day of the week. So they often hold onto biopsies from you longer than other places, and they also want to redo much of the testing themselves and then take their answers over anything else. It's less-than-curious in that creepy George W. Bush kind of way, and I worry about that sort of over-confidence and narrow-mindedness in every respect. But yes, they are good here. Retractions aren't necessary. But contractions of criticism about this place are. It's both less special and unusual than it wants to be, but it's also a fine, praise-worthy medical center. Let's just stop referring to it with religious devotion. In my case, it is helping me move in the right direction; it's not putting a stop to the trip.
Funny Rochester fact: We can't seem to find any movies to see here that don't have something to do with Christmas or fantasy or disease except for "I'm Not There," which we've seen. I said to Lina: "That's an awfully artsy movie to be playing in a town obsessed with Fred Claus, I Am Legend, and the Chipmunks" (Could we combine both movies and pit Will Smith together with his cheeky friend Tom Cruise Hubbard?) But then I remembered where Bob Dylan grew up: Minnesota. It's also the place he eventually escaped, though. Thank J.C.--and Alvin--for that.
P.S. Some more fun facts about Rochester:
1. "Fine dining" establishments--and I use that term loosely--are open at 4:30 p.m. for dinner! Who's racing me to the early bird special? You don't ever need reservations here.
2. Hotel housekeeping employees *will* knock on your door at 8 a.m. if you don't have your Do Not Disturb door-hanger in full view on the outside of your temporary home.
3. The one store in the mall that sells mod home accessories--think Eames chairs and Alessi kitchen accessories--serves free chocolate toffee straight from a kitchen in Minneapolis! (That's how bad they need business...)
4. If I had gone to grad school in Minnesota--their MFA in creative writing dept once offered this here syntactically challenged blogger a fellowship that would have included having me teach a class on Hemingway--I might have had to come here pretty often for checkups.
5. Every time you have an test at the Mayo Clinic, the tech who comes to get you from the waiting room asks you to repeat your name and birthdate. I have tried variations on Alexander Supertramp just to see if I might get a smile or a scowl. I usually just get a straight-faced: "Whatcha say?"
6. Lots of older folk here use the term "You bet" to say "anytime" or "you're welcome." Where does this habit come from? Was Minnesota a gambling hotspot at one time? Tell us in your next convoluted series, David Milch!