From Mayo Clinic to Tim McGraw

Published 1:14 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

Feb. 10, I got up close and personal with the street crossing Main at East College in Columbiana.

I had fallen and could not get up.

My life then began to go through a series of firsts: my first ambulance ride and visit to an ER; my first shattered knee cap and surgery to repair it; my first time to use a walker and hopping on one foot for six weeks.

My new best friends are my lift recliner and cane.

The generosity of family and friends has been overwhelming. My husband, Red, and I have been well fed and never lonely because of visits, cards and e-mails.

But the greatest miracle was when one of Red’s special friends got me into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to see a doctor who is a seronegative arthritis specialist and internist.

The fall was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I was at my bottom physically since becoming very sick last fall. I have an inherited gene, HLA-B27 that has caused me to suffer from several diseases.

I had thought I had the same one as my father, but at Mayo I learned I have a different B27, Undifferentiated Spondalathropy (US). I also learned that I have more diseases than I had thought, and my knee is still broken.

The 10 days at Mayo were life changing for me. I had a quarterback doctor who worked with a team of doctors to find out all that is wrong with me and then developed a plan to deal with the issues. I was that team’s sole focus.

My B27 and accompanying diseases have no cure, but just knowing what I truly have has given me a freedom of mind as never before.

I bought a shirt at Mayo with butterflies on it; my symbol of my new life to put my health first, to spend more time with family and friends and to slow down, for stress makes me sicker.

To celebrate my new life, I asked my “bestest buds” to go hear my favorite musician, Tim McGraw, and celebrate at my favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel.

What a time we had. The oldest women there were screaming at Tim! I felt 20 again.

I had to go to bed for two days to recover. Even butterflies have to rest after a big day. From Mayo to McGraw, life is getting better day by day.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by e–mail at