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Joined: Feb 04, 2011

Social Media Summit Scholarship Essay – Theresa McGrath

Posted by @joycegroenke, Aug 10, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is an entry in our Scholarship Contest for Patients and Caregivers to attend the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit Oct. 17-21 in Rochester, Minn. See this post:

for more details on the contest, and please cast your votes by liking or commenting on the candidates you think would be best.

Here is Theresa McGrath’s Essay:

Hello. My Name is Theresa. For my posting on Mayo Community, it’s motanurse. The world of PC is new to me. I’m a Senior, Disabled, A Patient & A previous caregiver. Actually I continue to be a caregiver & advocate for my family. I’d like to enter the contest & be able w/ my hubby to attend the conference. I’ve been out of school for a long time but I would like to enter the contest. Lets see if what I have to say may get us there. Ok here I go.

I’ve been an advocate for health for years. I began to get interested in a nursing career beginning in 1962. When I was a kid, I loved nursing. My grandparents on my dad’s side were — he a doctor and she a nurse & they owned a nursing boarding home on the East coast. My mom helped out and on occasion so did I by emptying pee/pots. I was on the Howdy Doody show and said I wanted to be a nurse. Well I really wanted to be almost everything then, even an entertainer. My sister & I would pretend we were in the Hit Parade up in the attic of that nursing home.

I grew up & I had a terrible fear of death all thru my young yrs, teen & early adult. It was compounded w/ the loss of my grandma @ a very early age & then I lost my brother early too about 1965, followed by the death of my Dad. Then in 1974 my sister went into death, revived after 45min. by a glory-seeking dr. & then she lapsed into comma, came out & was veg like state as that Quinlynn case for 28yrs. In 04 I lost my sister followed by my mother 3mo. later & my son just 3yrs after that. Those are deaths in my life.

During all that time, I was in & out of Nursing. I began w/ a co. hospital & I got on an all male ward, by the time they figured out I was a female by name of course well they let me stay. It was quite an education for a young gal.

In the 90’s I went into private duty. Mind you, I did it for love of the profession. I did Alzhiemers & Hospice & I was thrust into a world of confrontation w/ death more than you can imagine. It did take the fear away. I loved caring for people. I’d be the one that would get the call to actually come live w/someone & help the powers that be know how & where that patient might be more suited to be placed or to stay @ home w/ care. Most wanted that. I often would be assimilated right into the family. One of my patients just after his wife past whom I also cared for, began to think I was his wife. I also had close calls to danger w/ some of the Alz. patients but I learned valuable lessons.

I became even more vocal as to how my patients were treated & myself & family. You see we have very unique health issues. Lets start w/ my family. My husband is a Vietnam Vet, Bi-Polar, PTSD & other health probs but those are the biggies. Then our daughter lives w/us because she is developmental disabled; has Fredrichs Ataxia CMT Fibro & a host of other probs. Had Harrington rods implanted @ age 15. She’s now 41 & soon will need those removed & may or may not have others placed. My grandchild is also @ home w/us. She’s autistic, Ashbergers, has Fibro, also Patella Femoral Disorder and something else we can’t put our finger on. She 17 & thank God, Shriners Hospital has taken her case on so we hope to get answers. She is in pain daily w/her body, bones & muscles.

Then me. Oh boy have I probs. I began really young, born w/a club foot. My mother nursed it to health for 2yrs. The Drs said I’d not walk — she saw to it I did. I had my appendix out and here is some confusion & she’s past so I can’t confirm. One of these for sure 3days, weeks, mos. or years, but anyway, very rare. Lots of illnesses & probs. I had so many things go wrong & so many times what I felt to be somewhat barbaric treatment of my conditions occurred. I also had unusual health probs & often meds that worked for most not for me.

I continued to advocate for others & self & won’t stop. I firmly believe that family friends etc. help one be more healthy, recover faster, etc. & when @ the hospital, the crash cart comes in & family are sent out. Well my believe that it just plain wrong & that’s when Family’s needed more than ever. That’s what made me do private duty nursing.

Most recently & what led me to Mayo, is the 2 following reasons. I needed to connect w/people that are having or know about issues. I’ve 3 main probs just now. Panic attacks & I need to find what caused them & I believe there is a health prob causing it. Next is Ischemic Colon. I get so darn scared when I get a GI bleed and @ times I think I’ll die. Then last Oct/2010, I got sick right after 2-15 hr days of work as an extra actor. That what hubby & I got into to shake off a death from Alz./Hospice. Had to do something, so we stared off w/ SEABISCUIT & did a lot. Last one just coming out Cowboys & Aliens. Well, I first just was exhausted, then came a cough. A very well known cough. I whooped & gasped. I knew it was whooping cough. I was hospitalized for 2weeks but no one would call it that. No one treated me for it. My family got it too. Hubby & I almost lost our lives. We all were told it’s Asthma. Finally confirmed by titers that I had a severe case of it. Here is the problem also. I broke ribs, not believed until I demanded x-rays. I’m left w/ a bad clearing of the throat & cough. I can’t eat or sleep right. Then I’m told I probably will be this way forever. I can’t tolerate that. It’s not right, nor should anyone have to go through this. By now all know there’s an epidemic of it. Well the other most important thing is I agree w/ others & a scientist who says that the vaccine out for TDap/pertussis, does not work. To me it’s just one more foreign substance they want to give despite that it won’t work & may cause more harm than good. I say this because I’m of the belief that my Granddaughters Autism is in part if not all caused by her MMR. She had seizures right after & then was not normal.

Then we go to my other family. Other Daughter & Grandkids, 4 of them, all disabled. Daughter has Marfans, Granddaughters have 1, Rhematoid Arthritis, had OCD/ADD. The 2 Grandsons 1 Autistic, 1 w/ Hersprungs.

So indeed each & every chance I get I go to any no/cost health seminars & read & look on the Internet & get feedback always wanting more info to help selves & others. I also, very much believe that Music is a lifesaver & really helps from Alz. to Autism. I say this with loads of knowledge. My Granddaughter 17 did not speak until almost 4yrs of age. We put music in front of her — Videos DVDS AUDIOS. I bought a piano for her to bang away on. When she began to speak she sang & sang very well. GOD WILLING SHE WILL BE A PERFORMER ONE DAY. She’s a beautiful girl. She made the SEMI – FINAL IN SO CAL ICON & will debut @ THE MERC A COUNTRY MUSIC THEATER -PLUS IN TEMECULA ,CA. She also will be a lead in Broadway to Banning, a Theatre production coming this Sept. She taught herself to play the piano by ear, & now can read music. Ah she is far from a normal teen but she has so much going for her due to our advocacy for her.

Lastly as you read this, there are 2 reasons I want to win. I really, really want the chance, & I really, really, really need & want & deserve a rest from all the hard work I’ve done w/o any major reward. Yes, I did nursing but monies very scarce. Mostly I was like the Country Doc. I was given stuff, Chicken Pie, Pecan Pies, Cookies, treated to the Theater. Given stuff which I in turn donated to those who had even less than me. We are/I am below, below poverty. There is nothing & no where I can go w/out getting sponsored or scholarshipped.

I hope & pray that all I wrote will win the essay & get my husband & myself the chance to come to Mayo, someplace I’ve wanted to be since in my early adulthood. I’m now 65, Hubby 68, & if we win, I will also utilize that time to even get an Appt. for myself if I can get my Ins. to ok it. Thanks for consideration.


Kari Ulrich, Volunteer Mentor

Posts: 286
Joined: Jul 15, 2011
Posted by @kariulrich, Aug 15, 2011

Good to see another nurse applying for the summit. I am familiar with FA, and my heart goes out to you and your family. I wish your daughter the very best. Warm Regards, Kari

Sherry Reynolds

Posts: 14
Joined: Aug 02, 2013
Posted by @sreynolds, Aug 17, 2011

There is something so valuable about being both a patient and a health care provider when it comes to advocacy.. I had scoliosis as a child as well and did a research project in college into treating it as a result but thankfully never had to be braced..

if you win one of the 15 scholarships I would love to meet you – I entered as well and even if you don’t win I hope that you continue to reach out to other people like you who are doing advocacy work in such a hands on way.. and I hope you find some rest as well.

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