Social Media Summit Scholarship Essay – Theresa McGrath

Posted by Groenke @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.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Just Want to Talk group.

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


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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