Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.
TERESA: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect? What motivates you to take part in the community?
@baxtersmom: I first encountered Mayo Clinic Connect when I was seeking information regarding chronic pain. I suffer from spinal stenosis and scoliosis, which I did not know I had until about 10 years ago. All of a sudden, I started having pain down my left leg and a swollen ankle. Finally, someone did an MRI of my lumbar spine, and the cause became clear. What also became clear was that the only real surgical option was having a rod placed down my back in a 9-hour surgery that may or may not help at this point in my life. I was not willing to do this, and so I sought information on treatment options and came upon Mayo Clinic Connect during my search.
TERESA: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@baxtersmom: I think the fact that there are moderators keeping an eye on the discussions makes me feel comfortable that the discussions will always stay at a high level and that when personal information is shared, it will be met with care and kindness.
TERESA: What groups do you participate in?
TERESA: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Connect.
@baxtersmom: Some time ago, after nearly 30 years of university teaching, I found myself approaching retirement and dealing with some particularly difficult individuals at work. I will not elaborate on the details, but I was feeling very unappreciated, despite the fact that over the years I had won just about every teaching and service award possible. A few other individuals and I found ourselves in a very toxic work environment.
Looking back on it now, it appears that both gender and age bias played a part in this treatment. However, at the time, it really caused a lot of anxiety and stress. I had become rather depressed as it continued on, so much so that I decided to take a leave of absence. The stress of being in such an environment was taking its toll on me physically. During this time, I began participating more in Mayo Clinic Connect.
At some point, I received a private message from @colleenyoung and @lisalucier asking if I would like to become a Connect mentor. The message was a very nice one, complimenting me on some of my responses to some of the posts within the group. As I read their note, I realized that I had not received any positive feedback for anything I had done for a very long time, and I had forgotten how it felt to be appreciated even in the slightest. In this situation, I had simply offered up information regarding a recent surgery I had, and it seemed like the smallest of overtures. However, I realized that maybe I did still have something to offer. Now that I am retired, I am looking to find other ways to use my skills.
TERESA: What surprised you the most about Connect?
@baxtersmom: I think I was most surprised by the breadth of the topics covered by the Connect platform. I began in Chronic Pain, seeking information on my spinal stenosis and scoliosis, followed by looking up various topics in Women’s Health, and more recently, thyroid topics. It seems there has not been anything I have needed to explore that has not, at least in some way, been touched upon within Mayo Clinic Connect. I also appreciate the fact that the platform combines group discussions with pages with newsfeed posts from experts in such a way that you can find information on the topics suitable for those just beginning to research an area or for those more well-versed on an issue, and all points in between.
TERESA: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@baxtersmom: I am not good at the balance part at all, although I continue to work on it. I am energized by just about any creative process. One of the things I most enjoyed about college teaching was putting together a new course or taking on the task of renovating a course that was in need of a revamp. During my teaching career I have done this a number of times, and I look back upon those times as some of the most rewarding.
TERESA: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@baxtersmom: I enjoy gardening, although my back does not allow me to do a lot of digging and hauling these days. But I can design how I want it to look and then, if I am patient, I will see that Mother Nature had a better idea. I also enjoy interior design projects and spending time with my 11-year old chocolate lab, Baxter.
TERESA: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?
@baxtersmom: I have a favorite poem which many may be familiar with. It is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I had a version called “If for Girls” in my bedroom growing up, so it has been a favorite for a long time.
TERESA: What food can you simply not resist?
@baxtersmom: Italian cream cake.
TERESA: Puppies or kittens?
@baxtersmom: Can I say both? I am an animal lover at heart. But if I had to choose one, it would be puppies.