Most of us don’t necessarily look forward to trips to a hospital or clinic to have our blood tested. But that's life for 43-year-old Jason Krekula. Jason, who was born with Down syndrome, suffered a "cardiac episode" three years ago. He had emergency surgery, but two blood clots remain in his heart, and that means monthly trips to Mayo Clinic Health System — Northland in Barron, Wisconsin. But whatever you do, don't tell Jason that he's not supposed to enjoy this monthly ritual. That’s not going to happen.
The clinic's staff, over time, have become more like friends than caregivers. And Jason gives them something in return every time he visits. “He instantly greets us with a smile when he comes in our facility,” Judy Rassbach, a scheduler at the clinic, says in a recent post on Mayo Clinic Health System's Hometown Health blog. “At each visit, he will bring in pictures that he has drawn for us, corresponding with each upcoming holiday." Some of Jason's drawings, Rassbach says, have "even incorporated the Mayo logo."
Though he's had his share of medical ups and downs, Hometown Health reports that Jason is "doing well now," but must still take regular medication to help thin his blood and "prevent additional clots." And since "illnesses, other medications and some food" can all hinder the medication's work, Jason must return to the clinic each month for blood testing and medication adjustments, if needed. And he does so, as Rassbach notes, with a smile as big as the state of Wisconsin. It’s a grin the staff look forward to seeing, Rassbach tells Hometown Health. "He brightens our day, and once he leaves the registration area everyone has a smile on their face.”
Nathan Krekula tells Hometown Health that's just par for the course with his younger brother. “In most cases, patients would be upset with what they have to go through — frustrated — but he always gives a thumbs-up and laughs,” he says. “Nothing ever gets him down. He’s always cheerful. That’s just Jason.”
In addition to his original Mayo-themed drawings, Hometown Health reports that Jason also occasionally brings the Mayo Clinic Health System — Northland staff other gifts, including handmade cards, when he comes in for an appointment. And while that may seem extraordinary for some, Jason tells Hometown Health that's just what you do when you've built a unique friendship with a staff who he says is always "kind and nice" whenever he walks through their front door.
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