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Continuing education

Diabetes Care Center helps family manage diabetes
Medcenter One Diabetes Care Center has helped the Olson family manage their diabetes
Three of the four children in the Olson family have diabetes, and the Sanford Diabetes Center has helped the entire group manage the disease.
  For Troy and Tara Olson, a busy schedule combining work and the activities of their four children is just part of normal, everyday life.

So is living with type 1 diabetes.

Their oldest daughter, Tylie, 15, was diagnosed in 2000. Taya, 13, was diagnosed a year-and-a-half later, and doctors diagnosed their son, T.J., 7, in January 2010. Tessa, 10, does not have diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, typically associated with children and young adults, occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Facing diabetes the first time was “overwhelming,” Tara Olson recalled.

“I thought I would have to quit my job, and we would have to start this entire new life,” she said. “My thinking changed after meeting with the Sanford Health diabetes team during Tylie’s hospital stay. They did an amazing job of educating and preparing us, and we are still with them 11 years later.”

Sanford Health offers an integrated team approach to diabetes care. Patients and families benefit from education and support provided by doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, diabetes nurse educators and nutritionists.

“We play an advisory role, helping them with problem solving and offering suggestions for improvements when they come in for regular quarterly visits and lab work,” said
Dr. Todd Twogood, Sanford Health pediatrician.

“I can call any time of the day or night with questions,” she said.

With guidance and support from their parents and their medical providers, diabetes does not limit the children. Tylie and Taya play volleyball and soccer, Taya and T.J. play hockey, and T.J. is also in baseball.

“As the kids have shown interest in activities, we’ve helped them problem solve and offered suggestions of how to make these work for their family,” said Cindy Anderst, licensed registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Sanford Health. “Our care is individualized to the family’s goals.”

The family has benefitted from the advances in diabetes care. In 2007, the girls transitioned from giving themselves injections to the latest innovation— the insulin pump.

The pump, similar in size to a pager, is clipped to the waistband. A thin tube
  Dr. Todd Twogood
Twogood, MD


Cindy Anderst
Cindy Anderst
diabetes educator
delivers insulin into the needle site on the abdomen, hip or upper arm. Blood sugars and carbohydrate levels are inputted after eating, and the pump calculates and delivers the appropriate amount of insulin.

“The pump allows them to be more like regular kids,” Tara said. “They don’t have to stop, take out a kit, draw insulin and give injections. They can adjust insulin to allow for activity with the touch of a button.”

While T.J. is beginning his diabetes education, the girls have become more independent.

“We’re taking on more of a supporting role with the girls and letting them manage the daily care,” Tara said. “The girls are also involved in T.J.’s care, and it’s great having that support system within the family.”

When the Olson family travels, it packs what Tara calls a “traveling pharmacy” to ensure the kids stay healthy.

“Troy and Tara made life normal for their children, in light of having diabetes,” Dr. Twogood said. “They moved on with life and provided love and support without overprotecting the children, which has helped them become more independent with their care. They’re doing everything right.”

Click here for more information on Sanford Diabetes Center.


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