LIFE LONG DISEASE GETS LIFE LONG ATTENTION RIGHT HERE IN LINCOLN COUNTY
Nik Rewerts was a normal, energetic, active teenager who enjoyed playing sports and hanging out with his friends. At first glance, he was your average All-American boy! But underneath that exterior was a common and often un-diagnosed disease that affects millions of children. In fact, over 16,000 young people are newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes every year in the United States.
Type 1 Diabetes is a lifelong auto immune disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood caused by the bodys inability to produce insulin. This type of diabetes can occur at any age; however, it is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults. According to the American Diabetes Association, only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Nik was 16 when he started rapidly losing weight, became extremely thirsty, and began having problems with blurred vision. After a concerned phone call to Niks doctor, his mother Diane took him to St. Johns Lutheran Hospitals Prompt Care. There, Nik was promptly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and hospitalized.
During his stay in the hospital, Niks current doctor recommended that he begin doctoring with Dr. Greg Rice because of his expertise in diabetes care and management. Dr. Rice, along other local practitioners, was part of the local diabetes team that had recently received cutting edge training, stated Diane. Niks father Rik and I knew nothing about diabetes, and were in shock and very frightened. The care we received at St. Johns was nothing short of amazing. During Niks hospitalization, we were educated about the disease by Dr. Rice, Becky Brundin, Barb Magone, and local pharmacist Dave Zwang. Immediately, they began to teach Nik how to cope with the routine of care that he would need to follow in order to manage his diabetes, continued Diane.
Niks routine, which had been that of a carefree teenage boy, was about to change drastically to include injections, glucose testing, carbohydrate counting, and treatment of low blood sugars. In spite of his disease and his new routine, Nik continued to be an All-American teenager who participated in athletics throughout his high school and college careers.
Dr. Rice has been Niks doctor since his diagnoses, stated Diane. As an avid athlete himself, he knew how important it was for Nik to be able to manage his disease in a way that would enable him to continue to participate in competitive athletics. Nik played college basketball and football at the University of Montana-Western earning all conference and All-American honors. The entire time he was gone, Dr. Rice took a personal interest in Niks care. In addition to routine office calls, he made phone calls and wrote letters encouraging, and sometimes insisting, that Nik practice regular self-care routines.
Thinking back, Diane is grateful to the staff at St. Johns for the comfort that they gave her during one of the scariest times in her life. Barb Magone, a nurse at St. Johns was an absolute Godsend. Her compassion, competency, and reassurance really helped us cope. Our children had been involved in school, church, and sports activities together, so we knew Barb in that capacity. She was a friend, and we knew that she genuinely cared about us.
The Diabetes team at St. Johns worked with Nik and his parents to ensure that he could live a full and comfortable life with his disease, and they still have contact with him now, 15 years later. Becky Brundin and Joan Bush are two amazing women! exclaimed Diane. They have continually been a part of Niks life as they provide continuing education and support. Both of them are masters at empowering their clients. They are avid supporters of anyone learning to live with diabetes. Now that Nik is older, they have often asked him to serve as a role model for children who are coping with this disease. This is a role that Nik truly relishes.
Libby has a diabetes team that is simply exceptional, even when compared with services provided in the larger communities. In addition to that, we had the peace of mind of knowing that we were being cared for by people that have invested their entire careers to the well-being of Lincoln Countys citizens.
Today, Nik is an active, healthy, happily married father and fifth grade teacher at Libby Elementary School. Living with diabetes is a daily lifetime challenge for him, as it is for the millions of people who cope with the disease. This challenge is manageable when you have committed, caring and skilled practitioners in your local community, continued Diane. As a mother, I will eternally be grateful to these people.