Diabetics, loved ones share stories at awareness meeting
More than 30 people packed into a small room at The Journey North Community Church in Baxter on Tuesday to share their connection with diabetes. The town hall-style meeting was organized by Baxter resident Quinn Nystrom, who sits on the city coun...
More than 30 people packed into a small room at The Journey North Community Church in Baxter on Tuesday to share their connection with diabetes.
The town hall-style meeting was organized by Baxter resident Quinn Nystrom, who sits on the city council and has devoted much of her life to diabetes advocacy and awareness. Nystrom was the youngest person to serve on the American Diabetes Association Community Leadership Board for Minnesota, and authored a book on her experiences with the condition.
The meeting, timed to coincide with National Diabetes Awareness month, began with local doctors giving their expert perspective on diabetes. Podiatrist Jessica Tabatt and endocrinologist Tom Moraghan described the challenges those diagnosed with the disease can face.
Then, each of the attendees-a good portion of them friends or family of Nystrom-had the chance to tell the group about their own experience with diabetes or the experience of loved ones and acquaintances.
They told stories of difficulty and hardship, of people's limbs being amputated because of the disease, or diabetics simply giving up on life and letting the disease take them.
They also told stories of strength and resilience, of people living full lives for decades after being diagnosed, and travelling the world.
Nystrom's mother, Rachel, talked about her experience when Nystrom's brother Will was diagnosed with diabetes as a toddler. She hated the idea of sticking her son with a hypodermic needle, of hurting him, to deliver insulin injections. Eventually, she got over her fear when a nurse let Rachel stick her with needles full of saline solution as practice.
Some of the attendees didn't know Quinn Nystrom, though-like a father whose 6-year-old girl had been diagnosed just two weeks earlier. He came to the meeting to find a diabetes specialist physician in the Brainerd area, he said, because he had been told there weren't any.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., was a special guest at the event and said it was "one of the more important and more moving meetings that I have ever been to in my political life."
He was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes, he said.
Visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org to learn more.
ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser .