Diabetes diagnosis doesn’t hold cyclist back

Bob Zdeb, 65, celebrates two birthdays each year. One is on the day he was born. The other is on the day he was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “It was that fundamental of a life change,” said the Rockford, Illinois, resident.

On January 2, 2011, Bob attended church with his daughter. “During Mass I started feeling progressively worse,” he said. “I was weak and dizzy. Every time I tried to stand up I felt wobbly.” Finally, he told his daughter that he needed help.

She drove him to OSF PromptCare. There, a blood test revealed that his blood glucose level was dangerously high. A normal blood glucose level is less than 100 mg/dl. Bob’s was above 500 mg/dl.

The doctor at OSF PromptCare told Bob that he had type 2 diabetes and needed to be admitted to the hospital. His daughter drove him to the emergency room at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center. A care team was already waiting for him. He was admitted to the hospital and stayed for two days while he received medication to help bring his blood sugar level within a healthier range.

A renewed commitment to wellness

After he was discharged from the hospital, Bob made sure to followup with his primary care physician, Michael Kouimelis, MD, of OSF HealthCare Medical Group – Rock Cut Primary Care.

“Type 2 diabetes is a huge part of our practice,” Dr. Kouimelis said. “We’re very well trained in taking care of patients with diabetes and helping manage their condition with medication and lifestyle changes.”

Patients also meet one-on-one with diabetes educators who help them implement new habits, troubleshoot challenges and achieve healthier blood sugar levels.

When it came to making lifestyle changes, Bob didn’t miss a beat. “The biggest one I made is my attitude toward the disease,” he said. “Some people may push it off or try to pretend that it isn’t happening. I embrace being a diabetic. I read everything I could about diabetes so that I could better understand it. I realized that I could control the disease.”

Prior to his diagnosis, Bob already led a very active lifestyle. He frequently rides his road bike, cycling up to 4,000 miles each year. He also regularly lifts weights at the gym.

After his diagnosis, he maintained his commitment to fitness and started paying much more attention to the foods he ate.

“I count carbs. I understand the glycemic index and how quickly those carbs get into my bloodstream,” he said. “I check nutrition labels and pay attention to serving sizes.”

Bob follows Dr. Kouimelis’ treatment plan, checking his blood glucose levels throughout the day and taking insulin one to four times per day, oral diabetes medication, blood pressure medicine and baby aspirin.

Successfully managing the day-to-day of diabetes

“When patients are as engaged in their own care as Bob is, it makes a huge difference,” Dr. Kouimelis said. “I can prescribe medicine and discuss different options for treatment, but managing diabetes is a whole new lifestyle. I can’t be there to tell patients what to do every single day so it makes a world of difference when they take ownership of their disease and make the necessary changes.”

Today, seven years since his diagnosis, Bob is feeling well and works hard every day to control his blood glucose levels with diet, exercise and medication. He follows up with Dr. Kouimelis every few months. “Diabetes is a damaging disease, but with knowledge about the disease and a healthy attitude, I won’t let it damage me,” he said.

Two generations of OSF nurses side by side

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. For Tammy and Kelly Butler, this expression remains true. Tammy and her daughter Kelly are both nurses at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center.

Tammy has been a nurse for 25 years and has worked as the first assist in the OR at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center for the last eight. As a child, Kelly was with her most of the time.

“Being a single mom I couldn’t always afford a babysitter,” Tammy said. “Kelly grew up in the hospitals and nursing homes I worked at.”

Kelly helped her mother serve patients by passing out trays and wrapping silverware. Taking care of people came natural to her, and she knew she wanted to grow up and be a nurse just like her mom.

“I spent so much time at Saint Anthony’s with my mom,” Kelly said. “Whether I was coming in for a sports physical or just visiting her, I loved the feel of this hospital from the moment I walked in.”

The next generation

In 2017, Kelly graduated from the Lewis and Clark Community College nursing program, just as her mother had done years before. She now works in the Emergency Department at OSF Saint Anthony’s.

“Saint Anthony’s was the only place I wanted to be,” Kelly said. “For me, it felt like home. I didn’t apply for any other nursing jobs – I never had a second thought.”

After working here for eight years, OSF Saint Anthony’s feels like home for Tammy as well – now more than ever.

“Not only do I get to see my daughter at work, I also work with Mission Partners and doctors that I consider family,” Tammy said. “Everyone feels respected here – we are part of a team.”

OSF HealthCare believes in recognizing employees as “Mission Partners” in order to honor each person for their commitment and dedication to the Sister’s Mission of serving with the greatest care and love.

“OSF Mission Partners are the kind of people who are willing to help anyone that walks in the door at any time,” Kelly added. “To us, the patients always come first. I always want people to get that feeling of warmth that I once felt walking into this hospital as a little girl.”

Tammy was the first nurse in the Butler family, but she certainly won’t be the last.

“My youngest daughter also plans on attending nursing school at Lewis and Clark Community College just like Kelly and I,” Tammy explained. “I guess we really are a nursing family.”

Joining the team

If you are interested in joining our OSF family, nursing might be the career for you. According to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for registered nurses is expected to increase 16 percent by 2024, which is faster than the national average for all other occupations.

The OSF HealthCare culture encourages growth and supports educational endeavors. Not only does OSF HealthCare provide financial support in the classroom, it offers superior on-the-job education. On-site training occurs at medical center locations and the state-of-the-art Jump Simulation & Education Center in Peoria, Illinois.

OSF HealthCare values nurses and their passion to serve those in need. When you work at OSF HealthCare, we work with you to achieve your goals.

To learn more about a nursing career at OSF HealthCare, visit osfcareers.org/nursing.

Small baby unit delivers specialized care to the tiniest babies

Babies born with less than 30 weeks gestation generally have more obstacles to overcome compared to a full term infant. By the time they reach school age, it is estimated that 50 percent to 70 percent of low birth weight infants are identified to have some cognitive, behavioral and/or social delays. These difficulties often times don’t resolve with age and can persist into adulthood.

As a national leader in neonatology, OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois saw a need for specialized care for babies born before 30 weeks gestation. In the fall of 2016, OSF Children’s Hospital implemented the Small Baby Unit (SBU) within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With many different specialists providing patient-focused care, the goal of the SBU is not only survival, but an improved quality of life for each infant.

When the unthinkable happens

Mom Marilyn with baby Joseph Marilyn Holcomb and Joe Penn of Normal were expecting their first child. Marilyn had experienced a fairly normal pregnancy.

But when Marilyn reached 20 weeks gestation, things quickly took an unexpected turn when her water started leaking. Marilyn’s obstetrician immediately sent her to OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center under the care of Dr. Yolanda Renfroe, a maternal-fetal doctor.

“It was one of the worst days of my life because I had no idea what was going on,” Marilyn said. “I was devastated.”

Marilyn spent three weeks in the antepartum unit at OSF Saint Francis where she and her baby were closely monitored.

“The goal was to hold off labor as long as possible,” Marilyn said.

At 23 weeks gestation, the baby’s heart rate started to drop, and Marilyn was moved to labor and delivery where she was monitored 24 hours a day. Two days later, the care team decided it would be safest to deliver the baby.

A precious gift

On December 5, 2016, Joseph Penn made his debut, weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces. He was 10 and ¾ inches long.

The NICU team from OSF Children’s Hospital – connected to OSF Saint Francis – was in the operating room waiting to care for Joseph upon delivery.

“Joe and my parents walked with Dr. Javed (a neonatologist) as they wheeled Joseph to the NICU,” Marilyn said. “Dr. Javed explained exactly what was happening and what to expect.”

SBU difference

Joseph at 14 monthsBecause Joseph was less than 30 weeks gestation, he was admitted to the SBU.

The SBU simulates a womb-like environment by keeping the lights down low, safe guarding sleep, noise levels to a minimum, covering the incubator with a blanket and incorporating two-person care.

With two-person care, one person completes the needed care while the other person provides comfort and support for the baby.

“One of the first things that I felt comfortable doing was holding the top of his head and his legs still while a nurse would provide the necessary care,” Marilyn said.

Marilyn said the care team immediately involved her and Joe in Joseph’s care, including taking his temperature, changing his diapers and encouraging kangaroo care, which is holding a baby skin-to-skin. Involving the parents from the beginning helps them understand their child’s health complexities and gives them confidence to care for their baby when they go home.

Home sweet home

On April 4, 2017, three days after his due date, Joseph was ready to go home.

Though Joseph endured a few health-related concerns in the SBU, he only required an apnea monitor and caffeine to help with his breathing when he was released from the hospital.

Today, Joseph is a “happy and calm” 14-month-old little boy, and developmentally on track according to his age.

“I think the care he received in the SBU was wonderful, from the nurses, the respiratory therapists, neonatologists and the rest of the staff,” Marilyn said. “The SBU was such a caring environment. You can tell the staff are invested in those babies and families.”

Farmer doesn’t let heart attack slow him down

Doug Erickson works on his family farm If you would have told Doug Erickson he would have a heart attack the day after his 68th birthday, he would have told you “no way.”

The Flanagan, Illinois, farmer comes from a history of good genes. His mother is a thriving 98-year-old and his father lived to be 95. With no heart conditions in the family, Doug never thought he would fall victim to a heart attack.

On January 2, 2017, Doug was working in his heated workshop on his corn and soybean farm when he started feeling pressure in his chest.

“I had never experienced pressure like that before,” Doug recalls.

Doug walked back to his house, told his wife, Anne, took an aspirin and laid down to see if the pressure would get better.

“Anne asked me, ‘Well what do you think we should do?’” Doug said. “I wasn’t feeling any better, so I told her we should probably go to the hospital.”

Upon arrival to the emergency department (ER) at OSF HealthCare Saint James – John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac, Doug was immediately taken back where the medical staff performed a series of tests. The ER doctor confirmed that Doug had suffered a heart attack.

From Doug’s test results, it was determined that he needed advanced cardiology care services available at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, named one of the nation’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics. Doug was immediately transferred by ambulance.

Blocked arteries

The cardiovascular team at OSF St. Joseph performed an evaluation on Doug. The results? Doug had one artery with 90 percent blockage, another with 70 percent blockage and a third with 40 percent blockage.

“They believed that a piece of plaque had gotten stuck in the 90 percent blocked artery, which cut off blood supply to my heart in that artery, causing a heart attack,” Doug said.

The 90 percent and 70 percent blocked arteries required an angioplasty procedure and stent replacement. The medical team said the 40 percent blocked artery could be cleared with proper diet, exercise and medication treatment.

Angioplasty is a procedure that widens narrowed arteries by inserting a deflated balloon into the narrowed artery by a catheter. Then, the balloon is inflated, widening the narrowed artery. Once the artery is widened, a small wire mesh tube (stent) is inserted to form a rigid support and hold the artery open.

It’s all in the wrist

Doug was scheduled for surgery the next day with interventional cardiologist, Dr. Murali Senapathi.

Most catheter-based procedures like angioplasty and stenting are done through the femoral artery in the groin. But Dr. Senapathi is also trained to go through a patient’s transradial artery in the wrist, if a patient is a suitable candidate. The benefits of going through the wrist include a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery time and increased patient comfort.

Doug met the requirements of going through the wrist and was prepped for surgery.

Two hours after a successful procedure, Doug was walking around and went home the next day.

“The care I received was outstanding,” Doug recalls. “Everyone from the nurses to the doctors kept me totally informed of the next steps. Sarah Belcher was my nurse the majority of the time I was at OSF St. Joseph. My wife and I really bonded with her, and she made us feel comfortable.”

Lifestyle changes

Doug was referred to the Cardiac Rehab Program at OSF Saint James, which he started a few weeks after surgery. The program consisted of 36, one-hour sessions under the guidance of exercise physiologists Evan DuPrey and Matthew Janus.

“Evan and Matthew helped me create an exercise plan that was tailored for my condition,” Doug said. “By the end of the program, I had increased my workout time from 50 minutes to 80 minutes. I feel great at how far I’ve come.”

Doug has also changed his diet, replacing sugary foods for more fruits and vegetables.

Since completing the rehab program, Doug has lost 30 pounds and continues to follow a healthy lifestyle with his wife.

“I owe most of my success to my wife, who has helped me every step of the way,” Doug said.

Today, Doug continues tending to his 1,900-acre farm and spending time with his three children and 10 grandchildren with a healthy heart.

Congenital heart patient finds care for a lifetime

April and her daughter

April and her daughter, Lexi

Imagine being told your baby has a half-dollar-size hole in her heart. That’s exactly what David and Judy Hall were told about their daughter, April.

April Cooper, of Manito, Illinois, was born in Paducah, Kentucky, on July 16, 1981. She was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called atrial septal defect (ASD) – a condition where a hole lies in the septum that divides the upper chambers of the heart. Though ASD is one of the most common congenital heart defects, the size of April’s hole was large.

If the holes are small enough, they can usually heal on their own. But with larger holes like April’s, they require surgical procedures – which April would eventually need.

At birth, April was breathing well and had no life-threatening symptoms due to the ASD, so the doctors referred April to a pediatric cardiologist.

“My cardiologist determined I would need surgery, but wanted me to grow as much as possible before doing that,” April said.

Missing out

As a young girl, April remembers not being able to be as active as other children her age.

“I have a younger sister, and I remember I couldn’t keep up with her as far as physical activity goes,” April said. “I would experience shortness of breath, and my body wouldn’t allow me to keep up. I had to take it easy.”

Though April experienced shortness of breath with activity, she didn’t need to take any medication for her ASD. It was a waiting game to get the surgery she needed to repair her heart.

A forever keepsake

A teddy bear April was given at the age of 4 after congenital heart surgeryFinally, on June 2, 1986, at 4 years old, April’s cardiologist concluded that she was physically ready for her surgery that would take place at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

“On the morning of my surgery, my dad and I went to a beautiful Catholic church across the street from the hospital to pray,” April said. “He was understandably emotional, and I remember telling him ‘Daddy – everything is going to be OK. I’m going to live.’”

The doctors took a piece of muscle from another part of April’s body along with surgical mesh to mend the hole in her heart.

“I still have the teddy bear the hospital gave me, and it’s wearing a hospital gown with a zipper,” April said. “When you unzip it, the bear has a heart with stiches through it. It’s a special piece of that day I’ll have forever.”

After her surgery, April was able to lead a normal childhood. She played softball, but always knew her limits.

April continues to see a cardiologist on an annual basis. Over the last year, she has been experiencing variations in her pulse and is now on medication to help control it.

“This is the first generation where congenital heart patients are living longer lives,” April said. “We really have to be diligent in continuing to receive heart care throughout our lifetime.”

April and her 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, recently moved to central Illinois. April is going to continue her heart care at the Congenital Heart Center at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois where there is a dedicated adult congenital heart program.

“If something doesn’t feel right, you need to be your own advocate,” April said. “As congenital heart patients, we don’t always have ‘normal’ symptoms. So you have to know what feels right for you and what doesn’t.”