One Last Dance | Fulfilling Marvin's Final Wish through Altru's Hospice

Altru Moments - Published on August 24, 2016

Dancing with DaughterAfter arriving home from their daughter Tanisha’s fourth grade graduation, Olisa and Marvin Charboneau were visiting about how great the day was. Marvin stated this would be the last graduation or event he would attend. Most fathers dream of one day walking their daughter down the aisle and dancing together during the father-daughter dance to celebrate her wedding day. For Marvin Charboneau this dream would not come true.

Marvin was diagnosed with end stage renal failure or kidney failure in 2006. For the past nine years, Marvin received hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis at home. In August of 2015, Marvin decided on his own to stop dialysis and enjoy his remaining time with his wife, children, family and friends.

On December 27, 2015, Marvin was admitted to Altru’s Hospice of Devils Lake. Marvin enjoyed all of the nurses, the social worker and the aides who provided care to him for the past seven months.

During one of the visits, Stephanie, Altru’s Hospice social worker, was visiting with Marvin’s wife Olisa, and she shared this would be Marvin's last graduation and he would not get to dance with his daughter at her wedding. Stephanie knew of a special program through Altru’s Hospice, the Sentimental Journey program, which provides patients and their family one last special wish to experience. Sentimental Journey is made possible through generous donors.

On June 17, 2016, Marvin’s wish came true; he was going to be able to have one last dance with his daughter.

Marvin Dancing

The DJ was booked, the food was ordered, guests and family were invited and the hall was decorated in purple, yellow and white, for his favorite football team, The Minnesota Vikings.

Vikings Jersey

Marvin loved everything about the evening, and he cried when he got home. He was touched that someone would hold a dance in his honor so he could have a special, final dance with his daughter.

Marvin passed away July 4, 2016, at the age of 41 years old.

He was married to his childhood sweetheart Olisa for nearly 20 years. He was the father of three children: Brendon Belgarde Jr., Womdee Belgarde and Tanisha Grace Charboneau.

Marvin and Family

About Altru’s Hospice
Hospice is a special kind of care for patients and families facing a life-limiting illness. At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.

At Altru’s Hospice, comfort care is the hallmark of our program. Because we are your hometown hospice, we can identify community resources which may be of help during this time. Altru’s Hospice has locations in Grand Forks, Cavalier, Devils Lake, Grafton, Park River and McVille, North Dakota, and Warren, Minnesota.

Larissa KadlecLarissa Kadlec, community relations coordinator with Altru’s Home Health and Hospice, has been with Altru for 10 years. She oversees, plans and implements public relations and marketing activities to support home health and hospice. Larissa enjoys spending time at the lake with her family and dog in the summer and attending UND hockey games in the winter.

Fishtail Braids, Painted Nails & Countless S’mores | How Three Young Men Went the Extra Mile for Camp Good Mourning

It's Altru - Published on August 24, 2016

Jess Gowan, a Camp Good Mourning volunteer and instructor at the University of North Dakota, wrote this open letter to the parents of Deane B., Wade and Wyatt, volunteers at the 2016 Camp Good Mourning.

CGM Volunteers

Coming from a family of sports fanatics, my son had barely entered the world when my husband and I began fielding the big question, “What sports will your son play?”

As entertaining as it is to debate this topic, it is the least of my concerns as a new mother. Instead, I lie awake holding our sleeping child at night and ask myself, 'How do we raise a young man who is selfless? How do we teach chivalry? How can we show him the value of honest, hard work?'

After spending the weekend volunteering with your sons, I realized I should ask you these parenting questions, because clearly you know the answers.

I met your sons through my work for Altru Health System. I was tasked with coordinating volunteers for  Altru’s Hospice Camp Good Mourning, an annual grief camp for children and teens. Each year, as soon as our application opens, females immediately sign up to volunteer. However, males are not as quick to apply. A month before the event, I posted on social media a desperate cry for male volunteers. Thankfully, many men, including your sons, responded to this plea.

Two weeks before camp, your 20-year-old sons received an email stating they were not assigned to be counselors. Instead, they would be helping with arts and crafts.

Although this was not what your sons signed up for, I never received a message saying any of them wanted to back out. I never heard an excuse or complaint, even though they would be giving up an entire summer weekend to lead kids in painting and making tie-dye projects. Instead, they showed up to camp ready to take on the challenge.

Embracing Their Role and Going the Extra Mile
These three men impressed me and the entire staff from the moment camp began. They didn’t just go through the motions; they went the extra mile and completely embraced their role as arts and crafts counselors, with humility and responsibility.

When they got to camp, these men learned they were in charge of teaching campers how to make jewelry from t-shirts. Deane, Wade, and Wyatt took notes as they received a crash course on jewelry-making. They borrowed a fellow volunteer’s phone to look on Pinterest and learn different ways to create bracelets and necklaces. They even researched how to make fishtail braids as a technique to show campers. With hardly any advance notice, they did everything in their power to be the best shirt-jewelry designers in the state of North Dakota.

Jess and her sonThroughout the weekend, Deane, Wade, and Wyatt were selfless and empathic. In between activities, they could have taken naps or sat in the lounge. Instead, they walked around camp asking staff members what they could do to be helpful. They moved tables, cleaned up paint, took inventory of craft supplies, and helped campers make more than 100 s’mores. They swept floors without being asked, and they did every task with enthusiasm. When young campers set up a nail polish station, they agreed to be their customers even though that meant they would go through the entire weekend with colored nails.

Deane, Wade, and Wyatt did everything with passion and purpose. I hope to have them back at camp so they can be role models to fellow volunteers. It was a privilege to volunteer with them at camp, and it would be an honor to work with them in the years to come.

As a mom, I can see how hard it is to raise good kids. It gives me hope to see what a great job you did as parents and, as my own son grows, I hope to instill similar virtues.

Jess GowanJess Gowan is a Camp Good Mourning volunteer and instructor in the Communications department at the University of North Dakota. After completing her undergraduate degree in Ohio and her master's degree in Illinois, she backpacked through Europe to explore different cultures first-hand. Jess is a wife and mother who enjoys running, organizing and technology.

Prevent an ACL Tear with These 4 Tips

Enrich - Published on August 8, 2016

ACL TearWhen you’ve torn your anterior cruciate ligament – one of the major ligaments in the knee – you’ve torn your ACL. While some may describe the pain as excruciating and accompanied by a loud popping noise, others could tell you they didn’t even know it was torn. Anthony Morando, a performance manager at Altru’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, said both athletes and non-athletes can suffer an ACL tear. “Whether a player gets hit or their foot gets caught in an unfortunate pivot point, ACL tears occur,” Morando said. “It just happens. You usually can’t pinpoint the exact moment.”

“ACL tears are just unfortunate experiences with gravity, and they are very common,” Morando said. Altru Advanced Orthopedics’ orthopedic surgeon Darin Leetun agrees some tears just occur from “being hit awkwardly,”  but in some situations preventing the injury is possible. Dr. Leetun and Morando weighed in on a few habits that will facilitate an injury-free future.

Lose Weight by Moving More
Being overweight can lead to heart disease and diabetes, but have you ever considered the amount of stress added weight places on your bones, joints, ligaments and tendons? Probably not. For every pound you are overweight, your skeleton experiences an additional four pounds of pressure. So, if you are 10 pounds overweight, your knees actually feel 40 pounds of added pressure. Over time, this added pressure can lead to arthritis, injuries and other weight-related illnesses.

People don’t move,” Morando said. “If people don’t move and take care of themselves, they are not only at risk of tearing their ACL, but they are at risk for other negative things.” If you are overweight and have not already started making strides toward a healthier body, start with just five minutes a day and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a day. Even small weight loss takes big pressure off knees.


Always Warm Up
Warming up is injury-preventive because it increases your heart rate and circulation, which will increase blood flow to muscles and loosen joints. A warm-up can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a half-hour, but if you don’t have that much time, a quick five-minute routine of dynamic stretching will be enough. “Warming up is extremely important,” Morando said. “You can do soft-tissue work, or myofascial release using a foam roller, along with a dynamic, aerobic warm-up," he said.

Strength Train
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of Americans regularly strength train. “You have to get stronger,” Morando said. “Training is rehab. You have to train all the major joints – not only the knee joints, but everything.” Morando said there is no “special training,” but any kind of hip-hinge movements, lunges, squats and deadlifts (only if you’ve mastered hip-hinging) are important.

“People can avoid an ACL tear by having good balance, strength coordination and appropriate skills to accomplish the sport that they’re involved in,” Dr. Leetun said. Balance and coordination are increased when a person strength trains. Additional benefits include increased bone density and strength. Connective tissues becomes more elastic for furthering functional movement and lower fat body mass can be experienced.

Woman stretching

Rest and Recovery
It’s important to rest between activities or between periods in a game,” Dr. Leetun said. “[This] allows the body to re-energize, so the muscles can help protect against an ACL tear.” Morando added it’s also important to figure out what you can work versus what you need to rest. “If your right knee is injured, you have a left, and your whole upper body to train. If the best you can do is work all other extremities, then you should do it,” Morando said. “There are a lot of things we can do that won’t compromise recovering from surgery.”

Morando said that when you are not injured, training the body for function is the most important thing.  A routine that focuses on knee-dominant and upper push exercises, such as push ups, twice per week, then hip-dominant and upper-body pull exercises twice a week, helps to balance the body and provide a structured progression. This decreases the likely hood of overtraining a certain area.

It’s Already Torn. What Are My Options?
Dr. Leetun said deciding your treatment options comes down to age, intensity of sports activity and the individual’s tightness or looseness of knee. “Treatment of an ACL tear may include rehabilitation and then return to sport in a brace, versus surgical reconstruction,” Dr. Leetun said. “In general, ACL reconstruction is felt to be more of a necessity in younger individuals who are active in sports due to high risk of injury to structures of the knee due to instability.” Dr. Leetun added that age causes knees to stiffen, helping to avoid recurrent knee instability, which is associated with ACL tearing.

Experiencing an ACL tear may be more common than you’d like to think, but by moving more, losing a little weight and adopting an exercise routine that suits your body’s needs, you’re well on your way to having a long and healthy life, free of an ACL injury.

Learn more about the comprehensive care offered at Altru Advanced Orthopedics, including performance training at Sports Advantage powered by EXOS at

A Case for Colonoscopies | Protect Yourself. Get Checked.

Enrich - Published on August 8, 2016

Colonoscopy AppointmentColonoscopies aren’t something people like to talk about, but they should be on the top of your to-do list. They’re the best way to detect colorectal cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable, and they can be lifesaving.

Every year, more people die from colorectal cancers than either breast or prostate cancer. Colonoscopies detect cancer early and allow doctors to remove up to 98 percent of colorectal tumors. Early detection really does save lives for people with colorectal cancer. Due to advancements in detection and treatment, colorectal cancer death rate has been dropping for more than 20 years.

When to Start Screening
Follow these guidelines to understand when you should be screened:

  • Everyone needs to get regular colonoscopies beginning at age 50.

  • People with average risk should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at age 50 and continuing through age 75.

  • Individuals with increased risk are often advised to begin screenings before age 50, and/or get them more frequently.

  • If you are at increased risk, speak with your doctor about the most appropriate screening schedule for you.

For more information about what exactly a colonoscopy involves, see this handy infographic.

Colonoscopy Infographic

(Click to view larger.)

There’s no ifs, ands or “butts” about it: a screening colonoscopy is the best line of defense. If you’re 50 years old or at a higher risk for colon cancer, now’s the time to make an appointment. Call our experts at Altru’s Gastroenterology Clinic at 701.780.6533 or visit

If the cost of a colonoscopy is standing in your way, Altru Health System may have funding available through its No-Cost Colonoscopy program.

See also:

5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy (and Prevent Dementia)

Enrich - Published on August 8, 2016

Brain healthThere is no magic wand to guarantee you won’t have brain issues down the road. However, there are many lifestyle choices, like being physically active and staying social, which can help to maintain brain health and create a brain span that matches our lifespan. In fact, Barnes and Yaffe argued that 1.1-3.0 million Alzheimer's disease cases can be prevented worldwide by a 10-25 percent reduction in seven risk factors. [Barnes D et al., 2011]

There is still a lot we do not know about dementia; however, we are learning more every day. Ongoing research is looking into issues such as ways to prevent cognitive impairment, earlier screening tools, genetic predispositions, better diagnostic testing as well as therapeutic measures. Given the prevalence of cognitive disease, this is one of the most active research areas in the world of neurology. 

Note: There are many different types of dementia; however, Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common at 60-80 percent making most research. Therefore, the below comments focus on this particular disease process.

Here are five lifestyle choices that can help us keep our brains healthy as we age.

1. Physical activity
Regular physical exercise may keep the brain healthy and lower the risk of dementia. Exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow to brain tissue. Physical activity and social interaction may delay the onset of dementia and reduce its symptoms. [Scarmess N et al., 2010]

As we age, we have to remember to exercise safely. Please consult with your primary care provider to ensure you are healthy enough to exercise. Some of the safest exercises as we get older include water aerobics and low impact cardio, such as a stationary or recumbent bike. For most healthy adults, professional organizations recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity spread out evenly throughout the week.

Senior selfie

2. Cognitive and social activity
A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.

Those who continue learning new things throughout life and challenging their brains are less likely to develop dementia, so make it a point to stay mentally active. In essence, you need to “use it or lose it.”

Activities involving multiple tasks or requiring communication, interaction and organization offer the greatest protection. Set aside time each day to stimulate your brain. [Wilson RS et al., 2002]

Some ways to keep your mind active and stay mentally sharp include: drawing, painting, puzzles, crosswords and interacting with peers. Staying social is important for your mental health as well.

3. Strict management of chronic disease
Management of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and depression, protects the brain. There is good evidence to support proper control of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors reduces the risk for dementia. Keeping blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and weight in normal range allows vascular and brain cells to function better. Tobacco use is associated with higher vascular disease and cognitive impairment, and alcohol abuse is strongly linked to cognitive decline.

Depression is also a risk factor for cognitive decline. It’s important to keep depression under control. This could be achieved by regular visits to your healthcare provider, paying attention to diet and taking medication on time.

4. Healthy diet
Many of the risk factors for dementia may be modified by diet. In addition, a diet high in antioxidants may reduce inflammation, which is associated with the risk of dementia. It is reasonable to suggest that the risk of dementia itself could be modified by diet. Among reviewed studies examining the association between Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) intake and pathological cognitive function (i.e. dementia), there was a general consensus that increased MedDiet lead to reduced risk of cognitive impairment. [Feart C et al., 2009]

The MedDiet is characterized by high intake of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, legumes, fish, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds; and low consumption of processed foods, dairy products, red meat, vegetable oils and alcohol. Studies have shown the MedDiet is associated with lower rates of vascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia syndromes.

Note: There is no good evidence to support the use of any particular medications or supplements to prevent the development of dementia.

5. Fall prevention
Simply put, falls often cause head injury. There appears to be a strong link between future risk of brain function decline and serious head injury, especially when injury involves loss of consciousness.

We can reduce risk of brain health decline by wearing a helmet when active and making our homes “fall-proof” by removing unnecessary rugs and furniture and placing handrails in bathrooms.

It is important to keep our brain healthy as we age, so that we can prevent or reduce the risk for disease, such as dementia and effects of traumatic brain injury. As a general rule of thumb, keep this in mind:  Often what is good for your heart is also good for your brain.

SaimaSaima Bashir Choudhry is currently a master’s in public health student at the University of North Dakota shadowing at Altru Health System. She has ten years of experience working as a physician (general medicine) in Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Outside of school and research, Saima enjoys cooking, spending time with her kids, and playing tennis and basketball. 




Dr. Cory Edwards is a practicing neurologist at Altru Health System, as well as Clinical Instructor for Neurology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota and went on to complete his medical degree from UND as well. He completed his neurology training at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Outside of work, Dr. Edwards enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, going on walks with their dog, and watching movies and UND hockey.

Why Your Performance Trainer Wants You to Rest

Enrich - Published on August 4, 2016

At Altru’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, our training programs are created around four pillars - mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery. In this post, we’ll be focusing on the significance of recovery, which provides essential regeneration of muscles, allowing the body to re-energize and prepare for the next day’s activity.

Recovery = Rest + Regeneration
Recovery is the process that starts when a workout ends and ends when the next workout begins. It is made up of two components – rest and regeneration. Rest is the passive form of recovery; it involves little to no movement. Regeneration is an active strategy toward the end of recovery when one is working back into full movement. 

Rest is an extremely important component of a training system. Physical rest allows for the body to re-build in between sessions to avoid overtraining. Without rest, the body cannot adapt to the physical training it’s undertaking. Mental rest and recovery, which might include meditation or other relaxation techniques, is also important. It can help to recover from the emotional and psychological stress of day-to-day interactions and re-focus on your goals.

Regeneration is a group of actions that assist in overcoming the stress of hard training. Regeneration is movement based, bridging the gap between rest and training. Proper regeneration helps to restore the body’s energy systems, remove the effects of fatigue and improve muscle function.

Regenerative recovery exercises may include:

Soft Tissue Mobilization
A common form of soft tissue mobilization is foam rolling. Foam rolling has many benefits, including:

  • Helps to restore and maintain tissue structure

  • Increases blood flow (nutrient delivery) and lymphatic flow (waste product removal)

  • Helps reconstruct damaged muscle tissue, and aide in muscle relaxation

  • Breaks up scar tissue and trigger points in the body that can compromise or inhibit a muscle’s ability to perform properly

Active Stretching
Active or dynamic stretching is a safe and effective way to move from rest to regeneration. Benefits include: 

  • Improved flexibility, or range of motion around a joint

  • Improved mobility, or range of motion within the joint

  • Optimizes alignment, length, control and efficient movement

  • Activates a reciprocal inhibition 

Low-level Aerobics
Introducing aerobic activities during the regeneration process helps the body gain comfort in more strenuous movement during the recovery period. Examples might include:

  • Low-intensity elliptical workout

  • A light jog

  • Up-hill walks

  • Density circuits

Work + Rest = Success
The right balance of work, or training, and rest results in the desired adaptation, allowing you to reach performance goals. Work without rest results in overtraining; rest without enough work will not allow the body to adapt.

At Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, we dedicate time to both work and recovery methods to ensure our clients can achieve their goals safely and effectively.

IMG_8749ret_Morando-min (1)Anthony Morando is the performance manager with Altru’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS. He is a certified strength and conditioning coach with a passion for helping others reach their performance potential.

Hitting the Books After Hitting Your Head | How to Go Back to Class After a Concussion

Enrich - Published on August 4, 2016

You might remember a commercial from a few years ago featuring a football player laying on the field after a hard tackle. He tells his coach, “I’m fine.” But when the coach asks him what his name is, the player replies, “I am Batman.” The end of the commercial shows the concussed player sitting out the rest of the game enjoying a Snickers bar.

Though sometimes taken lightly, concussions are no laughing matter. The Centers for Disease Control estimates between 1.6 and 3.8 million concussions happen every year, many of them to young people playing sports. While most concussions resolve themselves within a few weeks, they can have lasting effects for those who suffer from them including headaches, dizziness and an inability to concentrate in school. The goal becomes not only treating the concussion but managing how and when the student athlete can get back in the classroom without jeopardizing his or her health.

Diagnosing a Concussion
Dr. Darin Leetun, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Altru Advanced Orthopedics, has been team physician for USA Hockey since February 2010 and for US Ski and Snowboarding since 2009. He said after a player is injured, diagnosing a concussion starts with the basics.

“We’ll ask them the day, time, place. We’ll have them repeat numbers or do the alphabet backwards," he said. "We can get a pretty good idea of their mental acuity from that.”

Dr. Leetun said if they determine the student athlete has had a concussion he or she is required to sit out the rest of the game. That’s a departure in protocol from years ago when athletes were allowed to get back in the game if their symptoms subsided. But Dr. Leetun said research has shown how important it is to let the brain rest, especially in kids.

“You don’t want to have a second hit," he said." A second hit can be catastrophic; it can cause permanent damage and sometimes even death.”

Dr. Billy Haug, family medicine and sports medicine specialist at Altru Advanced Orthopedics, who served as the team doctor for the USA ski team from 2002-2007 and has treated local athletes for many years, knows that all concussions aren't to be treated equally.

"The severity of the initial blow to the head does not necessarily correspond to the duration or severity of the symptoms. A light blow in the right spot may cause more symptoms than a harder impact."

Because of this, he and the team at Altru Advanced Orthopedics look at many aspects of the injury before making a diagnosis or treatment recommendation.

Giving it Time
Both doctors said the key is time and watching athletes, even those with seemingly minor concussions, for continued signs of confusion, memory loss, headaches, trouble concentrating or troubles with balance or sleep.

“We say wait at least a week. It takes that long for everything to settle," said Dr. Leetun. "It takes more than just a few hours for the brain to reset."

learnReturn to Learn
But when you’re talking about student athletes it’s not just about returning to the football or soccer field or the hockey rink, it’s about returning to school. Some organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics offer guidelines to physicians, parents and educators as to when and how a student should return to school. At first, the student should stay home and even avoid mental stimulation like television or video games because over-stimulating the brain prolongs the healing process. As the student improves, he or she might go back to school part-time and with certain conditions.

“We try to work with schools as the student returns," Dr. Haug said. "They might need a modified work load or to do their work in a quiet room or a room with lower light."

Eventually, students can add a few more hours to their school day and return to learning under normal conditions. Dr. Haug said he advises common sense with his patients in and out of the classroom. If reading, studying or watching television gives you a headache, take a 10-minute break to give the brain quiet time.

“I counsel patients to avoid physical exertion, but also to avoid loud noise or bright lights if those are causing increased symptoms, as well,” he said.

Both doctors said they’re glad more people are talking about concussions and ways not only to treat them, but ensure their effects upon education and learning are minimized.

“Concussions are serious but are still poorly understood,” Dr. Haug said, “Still much more needs to be done.”

If you would like to meet one-on-one with an Altru Advanced Orthopedic specialist, schedule an appointment by calling 701.732.7700 or click here and request an appointment on the left hand side of the page.

 To get monthly updates, tips and more from our experts, sign up for our eNewsletter.

Can Diabetes Be Cured? Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

Enrich - Published on August 4, 2016

As of 2014, 29.1 million people in the United States are living with diabetes. Though prevalent, the facts and treatment options for those living with diabetes, or those at risk, can be confusing. And, they are sometime misconstrued in the media or other seemingly reputable sources. To help clear things up, we’ve provided some of the key questions we hear about diabetes, along with the most up-to-date information related to each.

Q: What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the beta cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin, are destroyed. Insulin is a necessary hormone that takes sugar from our blood and puts it into our cells to provide energy.

Type 2 diabetes results from a more gradual destruction of beta cells. When a person reaches the criteria for diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, about half of their beta cells have already lost their ability to produce insulin.

Q: What are the treatment options for diabetes?
The only treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin. As of now, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, but that may change in the future if researchers are able to restore beta cell function.

People with type 2 diabetes generally also take insulin medications. However, they may not require medications if they make healthy and carb-controlled food choices and increase their physical activity. Because a person with type 2 diabetes is working with half or less of their original capacity to control blood sugar, healthy lifestyle choices should always be the goal.

Q: Can diabetes be cured?
A: At this time, diabetes remains incurable. It can be managed, and side-effects can be minimized, but if you’ve heard that it can be cured, you have unfortunately been misinformed. If someone has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and they do not take medications, that does not mean they are cured.

Q: What supplements can I take to improve my diabetes management?
A: By far the most effective way to improve your diabetes management is to take all medications as prescribed, and create a meal and exercise plan with the assistance of your healthcare providers.  Very few of the supplements on the market today have high-quality research to support their benefits, and many of them do not contain exactly what is listed on the label; there may be more or less of the active ingredient, and the supplement may be contaminated or mixed with other ingredients with unknown side effects. Always ask your healthcare providers before taking a supplement, we can help you determine whether it is safe and whether it will help.

Healthy living

Q: Do I need to avoid sweets and white foods in order to manage my diabetes?
A: It’s best to find alternatives that provide carbohydrates with important nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but white foods (potatoes, white bread, white rice, pancakes, etc.) and sweets can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan to manage diabetes. By eating these foods only occasionally, you will likely be healthier and feel better than if you were to eat large amounts of white foods without including other balancing foods. Moderation is key; Altru’s Registered Dietitians can help you find a balance.

Q: What resources can I trust for information about diabetes?
You will often hear about research studies from popular news outlets or on social media, and not from reputable scientific organizations like the American Diabetes Association. The reason large organizations do not make definitive claims on each newly published article is that the results from one study (and even several studies combined) are often not enough to confidently proclaim a new scientific breakthrough. Look to your local experts at Altru, or these reputable sources for information on diabetes and making healthy lifestyle choices:

Diabetes can be overwhelming. It’s important to educate yourself on this disease so that you can prevent it if you are at risk, or manage it properly. If you have any questions about diabetes, ask one of the providers at Altru's Diabetes Center. We want to help you manage or prevent diabetes in a safe and effective way!

Baskets of Nutrition: Why Gardening Is Your Best Friend for Health

Enrich - Published on August 4, 2016

The accessible garden at Altru’s Medical Fitness Center is now in full bloom and the first of our produce is ready for harvest. Our 14 garden group members are enjoying fresh-from-the-garden sugar snap peas, multi-colored string beans and zucchinis.

MFC Garden

Studies show that gardening promotes physical health, mental health and better nutrition. Garden chores can burn up to 200 calories per half hour. For your comfort and safety, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you’re on your knees, use a cushion.

  • Keep your back straight and don’t sit on your heels.

  • Stand and stretch your legs every 10 minutes or so.

  • Remember to bend at the knees and hips.

MFC Tomato

Gardens yield baskets of nutritious food. All adults should get about two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables each day. While this may seem like a lot, here are a few tips to help you meet the recommendations:

  • Try new preparation methods. Consider grilling vegetables rather than steaming them.

  • Experiment with new foods. Try snacking on pea pods instead of carrots and celery.

  • Turn cooking into a family activity. Get the kids involved.

  • Remember: all fruits and vegetables count. Try to choose from a variety of colors.

MFC Peas

The garden group members get to enjoy the fresh produce, as well as participate in cooking demonstrations focused on healthy eating. The two recipes we will be demonstrating to our garden group are a stir-fried spring vegetable dish that gets its zing from Sichuan peppercorns, and a pasta dish that is a delicious way to fit healthy greens into your diet. Get the recipes:

(For more tasty recipes, visit

For a tour of our accessible garden or to learn more about other programs, feel free to stop by Altru's Medical Fitness Center or call 701.780.2516.

Adam SorumAdam Sorum is a Medical Fitness Specialist at Altru's Medical Fitness Center, an ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and group exercise instructor. He is the North Dakota State Captain of the Medical Fitness Association. He has over a decade of experience helping people with various health conditions exercise in a safe and comfortable manner. In his free time, Adam enjoys spending time with family and friends playing foosball, fishing, hunting and cooking.

Shalee Shares What It’s Really Like to Lose a Sibling

It's Altru - Published on August 1, 2016

Mike & I“It was the worst news of my life,” shares Shalee. “We were all in complete shock. I remember not being able to sleep, not being able to eat, and not feeling like I could go on.”

When Shalee (Bullinger) Lorenz was just 14 years old, she lost her one and only brother, Mike, to suicide. The days and weeks that passed were a blur. Shalee shares, “I know I couldn’t have gotten through any of this without my amazing parents and my family and friends.”

“The week that Mike passed away feels like a blur but there were also a lot of memories that I will cherish forever that happened that week. Tons of family and friends gathered all week long at my aunt’s house leading up the funeral. We had bonfires, played all his favorite CDs, had a balloon release and people gathered in front of our house for a memorial.”

Sibling Support
Losing a sibling at any age, but especially as a child, can be very confusing. Shalee explains, “Since everyone grieves differently, it was hard to figure out what I needed to do to get through the tough days.”

“Something that is hard for me to this day is seeing siblings argue or fight. I would give anything to get my brother back and have those sibling moments. I think about Mike every time I see it happen.”

Shalee offers this advice to parents who are helping their children grieve the loss of a sibling: “Just be there for your kids and work with them to figure out how they need to grieve. Every person grieves differently. My parents tried hard to help me get through losing my brother. Be willing to go through ups and downs until you find what works.”

Frequent Memories
Shalee remembers her brother often. “I still think about Mike every day,” she explains. “The day my son was born was a hard day. I know my brother was watching down on me and my son, because he helped make sure the most beautiful baby boy was safe after a kind of chaotic labor and birth. I named my son Corbin Michael, in honor of my brother. I know he is one proud uncle!”


“I didn’t want people to forget him and stop talking about him. Still today, 13 years later, I absolutely love when people bring up stories about him, or even when I see his friends and we talk about Mike. I absolutely love it because I know he is still with everyone and know that he has not been forgotten.”


Every fifteen minutes someone ends their own life. Suicide affects families, friends and neighbors. More importantly, suicide is 100 percent preventable. By bringing suicide prevention awareness to Grand Forks and our communities, we can provide help and support for those who have considered suicide as well as their loved ones. Learn more about TEARS (Together we Educate About the Realities of Suicide) >> 

View More Posts from It’s Altru

Other Altru Blogs

Enrich  |  Altru Moments  |  Faces of Altru  |  It’s Altru  |  Modern Mom