Category Archives: Prevention

Strength in Numbers: A resolution for those of us over 55

By Neil Short, certified strength and conditioning specialist and and creator of ‘Be Strong Be Free’

Neil short photo
Neil Short, a Casper attorney and strength-training proponent, will write about positive aging in his weekly column, “Strength in Numbers.” (Photo courtesy of Neil Short)

Here is a resolution for all of us over 55:  Commit to a life of Positive Aging.  This is our life-long resolution, not merely a New Year’s Resolution.

New Year’s Resolutions tend to focus on subjects like weight loss and learning a new language.  New Year’s Resolutions are all too often made only to be broken, and quit quickly at that.  When a resolution (weight loss) is broken, the negative activity (eating poorly) becomes much worse.  Everyone knows that New Year’s Resolutions usually fail.

Rather than making a doomed – to – fail resolution for the New Year, those of us 55 and older need to make a life plan to take responsibility for our lives and make the next years the best they can possibly be.

Does that sound just too grand and broad to be real and effective?  It is not.  A positive life plan starts with an attitude that puts you in charge of how you will age and flourish versus allowing yourself to wither.  Choose active aging rather than allow aging to be a form of disability.  Decide that you want to remain active to the fullest degree possible and then do what needs to be done.

In this column, which will appear monthly on The Pulse, I will explore topics that contribute to a healthy, happy and productive life at any age. The basic tenents are the same, no matter if you are 20 or 70. But I will devote this space to those of us who, in the words of Dylan Thomas, will “not go gentle into that good night.”

Certainly you must eat well to have any hope of being the best you can be.  Of course you must engage in exercise centered on strength training to give you the boost and ability to live a full life.  But there is one more dynamic of positive aging that you must buy into to make your senior years full and rewarding.

A key ingredient is committing to a purpose or a cause that forces you outside of your personal universe.  Find meaning in your life beyond your family and your home projects.  To be the best possible version of you, step out of your comfort zone and contribute to the broader community.  Opportunities abound. Work with a church group; volunteer in a meaningful way with one of the many fine non-profit organizations in our community.  Expend yourself and expand yourself.  The community will benefit, but even more important, you will be the better for it.

Here is your resolution then: commit to a life of positive aging that includes contributing your time, energy, and talents to a worthy cause.

Expand your personal universe by making aging a positive process.  Eat well, exercise enthusiastically, and become engaged in the community.  Everything else will fall into place.

Bicep Curls

Neil Short demonstrates this good starter exercise which can be done with weighted objects found around your house – like two filled water bottles. Find more exercises and strength-training tips at Never start any exercise program without first consulting your healthcare provider.


neil short mugNeil Short, 66, of Casper, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a USA Weightlifting Level 1 certified coach. As he approached age 60, he sought to discover why some seniors recover from health problems, but others do not, and  why some people power into their senior years while others allow aging to become a form of disability.  The answer became very clear: strength training.

He is the creator of “Be Strong Be Free,” a home-based strength-training program to help you stay active into your 80s and 90s. Learn more at His “Strength in Numbers” column appears monthly on The Pulse.



New car seat inspection starting January 2014

On a windy Saturday in January, Safe Kids Central Wyoming held the first free car seat inspection at the new location – White’s Mountain Motors on East Yellowstone Highway. Moving the car seat inspections to White’s Mountain Motors is in alignment with our General Motors sponsor. General Motors has been a national sponsor for Safe Kids USA for over 16 years. The Buckle Up program has grown into the most comprehensive child passenger safety program in the nation. Measurement of the program is lives saved and injuries prevented. Since this program was started the number of deaths has been cut by a third, and the number of injuries have been cut in half today.
Even with the wind howling outside the service area, 10 vehicles showed up for the volunteer child passenger safety technicians to inspect 12 car seats to ensure they were installed correctly. Three car seats/booster seats were changed out to provide the correct equipment to the children that attended the event.

Child Passenger Safety technicians checking a car seat for a parent and child.
Child Passenger Safety technicians checking a car seat for a parent and child.

Safe Kids was very fortunate to have White’s Mountain Motors donate the removal of the old Safe Kids van graphics, along with purchasing and installing the new graphics. The graphics are the new Safe Kids Worldwide logos and decons.

The new van graphics displayed in front of White’s Mountain Motors on Sat. Jan. 11. Nice bright colors, shapes and new logos are apparent.
The new van graphics displayed in front of White’s Mountain Motors on Sat. Jan. 11. Nice bright colors, shapes and new logos are apparent.

Free Car Seat Inspections

Safe kids holds free car seat inspections on the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at Whites Mountain Motors, 2400 E Yellowstone Highway in Casper.

Survive. Don’t Drive: In case of a heart attack, dial 911

Dr. Adrian Fluture reminds people to call 911 at the first signs of a heart attack. WMC doctors and staff can administer the best and fastest treatment when patients trust our EMS system, rather than driving to the hospitals themselves. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

It seems like common sense: At the first signs of heart attack, call 911. Do not lie down to see if the symptoms pass. Do not ask a friend or loved one to drive you to the hospital. Above all else, don’t think you can drive to the hospital yourself.

Americans wait an average of 2 hours after the first symptoms appear before deciding to do something about them, said cardiologist Dr. Adrian Fluture, Director of Regional Myocardial Infarction Care at Wyoming Medical Center. Only about 60 percent of those patients use EMS services, instead trying to make it to the hospital on their own.  Natrona County’s numbers are even worse. Here, only 30 percent of people who suspect heart attacks call 911.

That can be a deadly decision.

Heart attacks require immediate medical treatment. When a patient calls 911, Wyoming Medical Center shaves an average of 10 to 11 minutes off door-to-balloon time – the time from when a patient arrives at the emergency room to the time a balloon is inflated in the blocked vessel. The shorter the time, the more heart tissue doctors can save.

“Data shows that of the people who die from (heart) rhythm disturbances, most of them die within the first one hour of onset. Rhythm disturbances can be so bad that it can kill you within a couple or three minutes,” Fluture said. “You need to trust the system. Dial 911. Every minute a person delays medical treatment increases the likelihood of damage or even death.”

At the first signs of heart attack, call 911. Never drive yourself to the hospital or have someone else drive you.  Here are three reasons why:

1.       You may crash your car.

If you suffer a heart rhythm disturbance on the drive, you will likely crash. Worse, you may crash into another car or run over pedestrians.

“The thing I tell my patients is they may kill a mom with kids coming from school. Just be responsible,” Fluture said. “These are unpredictable things. You cannot say, ‘I just have a chest pain. I know I’m going to be fine until I reach the hospital.’ You can never guarantee that.”

2.       Cardiac resuscitation requires a team effort.

Even if a loved one is trained in cardiac resuscitation, one person is not enough. He needs help to arrive as quickly as possible, and calling 911 is the fastest way to get it. If a loved one decides to drive you to the hospital and you go into cardiac arrest, he can’t do anything for you while he’s behind the wheel.

Ambulances are mobile emergency medical clinics. When paramedics reach you, they can treat low blood pressure, administer IVs and aspirin, remove clothing and prep you for immediate admission to the hospital. If you go into cardiac arrest, paramedics are trained with defibrillators and can resuscitate you – at home or en route to the hospital. Casper Fire/EMS crews, which may arrive on emergency scenes before anyone else, also carry and are trained on defibrillators.

“The earlier you get these things done, the higher the chance the patient will survive if heart rhythm disturbance happens,” Fluture said.

3.       Time means muscle.

Treatment is started more quickly for patients who call 911. That means less chance for damage to heart tissue.

Natrona County’s fire crews and WMC’s ambulance crews have all been trained to start the first phase of treatment in suspected heart attacks. Upon arriving on scene, they will perform an EKG and send the results to the hospital right then. Hospital doctors will read the results and, if you are indeed suffering a heart attack, will prepare the Cath Lab team and forward the results to the cardiologist’s personal cell phone. The cardiologist can respond to the hospital while you are en route.

“Everything that we need to do at the hospital is already prepared when the patient is rolling in by ambulance. The whole time to treatment will be much shorter,” Fluture said.

Our heart program is among the best in the country, but you have to trust the medical professionals to take care of you. The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline protocol recommends a 90 minute door-to-balloon time. Wyoming Medical Center averages 41 minutes, putting us in the top 90th percentile of American hospitals. But we can only save patients and provide the best outcomes when they get to us as quickly and as safely as possible.

 Heart attack symptoms: ‘From belt to teeth’

Warning signs of a heart attack can be hard to identify. They may start slowly, presenting as mild pain and discomfort, and may develop over days or weeks. They can feel similar to symptoms of other ailments, including heart burn, making them easy to discount.

Dr. Fluture recommends that you carefully weigh any pain or discomfort from “from belt to teeth” if you think you might be suffering a heart attack. Play it safe. If there is any doubt, call 911.

The more of the following symptoms present, the greater the likelihood of heart attack:

* Any pain, tightness, heaviness, pressure or squeezing in the chest. It may even feel like heart burn or a generalized apprehension or uncomfortable feeling.

* Pressure or pain spreading to the neck, jaw, left shoulder or both shoulders. You may feel tingling or numbness in the left arm and forearm, spreading to the inside of the arm. It may migrate to between the shoulder blades or, occasionally, to the back or spine.

* Feelings of fullness, pain or indigestion in the stomach.

* Shortness of breath or cold sweating with no good explanation.

adrian fluture

Dr. Adrian Fluture specializes in cardiology, interventional cardiology and vascular/endovascular medicine at Wyoming Cardiopulmonary, 1230 E. First St. in Casper. 

He is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography and vascular medicine; and CT Angiography. He is also Director of Regional Myocardial Infarction Care at Wyoming Medical Center. For more information or referrals, call (307) 266-3174. 



Flu season is here: H1N1 nothing to sneeze at, but not out of the ordinary

Swine Influenca (H1N1) Virus

Wyoming Medical Center has seen a few cases of the dreaded H1N1 influenza virus this month, but it’s nothing to get excited about, said Dr. Mark Dowell, medical director of infection control at WMC.

H1N1 (also called swine flu) got a lot of media attention in 2009 because it hadn’t been seen in United States for many years and, as a result, the population was more susceptible. Young adults, who typically fend off most flus, fell ill. It caused more than 100 deaths in non-immunized pregnant women. Ever since, H1N1 has been one of three strains included in the influenza vaccine.

“H1N1 is just one of the many influenza viruses that are circulating right now internationally. It is no different really than most of the other strains of flu that go around every year,” said Dowell, who is also the Natrona County Health Officer. “It just is a little more aggressive in some people and it has hung around longer year to year than other strains. And it really doesn’t do too well in pregnant women.

“But it’s not a superstrain of virus. It’s another strain of virus.”

Flu cases at Wyoming Medical Center are still fairly sporadic, but they signal the start of Natrona County’s flu season. Cases will likely peak in 4 to 6 weeks, before tapering off again, Dowell said. If the season follows the typical pattern, cases will straggle in through March or April.

Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the worst season of the year – flu season:

Is it a cold or the flu?

Influenza, including H1N1, will make you sicker than you normally get. It sometimes presents with a cough but more usually with a 100-degree-or-so fever, headache  and tremendous muscle and joint pain. A stuffed-up nose is typically not a sign of the flu.

“You will often say, ‘This is as sick as I’ve ever been in my life,’” Dowell said. “I have had influenza as a teenager, and believe me, you will not forget it.”

Is it serious?

It can be. About 36,000 people a year die in this country from influenza. It is typically most dangerous to the very young, the very old or people with weakened immune systems – people with heart or kidney disease or cancers, for example. Complications can include flu pneumonia or developing bacterial pneumonia on top of your flu.

But, in most healthy people, the flu can be fought off at home.

“We don’t want to put patients with influenza in the hospital if we can help it because it tends to spread by droplet. The majority of people never get hospitalized for influenza. The treatment works if you start it early when you recognize the disease, otherwise it does nothing,” Dowell said. “The complications that occur usually mainly occur in those that are least healthy.”

How can I prevent it?

Get the vaccination, plain and simple. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu shot, particularly people who are very young or very old or who may suffer from other chronic illnesses. Pregnant women should also get it since they have two lives at stake.

H1N1 can still seem like a big, bad monster because it’s been around for just a few years. “And since, a lot of times, only 30 to 50 percent of the population gets immunized , there is a whole population that is still susceptible. Because of that, it spreads,” Dowell said.

In the elderly, the flu shot may protect 50 percent of the time. But 50 percent is 50 percent, Dowell said. If you’re not willing to get the shot, be diligent about washing your hands and using hand gel. Use common sense. Flu is spread through fluids, so avoid fluids secreted by infected people.

But I’ve heard the shot will give me the flu?

The flu shot uses a dead virus. It cannot infect you. Symptoms you might experience afterward are caused by your immune response and only about 7 percent of people even get a fever from the shot, Dowell said.  The nasal vaccine does contain a live virus, so only choose this option if you have a fairly good immune system.

“Here at Wyoming Medical Center, we have more than 99 percent of our employees immunized against flu. We do not want our employees bringing influenza into our sick patients,” Dowell said. “We have done this for several years. We are very proud of it, and our employees just go for it.”

Ok, I’m convinced. But do I still have time to get the shot and be protected?

Yes. Get it now.

The shot lasts four to six months but is strongest after two to four weeks. So, you will likely be protected when the Natrona County season peaks in the next month or so.

As a general rule, people in Wyoming should not get their flu shots any earlier than October or November, despite the signs in supermarket parking lots. Our flu seasons typically come later than other parts of the country. Talk to your health provider.


Dr. Mark Dowell is an infectious diseases physician at Wyoming Medical Center and the Natrona County Health Officer.

Dr. Mark Dowell is an infectious disease specialist with Wyoming Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases, 1450 E. A St. He is also the Natrona County health officer and is board certified in infectious disease and internal medicine. Reach his office at (307) 234-8700.

‘Giving smart: keep your kids safe this holiday season


Nearly 500 kids go to the emergency room every day because of toy-related injuries. Follow these toy safety tips from to keep your child’s Christmas break healthy and happy.

1. Check for choking hazards: If you have young children, make sure the new toy is age appropriate and has no small  parts. This is particularly important with board games, which should be kept away from curious toddlers.

2. Mind the batteries: More than 2,800 kids are treated each year for swallowing lithium button batteries. As our electronic devices get smaller, there are more and more of them, in singing greeting cards, watches, thermometers, calculators, key fobs and many other household items. They are also found in many Christmas toys or ornaments. Seal compartments with duct tape to prevent young fingers from prying batteries out. If you suspect a child has swallowed a
battery, go to the hospital immediately. Do not try to induce vomiting.

3. Add a helmet: If you are giving a riding toy—bike, skateboard or scooter for example—wrap the appropriate helmet and other safety gear, and give it as part of  the gift.

4. Research the recalls: Check the latest recalls for unsafe toys at You can also sign up for Safe Kids’ recall email alerts at

Save the Date!

Safe Kids of Central Wyoming presents the Kohl’s Winter Safety Event on Monday, Jan. 20. We will give away ski helmets and offer fittings, give out passes to Hogadon’s Learn to Ski or Snowboard event and provide winter safety lessons. Visit our website or call (307) 577-7904 for more information.

Decoding Diabetes: 7 steps to prevention


As many as 79 million people in the United States have prediabetes, yet more than 90 percent of them don’t know it. People with pre-diabetes usually have no symptoms, and many who learn about their pre-diabetes think it’s no big deal.

The best way to get your blood sugar into the normal range is with a coordinated plan of healthy nutrition, increased physical activity and lifestyle strategies that support modest weight loss if you are overweight – 5 to 10 percent of your body weight.  Research shows that such a plan reduces diabetes risk even better than using medication.

You may see improvements in glucose levels in as little as three months. If you have pre-diabetes, don’t wait to make lifestyle changes. The window to turn around elevated glucose levels is only three to six years.

You have the power to prevent diabetes. Here are seven ways to get started:


1. Move more. Get up, get out, and get moving. Try walking, dancing, bike riding, swimming or playing ball with your friends or family. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy it. Try different activities so you don’t get bored.

2. Eat the healthy plate way. Focus on eating less and making healthy food choices including dried beans, whole grains,  three to five servings of vegetables and one to two servings of fruit per day. Cut down on fatty and fried foods. Eat the foods you enjoy, just eat less of them.

 3. Lose some weight. Once you start eating less and moving more, you will lose weight. By losing even 10 pounds, you can cut your chances of developing diabetes.

4. Set goals you can meet. Start by making small changes. Try for 15 minutes of activity a day this week.  Add 5 more minutes each week after until you are active 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week. Try to cut 100 calories (or one can of soda) out of your diet each day. Slowly reduce your calories over time and talk to your health care team about your goals.

5. Record your progress. Keep a food and exercise diary. Write down all the calories you eat and drink and the number of minutes you are active. This is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off.

6. Get help. You don’t have to prevent diabetes alone. Involve family and friends in your plans and activities. You can help each other move more, eat less and live a healthier life. Active groups in your area can also help, as can your healthcare team.

7. Keep at it. Making even small changes is hard in the beginning. Try adding one new change a week. If you get off track, start again and keep at it.

Know your risk

The American Diabetes Association recommends you be tested for pre-diabetes if:

* You are overweight and 45 years or older
* You are 45 or older and your doctor recommends testing
* You are overweight with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
* You are a woman who had gestational diabetes and/or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
* You are of an ethnic group with a high risk of developing diabetes and have discussed the risks with your doctor. Ethnic groups with a higher risk include African American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian.

WMC Diabetes Care Center

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, our nationally recognized Diabetes Care Center can guide you through all types of the disease – type 1, type 2 or gestational. We offer individual sessions or a series of diabetes education classes to help people live with the disease, help with meal planning, glucose monitoring instruction, foot screening and much more striving to reduce the risk of complications from type 2 diabetes.

Wyoming Medical Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program has shown that simple lifestyle changes can decrease the chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Our 12-week program can improve blood sugars, reduce weight and decrease or delay the development of type 2 diabetes among those with pre-diabetes.

For more information, call 577-2592 or visit the center’s webpage.

Anyone with pre-diabetes, diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is welcome. Please contact your physician to coordinate services.

If you feel you are at risk for developing diabetes, we have screening options available. Call our laboratory at 577-2354 or visit our laboratory page to see the health fair and wellness screenings we offer.


Mary TvedtMary Tvedt is a certified diabetes educator and has managed the Diabetes Care Center at Wyoming Medical Center for the past seven years. She has a bachelor’s degree in foods and human nutrition with a minor in child development and family science from North Dakota State University. If you have concerns about diabetes talk to your doctor. To learn more about services at the Diabetes Care Center, call (307) 577-2592. 

Decoding Diabetes is a weekly series focusing on education, prevention and tips for living with the disease. Find it on The Pulse each Thursday. Past stories include:

Nov. 22: A case for regular screenings

Nov. 14: What you should know for World Diabetes Day 

Don’t Wreck The Holidays campaign reminds people not to drink and drive

ER_vehicles_Panorama2 (1)
At our “Don’t Wreck the Holidays” campaign, we took this photo of all of the Natrona County emergency vehicles that could respond in drunk driving crash including a WMC ambulance, an Air Methods Wyoming Life Flight helicopter, a Casper Fire/EMS fire truck, the Natrona County Coroner’s vehicle and vehicles from Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.

On Nov. 18, WMC Safe Communities kicked off its drunk driving campaign, “Don’t Wreck the Holidays,” at Casper College.

Picture 011
Casper College Criminal Justice students created these snowmen displays to remind people that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

Thank you to our moving panel of speakers: Mike Reed from the Governor’s Council on impaired driving who spoke about how communities can work together; Deborah McLeland, mother of one of the eight University of Wyoming cross-country runners killed by a drunk driver in 2001; WMC Emergency Room doctor Lonnie Teague ; and Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen. Also thank you to Conner Washburn, a Casper College Criminal Justice student, who emceed the event.

The “Don’t Wreck the Holidays” campaign is a partnership between WMC Safe Communities; Casper College Community Criminal Justice department; the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department;, MADD; Wyoming Department of Transportation; Casper, Evansville and Mills police departments; and Natrona County Coroner’s Office.

December is a particularly dangerous month for drunken driving crashes. From 2007 to 2011, 29 percent of deaths in December car crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 760 people died as a result of drunk driving-related crashes during December 2011.

“While everyone knows that driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while impaired seriously jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on the road around you, we still see far too many lives lost each December,” said Sgt. John Becker of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department.

Watch for our materials around Natrona County through the New Year and remember that buzzed driving in drunk driving. Follow these steps to ensure holiday celebrations don’t end in tragedy:

* Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin, or plan another way to get home safely at the end of the night.

* If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member or use public transportation. You can also ask servers and bartenders at bars and restaurants for a Safe Ride voucher for a free taxi ride home.

* Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.

* If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.

Pam EvertPam Evert is the Safe Communities Program Director for WMC Safe Kids and Safe Communities. She has worked for WMC more than 21 years and is committed to improving community health in any way possible.

Safe Communities offers turkey prep safety pointers

free range turkeyAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans  will get sick from dangerous food borne bacteria this year. The holiday meal and its preparation is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving celebration and safe food handling in the kitchen is a very important part of the holiday.  To keep your friends and family safe from food poisoning there are certain steps that everyone should know:


DO …

DO ask all kitchen helpers to wash their hands using warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.

DO keep turkey in its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook.

DO defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or cold running water.

DO allow one day for every 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator.  In a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.  A 20 pound turkey will take 12 hours to defrost in cold water and should be cooked immediately after thawing.

DO use a meat thermometer to check if turkey is done.  The turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

DO remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey is cooked.

DO store the turkey and stuffing separately.

DO store leftover turkey in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.

DO store leftover stuffing and gravy in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days.



DON’T defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on outer layers before inner layers have defrosted.

DON’T leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than 2 hours.

DON’T partially cook the turkey one day and continue roasting the next day.

DON’T prepare food if you are sick or have any nose or eye infection.

DON’T leave leftovers out on the counter longer than 2 hours.

DON’T store leftover stuffing in the turkey.

DON’T re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.

DON’T stuff turkeys as it makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165°F within a safe period of time. If you must stuff your turkey, stuff it lightly before cooking and leave room for the oven to cook the interior of the turkey and stuffing.


Pam EvertPam Evert is the Safe Communities Program Director for WMC Safe Kids and Safe Communities. She has worked for WMC more than 21 years and is committed to improving community health in any way possible.

Decoding Diabetes: A case for regular screenings

Bryce Stewart, a laboratory information specialist, demonstrates Wyoming Medical Center’s new glucose meters. He caught his own type 2 diabetes when volunteering for a test in a training session and now advocates for diabetes screenings.

About four years ago, Bryce Stewart was teaching a class of nurses how to use the hospital’s glucometers, devices that measure the concentration of glucose in the blood. He volunteered his own finger.

Though he hadn’t eaten anything that morning, his fasting blood sugar came back at 250. His normal range should have been between 60 and 95.

“I had no idea my sugars were running that high. It was kind of a shocker that day. Kind of a happy accident,” said Stewart, a laboratory information specialist at Wyoming Medical Center.

“I was slowly becoming a diabetic and I didn’t know it.”

By volunteering his finger, Stewart’s type 2 diabetes was caught. He manages it through pills and lifestyle, but doesn’t have to inject himself with insulin. He believes his story is a good lesson in the advantages of early detection.

“People used to have yearly doctor’s visits and they don’t anymore. Doctors would find things like diabetes. I’m a big proponent of screening tests,” Stewart said.

Stewart also oversees the bedside blood glucose monitoring system used at Wyoming Medical Center. We recently switched to the Accu-chek Inform II glucometers to better monitor blood glucose levels of diabetic patients.

The new meters give results in 5 seconds for the bedside, allowing caregivers and patients to make instant decisions about medication and care. They wirelessly upload results to the patient’s electronic medical record every 10 minutes so they are visible to all caregivers.

“This helps prevent swings in their glucose levels and this is very important to us and our patients,” Stewart said. Since adopting the new system three weeks ago, WMC providers have administered about 7,000 blood glucose tests at patient bedsides.

As a diabetic himself, he understands the importance of keeping track of glucose levels. And, he wants to remind readers to get your yearly screenings – for diabetes and a host of other health conditions. Talk to your doctor, or take advantage of local health fairs. He admits that he had skipped a couple of the health fairs before the accidental test uncovered his diabetes.

“People need to keep an eye on it because it sneaks up you,” he said.

 Health Fair Lab Draws

Wyoming Medical Center’s Professional Laboratory Services offers health fair blood draws on any week day, including the diabetes A1C screen.

Walk-ins are welcome from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at two locations:

* McMurry Medical Building at 419 S. Washington, Suite 201

* Sage Primary Care at 1020 S. Conwell St.

Fasting is not required unless requested by your physician and pricing is competitive with other health fair screenings. Payments will be collected at the time of the blood draw.

To schedule an appointment, call 577-2365 or visit our laboratory page to see what other health fair and wellness screenings we offer.

WMC Diabetes Care Center

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, our nationally recognized Diabetes Care Center can guide you through all types of the diesase – type 1, type 2 or gestational. We offer Individualized meal planning, glucose monitoring instruction, foot screening and much more.

Anyone with pre-diabetes, diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is welcome. Please contact your physician to coordinate services.

Wyoming Medical Center also offers a series of diabetes education classes to help people live with the disease and to help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in high-risk patients.

For high risk patients, our Diabetes Prevention Program has shown that simple lifestyle changes can decrease the chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Our program lasts 12 weeks and has been shown to improve blood sugars, reduce weight and decrease or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes among those with pre-diabetes.

For more information, call 577-2592 or visit the center’s webpage.

Decoding Diabetes is a weekly series focusing on education, prevention and tips for living with the disease. Find it on The Pulse each Thursday. Past stories include:

Nov. 14: What you should know for World Diabetes Day 

Decoding Diabetes: What you should know for World Diabetes Day

Infographic by International Diabetes Federation. Click to enlarge.

Today is World Diabetes Day, a campaign by the International Diabetes Federation to raise awareness about a disease affecting 371 million people, including 24.1 million in the United States. Prevalence is growing in every country and a person is diagnosed with diabetes every 17 seconds.

The numbers are striking. According to the American Diabetes Association:

  • 1 in 12 Americans has diabetes
  • 1 in 4 who have it don’t know they have it
  • 1 in 3 Americans are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes

Why should you care?

You should care because you probably know someone with diabetes, or you will in the not-too-distant future. You should care because diabetes is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation and because more healthcare dollars are spent on it in North America than in any other region of the world. You should care because the percentage of Wyomingites with the disease has almost doubled from 1994 to 2010, from 3.5 percent to 6.6 percent.

Wyoming Medical Center’s diabetes educators see nearly 3,000 patients every year. At our nationally recognized Diabetes Care Center, we help people manage the disease while reducing risk of complications.

World Diabetes Day is celebrated every Nov. 14, but we don’t want the discussion to end here.  Today, The Pulse kicks off a new community-health project, Decoding Diabetes, a series of articles focusing on education, prevention and tips for living with the disease. We will publish the articles here for the next several Thursdays.

If you’d like to see an article on a particular topic, or if you’d like to share your own diabetes story, email The Pulse editor Kristy Bleizeffer at

For our first installment, we are passing on this great education from the World Diabetes Day campaign.

Risk factors

Infographic by the World Diabetes Federation. Click to enlarge.

Type 1 diabetes risk factors are not yet known, but a family history has been shown to slightly increase the risk. Type 2 diabetes is often preventable and is linked to several risk factors:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)*
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy

Signs and symptoms

Infographic by the World Diabetes Federation. Click to enlarge.

The signs and symptoms are similar for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but type 1 usually develops suddenly and the symptoms may be more acute. Symptoms for type 2 may be more gradual or mild, making it harder to detect. In either case, there may be no symptoms at all. Diagnosis cannot be made through any internet article, so you’ll need to see your doctor if you suspect diabetes. Some commonly experienced symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of interest and concentration
  • A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)


Mary TvedtMary Tvedt is a certified diabetes educator and has managed the Diabetes Care Center at Wyoming Medical Center for the past seven years. She has a bachelor’s degree in foods and human nutrition with a minor in child development and family science from North Dakota State University. If you have concerns about diabetes talk to your doctor. To learn more about services at the Diabetes Care Center, call (307) 577-2592.

Decoding Diabetes is a weekly series focusing on education, prevention and tips for living with the disease. Find it on The Pulse each Thursday.