Living well with diabetes

Joyce Schutte, with the support of her care team, took control of her diabetes. Joyce (center) is pictured with Jo Nord, M.D., left; Jean Irvin, seated; and Pat Carey, right.

Joyce Schutte was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. For six years, she successfully managed her health by going to classes, taking her medications, eating smaller portions and choosing to be physically active.

Everything changed in 2013 when her daughter, Eileen, found out she had cancer.

“All my attention turned to caring for Eileen, who was in Iowa City,” says Joyce. Without realizing it, the concerned mother was neglecting her own health.   As Eileen faced the ups and downs of cancer treatment, Joyce stood by her side. However, Joyce’s vigilance kept her away from home, and away from the habits that kept her diabetes under control.

“I had been having nerve pain in my left leg, and an ulcer had started ‘weeping’ in my right; my daughter finally reminded me that my health was important too,” says Joyce. “Eileen had been researching diabetes online, and shared her conclusion with me: I wasn’t going to die from diabetes; I was going to live with it.”

With her daughter’s encouragement, Joyce returned to Decorah and called her doctor. Within hours, Joyce met with Jo Nord, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System family medicine physician at Winneshiek Medical Center. Dr. Nord referred Joyce to Pat Carey, physical therapist and wound care specialist at WMC, to begin treatment on her leg and prevent other wounds from becoming infected; and to Jean Irvin, diabetes educator, to learn more about how to manage her disease.   Jean says, “Diabetes has changed over the years. We now know so much about how to treat and manage diabetes, while helping patients maintain a good quality of life.”

Joyce also began taking insulin, something she had resisted up until this point. “My primary care doctor, Sarah Wymer, had strongly suggested I begin taking insulin a year prior.  I didn’t realize how good this advice was; how much better I would feel every day,” says Joyce.

With her new health program, Joyce began sleeping better, her eyesight improved, she had renewed energy, and began to care more about life in general. With the careful attention of Dr. Nord, Dr. Wymer, Pat Carey, and Jean Irvin, her legs began to heal and she no longer experienced nerve pain.

Joyce says, “Although my doctors tell me I made these health changes, I believe it took a team – and strength I learned from my daughter – to regain my health. I feel great, and am thankful to everyone at WMC for their skills and compassion.”

For more information on diabetes – or to take steps to control your diabetes – call Winneshiek Medical Center at 563-382-2911 or visit us online at

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