After his family doctor refused to even discuss an insulin pump, Holly called Fairview Clinics – Lino Lakes (the closest to his Circle Pines home) and made an appointment with Rick, who was new to the clinic at that point.
“I told him the story of the previous doctor, and he said, ‘I’ll do better than that,’” Holly remembers.
From Day One, Holly and Rick began investigating insulin pumps together, seeking advice from a diabetic educator and ultimately deciding that it was a good option.
Rick says he fed off Holly’s natural curiosity and energy.
“I’m always excited when patients are engaged and enthusiastic in their care, so if they’re showing a passion for their care, I want to take advantage of that passion,” he says.
“Holly likes to dive head-first into stuff, and I tend to be that way a bit, too. We worked with the diabetic educator to make sure we were being careful and intelligent in our approach.”
In the early 2000s, when Holly wanted to explore the option for an islet-cell transplant pilot procedure at the University of Minnesota, Rick helped him navigate the process of signing up for program consideration.
“All the while, I had extensive conversations with Dr. Bosacker about all the consequences and risks,” Holly says. “It’s a big surgery, lots of responsibility.”
In the end, he was not considered a good candidate for the procedure, but his name stayed on the list of interested participants.
In early 2012, Holly was placed on the active waiting list for a pancreas transplant, which he received in April 2012 at University of Minnesota Medical Center. Though kidneys are usually transplanted with pancreases, Holly didn’t need a kidney; his transplant team attributed his insulin pump to be the major factor in his kidney health.
Rick has high praise for Holly’s transplant team and emphasized the importance of the entire care team working together.
“I’ve helped him think through the questions he wanted to ask his transplant team: how this would impact his lifestyle, how it would impact other aspects of his health, how it potentially would impact his hobbies and his work. Over the years, we’ve thought about those questions together.”
Holly says while the transplant process has not been simple, it has changed his life for the better.
“I’m healthy now. Not having to take insulin and worry about low blood sugar? That alone easily outweighs any side effects I’ve had from the surgery,” he says. “Without Rick as my doctor, this life-changing procedure would not have occurred.”
Because they’ve been through a lot together, Holly and Rick have a special doctor-patient relationship.
“I’ve had bad knees, two bad lumbar discs, elbow tendonitis, all requiring surgery after exhausting other therapies, and he has always been on my side,” Holly says.
“I pursue forms of medicine—chiropractic, massage therapy, other non-Western therapies that work—and he’s always been supportive. I’m completely honest with him. We talk about life, and he lets me tell him what’s going on.”
Rick believes that kind of personalized care leads to better outcomes, for patients and doctors.
“For me, it’s more rewarding to interact with people than with problems,” he says. “I think a good therapeutic relationship has to bump up that personal line in order to really understand who they are and treat them as a unique individual.
“If patients feel empowered and we can help them find their strength, that can do a lot more for their health than any drug we can prescribe or therapy we can provide.”
Holly says he’s never leaving Rick’s care because, “Rick is the type of doctor I hope everybody could have.”