Diabetes Blogs

Introducing My Dad and My Favorite Pharmacist


Quinn and Bob NystromHaving a pharmacist for a dad really helped my younger brother and me manage our type 1 diabetes. We were lucky. Do you have a pharmacist you can call on for help with your condition?

Do you have a pharmacist on your diabetes care team? I’ve been really blessed to have the world’s best pharmacist on mine. I may be biased because he’s my father, but he also has 40 years of experience behind the counter. 

Growing up in Brainerd, Minnesota included spending lots of time at Nystrom Drug—our family's business in town. My older brother and I would play for hours in the store. We loved running through the aisles, pretending we were on supermarket sweeps. 

Thor and I also had a candy vending machine at the pharmacy that we would fill and keep track of the money. We considered it our mini family business and called it QT Enterprises (for Quinn and Thor). So many times after my dad was home at night from working all day the phone would ring and he'd have to go back out to fill an emergency prescription for someone. He never hesitated. His kindness and compassion always shined through. 

My dad was born and raised in Brainerd, so everyone just called him, “Bob”. We always ran into people my dad knew when we were out as a family—no matter where we went. People trusted my dad with all of their intimate medical details. It seemed to us like he was their pharmacist part of the time and their therapist the rest of it. Dad consoled his customers about everything from family struggles to chronic illness hurdles and what medicines make you sleepy. I always respected the kindness and patience he shared with everyone, his will to help people and the sense of duty and selflessness he brought to his important work.

Getting Advice from Your Pharmacist: Always a Good Idea

When my younger brother Will and I were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it was a total godsend that my dad had a medical background. My mom was completely needle phobic and a lot of the dosing decisions were confusing in the beginning. 

My dad was used to helping people with diabetes. He was our strong, steady force and remained unflappable through the stressful early days. He knew about all the various types of insulins on the market, possible drug interactions we should be aware of, sugar and other ingredients in over-the-counter medications like cough syrup or certain cough drops that could impact our blood sugar and much more!

It was very convenient to have 24/7 access to a pharmacist at home and I know that played a big part in how well Will and I managed our diabetes. He also made a commitment to my brother and me that he would do whatever he could to make sure that we had the best advancements in diabetes care. He would have gladly donated his healthy pancreases with us, but he couldn’t, so the way he helped was staying alert to new advances on the market, filling our prescriptions and educating us about drug interactions.

On our dia-versary every year he sends us a card telling us how proud he is of us. The card doesn’t detail our A1C’s or other lab results, but always points out how happy it makes him that we have not let our diabeteslimit our lives.

The way my parents viewed the disease assisted me in being calm and accepting of my condition and not making a huge deal about it. They supported me when I went out-of-state to college, when I traveled to Africa for a month and many of my other adventures. I'm sure he was worried but he never let it show. My dad was always right there encouraging me and helping me pack my supplies for my many trips. 

Advocating for More Affordable Insulin 

In the last several years I’ve been advocating for affordable insulin. Whenever I get questions that are very technical about why the price has increased so much on this product, I like to reach out to my dad and ask him to explain the intricacies. He's so knowledgeable and able to explain it in simple terms that everyone can understand.

The local media has called him for interviews and he attended state Senate hearings on the topic as well. His involvement makes an impact.

Ask the Expert

For all of these reasons—and maybe also because he's my dad—OnTrack Diabetes has invited him to be one of their experts. Bob will be available to answer your questions in his forthcoming "Ask the Diabetes Expert" advice column. He’s knowledgeable of course, but also understands the emotional side of livign with a chronic condition—the very human side of living with diabetes every day of your life. 

So ask away! Any questions you've wanted to ask your pharmacist but didn't perhaps because the line was too long, it slipped your mind or maybe you decided it was a stupid question...

My dad says there are not stupid questions and nothing is off limits…he’s heard them all in his 40 years of experience! Please help me welcome my favorite pharmacist, my dad, Robert Nystrom and leave your questions for him on the OnTrack Diabetes Facebook page.

In the meantime, you can read my dad's first article—an explanation of why insulin is so expensive in this country—here.




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