Nurse Appreciation Letter by Phil Southerland

14 November 2020

By PHIL SOUTHERLAND, CEO and Co-Founder of Team Novo Nordisk

I was 7 months old and I’d lost 8 pounds in three days. My diapers were soaked. My mom took me to the hospital all week long, but the doctors kept saying he’s just teething, or he’s just got the flu.

 Eventually my mom noticed my blue eyes had turned to grey and she told the doctors, ”I don’t care what you say, I’m taking him to the emergency room.” 

 As soon as we arrived, a nurse picked me up and said my breath was fruity – a clear sign you might have diabetes. The doctors didn’t listen and put me on a glucose IV that was sending me straight into ketoacidosis.


My mother seized on the words of our nurse, Linda Owens, and demanded a glucose test.  They immediately took me off the IV, and diagnosed me with Type 1 diabetes. The doctor told my mom I would be dead or blind, and yet again Linda gave comfort that together we could manage this.


When they stabilized me and I was in the paediatric intensive care unit. Again, it was a nurse who took control of the situation. The nurse’s brother had Type 1 and she told my mom,

”this is hypoglycemia. Welcome to life with diabetes.”



The nurse helped give us a sense of calm.


It just so happened that this nurse went on to be my diabetes educator, and great friend of the family.  Every 2 months I would go to the doctor’s office for A1C testing, and Linda made me feel at home.  The whole team of CDE’s at the office took me under their wings.  I had a lot of goals as a kid, and even if they were crazy, even if they had never been done before, the belief in Linda’s eye’s inspired me to pursue those dreams. 


Some of my fondest memories were playing hide and go seek in the doctor’s office. Medically speaking my future was grim, but the love, the care, and the personal touch from the nurses, and Linda in particular truly helped to keep me motivated to always try to be better in the world of diabetes. I fundamentally believe that she is the reason I am here today, and as result, all the athletes of Team Novo Nordisk. 


Nurses play a vital role in the medical fraternity. They’re the ones who are at the patient’s side ready with anything they need – whether it be medical or words of encouragement. They’re on their feet for hours.  They have always been, and always will be the hero’s that every patient in every situation always needs. 


With the COVID-19 pandemic, the difference a nurse makes has been evident.

That’s why, this year, on World Diabetes Day, we want to honor them. 

We say THANK YOU to our nurses, without you, we would not be here today.



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