Inside Gillette Blog

CP Stands for Cool Person’s Disease

Posted On: 01/31/2013

Like many students starting high school, Riley Taborda wanted to try something new. His choice this fall ultimately sprang from an old interest—video games.

Video games led him to marching band?

“I was drawn to this style of music because it’s upbeat,” explains Riley, 15. “And the music and coordination of moves were a lot like the music and quadrants in the video games I play.”

Marching band was new for Riley, as was percussion. He began playing cello in fourth grade, then took up trumpet and, most recently, tuba. Trumpet and tuba weren’t feasible in marching band, because Riley uses crutches to walk as a result of cerebral palsy. Instead, he stood in place to play the tam-tam (a type of gong), triangle, tambourine and suspended cymbal.

The marching band practiced five days a week before school and Monday nights. “The biggest challenges for me were getting up for early morning practices, learning how to stop and start the percussion instruments—and learning how not to drop the mallets while I’m playing,” Riley says. He rides a golf cart to his place on the field but stands throughout performances and competitions. “Just like the rest of the band,” he notes. “I want people to treat me the same as anyone else. I tell them that CP doesn’t stand for cerebral palsy. It stands for Cool Person’s Disease.”

Riley says he enjoys having the band create patterns behind him—but his favorite parts of marching band have involved camaraderie as much as music. “Band camp at the beginning of summer is one of the most fun things,” he says. “So are the bus rides to different competitions—and, of course, the people.” The band did well in competition this year, winning the Wildcat Classic in Omaha, Neb., placing third in New Brighton, Minn., and coming in second in Marshall, Minn.

Although the marching band’s season ended in October, Riley continues to play in the school band. He played tuba at a recent concert and will perform trumpet in jazz band and at pep fests. Cello is on hold for now because it conflicted with other classes. “There’s not enough time to do it all,” he says. “But I want to start up on it again next year.”

Outside of music, Riley participates in Boy Scouts and is a member of Special Olympics teams in softball, basketball, and track and field. He goes to physical therapy regularly to help strengthen his balance and endurance. He’s also undergone multiple orthopedic surgeries, muscle-lengthening procedures, and selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery at Gillette.

“All the surgeries have helped me walk better,” he says. “I hope that pretty soon I won’t need to use my crutches anymore.”

Big-Screen Technology Helping Real-Life Kids

Posted On: 01/30/2013

Have you ever wondered how some movies and video games make their animation seem so real? Those movies and games use lots of cameras synchronized by a computer in a process called Motion Capture. During a Motion Capture session, an actor or athlete will wear a suit that has lots of reflective spheres attached to it. The special cameras that are used can only see those spheres. The system is calibrated so that the computer knows exactly where all of the cameras are in the studio. If any two cameras can see one of the spheres, the computer can calculate the position of that sphere in the studio.

The actor goes through all of the scenes needed for the production, and the locations of the spheres are tracked the whole time. The animators then create a character that they can attach to the recorded location of the spheres. That way, whichever way the actor moves, the character will move exactly the same way! Some recent movies that took advantage of Motion Capture include The Hobbit, The Avengers, The Adventures of TinTin, Avatar, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis, we use the exact same kind of motion capture system. Only instead of creating animations, were using the data to measure how our patients’ musculoskeletal systems are functioning.  Based on our findings, our physicians work with families to make important care and treatment decisions.

Adam Rozumalski - Gait Lab

Adam Rozumalski is an engineer in Gillette’s Center for Gait and Motion Analysis.Gillette’s Center for Gait and Motion Analysis (Gait Lab) in St. Paul, Minnesota uses state-of-the-art computer technology to evaluate and develop effective treatments for movement problems. We strive to help our patients maximize their physical abilities and achieve greater health and independence. Because movement problems require ongoing evaluation and treatment, we also serve older teen and adult patients at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare.

We’re Under Construction to Serve You Better

Posted On: 01/29/2013

Gillette has upgrades in store at our St. Paul campus and west metro clinics. Maple Grove and Minnetonka are expanding, making it easier for west-metro patients to get appointments. And we’re renovating parts of our St. Paul campus!

Maple Grove
We’re expanding our clinic to add space for Child and Family Services, casting, splinting and physical therapy. We’ll also enlarge the waiting room.

We’re opening Minnetonka Therapies in April. That will provide more room for therapy appointments at the new location—and more room for physician services at our existing Minnetonka Clinic! We’ll add exam rooms and complete the waiting room.

St. Paul
We’re closing the west half of our Orthopedics/Surgical Unit to remodel it into private rooms (one patient per room). The remodeled area will open in June. We’re also expanding our Dental space so our providers can see more patients there. You’ll also see new wall coverings, floors and finishing touches in the outpatient corridor.

Family Focus Edition – Upcoming Events

Posted On: 01/29/2013

Muscular Dystrophy Lab Day/Open House
Saturday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center

Academic Health Center, Fourth Floor
University of Minnesota

Visit the Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center to tour the lab, meet the staff, and get to know the researchers who are working toward a cure for muscle diseases. Kids and families can take part in fun “research experiments.” Enjoy free parking and refreshments. For more information, call 612-626-0822 or email

Muscular Dystrophy Association: Muscle Walk
Saturday, March 9, 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Mall of America
Bloomington, Minn.

This event brings people together in a fundraising effort to defeat muscle disease. To register, visit

Epilepsy – Family Education Day
Saturday, April 13, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wilder Center
451 Lexington Parkway North
St. Paul, Minnesota

Gillette and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota invite you to learn more about a child’s stages of development and the effect of those stages on epilepsy. You’ll learn about living well with epilepsy and hear about these topics:

  • Life Stages and Epilepsy: Fostering Self-Efficacy Across the Life Span—Jen Maytum, doctor of nursing practice.
  • The Importance of Sleep in Children With Underlying Neurological Conditions—Laurel Wills, M.D.
  • Helping Children and Families Adjust to Seizures: What Parents Should Know—Katherine Buhrke, Ph.D.
  • Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota: Resources and Report

This event is free and includes a box lunch. For more information, email Nikki Baker at To register, email

Light Up the Night Gala
Saturday, May 4, 6 p.m.
Minneapolis Marriott southwest
5801 Opus Parkway
Hopkins, Minn.

Enjoy dinner, silent/live auctions and entertainment—featuring composer and guitarist Billy McLaughlin—while you support people who have epilepsy. Tickets are $100 per person and sponsorships are available. To learn more or order tickets, visit the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota website at

Parent Connect Programs
Twin Cities; Fargo, N.D.

For information about Parent Connect programs in the Twin Cities and Fargo, N.D., or to learn about family events throughout Minnesota, visit the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota website at

Rett Syndrome Caregiver Education Day
Saturday, April 20

Gillette staff, University of Minnesota researchers, and the Minnesota Rett Syndrome Research Association will hold their sixth annual conference in April. It’s devoted to the latest in supportive therapies, research and education to improve the lives of people affected by Rett syndrome. Watch for details in next month’s Family Focus Edition.



Having a SEMLS Procedure? Get Help Planning—Now!

Posted On: 01/29/2013

Single-event multilevel surgery (SEMLS) is one of the most complex procedures we perform at Gillette. If your child is having this type of orthopedic surgery, be sure to ask about our preoperative SEMLS classes.

You’ll join other families to tour the hospital and meet with rehabilitation             therapists, child life specialists, social workers and nurses. The session teaches you how to care for a child after SEMLS, with information on:

  • Bathing and toileting
  • Helping your child get in and out of bed and go up and down stairs
  • Transferring your child into and out of a car

If you have questions or want to register, call Jackie Norling, physical therapist, at 651-312-3198. Or register by email: Next classes are March 2 and May 4.

Please note: these sessions are only for families of children undergoing SEMLS. To learn about other nonmedical resources for Gillette patients and families, call Child and Family Services at 651-229-3855.


Meet Us Monday, Cheryl Tveit, R.N.

Posted On: 01/27/2013

Q. What are some of your hobbies outside work?

A. I enjoy reading, scrap booking, playing with my kids, spending time with my family and friends.

   Q. How long have you worked at Gillette?

   A. 11 years- I first worked in the PICU and have been in the PeriAnesthesia department for the  last 10 years.

   Q. Do you have any kids or pets?

    A. 3 kids- ages 10, 8 and 4. Our only pet right now is a fish, which the kids are in charge of feeding and taking care of.

   Q. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

   A. The super power I would love to have would be to stop time or to increase the amount of time in a day- I never seem to have enough time to get everything done that I want to get done!

   Q. What is your favorite food?

   A. Popcorn- I could live on popcorn!

Q. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?

A. Australia. I’ve always been fascinated with the wildlife of Australia and I would love to visit that country sometime in my life.

Q. Do you have a favorite musician/band/type of music?

A. My ipod has a large variety of music- some pop, some rock, alternative, a few “boy bands” (for my 8 year old) and a couple of country songs. The majority of what I listen to right now is Christian music. I find that it’s the safest music to listen to with my kids around and they are always with me so that is what we usually have on.

Q. What drew you to Gillette?

A. I have always wanted to work with children. I did a clinical rotation at Gillette when I was in nursing school. When I graduated, there were no jobs open at Gillette though so I ended up working at St. John’s for two years. I had continued to watch for openings at Gillette and when I saw there was an opening in the PICU, I applied and was lucky enough to become a Gillette Nurse!

Q. Do you have a favorite story/memory from Gillette?

A. There are so many. Whenever I think about my job, the first thing that comes to mind is the amazing kids and families. I have met so many families over the years that have taught me so much about what it means to be a nurse, a parent and what unconditional love truly looks like. Our patients and families are often given diagnoses that are challenging and often heartbreaking. Watching their strength in these types of situations is such a humbling experience for me.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette?

A. I am extremely passionate about patient education and creating new ways to help our patients and families understand the information we give them. I am an advocate for developing new ways to distribute education and enjoy the freedom Gileltte has allowed me in expanding my career. I, of course, love the patients. Sometimes you can be having a really hard day and things may not be going the way you want them to, but one smile from a patient or one opportunity to hold someone’s hand can really brighten your spirit for the rest of the day. I am also blessed to be able to work with the best group of professionals I have ever met. Gillette is really my “other” family and that truly makes it easy to get up and come to work every day.

Kendall’s Journey

Posted On: 01/21/2013

Christmas morning 2011, my water broke one week early, sending us scurrying to the hospital at 2 am and leaving behind our 2-year-old son with neighbors. Four hours later, as the rest of the world was waking up and opening their gifts, my husband and I delivered ours–Kendall Christine.

She was healthy and we celebrated our Christmas blessing–my heart was full of contentment and happiness only a newborn baby girl could fill.

Then the next day, a pediatrician came in with the blow. The “birthmark” on the top of Kendall’s head was actually a congenital nevus. Being in mama-heaven, this news didn’t faze me at first. Seeing my lack of concern, the pediatrician proceeded to tell me this is a big deal and we need a biopsy to make sure it’s not cancerous.

I thought, wait a minute now, don’t go throwing that “c” word into things. Life is perfect, can’t you see?  Leave us alone. Go away.

But it didn’t and it wouldn’t.

For me, pity began 6 weeks later with our first visit to see Dr. Wood. This was a defining moment, as I became aware that her nevus was an issue and that it would not be an easy or simple task to remove it. He explained to us the tissue expansion process, which entailed inserting an expander underneath the skin on her scalp and slowly, over the course of many months, injecting this with saline and stretching the skin to a large size. This newly-stretched skin would be used to cover where the mole was once it was removed.

Kendall seemed so fragile and I honestly couldn’t wrap my mind around the reality of this process, but Dr. Wood’s experience and confidence put me at ease. He recommended that we begin tissue expansion once she reached 9-months of age. We considered the options and made the decision to proceed–plans for October 15th were underway.

You could say that preparing for Kendall’s first surgery was much like training for a marathon–a marathon filled with obstacles and hurdles, that is. I knew going into it that I would have to pace myself, that this wasn’t a quick sprint and that we needed to find endurance for the long haul.

I had stayed strong and fought off pity pretty well–right up until the second I laid eyes on my daughter after her surgery. It consumed me in ways that I wasn’t prepared for, yelling at me your daughter looks different, and this isn’t fair!

Those first few days and weeks were painful–painful in ways that I can’t explain or am too embarrassed to tell. Pity told me different wasn’t as good and even different is just plain ugly. People’s doting words of beautiful quickly turned into looks of concerns and questions. I felt like I was constantly fighting off anger and tears that Kendall had to endure all of this and that we were in this situation.

We had a battle, me and pity.

When our 2-year-old son saw Kendall for the first time post-surgery, he looked at her with his big-brown saucer eyes in great concern. We explained to him that he could no longer play rough with sister and that she had an “owie” on her head that he couldn’t touch. I thought he would be upset or lose interest playing with her.

He just looked at me and asked, Can I kiss her?

He didn’t see the bump, or at least not like everyone else did. Our son was free of worldly stereotypes of what makes you accepted or look pretty–to him, sister was perfect.

This was the beginning of a new attitude for me, defining my own views on what beautiful and happiness mean. I was no longer seeking the world’s acceptance or approval because, as my son reminded me, she is already perfect. My perception began to change and over the next month, pity was replaced with confidence–a confidence that told me I was strong, that we were lucky to be in this treatable situation and to take this challenge and to turn it into something positive.

You see, pity did nothing but cripple me. It threatened to paralyze me and prevent me from making the positive response my daughter needed. Only by conquering my own pity was I able to provide strength for my daughter.

I gained confidence as I realized the things I once concerned myself with were no longer important. People’s words or reactions no longer mattered to me. I was reminded that I was being strong and bearing the burden for my daughter so she wouldn’t have to. And I realized that this process was a defining time for our family, but that it didn’t define who we are.

The past three months have involved weekly injections at Gillette Children’s to enlarge Kendall’s expander. I can’t say enough good things about the medical team that surrounded us–they have made this process smoother and easier in every way possible. The fourth floor has been a place of transformation for our family–physically and mentally. Doctors, nurses and other parents look into my child’s eyes and see that she is beautiful. It has been empowering and enabled me to shed my fear of judgment from others, along with judgment from myself.

I have such respect for the children that we see each week and deep admiration for the parents by their side. Whether a child is facing long or short term medical needs, life-changing or life-threatening, I believe what every parent wants is for their child to feel loved and accepted–to know that they can live and thrive through their uniqueness in this world.

Now here we are, in the last stretch of Kendall’s medical marathon. I once thought this journey was about crossing the finish line, but now realize it is about deciding to run.

The Cure Pity campaign gave me the strength and confidence to share Kendall’s journey. When the day comes, I’m excited to tell her how brave she was through all of this, how she rocked our world that Christmas morning and how she continues to teach us valuable lessons about the important things in life.

I hope that when you look at Kendall, you see past the bump and notice her gorgeous deep blue eyes and pink cabbage patch lips. I hope you see a one-year-old who is on the verge of walking, filled with a passion and determination in everything that she does. Ultimately, I hope you are able to look past the differences and see her through the eyes of a 2-year-old.

Meet Us Monday: Der Vang, Patient Appointments/Telehealth Nursing

Posted On: 01/20/2013

Q. What are some of your hobbies outside work?

A. I enjoy, scrap booking, collecting pens & pencils, decorating/cleaning the house and        shopping.

Q. How long have you worked at Gillette?

A. I have been with Gillette for 5 years now.

Q. Do you have any kids or pets?

A. I have two boys. One is 9 years old and the other is 19 months.

Q. What is your favorite food?

A. I love eating any kind of seafood dishes.

Q. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?

A. I am honestly afraid to fly and have only flown once. Hopefully when I overcome that fear I would like to travel back to my birth place, which is Thailand.

Q. Favorite musician/band/type of music?

A. I like listening to pop or R and B music.

Q. What drew you to Gillette?

A. I was going to school for Nursing. I completed the CNA course and received my certificate. At the time I was working as a supervisor at an interpreting agency. I would receive interpretation requests from Gillette. I researched Gillette and had heard great things. I checked for CNA posting and applied for the CNA position in the Post-Surgical Unit.

Q. Do you have a favorite story/memory from Gillette?

A. The two most memorable events are when I attended a QMED conference in San Francisco back in July 2012. This was the first time I have ever flown anywhere, which became the   best experience ever. Another memorable event was when Gillette went live with ‘GEM’. I recently took a new position/role within the department. I remembered sitting at my desk focusing and working to complete a training manual for QES scheduling, and preparing training sessions for all QES end users before go-live.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette?

A. I enjoy being able to have the opportunity to be a part of educating, training, and being a role model for new hires and current employees.

Meet Us Monday – Meet Susan Schuler, R.N.

Posted On: 01/13/2013

Q. What are some of your hobbies outside work?

A. Traveling with my family, activities with my church, movies, and reading.

Q. When did you join Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare

A. I started June 25th, 2007

Q. Do you have any children or pets?

A. Married to my husband Todd for 23 years, my daughter Brianna is a sophomore in college studying Nursing at UND- she also works on a casual basis on the Rehab Unit  at Gillette as a CNA. My son Nick is a junior in high school. We have a dog- Fred and a cat- Dexter

Q. As a child, which superhero did you admire?

A. Wonder woman

Q. What is your favorite food?

A. My favorite food is French Silk Pie.

Q. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

A. I would travel to Hawaii.

Q. What is your favorite type of music?

A. My favorite music is 80′s and Top 40.

Q. What drew you to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare?

A. The complexity of the children we care for and the ability to make a positive difference in their quality of life.

Q. Do you have a favorite memory from Gillette?

A. Development of the Imaging Center Resource Nurse Role and receiving the Tzvi Darenblum Excellence in Teamwork Award.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette?

A. My Perianesthesia co-workers and the support and encouragement I receive from my supervisors and manager to grow and excel in my professional practice.


“I’m Happier Than I’ve Ever Been.” – Tasha Schuh, Ms. Wheelchair USA

Posted On: 01/10/2013

When Tasha Schuh noticed the Facebook page for Ms. Wheelchair USA, she clicked “Like” and thought little more about it.

“Some of my caregivers said, ‘You should get involved,’ Schuh recalls. “But I’m not the pageant type.” She was already busy, writing a book about her life after an accident paralyzed her from the chest down. In addition, she gives motivational speeches and volunteers as a mentor for people who’ve recently sustained spinal cord injuries.

It’s been a long journey since, a month before her 17th birthday, Schuh stepped backward on a high school stage—not realizing someone had opened a trap door. She fell 16 feet, breaking her neck and damaging her spinal cord on the cement floor.

“I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and want to quit,” Schuh recalls. “I got involved with Ms. Wheelchair USA because its vision isn’t about beauty. It’s about what women can accomplish in a wheelchair.”

A year after seeing that Facebook page, Schuh filled out a 20-page application for Ms. Wisconsin USA. She won the title on the strength of her application, then traveled to Ohio for a five-day national pageant. “It was amazing,” she says. “I got to meet wonderful women who had dreams and goals just like I did, whose stories were equally inspirational.” The contestants attended workshops about accessibility, advocacy and other disability issues. They made blankets to donate, attended a swing dance and interviewed with judges.

Each contestant gave a speech focusing on their “platform”—the main idea they were promoting—and on what they would do if selected. “My platform was the power of a positive attitude,” Schuh says. “When they said my name, at the end of all the awards, I was shocked—and so honored to be taking home the crown.”

Since the pageant, Schuh has appeared on news and talk shows throughout the U.S. “So many opportunities have opened up for me because of the title,” she says. Recently, she was named 2012 American Rehabilitation Champion by the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She’s finishing her book and planning her wedding.

“My dream is to give hope to people by telling my story,” she says. “Attitude is huge. It’s so easy to focus on what you’ve lost, but we all have things we can be thankful for. Air to breathe. Hot running water. Freedom in America. It didn’t happen overnight, but when I stopped thinking of what I lost, I started living a life that’s good. Now I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”

Tasha Schuh’s book, My Last Step Backward, will be available soon. Check her website,, for more information.

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