Burleson resident Amanda Brooks spoke of the devastating effects of Type 1 diabetes on Wednesday.
Brooks brings first-hand experience to the topic having two daughters who suffer from the condition.
Brooks discussed her family’s dealings with diabetes during the Cleburne Lions weekly luncheon.
The danger, Brooks said, is that diabetes is often mistaken for more benign maladies such as stomach flu or virus, strep throat, urinary tract infection or even a growth spurt. Because of that, doctors often misdiagnose the condition.
“A lot of doctors don’t know the warning signs,” Brooks said. “The tragedy is that it’s simple to diagnose requiring only a urine test or finger prick.
As yet, there’s no cure and it can strike at any age.
Brooks learned that the hard way when her daughter — Jessica Brooks, now 6 — was diagnosed. Not long after Brooks’ older daughter — Samantha, now 15 — was diagnosed.
“So, it’s not a childhood disease,” Brooks said. “You can get it at any age. I have two friends who were diagnosed with it in their 40s.”
Type 1 diabetes is a “chronic, autoimmune condition in which the person’s body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas.
“It’s a really scary autoimmune disease,” Brooks said. “Their body basically attacks their pancreas and low blood sugar can be extremely dangerous to them.”
Both of her daughters will be insulin dependent for life, Brooks said, and will require constant monitoring to avoid dangerous situations.
Warning signs for Type 1 diabetes include excessive thirst; frequent urination; bed wetting or heavy diapers; rapid weight loss; increased appetite; fruity breath odor; rapid, heavy breathing; fatigue and weakness; vision change and headaches; and stomach pain, nausea plus vomiting.
Brooks said Type 1 diabetes is not a lifestyle disease, caused by sugar, contagious or preventable.
The disease is costly too both emotionally and financially, Brooks said.
Brooks spoke of the toll her daughters have endured as well as the headaches she’s encountered battling insurance companies and medical bureaucracy.
Insulin costs run more than $20,000 per year. Brooks said she hopes one day to get a DAD, diabetic alert dog, for her daughters. That, unfortunately, will have to wait. The dogs cost about $20,000 each and, given that they are individualized to a specific person, two dogs would be required.
On a happier note, Brooks praised the Lions Club for Lions Club, a camp in Kerrville open to children 8 to 15.
“I knew you all did the vision screening but I’d never heard of Lions Camp,” Brooks said.
Lions pay all costs of the camp, which is open to children with disabilities as well as those with medical conditions including diabetes.
The Cleburne Lions sponsored several of Samantha Brooks’ stays there.
“Jessica is counting the years until she can go,” Brooks said. “Samantha is too old to go anymore but wants to go back as a volunteer. I’m so happy that [Lions Club] does this. You don’t know what it means to children to be around other Type 1 kids and to not feel different or be told they’re different.”