Brooks to attend Camp Gilbert designed for diabetic children
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Jacob Brooks will spend a week in July away from his family camping at Enemy Swim Lake in northeastern South Dakota.|
While going off to summer camp is normal for many young boys and girls, it's more complicated for Brooks because he has to spend extra time each day managing his health. He is a Type 1 diabetic.
Brooks, an 11-year-old who lives in Madison, will have some help when he arrives at Camp Gilbert. It's an annual event specially organized and held for children ages 8-18 who have diabetes. Camp Gilbert is one of several special camps held each summer at NeSoDak, located on the shores of Enemy Swim Lake, operated by the Lutherans Outdoors program.
According to Katie Brooks, Jacob's mom, Camp Gilbert hosted about 600 boys and girls last summer, and while the youngsters were there, they had their particular health needs attended to by on-site doctors, nurses, dietitians and other professionals.
Katie Brooks said that the camp will offer the longest time that Jacob has been away from home.
"We've attended Christian family camps together, but (Jacob) has never had a chance to go camping like this," she said.
Although Jacob can have an active lifestyle similar to other children his age, he needs to manage what he eats, how much exercise he gets and some other behaviors so that his blood sugar level doesn't run too high or drop too low.
Diabetes is a group of diseases in which a person possesses high blood sugar level because their pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or their cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced in the body. Type 1 diabetes results from a person's body not producing insulin.
Insulin serves as the principal hormone in the body that regulates the use of sugar in the blood to most other cells, including muscle and fat cells. If a person's body is producing and using insulin properly, physicians advise that blood sugar levels before meals should range from 90 to 130. After a healthy person eats, their blood sugar levels should increase temporarily but should typically remain below 180.
Katie Brooks said that just before his diagnosis, Jacob, who was then 9 years old, had visited the doctor because he was urinating frequently. His mother originally thought that he was dealing with an infection. During his examination, the medical staff checked Jacob's blood sugar level and measured it at 830. Katie Brooks said at that level, some diabetics are threatened with a coma, and the doctors were surprised that Jacob was still talking and his body was still functioning.
Looking back at what happened, Jacob's mother said that she should have had suspicions that he was ill because Jacob had lost weight during the months before seeing the doctor. However, she had attributed the changes as growth spurts that children often experience. Common symptoms of untreated diabetes are weight loss, frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger.
To manage his diabetes, Jacob checks his blood sugar levels about 10 times each day, and he wears an insulin pump 24 hours each day, seven days a week. Every 15 minutes, Jacob receives a dose of insulin from the pump.
He typically checks his blood sugar before he eats and two hours after eating. Jacob also performs checks before and after physical activity.
Jacob can remove the insulin pump for about an hour if he has a session of high-degree exercise such as swimming. After he finishes, Jacob checks his blood sugar level, reconnects the insulin pump, and inputs information that helps his blood-sugar level adjust to his needs.
Camp Gilbert provides an opportunity for Jacob to have some new experiences, like canoeing, fishing, swimming, soccer and basketball.
"It looks like fun," he said.
His parents were helped in sending Jacob to the camp through a scholarship of $625 provided by the Madison Lions Club. Katie Brooks believes that the camp will provide a good experience when Jacob spends time with others who need to manage their health and activities like he does.
"I think he's excited to connect with other kids who are diabetic and have fun by playing basketball or going swimming," she said.