ANDERSON — Two years ago, Heather Simmons said her life was turned upside down when her 3-year-old son, Blake, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“It’s scary,” Simmons, 34, said breaking down into tears. “Because they can be fine one minute and the next minute everything becomes very critical. I think, for me, it has changed me as far as what is really important in life.”
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the pancreas loses the ability to produce insulin, which is needed to turn food into energy. The disease can affect both children and adults and, according to health professionals, it is not caused by the person’s diet or lifestyle like Type 2 diabetes.
Both types 1 and 2 diabetes require constant carbohydrate counting, blood-glucose testing, but there is no cure for those with Type 1 diabetes and those afflicted with the disease will always have a lifelong dependence on injected insulin.
Simmons said watching her lively and chatty child who has been an inspiration in life crippled by the disease has been devastating.
She said one day she was taking her older son Austin, 14, to school and Blake was in the back seat laughing and talking. Everything was normal and then, with no warning, Blake went silent .
“I looked back and he was passed out,” she said.
Within seconds she had pulled over and checked Blake’s sugar, realizing it was too low. Her son’s life was in danger and she had minutes to save him. The situation quickly unraveled as she tried to help Blake and Austin started to panic, yelling at his mother to hurry.
It was a situation no mother wants to be in.
“That is an example of how this disease is,” Simmons said. “You will be fine one minute and fearful the next. That is the ugly side of it and it never leaves you.”