That occurred when she was treated by a chronic pain specialist, who used osteopathic manipulation of her joints and acupuncture, as well as nutritional therapy. Eventually, she no longer relied on the wheelchair and was challenged by the specialist to become a doctor. She went to Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and earned her doctorate at 44.To this day, she isn't sure if she had rheumatoid arthritis or not. It could have been a misdiagnosis, or untreated Lyme disease, Brooks says.
She begins each day at 5:00 a.m. and usually ends when she retires at 8:30 p.m. She sees her patients, but knows that she must take time off each day so her body recuperates. "I do see patients at the hospital, the clinic, nursing home, and occasionally make house calls. Then I go back to the clinic and finish working on my charts, and go home. I try to take my nap every day and eat smart," she says.
It’s been a tough time lately, as the recession rocked the area and left many residents without jobs or insurance for medical care. "People who lost their insurance, they aren't taking their medication. We are seeing many more of them," Brooks says. "There are people who don't live in the county and come here."
"Sometimes the disability is very simple, something that happened years ago, they had x, y, or z, an accident and it wasn't taken care of because they had no money, and so now they have arthritis or a bad knee or a limp and awful back conditions," she says.
As more organizations recognize her work, and ask her to speak at events, Brooks says she feels "surprised and incredibly honored."
"I set for myself a little higher standard and that is what I expect my patients to do," Brooks says. "I try harder and they try harder. I yell at them louder, and they laugh at me louder."
"Sometimes I get a little dramatic with them, and say, ‘What are you doing to me? They get the point."
This article appears in the December 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.