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How T1D is Like Mission Control: Competence

Today is another installment in my series "How T1D is like mission control" - an in-depth look at how living a life with type 1 diabetes bakes in the same characteristics flight controllers practice as instructed by the "Foundations of Flight Operations". You can also read my takes on "Responsibility" and "Toughness". A recent diabetes experience got me thinking a lot about one of the more sterile flight controller qualities 'competence'. I say sterile because competence is black and white - you either have it or you don't - it's not "squishy" like 'teamwork' or 'toughness'. In the arena of human spaceflight, some of these qualities can wax and wane. For instance, on quiet weekend nights, I may never even have a technical conversation with a teammate because it just isn't necessary. In these instances, I need to be able to "turn on" teamwork, but the shift itself doesn't really require …
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Surviving Shift Work with T1D

Mission Control is located in the very center of a concrete building - literally on the middle floor vertically and horizontally in the middle of the vertically middle floor. I think that sentence was confusing, but you get it, the room is in the very center of a concrete box. As such, there are no windows to the outside world - for good reason. Several critical consoles (mine included) are staffed 24/7/365 which means someone is always working, even in the middle of the night. Every group staffs their consoles differently - my group rotates shifts, so even as a specialist I have several sets of overnight shifts each year. You can probably see why the "no-windows" thing is important.

Performing shift work is difficult even for a perfect specimen adult, but navigating sleep shifts and overnight hours alongside the maintenance of a chronic disease can be tricky. I've put together a few of my tips and tricks for performing shift work and not feeling like absolute crap. Hope…

Trajectory After Failure

The Friday before Christmas I set my alarm for 5am knowing full well Chris would already be awake, watching the live launch coverage of the vehicle he spent so many years working on, Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. I grabbed a cup of coffee and went upstairs to join him, eager at the chance to watch Starliner's maiden voyage to the mother ship, ISS. Clearly, Chris was already a few cups of coffee ahead of me.

Together we sat through the countdown, pointing out friends we know in all of the control centers, trying to listen for expected flight loop calls and reminiscing about all of the hard work in play on this critical mission. Supporting this program has meant lots of travel for Chris, new friends showing up and old friends moving away. 
We held hands and watched the coverage, grateful to finally have this moment together - a culmination of so much work and sacrifice. I guess it doesn't get much nerdier than two aerospace engineers cuddled up in the wee morning hours, entra…


Healthcare is such a tricky subject. Ironically, it seems the conversation has shifted away from health CARE in favor of divisive politics with a healthy side of cash. But I'm here to tell you there are real people dealing with real diseases behind all those numbers. And with a laser focus on the rising cost of insulin lately and advocacy groups like #insulin4all making waves, it prompted me to take a look at my own T1D cost breakdown.

**Please keep in mind I have (pretty good!) private insurance through my husband's employer and our income allows us to absorb these costs without pinching too many pennies. We have also been graced with good health (diabetes notwithstanding) and rarely order any prescriptions outside of those for my T1D. But its clear only a slight shift in this delicate equation can make for a dire situation.

Here's what my out-of-pocket looks like to cover type 1 diabetes annually:

The numbers above reflect simply the "baseline operating costs"…

World Diabetes Day 2019

November 14th is World Diabetes Day as declared by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization. The date - November 14th each year - is a significant date in the history of the disease, it is the birthday of Frederick Banting. In 1922 Banting, and a group of scientists discovered insulin...the life-giving juice we diabetics require.

I live with this disease literally every second of every day and sometimes forget that most people have the luxury of going about their day without a life-support device attached at the hip and a constant data stream of personal blood sugar data. What has become second nature for me is a foreign concept for many. In the spirit of World Diabetes Day and diabetes awareness month, I'm sharing some thoughts on the topic. 

So, what do the mechanics of managing type 1 diabetes look like today, in 2019, almost 100 years after insulin was discovered?

To answer this question I'm breaking down the components and describing what they …


Last week I had the chance to mentor a newly certified ADCO trainee - the NASA process is called "Hot On-The-Job-Training", or Hot OJT. What makes it "hot" you ask? Well, essentially I am hands off - he is sitting at the console, working all the plan reviews and updates, making calls to other flight controllers and to the flight director, reacting to anomalies and preparing material for the shift handover. My job is to act as the fault tolerance - a backup ADCO of sorts.

Tuesday was his last official day and by Wednesday morning he was in the backroom sending commands to ISS in preparation for the docking of a three-person Soyuz.

The beauty of this system is the gradual buildup in responsibility. There is a subtle shift from student, to subject matter expert, to fresh operations trainee to advanced trainee and finally to certification and real-time operations flight controller - the process takes two years on average and is considered by many to be enough specializ…

7 Places to Visit in Moscow

Moscow may not be at the top of your to-travel-to list, and honestly, without a work trip forcing my hand it probably wouldn't have been at the top of mine either. But the more time I spent in the city the more I grew to love its beauty. My whirlwind trip has me excited to read more about the cultural history and traditions and attempt to understand some of the misunderstood. I've rounded up my seven favorite spots to share today!

As a note - all of these spots are extremely accessible by the Moscow Metro system which was super cheap and incredibly reliable. Each ride is a flat charge - 38 Rubles while I was there (the exchange rate was about 65 Rubles to 1 dollar, so the rides were very affordable). The longest we ever waited for a train was maybe a little over a minute! I recommend getting a Troika card upon arriving in Moscow and reloading it as necessary!

1. Red Square No Moscow trip would be complete without a visit to Red Square. On somewhat of a whim our group decided …
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