Skip to main content

Diabetes is Concrete

Maybe…concretes is more appropriate?

I am currently in a tangle. And so, so frustrated. It got me thinking how “Diabetes” is so concrete. It’s one of those things: you either have it or you don’t. Maybe that’s a good thing at times, but at other times I feel unfairly singled out. Just because I have this disease, which one is either diagnosed with or is not, and just because it is often misunderstood and scary to those who don’t live with it, doesn't mean I should get slapped with increased paperwork and requirements to prove my control. If a state’s driver license form is going to ask me point blank, “Do you have Insulin-dependent Diabetes?” then they should also ask, “How often do you frequent drive-thrus?” or, “How often do you exceed your caloric intake requirements?” “Have you been to the gym lately?” “Do you actually read your prescription labels?” …oh, and go ahead and prove all that. kthanksbye

I am faced with the fact that because heart attack and stroke episodes, or the possibility of them, are nebulous – the opposite of the concreteness of Diabetes, these people are my driving peers. And while I have to prove my control even though I have never even been in an accident (knock on wood) or received a traffic ticket, they get a free ride. I am treated like it was my fault, like it was something I actively did to get Diabetes, like I can’t be trusted to report my level of disease control on my own – only my doctor has the right credentials to administer such a judgment.

I looked into all of the statistics while completing my Master’s thesis, since there is very little information about Diabetic pilots I had to use Diabetic drivers to cross compare. The reality is, overall, medical conditions only contributed to 1.3% of all traffic accidents included in the report compiled by the DOT in 2009. Twenty percent of these crashes were caused by “Diabetic Reaction” which did not specify between insulin-dependent diabetics or non-insulin-dependent diabetics. “Seizure” and “Black Out” were the two most common medical conditions identified as the cause of traffic accidents with 35% and 29% respectively. It is clear that mechanical failure or driver error are much greater contributors to traffic accidents, at least in the US, and during the study period.

In general, I’m frustrated at the boxes we get pushed into as members of the oh-so-concrete “Diabetes Club”. I’m frustrated people can throw that word out…”Diabetes”…and feel like they know what they are talking about, or have control over us just because they are un-afflicted.


Diabetes is a concrete diagnosis – either your pancreas is busted (or semi-busted) or it’s not, but I hate being singled out just because they can pin this one on me un-nebulous-ly. 



Yes, I added a generous amount of pre- and suffixes. Judge away. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution?

On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there is b…

International Travel with Type 1 Diabetes

Whew! Back from one international trip and on to another next week! I will admit my eyes roll every time I get the "we're gunna need to pat you down" talk at TSA, but international travel is a whole different animal. I thought it might be fun to see what goes through my brain and into my bags for these types of trips!


I wouldn't be a NASA Flight Controller if I wasn't good at planning, the key to international travel as a T1D is PLANNING!

3 months prior

Assess supplies. Mine come in 90-days supplies so I like to inventory at least 3 months prior and make a plan to order more early if the trip is going to coincide with the end of my 90-day stock. In my experience supply companies are usually pretty good about adjusting orders as needed if you tell them the reason for the early request - just mention you have an international trip coming up and want to make sure to have plenty of supplies (and backups!) in time. Request a loaner insulin pump. It's likely the comp…

Hot OJT

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…
01 09 10