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Type 1 Diabetes - IT life.

Nine years ago (9 years ago?!), I was still waiting for the black-box-doctors at the FAA to clear my Class III medical certificate - a requirement for my then-job flying on experimental Army helicopters. To 'pump' up my diabetes-dejected ego (ha), Dave let me tag along with him for his MH-47G proficiency simulator runs. That tiny taste into helicopter flight dynamics gave me so much appreciation for him - hovering is literally the.hardest.thing, I was tense the entire time and constantly felt like I was one small cyclic movement away from losing control. Even though I knew in the back of my mind we were in a (moving) simulator, my senses got lost in the weight of the flight controls, the movement on the screens, and the hard thumps when I hovered right into the ground.

At the end of the runs I asked him how he has the stamina to pilot this monster of a helicopter for literally 15 hours straight (these special ops versions can mid-air refuel). He sort of laughed, but his answer was serious - "I'm completely exhausted by the end too."

For some reason, reading the updated position on Pilots with Type 1 from the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association today made me think of this experience with Dave. It made me think of those months (like - 8 of them) I nervously waited for the FAA to approve my Class III medical. And it reminded me that sometimes people can make really, really tough situations seem natural and easy. As Type 1 Diabetics we do just that every day. It takes courage and tenacity to wake up each day and face guaranteed challenges - sometimes they are "invisible", maybe just a short blip out of range or a carbohydrate 'swag' that wasn't close enough, but other times they are tangible, a rejection letter from the FAA requiring more proof that your diabetes is controlled, or automatic disqualification upon submittal of your astronaut application :-( And even though we push through barriers and break down walls it doesn't mean it isn't hard.

I'm so thankful to see more and more organizations supporting individualized medical reviews for certifications - the FAA, SCUBA, and some military branches, among others. The tides are shifting away from blanket medical DQs thanks in large part to grassroots advocates (hi!) who keep asking "why" and who love spilling data upon data to prove their point.


Comments

  1. Love this, April. I think we take that for granted so often. In fact, even more than taking them (the invisible challenges) for granted, we go as far as to beat ourselves up over the blips!

    Thanks for the great reminder that we kick ass every single day.

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  2. It is so many things. We know 'it' can be getting up in the morning or doing the impossible. I like Scott, am delighted you wrote this blog. We have to remember 'IT' is a big deal, and 'IT' is a wonderful mile stone. But 'IT' cannot be the only outcome. Because as I have found 'IT' is a sign post not a a long term outcome.

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