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Flight Test Engineering

Before my transition to NASA, I molded my real-time operations skills as a civilian Flight Test Engineer for the Army. While I was somewhat reluctant at first to work with helicopters vs. rockets, I absolutely fell in love with my job and am extremely grateful for the many opportunities I got to experience. During my 3 1/2 years, I accumulated over 250 flight hours in various aircraft, such as the UH-60 Black Hawk, MH-60M Black Hawk, MH-47G Chinook, and one of the chase aircraft, the T-34C. Of course this job was an incredible engineering experience, but it also provided me a chance to push the boundaries of Type 1 Diabetic flight limitations through the FAA, in the altitude chamber, and in the helicopter dunker trainer.


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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…

How T1D is Like Mission Control: Toughness

This morning I rolled out of bed in a groggy haze - my alarm clock and the baby had gone off at the same time. As I reached for the monitor I heard (and felt) a muffled, "rip." The insulin pump site that had been hanging on by a thread had just ripped clean off my skin, and of course, there were 60 units left in the reservoir. Not to be outdone, just a second later the symphony of morning sounds continued - my insulin pump and phone app were alerting me of a low blood sugar. Par for the course, the wiener dog showed no mercy for my precarious situation - she chimed in with her own whiny chorus.

Toughness.

To many that description of my morning may seem extraordinary, but I'm here to tell you, diabetes doesn't take days off or give you a pass. Somehow it seeks out those moments when you are already weak from life in general and slaps you on the bum with it's two cents.

Toughness.

You see? Those alien worlds of T1D and human spaceflight really aren't all that d…

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…
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