Oct 2012 Type 1 Diabetes and flying do mix
It’s no secret that I’m flying around wearing an insulin pump tickled as I can be just to be flying! I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 32, after getting my pilot’s license at 20 and having owned 3 different aircraft.
Nobody could have been more surprised than me when I found myself in a hospital in Florida being diagnosed with diabetes – while on a trip to Disney World! I was thirsty, very sick, had blurred vision, and was vomiting like crazy. I was actually happy when the doctor announced, “You have diabetes” instead of what I thought he was going to say – something more like, “You’ll be dead by morning!” 🙂
Of course, in the years to come you’d never catch me saying I was happy about having diabetes, but I discovered it’s something a person can live with, adapt to, and carry on a whole lot like before. I quickly got over the fear of needles but never got over the fear of not flying again. Back then having Type 1 diabetes meant you could never get a medical again, never fly again.
Yep, that’s the truth. But thank heaven, the FAA regs did eventually change, and I’m one of those thrilled pilots who were again able to do what they love – fly!
There is no cure for type 1 diabetes but there is hope on the horizon. In the meantime advancements in diabetes management have been made and, in my opinion, the single most important tool available today is the insulin pump. You can see it in this next picture along with the supplies needed to reset it every 2 to 3 days. Who would have guessed – pancreas optional?!! 🙂
I went from injecting 8 or 9 small shots every day to just one stick every 2 to 3 days.
And now, the latest and greatest. Just last week I added a new device called a continuous bloodÂ glucose monitor that’s a major enhancementÂ to the insulin pump. It’s a very small device that transmitsÂ glucoseÂ levels to my pump constantly throughout the day and helps me monitor my diabetes the most efficient way. Pretty incredible!
The long blue thingy is lovingly called the “harpoon”. It blasts the long needle into the skin, then the monitor is attached and blood sugar readings transmit continuously for 3 days. So far I’ve only shot myself with the “harpoon” a few times but I’ve had to talk myself into each time. Hey…..did you see the size of that needle?!!
If you have a personal story you’d like to tell that relates to flying, I’d love to post it for you. Please email toÂ Lady TaildraggersÂ .