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“ 76 Jan/Feb 2019


I remember being


terrified of not flying and petrified of losing my profession and my passion.


Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas becomes unable to release insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar throughout the body. Type 1 diabetes has no cure; it is deadly if not properly controlled. Type 1 usually manifests in children and young adults and is thought to be caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. To be diagnosed as a healthy and fit 32-year- old is rare. For the rest of my life, I will have to take multiple shots of insulin per day just to stay alive.


The strange thing about that fateful morning is that I don’t remember being concerned about my health. I don’t remember that my blood sugars were through the roof and I was extremely sick. I remember being terrified of not flying and petrified of losing my profession and my passion. I was losing everything that I had worked so hard to achieve. The moment before my diagnosis, all my struggles and sacrifices were paying off. I was flying my dream job in my dream helicopter in my hometown. I was ready to buy a house and start a family, all these things that I had put on hold until I achieved my goals. I was flying SPIFR EMS in an EC-135 and loving life. My goals were finally accomplished!


I had done everything I could to become a pilot. It was my dream since childhood and that dream never came easy. I enlisted in the Navy in hopes of becoming an officer and a pilot. I worked as a flight line technician at a local FBO while putting myself through flight school. I amassed a lot of debt and became a CFII, clawing my way up the flight instructor food chain during the Great Recession. Then I worked for Papillon and Maverick Helicopters in the Grand Canyon and was fortunate enough to become involved in EMS with PHI Air Medical. I was a SPIFR captain for Metro Aviation when I was diagnosed. While working my way up, I put myself through college. I earned my bachelor’s in aviation management and was in the process of completing my master’s degree through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I worked for some of the best companies in the industry; I did everything right and I did everything I was supposed to do. I was in my prime when I lost my career at the age of 32. I wasn’t yet an old man who had accomplished all of his flying goals and then lost his medical exam. It was not fair and as I write this, I am still angry at the cruel cards that life dealt me.


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