Wednesday, July 30, 2014

F-I-Dubs

...In other words: how every Diabetic is suited to be a flight controller.

You, yes you. You got the 'beetus? Don't feel down, little did you know you practice essential flight controller skills every.single.day.

Lets step back a little bit. Almost as soon as I commandeered my shiny new NASA badge and clumsily found my desk someone uttered those words, "FIW...Failure, Impact, Workaround."

"Well that's clever," I thought. I had no idea how many times I would hear those three letters.
Honestly, its probably on the order of a dozen times a day.
Its the buzzword, err, letters at NASA.
I'm surprised I haven't seen a tattoo yet.

As I progressed through my knowledge capture 'FIW' became a useful vocabulary word. I used those three letters to practice telling imaginary Flight Directors how new failures I learned about would 'impact' the system and what I was cooking up as a 'workaround'. It became so ingrained that I began thinking about everyday malfunctions as opportunities to practice 'FIW' much to my husband's annoyance.

But I realized something.

Whether consciously or not, I am constantly 'FIW-ing' situations surrounding my Type 1 Diabetes. I would venture to say that most, if not all of us, PWDs (Persons With Diabetes) use FIW all the time (holy acronym soup batman).

Example: Out to dinner and 'Low Reservoir' alarm rings on pump.
Failure: Low insulin levels in pump.
Impact: Possibility of running out of insulin before making it back home, especially since I am out to dinner.
Workarounds: (1)Eat less, (2) pull out backup insulin pen, or (3) site change materials, (4) do nothing and hope to get home before insulin runs out.

Sometimes its not so cut and dry...

Example: Ready to workout but blood sugar check shows 100 mg/dL.
Failure: Potential for going low while working out.
Impact: Abort workout, symptoms of low blood sugar, medical attention.
Workarounds: (1)Wait to workout until number increases from a swig of OJ, (2) skip workout, (3) take pump off or suspend.

Diabetes is a continuous FIW thought process. One 'F' can lead to a variety of 'I's', and there may be several 'Ws' in any situation. While I often curse Diabetes, I can honestly say its given me more practice with the 'FIW' process than anything else in my life. I feel confident in my abilities to think outside the box for 'Ws' because, let's be honest, we've all been in that sticky Diabetes situation that required a creative solution.

So, what does all this mean? We would all make great flight controllers! Whose ready to join me at NASA?!

Monday, July 28, 2014

#Zuberselfie

 My parents took some time out of their very busy schedules to visit us this past weekend! 
It was fast, but fun...and we took some selfies. 
Love you guys to pieces!!





PS: sorry for the sparse posting... I promise, a more informative update is coming soon ;-) 
#gottafinishPARKSANDREConNetflix
#jk

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Catching Up

"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor

As much as I tout my "adventures" on this blog, I am really such a homebody. I like being at my house, curling up in a homemade blanket, planting flowers, practicing piano, cuddling with the dogs, even doing chores. I like being at home with Chris, making him dinner, laughing at stupid shows. There is just something about home that does it for me. 

And speaking of "home"...ours has been full lately with Chris's family. So much shopping, so much gardening, so much interaction. And after they left this morning I realized I'm ready for a few days in our standard configuration - me doing chores and studying and Chris finishing up his schoolwork. We need to relax.  

So, what else has been happening on the Nerdy April front? Well, not much really, except that I had my lowest A1c evaaaa: 6.2. I was literally over the moon, but my endo thought it was a "skewed" reading from too many lows. She didn't have any proof of this theory though and proceeded to ask me to do 2am finger sticks. I spoke up, "I have a CGM, it vibrates if I go over my low/high thresholds, plus I can see the trend while I was asleep." "Really? It does that?" she asked. Ok lady, I have literally explained this to you at every.single.one of our previous appointments. Wiki it or something. Anyway, I was excited and sent this pic to Chris:


In unrelated news, we bough two mattresses at Sam's for Chris's old bunk bed. It's a little unclear to me why we even have said bunk beds (we have 2 guestrooms already), but I was out voted and so the mystery shall never be debunked (see what I did there?).


And finally, thanks Houston pollution for these gorgeous sunsets lately. Everything is bigger in Texas, including our risk of getting cancer [sarcasm...maybe...unverified].

Monday, July 14, 2014

iPhone Pics from the Weekend

This weekend was so busy!

First, Chris's mom came into town and we went on a fireworks dinner cruise. 
The supermoon was also incredibly lovely. 

On Saturday some friends from Kwaj/Huntsville came over and I took them to NASA for a special tour. 
I think they really enjoyed it!

And on Sunday, we drove across Houston to purchase a truck full of plants. 
Then we started planting them! 

In between all that we made meals, went on walks and enjoyed each other's company. 

Our Houston slice of paradise. 
We had a good dinner, watched wonderful fireworks and did the wobble on the top deck!
Kay (Chris's grandma) and Pam (Chris's mom) enjoyed the dinner cruise!
The supermoon!

I have a lot of studying this week at work. Friday I have a "midpoint eval" mini sim and next week I have back-to-back mini sims as well as the dreaded "SKB" (pronounced "scab"...gross...). The Systems Knowledge Board (SKB) is an all-day oral exam where a panel of ADCOs will ask me question after question about each segment of our knowledge capture. It sounds intense to me!

Time to buckle down and get this studying out of the way!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5 years


I usually don't make a big deal about these things, but today Nerdy April's Space Adventures turns 5! Five years ago today I was sitting in my cubicle at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center debating about starting a blog so my friends and family could follow along through my internship. Little did I know I would still be typing up crap for you to read 5 years later! Wow!

We've been through a lot together - internships, college, cross-country moves, boyfriend turned fiance turned husband, dogs and cats, Diabetes, the FAA, helicopters and the International Space Station. I am absolutely grateful from the bottom of my heart for all of the sweet comments, encouragement, emails, and mentions. This blog has allowed me, as just an individual, to crack open the door of communication between Type 1 Diabetes and Manned Spaceflight. In the process, I have learned more about the struggles so many of us face, the triumphs when we overcome, and the humor that ties us all together (addictions to Diet Coke included).

I'm excited to continue this journey. Nerdy April's Space Adventures may not be a "mega-blog" or attract lucrative advertisements, but it fulfills a tiny [important] niche. In my humble opinion all kids should have the chance to stretch their imaginations, dream of space, and set out to get there - whether they have Type 1 Diabetes or not. We shouldn't live within the bounds Diabetes creates, we deserve better, and those kids who dream of being an astronaut or pilot or soldier...they deserve better. Together through interactions in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), industry, pharma, science, and advocacy we can start the conversation and put the heart breaking Diabetes related constraints in the past.

My dream is for no parent of a Type 1 to ever dread answering, "Mom, Dad, can I go to space?"

Ironically, today also marks 1 year since I began working at NASA in Mission Control! I may not be an astronaut (yet), but my heart has never been so full. I'm a lucky son of a gun to have my dream job and pilot the International Space Station. My parents never gave up on me (they probably knew I would just tell them to get out of my way ;-) even when Diabetes entered our lexicon 16 years ago.

Thank you for reading and all your amazing support these past 5 years. I can't wait to share the rest of my nerdy adventures with you! Godspeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

While Chris Was Away

This past weekend was ... well ... a little lonely. 

Chris traveled back to Huntsville in order to finally bring his baby (read: a 1981 RX-7) to Texas. 


He also spent an afternoon sky diving with his 75-year-old granddad, brother, and dad. I'm sure those boys had fun! 


And of course, he ate at our favorite BBQ joint and met up with some friends. Lucky kid, that one. 

Anyway, I had to keep myself busy at home, cleaning and organizing. I wanted to get a jump start on mowing the lawn, but it rained all weekend! So, I made a DIY chalkboard (hung it myself!), and relaxed with the dogs. 



And Fourth of July is coming!! Yippee!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

LoAC [Low-Ack]

***NOTE: this post is all about a SIMULATION, none of these events happened to the real International Space Station!!!!***

I wrote this part three days ago:

I can't wait to look back at this week and think, "that wasn't so bad."

I'm guilty, guilty, guilty of over-preparing, over-stressing, over-freaking-out when things get tough. And tomorrow, I will see my first Loss of Attitude Control during my mini sim. "Loss of Attitude Control" is a lot to say, so we normally just NASA-it-up and say "LoAC" (pronounced low-ack). As an Attitude Determination and Control Officer, "LoAC" is considered our major malfunction, and we have to lead the team through the recovery. Like I said, hopefully sim LoAC will become routine, but right now its scary to be faced with my first LoAC ever, and be responsible for the response.


I wrote this part today:

Good news: I made it through LoAC (maybe not graceful and perfect, but safely with many lessons learned).
Bad news: After I made it through LoAC and began the cleanup procedure, a Russian command was incorrectly sent and the station went to "Survival" mode. Basically, this means we will be Loss of Attitude Control for an indefinite amount of time and since it is likely our power generation will suffer due to the position of the solar arrays, an automatic set of powerdowns kicks off. Everyone kind of freaks out because a lot of equipment is powered down in a very short amount of time. And everyone is hoping I can come up with a way to avoid the situation during the 10 minute "countdown to Survival mode".

Ok, so looking back it wasn't terrible. You have a situation, you react appropriately, you realize LoAC and Survival Mode are not the end of the world and you move on. It was a great learning experience, and because of scheduling I get to do this specific sim a second time (more practice!).

When you're in the hot seat - [simulating] flying the ISS solo - a great responsibility is on your shoulders. But these are the moments when it is even more crucial to stay calm and think logically. Keep Calm and ADCO On.


I Survived...haha. Ok, dumb jokes over.