My name is Chris. I am 23 years old and have lived with diabetes since age 16. I live in Philadelphia, PA, where I am a flight attendant for a major airline. Originally in life, I wanted to be an airline pilot. I have a passion for aviation and traveling. Unfortunately, having type 1 diabetes when seeking the proper medical certification to be an airline pilot is an automatic disqualifier. I didn’t let diabetes keep me grounded from the skies, where I belong, though. I’m proud to still be working up in the air, because life is too short to not be able to do what makes you happy.
What is the weirdest question you’ve been asked about your diabetes, and how did you respond?
I am on an insulin pump and am frequently asked if it feels weird having something constantly “attached” to me. I always humorously respond, “not really, it just makes me feel like a bionic man.”
Has anyone told you that you couldn’t do something due to your diabetes, and you proved them wrong?
It’s not so much anyone telling me I can’t do anything, but for years I didn’t think it was possible for me to get back into cross country running. Prior to being diagnosed with diabetes, I loved long distance running. Over the last year and a half, I have changed that. I have figured out how run while ensuring my blood sugar stays stable, and it is my goal to one day complete a marathon.
How do you inspire others?
The biggest thing I tell others is that I don’t let diabetes control me. It can sometimes be frustrating, but in the end, you have to let go to realize. Realize there are worse things in life, and luckily, diabetes is completely manageable. You have to control it, not let it control you.
Tell us a story about how diabetes has affected you.
Diabetes affects me everyday, but really with my moods. I can definitely tell when my blood sugar is high or low based on how short circuited I am. If I randomly feel like snapping at people, I know my sugar is off and I either need to raise my blood sugar, or take insulin.
How has diabetes contributed to forming you into the person you are today? Mentally, physically, or emotionally?
It has shaped me into the person today in many ways. Being told at 16 that I couldn’t pursue my dream to be an airline pilot, it taught me to still fight and, even though I’m not a pilot, I still rose above diabetes and became the next best thing. I’m still flying and traveling. It also taught me there are worse things in life, to appreciate who you are, and be proud to be different. I’m not ashamed to tell people because with my pump and continuous glucose meter, it’s a cool quirk about me, and sets me apart.
Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 regular sized ducks?
One horse sized duck because you can fight it, defeat it, and be done.