There are a few cool things that we have been able to do as a result of having type 1 diabetes in our lives.
One of them is the ability to participate in some neat, once-in-a-lifetime, events. As both of my daughters acknowledged, this particular event called 'Dreams and Wings' was probably one of the greatest of all.
The Dreams and Wings event is held for all children that are living with chronic and incurable disease. While I often explain that type 1 diabetes does not hold my children back from doing anything they chose to do, it is also at times, a real defeatist in the sense that when blood sugars go bad, it is can be even more challenging and even, life-threatening. Hence, why I call it a 'Monster".
Case in point, is that upon walking into the hanger, both girls skyrocketed blood sugars up to 400 mg/dl.. After getting upset that we needed to test blood glucose (because who wants to stop doing anything right when you walk in to a fun house), the numbers beeped warnings at us and forced a correction of insulin - and the need for lots of water. Type one diabetes for lack of a better phrase - sucks. Especially, when you want to do something fun and adrenaline boosting.
The event started in the Ann Arbor Airport using the hanger for the University of Michigan's Survival Flight helicopters. The kids were provided with full access to the hanger which was staged with balloon creators, artists, games, food, drawing and coloring.
After arriving, creating a few neat craft projects, the girls had their name called to go on a plane ride over the city and out to the suburbs of Ann Arbor.
The girls had already discussed the placement of seating in the plane and oldest daughter was to be in front as a co-pilot, while youngest daughter and I were to sit in the back seat. The Naturally Sweet Dad was left with his sadly broken foot to sit in the hanger and to wait. Which really, was probably a good thing as he was a little doubtful about the size of the plane in the first place.
While cruising along in perhaps, the most gentle of all rides that I have ever been on - even commercial planes - our pilot offered our oldest daughter a chance to steer the plane. In a patient and kind manner, he quietly gave her a first flight lesson. Even giving her a stage whisper that females make better pilots as they are more detail oriented. Now, I don't know if there is any truth in that statement, but I am all for showing my girls that they can be/do anything they want, so I think that made me enjoy the ride a little bit more. Girl power!!! Thank you to Pilot Bob!
Our youngest enjoyed the experience too. One special part of her personality is that when she laughs, with that belly laugh of hers, you can't help but laugh along. For the entire plane ride, she sat with her eyes wide open, grinning from ear to ear and looking at the 'broccoli' tree tops. She also borrowed her sister's iPod and snapped pictures left and right, saying that she 'wanted to remember this moment forever!'
When the ride ended, we came back into the hanger and our pilot presented the girls with their own certificates and a picture of the plane with the kids. The girls also received two flight pins - tiny gold wings with a symbol of accessibility and a survival flight captain's pin.
Later that night, our daughter's discussed adding pilot to both of their resumes. "Is it possible", they wondered - with no mention of type 1 diabetes, "if they could have more than one career?"
And my answer?
Of course! You can be anything you want to be!
(and for all of you parents out there... for the moment, so grateful that type 1 diabetes wasn't even thought of.)
Thanks to the University of Michigan and Mott Children's Hospital for helping my girls discover yet another shining light.