Free Falling

“Skydiving was like being reborn,” saystype 1 Josh Glazov, 30, of Chicago. “Itestablished a purpose in my life and restoreda goal to pursue. Before skydiving, life wassomething to be endured. After I beganjumping, however, life was something to beenjoyed and cherished.”

Finding a Passion in Life

Diagnosed at the age of 15, Josh was told hewould never be able to fulfill his dream ofbecoming an airline pilot in the U.S. Military.This devastated him and sent him into whathe describes as “five and one half years oflistless depression and hopelessness.”

Seeking a pursuit, Josh found skydiving.He called the United States ParachuteAssociation in Alexandria, Virginia, ( and they identified some “drop zones” where people could go skydiving in the Washington, D.C. area, where he was living at the time.

Josh was told that having type 1 diabeteswould not disqualify him from sky diving orfrom getting his tandem master’s license. Tobecome a tandem jumpmaster (a person whoskydives with other people), Josh learned allhe would need was an Airman’s MedicalCertificate from the Federal AviationAdministration (FAA). Until recently, peoplewith diabetes were not eligible for suchcertificates. According to Josh, however, arecent program grants waivers to peoplewith diabetes who can demonstrate to theFAA that they are in good control.

Preparation is Key

Josh emphasizes that if a personhas diabetes, preparation is key ifhe or she is preparing for a dive.

“The importance of preparation ismultiplied when the two aremixed,” he says. “My preparationstarts before I leave home. I makesure that I have all the necessarysupplies.”

Before a jump, Josh makes sure hehas extra insulin, needles and teststrips. He also loads up a coolerwith food and drinks to maintainhis diet while at the drop zone.

“I make sure I have lots of quickglucose on hand to address hypoglycemia,” he says. “I really like JollyRanchers because they help maintain myglucose throughout a demanding daywithout spiking me too high. I always makesure each of my jumpsuits are well stockedwith glucose.”

The Adrenaline Rush of a Jump and How itAffects BGs

Josh says the adrenaline rush a skydiverexperiences usually causes the BGs to drop.The amount they drop, he adds, depends onhow hard the jump is.

“I believe it makes my metabolism runmuch faster and makes my insulin workmore efficiently,” he says.

Josh usually makes two or more jumps perhour, and he makes sure he tries to testbefore every jump. He keeps his refrigeratorat the drop zone stocked with juice, fruits,breads, candies and cheeses. The aircraft hejumps from usually takes between 13 to 17minutes to reach the jumping altitude of13,500 feet. Sometimes, he eats a sandwich orPower Bar while on the plane.

Josh usually takes only 25 to 50 percent ofhis normal insulin dosage when he spends awhole day at the drop zone sky diving.

“A full day of jumping usually consumesseven to 12 test strips before the sun goesdown” he says, adding that he alwaysmanages to keep his BGs below 130throughout the day.

Josh admits that he has had mild lowswhile jumping, which were not evident untilafter he was on the ground.

A Feeling That Cannot be Described inWords

Josh says the closest he can come todescribing what the sensation of skydiving islike is a feeling of “complete freedom.”

“You are removed from all your concernson the ground,” he says. “You leave themthere and you have complete ecstasy while in free fall.”

Josh describes jumping solo as being likedriving a formula 1 car “except with a betterview.” Doing a tandem jump with a student,he jokes, “is more like driving a largedomestic sedan, but still fun.”

Jumps, according to Josh, usually last 70seconds in free fall, with 1.5 to 2.5 minutesunder the parachute. Tandem jumps areabout 60 seconds in free fall and four to fiveminutes under the parachute.

Josh obtained his law degree from theUniversity of Miami Law School in 1995. Heis currently an associate at the law offices ofPiper, Marbury, Rudnick and Wolfe inChicago. In addition to skydiving, Joshenjoys lifting weights, swimming and skiing.He is also an avid reader and enjoysstudying history.

Josh Glazov’s Suggestions for People with Diabetes Who Want to Sky Dive

  1. Be well controlled before you go.
  2. Plan ahead. Bring plenty of testing supplies and food with you.
  3. Bring a good book, folding chair and picnic-like things.
  4. Go with someone you know. If you have a diabetes-related problem, you should have someone with you who knows how to respond.
  5. Make sure the drop zone and your individual jumpmaster(s) know(s) that you have diabetes.
  6. Test your BGs within five minutes before you board the aircraft. Be above 90 and below 200 mg/dl before you go.
  7. Carry at least two packages of glucose supplements to respond to hypoglycemia in the aircraft or after you land. You will experience excitement, anxiety and fear and these can all lower your BGs.

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