Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diabetes, Travel, & the TSA Part I

Unless you are living under a rock in the United States everyone has heard about the new security procedures travelers in the US are facing: full body scans and more extensive body pat downs.

What does that mean for those of us with diabetes, specifically those of us on insulin pumps and CGMs?

While I am not traveling until Friday (more on that later) I thought I would do a post today on what I normally do going through security. Having been a pumper for 18 years and having lived across the country from my family for 15 years I have lots of experience traveling with an insulin pump. In the last two years I have not traveled as much as I used to but I still do travel.

Going through security stinks especially during this busy holiday season. The lines. The people. The hassle. I like to think of myself as the queen of security efficiency. Two things to remember: 1. Dress efficiently and 2. Pack efficiently.

So Dress Efficiently. You know you are going to have to take your shoes off so try not to wear shoes that are too big of a hassle to take on our off! If you wear a baggy sweater or sweatshirt they are going to make you take it off so wear something underneath. If I'm wearing jewelry I put it into a ziplock baggie in my carry on so I can put it on at the gate and I don't loose anything to the bottomless pit that is my purse. This baggie trick also works well with anything you would have in your pockets like wallets, keys, change ect.  Pretty simple, right?

Ok, so now Pack Efficiently. I make sure that I have one baggie with my insulin and one baggie with my carry-on liquids I'm allowed to take and I put both of them at the top of my bag so it is super easy to pull out and put through the xray machine.

Now here is the tricky part. Over the last few years I've noticed that my Animas Ping pump makes the metal detector you have to walk through alarm. Every. Single. Time. It didn't used to but it always leads to me having to go through secondary (a pat down and them testing the pump for explosives). It was driving me nuts especially since I worked so hard to do everything as efficiently as possible. So I started disconnecting right as I put my bag through the xray machine and connecting before even gathering my things. Max I was disconnected is maybe 3 minutes. This week I read that Animas says the xray machine isnt good for the pump but I've never had a problem. So I will not recommend this to anyone but I will say that I have done it before and not sure I will do it again.

For the sake of everyone's sanity this holiday traveling season please take your stuff as quickly off the xray belt and carry it over the chairs or benches and organize yourself over there instead of at the xray belt. You hold up the security line that way. If people did that and followed my efficient packing/dressing guide the line wouldn't be as bad. 

Now to my previous question, what do these new security measures mean to those of us with diabetes. Here is what I'm planning on doing on Friday when I travel:

1. I'm still going to dress efficiently. I have a long trip ahead of me so I am dressing super comfy and putting my jewelry in a baggie in my purse to be put on at the gate.

2. Packing efficiently is probably even more important then ever. I am also going to make sure all my d supplies are easy to pull out in the off chance they stop me. They never, ever have but just in case.

3. If I have the regular old metal detector I will probably just wear my insulin pump and let the person know I have an insulin pump (if I don't and it alarms they make me walk through the machine again and again so this just speeds up the process). At this point I'll be prepared for secondary.

4. If I have to choose between the full body scan or the extensive pat down I am going to let them know that I have two medical devises (insulin pump and CGM) and no I cannot disconnect. Chances are they'll make me do the extensive pat down. I'm preparing for this as all the airports in the Washington DC area are utilizing the new full body scan machines. Sigh.

This weekend I'll report on how security went.

For now I'm off to start laundry so I can pack and get ready for Thanksgiving. Mmm.

Are any of you traveling this week? What are your "tricks" to help get you through security?


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