Thursday, December 9, 2010

Diabetes, Travel & the TSA Part II

 Greetings from Cuernavaca, Mexico!

I am in Mexico helping my mom, aunts and uncle pack up my grandmother's house. It is bittersweet. This trip has been fun but also emotional. Not to mention throwing in a cold, stomach flu and wacky 50% decrease in insulin needs but those are stories for a different day.

My trip out here involved me flying from Dulles to San Diego, being picked up by my aunt and uncle and driving to Tijuana and then flying from Tijuana to Cuernavaca.  So I went through security in two different airports in two different countries. And let's just say two totally different experiences.

Dulles is making full use of the body scan machines. While I was in line one of the TSA agents started chatting with me. I asked him what I should do with my insulin pump. I knew what to do but figured I should ask. He said to just let the person know and I'll have to go through the pat down. FUN. Well he saw which line I got into and went over and told the person I had an insulin pump. So by the time I got to the body scanner they just told me to wait for a female TSA agent.

The actual pat down wasn't terrible but not comfortable either. Each step of the way was explained in detail before anything was ever done. This was nice considering the places they touched. The process is long but only an extra 5-10 minutes depending on how long you have to wait for an available TSA agent.

The agent I had was extremely nice and polite. Her job stinks. As uncomfortable as it was for me I am sure it wasn't comfortable for her either.  I kept reminding myself of this.

Security in Tijuana was a totally different experience. Like majorly different.  No worries about liquids in your carry on or taking your shoes off. I went through the xray machine and the two security guys kept telling me to take my pump off. I explained to them over and over again in spanish that it was not a cell phone as they kept saying but an insulin pump and in fact could not be disconnected. After a few minutes of back and forth they let me through the machine and then when I set it off they just wanded me let me go. No big deal. Just like what security was like in the US prior to 9-11. No getting groped for the second time in one day!

So what advice do I have for you? Hmm. Well,
  • Make sure you pack well (see this post for my packing tips)
  • Go into security with a positive attitude and and open and understanding mindset.
  • Pack your patience. You will need it!
  • If you are considering passing your insulin pump through the xray machine or have any questions regarding how the xray or body scanning equipment will affect your pump or CGM please contact the manufacturer.
I'm getting ready to fly back home so I'll do another post about my experience with security at the Mexico City airport this weekend. I've gone through security there hundreds of times so I'm not expecting anything too different but still I think it would be good to have a write up of what happened and what to expect.

After 2 weeks here I am very ready to go home. I love Mexico and I love Cuernavaca but man, oh man, do I miss being home. Especially since I'll only be home for 10 days before I am back on another plane flying west to San Diego for Christmas. Oh lordy.