Moments of Wonderful

…rather than a lifetime of nothing special. A diabetes blog.

Moments of Wonderful - …rather than a lifetime of nothing special. A diabetes blog.

I’m not saying they’re wrong

Just last weekend I spent some time in two different airports, one large and one very small, but ended up with two very similar experiences.

airplane testing

That time I checked in the airport terminal and no one noticed.

My personal choice is to opt out of the body scanners. I am not going to question anyone else’s decision or security techniques, but with the devices I wear, it is the decision that makes me feel the most confident.

The routine was the same at both airports. I unpack my laptop and put it in a bin. I take off my shoes (and belt) and put them in a separate bin with my baggie of liquids. I make sure my bags and bins are headed into the x-ray machine before I turn to the TSA representative and tell him or her that I am opting out of the body scanner.

On my flight out, at a very busy airport, the official asked me if I had a reason to opt out.

“Yes. I do.”

“Can I ask what it is?”

(You can, but you shouldn’t. It really isn’t any of your business.)

“Yes. I have medical devices that cannot go through the body scanner.”

“The body scanner is safe.”

“Actually it voids the warranties on my devices and I don’t have $8000, so I am going to opt out.”

“Female assist!”

It turns out that agent was the same one that ultimately did my pat down. I heard another agent mention to her that they were short-staffed that afternoon.

As I was putting my shoes and belt back on, a woman who had been behind me in the security line asked me if I had actually had a reason for opting out. Still excited about my trip and deciding not to be annoyed, I briefly answered her personal question as well.

 

On the way to the airport at the end of the weekend, I ended up talking to my friends about accommodations at public places and not being too embarrassed/ashamed/shy to ask for the services we deserve. As a somewhat stubborn adult, it is pretty easy for me to stand up for myself but I wonder how hard it is for children and young adults with diabetes. It’s also just frustrating to me that I have to over and over again.

airplane testing 2

That other time I checked in my airplane seat and no one asked me anything.

At the airport, I found myself in almost the exact same conversation as I had just a few days before. I asserted my rights again. I defended my position again. I got a pat down instead of the body scanner again.

It was probably no more than a 10 minute inconvenience each time. But it’s not really about the amount of time it takes.

I’m not saying they’re wrong. There are a lot of unknowns in the security technology. There are a lot of unknowns in diabetes device technology. That’s why I prefer to play it safe.

I just wish I wasn’t forced to disclose my medical condition in a crowded security line in front of a bunch of strangers to effectively assert my rights.

Category: advocacy, travel
  • Cara says:

    I opt out as well. I’ve always kind of wondered if when they asked me “Do you have a reason?” and I said “No.” what would happen. I mean, obviously, I’d have to tell them when they did the pat down. But I wonder how hard of a time I’d get if I told them that I was just opting out because I WANTED to opt out.

    March 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm
  • Lisa says:

    I rarely do air travel so I haven’t flown anywhere since I got my defibrillator, but I dread the day that I need to.

    March 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm
  • Racheal says:

    You are so right. I have never thought of it that way. When I went through with Elyssa I was announcing to every TSA agent that was patting Elyssa down or swabbing everything that she had on that she was Type 1 and that’s why she has a pump. When she gets older she’s probably not going to want me telling everyone like that.

    March 5, 2014 at 6:40 pm
  • Jeff says:

    I’ve started asking TSA agents why it isn’t possible to get an “I’m not a terrorist; I just have a medical device” card as they perform my extra (not very thorough) pat-down and explosive residue test. Usually they’re sympathetic–sometimes even apologetic–although occasionally an agent will counter with something like, “How do we know you’re not a terrorist?” I usually just give them a dirty look and ask them how they know all of the people going through the super-fast TSA pre-screen line aren’t terrorists.

    I think you’re doing the right thing to opt-out, and it’s something I would totally do, too, if it weren’t for that one time I did it and it was way, way too uncomfortable. And we shouldn’t have to tell anyone why we’re opting out.

    March 6, 2014 at 5:19 am
  • Wendy says:

    Thank you for setting such an awesome example of empowerment for my little T1!!! I loved hanging out with you and hope we can do it again :)

    March 9, 2014 at 11:38 am
  • Warranty voider says:

    I continue to wear my pump through the AIT machine. If I wear it on the front part of my belt (around 1:00pm), the machine rarely picks it up. Usually it just results in an ETD test.

    I had been doing this for a year or two before I realized it would void the warranty or was strongly discouraged by Medtronic. I don’t see a reason to stop now.

    March 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm
  • Jeff says:

    Just to follow up… I had to get a replacement Medtronic pump after going through airport security. A new pump started giving “motor error” alarms after going through the full-body scanners. Same as another one had done after a previous trip.

    So, I’m not sending the device through a scanner again.

    April 22, 2014 at 5:32 am

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