As anyone that has traveled knows, flying with kids can be tricky at best. We won’t even get into the time my oldest hooked his then size 12′s (now progressed to a 13) on a jetway and tripped, breaking both bones in his forearm. That was a long day and sadly, has set the bar for future flying adventures with the little darlings.
Then, Diabetes entered the picture. TSA was scary enough what with their 3oz limitations and confiscating of nail clippers and now I’m supposed to go through with an extra bag of poky things and yet one more extra bag of food? Hello.
I fly a lot. My fiance lives in San Jose and I live in Northern Michigan. That comes out to a metric boat load of miles piled up between the two of us and occasionally the kids go with us. This boils down to, I know the drill and still TSA makes me nervous. Last year about this same time was the first flight since diagnosis and I was prepared. Thankfully because seriously, my worst nightmare came true. We pulled the short straw. The new TSA agent anxious to prove herself and just chomping at the bit for something to do other than tell people to dump their coffee and lighters before crossing the magical line at our small regional airport.
We complied and complied with a smile on our face. I had the letter from our endo and all the paperwork from the pharmacy. I had all of Hannah’s supplies packed in one of those roll up travel make up kits that hang up, her backpack was an organized thing of beauty for all of an hour. Until I hear the magical words, bag check. We are taken over to the side, my son and I allowed to go through and they separate Hannah and I with a lot of plexiglass. I can see her, but I can’t speak to her I am told. Her socks are removed, she is wanded and her pump is swabbed. Her hands and feet are swabbed after which, she is thoroughly patted down. To add to the drama, the pump was only using saline at this point. We were on a two week training period (on vacation, talk about timing!) but I wasn’t about to back down when the agent asked us to disconnect. I stood my ground, I’d done my reading and I decided to fight for every diabetic to ever cross this woman’s path again and I said no. You could see her thinking about it but she walked away as I explained what the pump was for and that it’s a medical device so maybe that’s why she tore into Hannah’s bag so completely.
The backpack was totally dumped. Every item questioned and held up to me for explanation. She then swabbed the entire backpack and the roll up bag, including every pocket, nook and cranny. By this point, my stress is escalating and I’m trying to sneak a peak at my watch to see if we’re about to miss our flight and still keep a smile on my face so this woman won’t turn on me. Finally she deemed us a non threat and I could pack everything back up and we made our flight but barely.
The weird part since that particular flight? Diabetes and TSA has been a non issue. The return trip out of San Jose; simple. One agent pointed at her and said put your cell phone in your backpack and my son told him it’s her insulin pump. The agent flashed a thumbs up and we made it through that line with nothing more than a cursory glance at her sharps bag. This year, even less. On both ends of the trip I gave the heads up to the initial agent due to our extra bag by saying, my daughter is an insulin dependent diabetic, this is her sharps bag and this is her lunch bag. The trick now we have discovered (besides avoiding overzealous, new agents) is to make certain she doesn’t beep when going through the checkpoint. As long as she doesn’t alarm, they don’t even look in her bags. It was a total non issue going through with needles, juice boxes and extra bags. I made sure to point them out and the typical response was a grunt and a head nod.
I just thank them and keep my bafflement to myself while we skate through with multiple overages on liquids that are unchecked while some poor sap a line over gets grilled about a bottle of nail polish they accidentally overlooked.