Lately, in some of the diabetic forums I hang around in - alot of Americans have been very dissatisfied with the treatment they receive by TSA when going through security with their insulin pumps on.
I am used to being pulled over, patted down, questioned about products in my carry on that relate to my diabetes, along with swabbing of my pump when I fly. Apparently though, as of October 29th, 2010 - procedures have changed yet again with TSA (Transporation Security Administration) and how they handle passengers that are deemed to be threats. As far as I can tell, for diabetics and insulin pump users, nothing has changed since I last flew. You can check out what you are allowed at this link ( http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/editorial_1374.shtm#3 )
Last March, I had the delight of going through a full body scanner at Orlando International Airport. As usual, metal detector detected my pump and I was pulled aside. Though this time, instead of hand pat down, I was placed in this futuristic looking "bubble". I went in there pump and all, sucked in my gutt, and within 5 minutes after pump was swabbed down for possible explosive material - I was free as a bird.
I am now finding out, after speaking with Frank at Animas Canada that I should NOT have gone through the scanner with the insulin pump on. The same applies to my loaner pump I always obtain when I travel. This is always in my carry on luggage and goes through the x-ray machine. No, no, no - he told me! Yikes, I didn't know. Due to magnetic fields, it can cause the insulin cartridge gizmo that pushes your insulin through the pump tubing go wacky. He said due to rapidly changing TSA requirements, Animas is now issuing a travel card with their loaner pumps specifying to the TSA agent that your pump NOT go through these devices.
Being the honesst Canadian gal I am - I went on to tell him that in Forums they were saying NOT to admit this to your pump company that your pump had gone through any of these devices - or the warranty would be VALID. Gulp - why am I so damn honest? Because my Mum raised me right? Frank was nice enough to say, if I was talking to one of their Animas Technical department then this statement would have caused some issues perhaps. Therefore, I will be requesting a manual pat down just like I've had in the past, prescanner time for me!
One other topic I thought I'd add here is the questions amongst diabetics as to how much radiation do we receive when in these scanners? Yes, they have been approved by FDA ... BUT ... what hasn't been approved one minute and then turned around to not be good has occured before. I think at my age, I'd rather put up with the human pat down then the bubble machine - aka scanner. Yes it will perhaps take longer, but as always, I will arrive at airport much earlier then required, just so I can make my flight on time. Here in Canada, we have had much controversy over the full body scanners, and according to Health Canada - " There is more shielding on airport X-ray machines — the entire belt is shielded; in medicine, the patient table is not shielded ". Read more at this link ( http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/01/05/f-airport-scanners-radiation-risk.html )
I have to admit, as other diabetics have been saying ... flying the friendly blue skies is no longer the thrill that it used to be with the security measures that we have to face once we walk through the airport doorways. Maybe taking the train, bus, personal car, or ship to destinations abroad might be the way to go? Like my Dad said to me - take your time if you can and take in the sights you don't see when you fly!