Blog Entries With Tag: flying


Posted: Feb 21, 2014

Most of you know, I started insulin pumping back in 2008 with an Animas 2020 after 40+ years with multiple dosage injections (MDI).  Sadly, with the problems over the years when I go on holidays with a pump – it often fails on me - and I have to use the loaner pump that all Animas owners with a warranty can take advantage of.  I also had always brought MDI back  up incase the loaner pump also crapped out on me (See NOTE1).

Cool picture of an aircraft

On a recent trip to Martinique, with my assortment of insulin products I use for my MDI adventures - I experienced a little scare when it came to doing my basal injection with Levemir (I decided to give this a go again - doing 3X shots a day every 8 hours rather than the usual Lantus 2X a day regime). 

When I went to give my 14H00 Levemir injection with the NovoPen Echo (my American readers - it's now available in the USA as of January 2014) - like always - I went to prime the needle for injection.

Nothing came out.

I primed it again with 2 units instead of the normal 1.

Nothing came out.

I then started to panic.  Yes, I did have another 1/2 unit pen needle - the Novolin-Pen Junior - which has my NovoRapid in it for my bolus injections - but my mind wasn't thinking logically of taking out the vial of Levemir and inserting it into that pen. In cramped quarters on a plane – I just really was wanting to be a Princess!

Princess Cat - that's me in a nutshell NOT

Along comes my night in shining armor - my DH - saying something he'd said before when I used to fly with my insulin pump. 

"Air pressure in the aircraft may make the plunger mechanism go wonky"

Hmmm, I then looked down in the window where you can view  the insulin cartridge in the pen - and yuppers - the piston rod had gone back up to the top - even though earlier in the AM shot (in the airport before we left at the ungodly hour of 0600) - it had been in the correct position.  The plunger had actually retreated back to it’s base!

So, I pull pen needle apart, and get the piston rod to behave the way it should.  The one thing with the "improved" NovoPen Echo - is the rod seems more flimsy than the Junior pen I've been using for about 3 years (the piston rod seems more strong).  We're thinking maybe it's due to the Echo pen having "dose memory" of how much was injected and abit of an ability to tell you how long ago it was done (it's not the most precise for time of dose). 

After that - all was fine - and on return trip 3 weeks later (sigh - good bye warm ocean breeze and dolphins) - it never occurred.  Still - it makes me wonder - does this happen that often with an insulin pump - that the plunger mechanism can rewind itself back? 

In the meantime, I’ve posted to @NovoNordiskCanada on Twitter about this glitch that happened – and I’ll keep you posted with their reply. Hopefully if all goes well - compared to how it went with obtaining a 1/2 dose pen delivery system will be easier than it was last year

NOTE1: Hmmm, this doesn't make an insulin pump sound very reliable does it - well - in my case - I sometimes think I've been jinxed - so don't worry - if you are new to pumping - just ensure you have every possible back up with you - incase something goes wrong – since without insulin – we are plain and simple - DEAD.  It's always better to be safe than sorry - and I can do it all in a carry on for a month  (I really should make a YouTube video on how I do this – it’s so easy - and trust me - I still bring more then I need even in a small space).  All the “legal drugs”  we have to tote along can take up space (what leave my sexy sandals behind?? NEVER).  Though some airlines now will allow an extra carry (e.g. tote bag that fits under seat in front of you) as long as it contains ONLY medical equipment (always check with your airline carrier first). 

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Tags: insulin (2) NovoNordiskCanada (1) pressure (1) air (1) Animas 2020 (1) pump (1) MDI (1) pen (1) flying (1) NovoRapid (1) Levemir (1)
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Posted: Dec 22, 2010

Last week I got back from a few weeks of holidays with my family - it's a little tradition that we do every December - usually just myself and hubby - but this year we brought along my ILS - since they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  All went well, we weren't sure at first since my FIL has dementia, but he's been on an experimental drug since the summer time and he had no problems at all while on the NCL Sun with us.  He knew that once he reached the whirl pool at the back of the ship (engine props churning away, to turn around LOL).  He's got as great an attitude to his condition as I do to my having diabetes - so we make a great pair.

My biggest worry with the latest changes from TSA back in October was how would it be going through each of our countries security check points.  I'd read various blogs / news reports - all from the USA mind you - that left me scratchng my head as to whether or not I'd be experiencing the same thing as my friends south of the border.

The good news is - I found no difference in previous travel with wearing an insulin pump, or carrying all my various medical bits and bobs.  The only thing that changed for myself this time was the fact that Animas now has made it very clear that our insulin pumps should NOT go through either the x-ray machine (I used to put my loaner pump through that with my carry on luggage - this time I held it in my hand through the metal detector / pat down) OR to go through the full body scanner (which I had done earlier this year at Miami International Airport).  These devices can cause malfunctions in the insulin cartridge mechanism, which could lead to insulin over delivery.  Something I do not want to have happen.  Luckily, Animas Canada sent me a few wallet sized cards before I left which I never had to show, even when I told CATSCA and TSA agents that my pump(s) could not go through some of their devices for security.  They took my word for it.

Yes, as usual I set off the metal detector - for some reason Animas is known for this - perhaps due to the clip on the pump which is metal (I have experimented in past with removing clip, placing pump in back pocket, metal detector still goes off)?  Maybe I'm just a highly metallic person, from wearing too much fancy glitter eyeshadow  in the past?  Who knows - but I set the metal detector off.

The TSA agent wasn't aware the harm that could be done to the insulin pump - I was abit shocked by that as the Canadian side when I'd left were fully aware.  I think it depends on what training the agents have had, though you'd think at the major airports that I go through, they would be more up to date.  Maybe we insulin pumpers are a rarity?  All I know is that at least I educated the TSA agent on the damage that could be done to the pump, and I had what I consider a routine pat down like I've had in the past.  None of the more invasive methods that I've read about with genitals being touched/swabbed.

I keep on wondering if people who approach what CATSCA or TSA are doing to us as an invasion of their privacy - and that they have no right to do this - then perhaps their attitude makes them get more aggressive with what is being done to them.  I have absolutely no problem with what is done everytime I fly.  I always get pulled over, it's no sweat and with my latest trip, it was all done within 5 minutes and handled very professionally in my humble opinion.

I had asked the CATSA agent at the Pierre Trudeau International Airport in Montreal about the full body scanner and you get "picked" for that at random (e.g. every 10th person).  I found that abit odd as I thought it would be based on what the agent felt should be done.  I just hope as usual, that with the increased security, especially around the holiday periiod, that they maybe not only use these machines prudently, but also go based on visual inspection of the person.  If warning signals go off, pull them over!  Better to be safe then sorry is my feeling.

Safe flying everyone over the holidays!

NB:  If you don't have the time to check out the CATSA link above - please note - that Canadians who are diabetic are permitted juice and gel on their carry on luggage.  This is something that American travellers are not permitted to bring onboard flights.  I searched TSA and could come up with nothing except Americans are allowed "glucagon emergency kit".  I also tried to see what the British Airport Security had to say about diabetics with insulin pumps, and medications - and found nothing.  It seems that airlines leaving from UK to American destinations have to refer to the TSA guidelines. 

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Posted: Nov 22, 2010

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!

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Related posts:

Type 1 vs. Type 2  |  In a slump and scared  |  Surviving the Holocaust with Type 1 diabetes  |  Eating from the ground - Yuca Fries  |  My first month with Bowie my Dexcom G4 CGMS  |  Miss Idaho is Defeating Diabetes  |  Sugar and Your Health  |  Edmonton man denied insulin for 20 hours  |  Crack Free #ShowMeYourPump  |  Jenna and The Hypo Fairy
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