Thursday, June 9, 2011

Opting Out

Sometime between the last time I flew (around a year ago) and last week, Nashville airport got full body scanners. I know people have all sorts of issues with these scanners. People complain for many different reasons. To be honest, I don't really like the idea of them, but the way they effect me has more to do with my diabetes than with anything else. Truth be known, if it weren't for my insulin pump and cgm, I'd probably go through the full body scanners, even though I don't like the idea of them, just to speed things up.
But, sadly, Medtronic says NOT to take an insulin pump or cgm through a full body scanner. Here is the exact quote from their page:

So, even though I was running later than I like (let's not even talk about Nashville traffic during rush hour, okay?), I saw those scanners and immediately let the TSA agents know that I couldn't go through them. They asked if I was opting out. I said, yes, I was. But in a way, I don't feel like I was really opting out. I feel like I didn't have another choice.

I waited in the little clear box while they found a TSA agent to do the pat down. She was very nice, and I explained to her about what my insulin pump and CGM were and where my CGM was located (I have the fear of them touching it and then freaking out and making me do a strip search!!). She explained how she was going to do the pat down. It was over fairly quickly, but it was much more... thorough... than the last time I had to do a pat down.

Then they made me touch my pump and swabbed my hands for explosives (I've dealt with that before). And I was on my way. I don't know that I felt violated, per se. I mean, I didn't exactly enjoy it, but I didn't feel threatened or like I was sexually assaulted or anything. In fact, I didn't think a whole lot about the whole deal until I got home and my dad asked me about it.

I'm not saying that other people who have had horrible experiences are over reacting. Because the place that I see the most problems is in the inconsistency of how things like this are done. When I flew back, the other airport had regular metal detectors and I just walked right though and didn't even tell them about my pump or CGM. And if security is that different in different airports, you know that the way pat downs are done, depending on which TSA agent you get, are likely to vary just as much.

I guess I just wanted to share my experience. And my wish that I had another option. Besides the full body scanner OR a very "touchy" pat down.


The DL said...

Thank you for sharing. I don't really care about the scanners either, but I guess if our medtronic stuff can't go through it's for the best. I don't think security is a big deal either. It's like just do it and let's move on!

designcamppdx said...

Thanks for the great post. We were just discussing this conundrum with some parents of kids with Type 1 who had some unsettling pat-down experiences. Maybe asking in advance it the key to making it feel less invasive.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about your experience. We fly out of our small regional airport in two weeks and I have heard they have a body scanner. As badly as the TSA treat us there, I guess my medtronic-minimed wearing son will have to ask for the pat-down and none of us is looking forward to that. It's enough that our carry-on luggage is subject to extra scrutiny because we carry diabetes supplies with us. I wish he didn't have to go through this humiliating ritual.