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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Insulin pumps are now a suspected terrorism device   (December 19, 2010)

My wife and I flew from our hometown in Charleston South Carolina to Minneapolis the first weekend of December for our annual visit to family there. It was as usual: we avoided the holiday crowds, but hit the winter weather (snow and bitter cold) in Minnesota. But this time, my insulin pump made me a risk of being a terrorist. Twice.

I have flown many times since getting my pump in the summer of 2008, and have been pleasantly surprised that the pump does not set off the metal detectors. But, just to be sure, I have always routinely displayed it before going through the detector, and announced that "I have an insulin pump." The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screeners (as well as screeners in several other countries) always knew what it was, at least in general, and waved me onwards.

Until this month.

As one of the screeners told me, they have a new directive that people with insulin pumps need to be screened more closely. Flying north from Charleston, that meant that I was briefly detained while a screener advised me to put the pump between my two hands, then swabbed each hand while I held the pump in the other. Bizarre, but if that's what they want (to check for nasty chemicals in the pump), I can tolerate it.

But returning from Minneapolis, the TSA screener insisted on doing a full-body pat-down. And I assure you, full-body now means exactly that. It takes time, and is done in full view of others passing through security, and includes a groin check.

I think the next time I fly, I won't mention that I'm hooked to an insulin pump and see what happens.

Hmmm, I wonder if they'll put me on the no-fly list for writing this blog...

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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