Return to the home page of DisforDiabetes




Dr. Bill's Commentaries

The TSA discriminates against people with chronic disease   (January 30, 2011)

Jesse Ventura, ex-governor of Minnesota and former professional wrestler, is suing the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, for violating his constitutional rights by subjecting him to "warrantless and suspicionless" body searches. Jesse has a titanium hip replacement which triggers airport metal detectors, forcing him through the same embarrassing and pointless body searches that I commented upon in my recent essay, Insulin pumps are now a suspected terrorism device. His lawsuit points out that he is a frequent flyer, not known as being a terrorist, and hence he should not be subjected to such searches.

Today, I am equally appalled at the Transportation Security Administrations' continuing colossal stupidity. I am at the Detroit airport, writing this as I wait for my plane, have just gone through airport security. Having had repeated problems on earlier trips with my insulin pump being suspected of being a terrorist device, I today disconnected it and put it in my hand luggage. The TSA let it through the X-ray screening along with my cell phone, laptop computer, belt, shoes, and what-have-you that clutters up my carry-on luggage. It went through without problem, unlike yesterday when I flew to Detroit, when I wore the pump while walking through an old-fashioned metal-detector screening without setting off the detector: but the screeners visually noticed it and delayed me while they chemically sniffed the pump for whatever residues worry them.

So, today my insulin pump went through okay. But I didn't. Why? Because I informed the screeners that I had a piece of metal attached to me: the 1 x 1.5 inch transmitter for my continuous glucose monitor which is stuck into my belly. This time, they wanted me to wait while they chemically sniffed the transmitter for residues.

I asked the guy in charge why insulin pumps and other diabetes equipment was now being considered devices worth such scrutiny. His only response was that this was part of the new rules. I pointed out to him that this was a medically-necessary device, and he responded that terrorists could fabricate an exact duplicate and hence all such devices need to be screened. I said I could carry a letter from my physician, and that idea carried equally little weight - he pointed out that such a document could easily be forged.

Stupid. But worse still, discriminatory for people with chronic disease, whether it's a high-tech gadget like an insulin pump or a CGM sensor, or an implanted titanium hip replacement.

The TSA insists on removing shoes, but allows people to continue to wear underwear. It allows cell phones and laptops and insulin pumps to go through X-ray screening without worrying about chemical residues, but if I wear my pump or my CGM transmitter, the device needs to be sniffed. This is crazy.

I think it's time for the American Diabetes Association and its Government Advocacy group to take up the issue. If they can't force some sense into the heads of the bureaucrats who decided that insulin pumps are a bigger risk than the much more common cell phones and computers, then the terrorists have won.

        go to the top of this page

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.

Return to listing of Dr. Bill's Commentaries

This page was new at D-is-for-Diabetes on March 26, 2012

go to the top of this page go to home page read about us contact us read our disclaimer read our privacy policy search our website go to the site map find out what's new