Feeling the weight of my satchel, I headed straight for the chairs the minute I walked through the sliding glass doors. I pulled out my giant toiletry bag filled with insulin, skittles, infusion sets, insulin cartridges, a demi pen, Lantus, spare batteries, needles, Lancets, Rockadex patches for my FreeStyle Libre, and my spare meter that would allow me to check for ketones.
I pulled a small key out of the coin pocket in my wallet and unlocked my suitcase, wondering what I didn’t need in my carry on. I began to pull infusion sets and insulin cartridges out of their elastic bands, thinking I would only need 1 or 2 at most for my flight. I threw the bag of Skittles into my suitcase, knowing I already had 50g of carbs – and some Easter eggs – stashed in my meter pocket. I hated how much space the insulin boxes took up in my bag, and how unnecessary they were to carry with me.
After some shuffling around, my subconscious began to doubt my actions and I eventually threw everything back into my toiletry bag to carry onto my flight to Melbourne.
I shuffled through the documents I had in my clear plastic wallet, making sure I had my spare script for insulin, my travel letter, my travel itinerary, and a copy of the plan I had left with my family containing all the details about my diabetes management should something happen. I saw the brochure I had thrown in about insulin pumping during a flight, and began to realise I hadn’t even given this enough thought.
I locked up my suitcase once again, and began to walk into the direction of Terminal 3 to check in. My subconscious kicked in once again, and I quickly doubled back towards the seats I had stopped at, to make sure I hadn’t left anything behind.
Are you carrying any sharp objects in your luggage? I was asked at the check in counter.
I have type 1 diabetes, so I’ll be carrying needles and other diabetes supplies on the plane.
That’s fine. I was given my boarding pass.
I stuck my head into the Dome, thinking about stopping for a coffee and some breakfast. I glanced at my watch, knowing I had enough time. My subconscious bugged me again, reminding me of possible crowds and that I would be walking through with an insulin pump for the first time.
Frank’s subsconscious won again, as I made my way to the walk through. I began placing my bag, watch, phone, wallet and belt onto the trays.
I’m wearing an insulin pump, I said to the security lady, pulling it out of my pocket and gesturing wildly.
I have DIABETES. Walk through and wand is fine, but I can’t have any X-Rays.
I felt like I was trapped inside a bubble, trying to speak as loudly and slowly and clearly as I possibly could.
Take off your shoes, she said, offering up a tray for me to put them on.
I walked through, waiting anxiously for a beep that didn’t come.
As I began to put my shoes back on, loop my belt back around my jeans, and place all the other loose items back into my pockets, I breathed a massive sigh of relief that it was over.
I don’t fly very often, and this was my first time travelling with a pump, but man diabetes sure does add to the anxiety.
You get used to it. It adds an element of stress but normally everything is fine. Domestic is easy to deal with, international is a bit different, especially in countries where pumps arent common.
I travel a lot so I have a permanently packed away from home diabetes kit. I don’t declare my pump or needles in my baggage – security know what the needles look like on their screens and they don’t bat an eye at it – it doesn’t trip any sensors so I just hide it under my clothes and walk through.
My first flight was 3 months after diagnosis ( London to Barcelona) and I was so anxious that I almost fainted ( constant heart palpitations) … I’ve managed another couple of flights to Spain but haven’t got further then Greece ( I usually travel long haul at least once a year). It’s the unknown…not knowing how different airport staff will react, not knowing how my blood sugar will react and not knowing how I’ll cope when things ( especially food!) are different to what I’m used to ( and have learned how to manage)….getting there one step at a time!
I love to fly and have over the years grown to sort of get along with the airport checkers. I do not know that i ever get used to it, but I have learned to tolerate it and that maybe the same, but sort of different.