The security implications of insulin

By | 26 May, 2009

Since I was diagnosed with diabetes (yay!) a few years ago, I’ve travelled quite a bit on planes. As you’ll all know, insulin hates getting too cold or too hot and therefore keeping our spare supplies in the hold is really out of the question.

Although a normal passenger plane’s hold will be heated to around about five degrees centigrade and is, of course, pressurised – you just don’t know how long your suitcase might stay out on the runway in baking tropical heat / freezing frigid cold (delete as applicable) or how well the throwers (or “baggage handlers” as they’re quaintly known) will treat your case. Katie and I always play a game as we wait for our suitcases to arrive on the carousel called “Which Bit of Suitcase Will Have Been Ripped Off This Time?” A wildly fun game if ever there was.

The long and short of all this is the diabetic has to carry through lots of little vials of clear, sinister-looking liquids through security in their hand luggage. Post 9/11 security has been seriously beefed up on all airlines and airports and so this could be a pain in the butt for us pancreatically-challenged victims.

As an aside, while I’m on the topic of security, I grew up in Belfast in the 1980’s during the tail-end of The Troubles and frequently flew back to England with my brother. I remember tramadol the approach up to Belfast’s Aldergrove airport was interrupted by a military checkpoint through which your car’s number plate was typed into the police computer and if you didn’t check out you were whisked aside to be blown up in a controlled explosion, or something.

Once past this you were frisked at the next security point and your bag searched regardless of whether the metal detector bleeped – and all this even before you got into the airport building itself. Security thereafter was, well, pretty damned secure. A nice man from the security services would question each passenger in the departures lounge (I was a school boy at the time, so answered questions like “what do you plan to do during your visit to Northern Ireland?” with a puzzled “uhm, go to school…?”). Finally you would arrive at London Heathrow at an arrivals gate especially reserved for entries from Northern Ireland which was situated miles away from any other gates – presumably to give MI5 a final chance to give you the once over.

So compared to all this I think the security nowadays is pretty straightforward, though I have to confess I prefer it now you don’t have a solder pointing his SA80 semi-automatic carbine at you while I go through security – but, hey, that’s just me.

Anyway, prior to travelling – like any good diabetic – I got a signed letter from my registrar explaining I was pancreatically-challenged, a copy of my latest prescription and prepared myself for questioning and possible full cavity body-searches.

However, I’ve never had the slightest problem with security and have never even had my bag manually searched – this applies to airlines or any of the tourist sights in the USA which had a degree of security. Meanwhile my wife, Katie, frequently gets stopped, frisked and searched as I’m ignored.

I suspect that under the prying x-ray machine my kit just looks like standard diabetic stuff and so it just gets waved through. Maybe I just have an honest face. In any event, that the guards are distracted by my insulin certainly makes it much easier to get my concealed handgun through security. Hurrah!

Category: The Blog

About Tim

Diagnosed with Type One when he was 28, Tim founded Shoot Up in 2009. For the diabetes geeks, he wears a Medtronic 640G insulin pump filled with Humalog and uses Bayer's Contour Next Link blood glucose meter.

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