By Eric Lagergren | February 21, 2008 10:49 am
This last full week of February I’ll be leaving arctic Michigan to attend a conference in Miami Beach. It will be the first time I’ve taken my diabetes along on an airline flight, and while I don’t expect any hassles with my insulin pump or the bottles of insulin or the syringes I carry, you just never know.
Any number of tips and insights into airline travel while encumbered by insulin are available. Do know that I’ve read through the American Diabetes Association’s information, as well as looked on a few other sites.
Really, though, it shouldn’t be a big deal, and there’s absolutely no anxiety on my part about the pending travel. In fact, I’ll probably be a little sad when, after choosing to not disconnect my pump when I go through the metal detector, airport security will more than likely wave me right on through.
Here’s some disclosure: I’ve yet to be in any situations where I could claim diabetes and be all self-righteous toward the person who’s chastised me. I had expected by now that surely some situation would have come up. Sure, I’ve been ill a few times and stayed home from work as a precaution, and in the first month after my diagnosis a waitress at a sports bar brought me a regular Coke instead of the Diet Coke I’d ordered—she’d “forgotten” what I ordered and assumed regular Coke was fine. It wasn’t fine, and this was one of those hard-to-tell fountain drinks where after sipping and asking others’ advice it was still too difficult to determine if it was regular or diet. When we found out the frosty beverage was sugar-sweetened, my wife went into her protect-her-husband mode and made sure the waitress knew that her assumption could have been dangerous.
(Actually, this was the first and last time my wife has done this. It was incredibly sweet of her to protect me in that way. I was in the bathroom when the waitress confrontation took place, so I only have Kathryn’s and friends’ accounts of how the brief exchange went down. Kathryn’s a black belt in Tang Soo Do, and so there’s a running joke—at least, I run with it, as do a few of our friends—that I’m going to feel more free to lip off to people in public, and she’ll have my back. But this waitress encounter’s been the only incident, and a rather anticlimactic one at that.)
Anyway, what I’d like to have happen is for someone to mistake my insulin pump for something more mundane, such as a cell phone or an iPod, and tell me to put it away or tell me how rude it is for me to be “doing that here.” So many people out there deem it their business to police our actions, and I’ve imagined any number of scenarios in which I’d be scolded erroneously for a diabetes-related action in a public place, to which I could then politely put the person in his place and explain to him that I have a chronic illness and that he should mind his own damned business.
Alas, though, this has yet to happen. And because I’m an adult in my mid-thirties (my first birthday as someone with diabetes is next week, actually), because I’m a tall male, because I’m rarely in large, quiet rooms filled with a lot of people, and because in all actuality I’m pretty covert about checking my blood glucose or bolusing when in public, the chances are pretty slim that I’m going to be wrongly corrected for diabetes maintenance in public.
I’m sure that some of you who grew up with diabetes have memories of times when adults reprimanded you for what they thought was your inattention, your “screwing around,” or else they got on your case in some other way for something you were doing for your self-management. Because they didn’t know you had diabetes. Were you able to tell them what was what? Or, maybe you wish you would have told them off but at the time, because of your age or who you were, you weren’t able to?
Do share these stories. I’d love to hear them. Maybe I can live a little vicariously. I mean, it seems like this would be at least one positive thing about having diabetes as a rebellious adolescent and teen: using it to get back at those certain power-hungry adults—a few teachers out there, etc.—who find that the only way they can control children is absolutely.
I’ll sit back and wait to see what you have to say. And, I’ll write next week’s blog entry from a hotel on the beach, so I’ll be sure to let you know what I encounter. I’m leaving Monday, February 25, so if you have any advice for airline travel with diabetes, be sure to pass it along as soon as you can!
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