Help educate TSA Agents. Enough is Enough! TSA must be better educated about the needs of diabetics.
Going through security yesterday afternoon in Washington, D.C., Jackie, my twin sister, was holding my orange juice, since my already big purse was terribly overfilled. As we rushed to get through security I tried to remember to tell them everything, but in the confusion, all of us forgot to take the juice out of her purse and put it in one of those grey bins to go through the security check. The screener saw it and asked to have her purse checked, and then he took it out and asked why the unopened bottle of Orange Juice was there. Seeing the concern on his face I shouted, I’m a Diabetic. My sister was holding some of my supplies, the rest of it is ALL RIGHT HERE! I picked up the big bag full of diabetic supplies as proof that I was telling the truth. Then I added, I need that juice! I have been running low this morning!!! I waited for a response, but Thomas, the “Head” TSA agent just stared at me; I could only hope he understood.
Thomas picked up the bottle of orange juice (the good kind too!) and read the label, it turned out he was looking to see how many ounces it held. “16 ounces‚” He said to himself, but loud enough to be certain I heard him. Thomas slowly looked at me and asked for my ticket. He scrutinized my boarding pass and questioned why I needed so many ounces of juice if I was only going from Washington, D.C. to Charlotte, North Carolina, he said most people don’t need so much juice to go such a short distance! I had to wonder what was he basing that uninformed statement on?
In his ignorance and lack of diabetes knowledge and its management, Thomas was making a decision that could potentially be life threatening for me. Thomas believed that he could decide how much juice I would need based upon the distance I was traveling, not on my blood sugar level, the potential for insulin shock, or previous exercise, just to mention a few diabetic hazards that might cause someone to need more juice than normal.
My concern is that too many TSA agents are terribly uninformed, and on a daily basis make critical decisions regarding the health of diabetics and what they do or don’t need to bring on board a plane. I’m sure this is not intentional, but it is extremely frightening. Although there are a few knowledgeable, conscientious and well intentioned TSA Agents, they are far too few, and unfortunately, the majority of agents need to be better educated; Although we as diabetic citizens are equally concerned about terrorism and appreciate the difficulty of their job, we are equally as concerned about the health of all Americans, especially Diabetics who may not be allowed to travel with items they need‚ (For those of you who believe that you can just get something to drink like juice on a plane, think again. On two occasions, due to turbulence, I was unable to reach my diabetic supplies in the bin above my head, nor would the airline hostesses able to leave their seats to get what I needed. As my blood sugar continued to plummet, my sister remembered she had a few glucose tablets left in her purse. It was not enough to resolve the problem, but luckily for me, the plane was able to land and I was able to get to my juice. Ever since then, I carry what i need literally on me, or we carry it in one of our purses. Diabetic Supplies must be within arms length).
Maybe it is time for the TSA to add medical personnel to its screening process at every airport in the country. These ongoing encounters diabetics face must be rectified.
For the record, every diabetic‚Äôs needs are different and every diabetic’s blood sugar fluctuates. My mom, my sister and I stood our ground, determined to bring on board what I needed to maintain a healthy blood sugar level, and he finally permitted me to travel with the juice, after repeatedly looking me up and down, Thomas, in a somewhat condescending voice said, “Las Vegas?..16 ounces should be enough to get you there.” For the record Thomas, my blood sugar dropped again and I drank the entire 16 ounces on the first leg of my return trip to Las Vegas.