I have always had a fairly easy experience with diabetes and travelling. I love to travel and have been to over 20 countries around the world.
There was one time, years ago, on a return flight from Cyprus when my supplies were held by the cabin crew and I had to sit up front. I was young and completely unfazed by the whole situation (not so sure my parents were as calm) I just thought it was lucky we got to sit in the seats up front with more leg room.
Other than that one flight, I have never faced extra checks at security or any interrogations further than the usual enquiries as to why I have a larger plastic bag and clearly more 100ml liquid containers than usually allowed (I usually pack my supplies before I reach the airport, find out more in next post).
Nevertheless, I still find security checks daunting especially when I am abroad. And especially, this trip… My first holiday abroad with my Dexcom proudly placed on my arm framed with a brightly coloured “LOOK AT ME” Terrence the turtle GrifGrip.
In preparation I visited my DSN (diabetic specialist nurse) and asked for a new travel letter. She explained there was no need to mention my Dexcom specifically but to explain I need to carry any medical equipment to aid my diabetic treatment. I anxiously accepted the letter, albeit I would have preferred specific reference to Dexy.
So as I nervously approached Heathrow security, my palms began to perspire and I definitely felt more nervous than usual. It is advised that you shouldn’t traverse through the metal detectors at security whilst wearing Dexy but I have read on the DOC (Diabetic online community) that other people have, with no issues, so I just went for it. As I walked through I told the guard about my “medical device” in my arm and that I had a letter if she wished to see. After a routine pat down I was through and free to roam duty free. Mission one accomplished!
However, Heathrow was not my main concern, as one of the busiest airports in the world, I am pretty certain they are used to seeing medical devices and supplies in all shapes and sizes. My worry was actually not just the one, but two airports and three flights I would be catching whilst in Kenya. From Nairobi to Mombassa, from Mombassa to Nairobi and finally Nairobi to back to London. I was pretty apprehensive!
With 6 security checks in total, only one required to see my letter. As soon as the detector alarmed I explained I had a medical device and could provide approval documents to support this. A quick inspection of my letter, supplies and a pat down later and I was through, allowing my heart beat to go back to its normal pace.
It was in the mid-late 20s in Kenya, not super hot, so I didn’t have an issue with Dexy and temperature. I took extra GrifGrips and changed them every couple of days to keep Dexy secure. I also took a roll of Rocktape and taped across the whole sensor and round my arm whilst I was on a snorkelling trip, just so I could enjoy swimming with the fishy’s and not have to worry about it coming off.
I must admit it was a little more daunting and it did make me feel slightly more anxious travelling with Dexy. I did feel more eyes on me especially when I had Dexy proudly on display, and I did have a few “What’s that on your arm?” but I was comfortable with explaining and spreading a little diabetes awareness! Overall travelling with Dexy was a relatively pain free experience and I definitely won’t feel as anxious on my next trip!
Stay tuned for my next post for diabetes travel essentials.