The TSA’s mission is to protect America’s transportation systems and to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. So you’d think it would be concerned if, in the process of doing its job, it endangered the lives of one of its own citizens.
Then again, maybe not.
Virjean Svoboda says her medical insulin was damaged when she checked in for a flight in Phoenix on March 9. I’ll let her explain.
Here’s the letter she sent directly to TSA administrator John Pistole.
Dear Mr. Pistole:
As a diabetic traveler totally dependent on five daily injections of two types of insulin (two injections of a long-term dose and three injections of a fast-acting short-term dose), I wish to register a complaint over the recent TSA mishandling of my diabetic carry-on items.
According to your website, I was entitled to a visual inspection of my insulin. Thus, I packed a week’s supply of my diabetic-related items along with RX labels into a clear zippered 2-gallon plastic bag and tucked this bulging bag into a larger hand tote. My six insulin pens were stored in three Medicool insulin pouches.
Prior to my security check-in for United flight #534 to Denver, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport terminal 2, approximately 7:45 a.m., Wednesday, March 9, I requested a visual inspection with the first TSA agent in line, a man.
He stated, “I cannot do that” (translation: I WILL NOT do that”). He went on to state his diabetic brother travels all the time without any problems so he placed my tote on the conveyor belt to pass through x-ray screening.
Unfortunately, a single pass was not sufficient for the TSA agents’ inspection for they ran my tote through the conveyor a second time and paused it in the X-ray beam for an estimated two minutes while they scrutinized the contents.
Having heard tales of persons who verbally challenge or dispute TSA procedures being prohibited from boarding their planes, I silently watched in horror.
Two to three days after reaching my final destination, upon taking my normal dosages, I noticed my blood glucose had gradually elevated to dangerously high levels (482±).
If no action were taken, I was a candidate for a diabetic coma. I contemplated checking into a hospital emergency room but it was a weekend and medical facilities were not readily available.
In desperation, I decided to try a very risky move—taking a double dose of my fast-acting insulin—which under ordinary circumstances probably would have sent me into insulin shock.
Voila, this miraculously worked to lower my blood glucose to an acceptable level! For the duration of my travel I continued to take a nearly double-dose of the fast-acting insulin three times daily, unaware of the consequences insulin megadoses might trigger.
Since returning home and replacing my insulin with a fresh supply, I have experienced no blood glucose problems. Therefore, I am thoroughly convinced the second passage with pause during security X-ray screening rendered my insulin unstable and ineffective. I was fortunate to live through this terrifying episode but the next diabetic traveler may not be so lucky.