TSA experiences

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blueglass
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 3332
   Posted 7/26/2011 6:24 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi,

I just got back yesterday from an excellent vacation, and I wanted to share my experiences w/the scanners/TSA. I hope others will share their experiences too.

Both of our flights were at around 7 am (no way could I have done that before, my guts were way too active in the morning!), so these stories take place at 6:15 am or so.

On the way out, leaving Boston, I got motioned through the scanner, so I showed my blue, supposedly official card to the TSA agent, who passed it on to the agent on the other side of the scanner; neither looked like they'd seen it before. I said I had a medical device that would show up. I explained to the agent on the other side that I had a "bag of poop" and pointed to where it was.... it took her two tries to hear what I was saying, then I just blurted, "So please don't be rough, it won't be good for either of us." She very gingerly touched my waistband, then called for another female agent, and they took me into a storage closet(they need to have two people there apparently). I was talking all along, partly because I talk when I'm nervous, and partly to just try to connect w/them so they would see me as a human being etc. I said it wasn't gross to see the bag, and they had me pull it out, touch it with both hands, and tested my hands for explosives. I said at one point that the surgery had made my life so much better, made it more possible to travel. One woman asked what I had it for, and when I said Crohn's, she got almost excited and said that her friend might have that, and asked what it was, and I did some IBD 101 with her -- she was very engaged.

She asked me if I would always have to have a "colostomy bag," and I realized that I should call it that, not an "ostomy bag" or not the world "ileostomy," as she didn't know what Crohn's was, but she knew what a colostomy bag was.

An annoying part was that they wouldn't let me take anything into the room with me, even my shoes. My partner collected my stuff (they said that if I were alone, the TSA agents would collect it). But all in all, I felt OK about it .... it was connecting, and maybe I made it a little easier for the next person w/an ostomy they encounter.

On the way home, in Albuquerque, I told the agent before the scanner that I had a medical device that would show up, and he said it wouldn't -- without even asking what it was! Then I got curious, because I wondered if being so proactive was a bad idea (my take was that they will be calmer if they're not surprised, but maybe I was just drawing attention to myself). Well, it did show up, and same deal, two female agents, a little room, none of my stuff with me including shoes..... but this time they wanted to do a full pat down. I asked if they wanted to see the bag, and the woman looked horrified, and said no very quickly. I would have been very freaked out by the pat down when I was younger, but i am so used to medical exams now, that it wasn't that big a deal. Again, they tested my hands and the hands of the agent who patted me down.

They said they do this about six times a day and most of what they find on people is wads of cash.

I'm thinking that in the future I might just skip the scanners. I know it's not a ton of radiation, but why get it if I'm going to have to get a private screening anyways?

Now my partner and her daughter got the metal detectors both times. I think the secret is to be a kid or a parent traveling w/a kid. In ABQ they sent everyone I saw but them through the scanners.

I guess like a lot of things, there's a choice in attitude here. I think I will expect this kind of screening every time, but it is so trivial compared to how sick I used to be, so a small price to pay. I was thinking that this could be a lot harder for younger males w/ostomies who look closer to the stereotypical image of a terrorist.....

I think someone probably could smuggle something bad in an ostomy bag..... of course, it's a lot less likely if the person actually had an ostomy!

I'm interested in hearing other people's experiences.
48 years old, female.
2004 dx indeterminate colitis. Back and forth between Crohn's and UC dx. Many drugs, minimal success.
2010-11 Crazy skin and eye complications, high fevers, bad flaring. Out of good drug options, tired of scary drugs.
Feb 2011 -- proctocolectomy with permanent ileolostomy; abscess, blood clot. Still healing, still glad for the surgery

summerstorm
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 6571
   Posted 7/26/2011 9:25 PM (GMT -6)   
when i went to atlanta, i did the metal detector the first two times and they didnt do anything
when i went to orlando we did the metal detector the first time, but got the scanner the second time, it showed up, i showed my card which the acted like they had never seen, but read it and called over a supervisor, then took me to the side, said run your hand over it, and let me scan your hand.  so i stuck my hand under my shirt, touched the top gave her my fingers, she put something on them, put it in a machine and said thank you and and i left and washed my hands, lol.
 
they aren't allowed to make you show your bag.  when she asked me to touch it, i said do i need to do it under my shirt and she said yes, but do not let me see the bag, it's not allowed.  so i didnt' feel bad about it at all, it was  a little annoying but not bad.
there was a man being patted down in a little booth thing as we were leaving, and they were really getting him, they were touching everything!

esoR
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 4147
   Posted 7/26/2011 10:50 PM (GMT -6)   
WHOA! How to handle that whole TSA thing is anyone's guess. I would rather just flop my bag out, say this is a bag of poop because I have an ostomy, and then say please don't hurt my stoma by touching it. I can see it now, TSA agents fainting dead away on the floor from freaking out! LOL!

I'm glad I travel by ship and train as I still don't dare fly. I don't know how I would handle it. I too think I would engage them and educate them but some are so cranky and all are in a rush, I think you both did great. don't know what I would do. Rosemary

80sChick
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 1054
   Posted 7/27/2011 11:36 AM (GMT -6)   
I've flown many times now and never had an issue. I don't get how the ostomy shows up in the metal detector...nothing on it is metal...?
Stephanie, 29 years old

March 2000-Diagnosed Crohn's Colitis
(Tried every drug imaginable, but lived 10 years with daily diarrhea)
March 18, 2010-Total Proctocolectomy and Permanent Ileostomy! :)
(Now med free, 4 subsequent procedures to correct blockages at stoma site)

Stoma named Zoe...She's my best bud!! :)

blueglass
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 3332
   Posted 7/27/2011 11:46 AM (GMT -6)   
It shows up on the x ray scanner, not the metal detector. Have you flown from an airport that has those? They are new, less than a year old.
48 years old, female.
2004 dx indeterminate colitis. Back and forth between Crohn's and UC dx. Many drugs, minimal success.
2010-11 Crazy skin and eye complications, high fevers, bad flaring. Out of good drug options, tired of scary drugs.
Feb 2011 -- proctocolectomy with permanent ileolostomy; abscess, blood clot. Still healing, still glad for the surgery

Brian84
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 457
   Posted 7/27/2011 12:32 PM (GMT -6)   
For some reason I used to get pulled aside all of the time AFTER going through the metal detectors and everything. Before I got on the plane they would do "random checks" and I would be the only one pulled aside and searched. I don't know why, maybe its cause i'm somewhat young or look suspicious? This was PRE ostomy. I can only imagine what's going to happen when I go through the scanners with this.
 
I read on another ostomy board about a lady was harassed and violated and she ended up going going to the media and bringing attention to TSA and people with ostomys. Well the next time she flew the same thing happened to her and they opened the bag and got poop all over them. I guess she found it more funny (serves them right) then embarassing.

80sChick
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 1054
   Posted 7/27/2011 5:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Oh, I didn't know they had x-ray machines now! I guess they haven't been at the airports I've flown out of. I'll beware :)
Stephanie, 29 years old

March 2000-Diagnosed Crohn's Colitis
(Tried every drug imaginable, but lived 10 years with daily diarrhea)
March 18, 2010-Total Proctocolectomy and Permanent Ileostomy! :)
(Now med free, 4 subsequent procedures to correct blockages at stoma site)

Stoma named Zoe...She's my best bud!! :)

summerstorm
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 6571
   Posted 7/27/2011 7:38 PM (GMT -6)   
they have them at orlando, but they also have metal detectors, you must have gotten lucky and gotten in a metal detector line

blueglass
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 3332
   Posted 7/27/2011 7:57 PM (GMT -6)   
The airports I've been in lately all have both in each line.... and then they motion you one place or the other.... but at one, they really were sending all adults (except parents travelling w/kids) through the scanner.
48 years old, female.
2004 dx indeterminate colitis. Back and forth between Crohn's and UC dx. Many drugs, minimal success.
2010-11 Crazy skin and eye complications, high fevers, bad flaring. Out of good drug options, tired of scary drugs.
Feb 2011 -- proctocolectomy with permanent ileolostomy; abscess, blood clot. Still healing, still glad for the surgery
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