Tag Archives: travel

8 Vacation Observations.

I’m feeling somewhat refreshed after a week away, but also a little bummed about the change in temperatures at home, and mostly about the dwindling amount of sunshine in the days here in North America. To begin the week, since I seem to be stuck at eights lately, I thought I would offer eight observations from the previous week:

Transportation Security Administration: We’re still finding different rules in different airports. In Baltimore, take out your iPad, and take off both your shoes and your belt. In Fort Myers, you can leave your belt on, and you can leave your iPad in your bag. But regardless of where you go, don’t forget to empty your pockets. I got yelled at (and I mean YELLED AT) by a TSA agent at BWI, but my pockets were empty. He was very, very unhappy, and came out from behind the barricade he was behind, walking straight toward me, pointing. Until I pointed out that what he saw was my insulin pump, after which he said “Okay, just go through here and we’ll take care of you right away”. With a smile on his face.

Pump Vacation: I took an unexpected pump vacation for a few days down in Florida. After being in the pool for a while, with my pump in a cooler (inside a plastic bag– thanks Kelly), I took it out, reattached, and started receiving button errors that I’d never seen before. I couldn’t get the ACT button on my Medtronic Revel pump to work at all. I worked with it for about half an hour and started to get some functionality back, but the ACT button was still spotty, so I just took the battery out and went on MDI for about three days. I reconnected Friday night, and everything seems to be okay, but the ACT button still needs a little extra oomph to work properly. I’m happy to report that despite all this, diabetes played a mostly secondary role this past week. But this is a huge wake-up call for me, a big reminder that because my pump warranty expired over 6 months ago, maybe I shouldn’t wait too much longer to decide on a new pump.

How would you like to be cooked? Why is it that while you’re on vacation, you’re always worried about getting too much sun, but as soon as you’re back, you think you didn’t get enough? Inquiring minds want to know.

Speaking of not enough: When did I get the mentality that I’ll never be able to do enough diabetes advocacy? When I started this blog, I wanted to help where I could, thinking that I probably wouldn’t be able to do much. By this point, I’ve accomplished about ten times more than I ever thought I would, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Oh well… I guess I’ll continue to try to help where I can, as long as there is a need. And unfortunately, there is still a need.

Reading: My reading at home is mostly at the rate of ten pages at a time. That’s how many pages I can read on the train to work, during my short lunch, and on the train home. Thirty pages per day. So vacation is usually when I get a chance to dive into something without missing a stop (I’ve been known to do that). On this trip, I read the fabulous Billy Crystal autobiography Still Foolin’ ‘Em, which will make you laugh out loud in public places, often. Great background stories on the projects he’s worked on over the decades too. I also read through Blog Inc., by blogger Joy Deangdeelert Cho. It’s mostly about monetizing your blog, which I’m not much interested in. But there are some great tips on blogging in general that I found useful, and that you might find useful too. I especially liked the interview with Emily Henderson on page 115 where she talked about why she started blogging.

The ATL: Travel both ways this time was routed through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. For the life of me, I can’t understand why an airport that claims to be the busiest in the country makes my wife with arthritic feet walk half a mile (literally) to find out what gate her next flight departs from. And while we’re at it, why do pilots still make an announcement that says “If you need help finding your next flight, an attendant will be at the end of the jetway to help you”? Because those attendants don’t exist. They were “right-sized” out of the company while you were adding 50 bucks to my fare so I could actually take the luggage I’ve never paid extra for before. We did find someone at an empty gate a few gates down, who refused to look up our connecting flight and pointed us in the general direction of where we could find our departure. If we moved fast enough so we wouldn’t miss it.

Bonus: The ATL does include sharps containers in the restrooms. I found this one in the back of the Men’s room in terminal D next to the urinals. Great idea, bad placement.

DSMA: Despite wi-fi that was slow as molasses, I was able to sit in on last Wednesday’s DSMA Twitter Chat, and it was still one of the highlights of my week. I think it’s safe for me to say my life would be a little LOT less happy without that crazy hour of questions, answers, encouragement, and support. Even on vacation.

Finally… Pictures! Here are a couple of sunrise photos from Sanibel, Florida. One, sunrise looking toward Bonita Beach and Estero at low tide, and one showing the famous Sanibel Lighthouse. Enjoy your Monday!


#DBlogWeek – Day Two. Let’s write a petition!


We’re right in the middle of Diabetes Blog Week! Myself and many others are posting for 7 (seven!) straight days. Haven’t heard of Diabetes Blog Week? Get the lowdown by clicking on the banner above. Now, on to today’s subject:

Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) – get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change? (Thanks to Briley of inDpendence for this topic suggestion.)

Why yes, I do have an idea for a petition. I would like to see our community as a whole petition the Transportation Security Administration for some changes to their airport screening procedures. Among the changes I would propose:

Providing agents with clear, up-to-date information on insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), meters, and durable medical supplies. Including pictures.

Finding efficiencies in the pump/CGM screening process. If everything goes well, we have to stand (while our traveling companions wait) as we touch our devices, then get them and the devices swabbed. Then the swabbage gets checked out with a machine that tells us whether there is any explosive residue anywhere. To begin with, this takes too long. It also saps resources that might be better used in another part of the screening process. You don’t have time to check for knives and scissors, but you have time to swab my pump and my hands and question me about something that many travelers wear every day? How is that helping to find potential terrorists?

Providing advocacy for all affected travelers. This is remarkably important. If you’re “randomly selected for additional screening”, once you go beyond the security door, you’re on your own. Why? Is this still America (at least where I live)? Can’t I at least have an advocate in my court who can let my traveling companions know what’s going on? How about an advocate that is well versed in what is appropriate behavior, language, procedures, etc., so I don’t have to be every time I fly? An advocate who, in the event of hypoglycemia during the screening, can advocate on my behalf so I can get access to my juice boxes, Glucolifts, or Honey Stingers?

And while we’re at it, how about requiring a specific level of training for TSA staff? Meaning, all TSA staff? I’m still waiting for the first time that I’m handled the same way in the screening process on both ends of a round trip flight. I shouldn’t be told to go through the metal detector at one airport, then through the full body scanner in another. I shouldn’t be told that I don’t have to remove my medical supplies from my carry on in one airport, then get yelled at for not removing it from my carry on in another airport on my trip home. TSA staff must be more consistent in how they handle everyone, including People With Diabetes.

So that’s it… Clear information. More efficiency when screening our devices. Advocacy for travelers (why does a murderer get an attorney when they need one, but travelers aren’t represented at all in the screening process?). Specific, consistent training for TSA screeners. That’s fair. And it’s not a lot to ask for. It would help us all to feel better while at the same time feeling safer.

A Non-D Post: Trip Recap.

I was gone from home for most of last week. I went to Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, my birthplace and where I grew up. The main purpose of my trip: Baseball.

At Great American Ballpark on Reds Opening Day

At Great American Ballpark on Reds Opening Day

As I said in a post last week, Opening Day is really a holiday in the Queen City. And I’m fortunate to have a brother-in-law with a partial season ticket plan. So we were able to be two of the 45,000-plus to attend the 13 inning loss by my Reds. I’ve been living in Baltimore for 19 years, but I grew up in Cincinnati in the age of the Big Red Machine. And I’m still a huge fan.

Here are a few quick hits from my trip:

– My encounters with TSA staff going out of Baltimore/Washington International and Dayton International Airports was very nice and without incident. They waved me through the metal detectors with my insulin pump, and they hand checked everything with the Dexcom G4 that I was carrying as part of my clinical trial. I had to explain how a CGM works about 50 times, but everything was pretty easy going and no full body pat downs. I’ll ask this again: Am I just lucky so far, or am I having such an easy time with TSA because I’m male?

– I arrived on Friday, which happened to be Good Friday, which meant I got to spend Easter Sunday with some of Maureen’s family. For various reasons I won’t waste time detailing here, I didn’t get to spend any of the holiday with my family. First time in a long time I spent time with family at Easter, and we had a great time. It was also the first time in a long time that I was apart from Maureen at Easter, and we missed each other terribly. Life is a balance.th

– I did get to spend a little time with my parents, ages 78(dad) and 74(mom). I hope they don’t mind my giving their ages… after raising six kids, they should celebrate the fact that they look this good and they’ve made it this far. I really enjoyed our lunch together.

– Speaking of lunch together, check this space later in the week for details about my meetup with another Super Diahero.

– There’s hardly an inch at Great American Ballpark that isn’t covered by advertising, and that can give the casual observer the impression that it’s a cheesy place to watch a game. But after several visits now, I can tell you that to me, it seems like Reds ownership and staff give an almost hurculean effort to make every fan’s experience a positive one at their home park. Even if that fan roots for the visiting team. Kudos to Bob Castellini and the rest of the Reds front office for making it fun to go to the game. Even when it’s football weather outside. Can you send a team to Baltimore to show the folks at Camden Yards how it’s supposed to be done? I root for the Orioles, but I don’t much enjoy going to the game here.

– I really like Reds Opening Night, a newer phenomenon held two days (or nights) after Opening Day. The day after Opening Day is always an off day, held in reserve in case of inclement weather on Opening Day. Anyway, Opening Night is made into a big deal there partly because a lot of fans can’t get a ticket to Opening Day. So on Opening Night, the team’s broadcasters, the stadium’s ushers, even the grounds crew wears tuxedos. There are red carpets leading to the main gates to the stadium, and the team sets up a band on a platform out beyond the right field line. The band plays before the game and in between innings during the game. A very fun experience that I now look forward to as much as Opening Day.

– As luck would have it, thanks to some recognition our team received at work, I went to work last Friday and found a ticket to get into one of the luxury suites for the Orioles home opener at Camden Yards. Two Opening Days in one week… for a baseball fan, it doesn’t get any better than that. Unless my two favorite teams make it to the World Series… Go Reds and O’s!

Here are some additional photos from the trip:

At the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.  Championship trophies from 1975, 1976, and 1990

At the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Championship trophies from 1975, 1976, and 1990

Plaques at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum

Plaques at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum

With the family on Easter Sunday

With the family on Easter Sunday

From Easter... one for the DOC cupcake lovers...

From Easter… one for the DOC cupcake lovers…

First pitch of the 2013 baseball season

First pitch of the 2013 baseball season

The Rusty Griswolds playing on Reds Opening Night

The Rusty Griswolds playing on Reds Opening Night


Almost Bachelorhood

The Great Spousal Unit is staying overnight with a client’s pet this week. And The Live-In Niece has been away for most of this week too. That means almost bachelorhood for me. The good part, where you can eat what you want, watch what you want on the tele… not the bad, lonely part. As long as they don’t stay away too long.

It’s nice generally, because absence sometimes does make the heart grow fonder, and because it’s nice to have a break once in a while, even though we’ve been together for almost 20 years.

But there’s no denying the fact that it means I’m alone all the time. Not a big deal… I was on my own for the first two years or so with this disease. But what does it mean to be on your own when you’re usually not? It means two things.

First, it means the obvious: Getting through the night without my BG going low. I can’t say that I do anything that’s way out of the norm. Except that I try to go to bed with a higher BG than normal. So instead of say, going to bed at 150-160 mg/dL, I’m going to bed at around 170-180 mg/dL. The flip side of that safety measure is that I’m usually higher in the morning than I would like (138 mg/dL this morning). And of course, there’s no guarantee that my body’s metabolism wouldn’t kick in harder during my sleep and cause me to go low anyway. But it’s something I know I can do. I can’t bring myself to set the alarm for the middle of the night so I can check how I’m doing. If you’re doing that, I admire and respect your vigilance.

Second, it means that I have to acknowledge the fact that I sometimes rely on my spouse too much to help me through those hypoglycemic moments. And it’s not even those moments when it happens—What Maureen does really well is making sure that I have everything I need to fight off a low wherever, and whenever, it happens. She lets me know that “Hey, you do ______ when you’re going low. Watch out for that.” It’s the general feeling of “someone’s got your back”. It’s a quality that’s incalculable, and I’m lucky to have it.

So even though I have my dog and my second dog (also known as my cat), I’m reminded this week of what it’s really like to be alone and managing the diabetes. And I’m reminded how lucky I am that it’s not the norm.

How about you? Any strategies for when you’re away from your significant other? How does it make you feel?

Airport Security.

I was thinking yesterday about all of the travel stuff from last week. The good news is that I didn’t have a single issue going through airport security. I rarely do.

But my observations of the security process, for myself and others, revealed that there are some things that I think could be better through the entire process. So taking the “It Takes a Village” viewpoint, here are a few suggestions for everyone:

For TSA Screeners: Can we get a little consistency here? I always point out that I’m wearing an insulin pump as I start the process. Yet sometimes, I get walked through the metal detector and waved on, just like any other passenger. Other times, I get directed to the full body scanner (which I decline based on guidelines provided by my pump maker—more on that in a minute), then to the full pat-down. Then finally, always finally, they do the “touch your pump with both hands” routine where I touch the pump, and my pump and hands get swabbed with something that looks like it came from the inside of a diaper, and the diaper-like product gets run through the machine to check for explosive residue. But TSA: If I had explosive residue on either, wouldn’t you want to know that first? Oh well… it always goes okay, and I don’t have the kind of modesty that bothers me to go through that process. Or maybe I realize that for most screeners, it’s more uncomfortable for them to do the pat-down than it is for me to get it. Although it kind of bothers whoever I’m traveling with. They get through security in seconds; I get through security in minutes (sometimes, many minutes).

Let me say also that I realize I’m in the minority here, and I completely sympathize with anyone who has an issue with this process… there must be a better, smarter, higher-tech way to do this. Full body pat-downs of kids or anyone else just because they’re wearing a medical device is ridiculous. I won’t waste time today going into the myriad of reasons why.

For medical device makers: Why can’t your devices go through full body scanners? Is it because you’ve never tested them? Is it because you’re not sure, and you’re just hedging? Is it because you truly believe that the scanner could foul up the software?

Whatever the reason, my suggestion is this: Fix it. Make your device good enough to go through the scanner. Or if you think it might be good enough, run it through a scanner a few thousand times to test and make sure. If you’re unwilling to do either of those, please communicate with TSA personnel to let them know, so we won’t routinely get directed to the full body scanner just because we’re wearing your device. My guess is your device will handle the scanner just fine. But I won’t know until I know I can go through the scanner for myself, without fear of invalidating my warranty. Wouldn’t you like to be able to say to kids, “You can go through security just like anyone else”? Again, it takes a village, okay?

And that brings me to:

Travelers: Actually, I don’t have any advice for you. Except to 1) Do your homework; 2) Get there early; 3) Be calm; and 4) Be nice to TSA staff. People have bad days, or their bosses are giving them a hard time about being extra diligent with the screening that day, or something else. The more we can take a deep breath and go with the flow, the easier things will probably be.

That does not mean that we should take any crap from TSA staff. When people are wrong about proper procedures, you are absolutely right to set them straight. When people are rude or unprofessional, you are absolutely right to point it out. TSA has a job to do at airport security. That job does not involve making us feel like we’re criminals if we didn’t get everything perfect before we hit their checkpoint today.

Okay, enough ranting. My point is, we all have a part to play. If we do our best, or at least try to do our best, we’ve done our part. Now let’s see if we can get the other players in this game to do theirs.

By the way, here’s the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website’s latest update, and a few links to pages that have travel information for various manufacturers:





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