Security Check Lottery - Uncover Ostomy
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Security Check Lottery

With my life back to some sort of order, I have finally been able to focus on the exciting things that lay ahead in my future. While I can’t talk about a few things just yet, there is one event in my immediate future that I am extremely excited about. This event is the World Ostomy Day Conference in Montesilvano, Italy that I will be speaking at on October 6th.

(I’m also using this as a chance to visit Israel for the first time to tour and visit family!)

One of this perks of being the spokesperson for UO is that I get to travel to speak at events, and I’ve done it quite a bit. Between that, my family vacations, and my residence in NYC where I was coming back to Toronto almost every 2 weeks, I have had my fair share of flying. No matter how many times I’ve traveled, however, it’s always a new experience.

For those who don’t know, ostomates usually face two issues when traveling by air:

  1. We travel with an extra set of ostomy supplies that usually includes scissors
  2. Our ostomies often arouse suspicion with security personnel

Flying is always a new experience for me because I never know what will happen when I walk through security. While you would think it would be fairly consistent, it is actually a very different experience every time.

For instance, sometimes I get stopped by security when my scissors are seen through the carry-on baggage x-ray machine and sometimes I don’t because they go unnoticed. Other times, I get pat down by security where they feel around my waste and touch the ostomy but completely ignore it. And those random times when I get sent through the full body scanner? The machine picks up my ostomy maybe half the time, if that. This was especially weird to me last year when I traveled back and forth from NYC to Toronto because I would always wear the same pants (leggings for extreme comfort). How in the world the machine missed my ostomy through my pants the majority of the time is a mystery to me. I’ve had so many different experiences with security in airports that it really makes you wonder how secure the security checks are. It almost makes me wonder if I could just go through security with a bag of drugs taped to my stomach.

However random my traveling experiences with an ostomy has been for me, I have been fortunate enough to never have had a truly negative experience.

Unfortunately, a friend that I went to ostomy camp with was not as lucky. In her own words:

I’m travelling back home now after spending the past three months working at [ostomy] camp. I went through security at Calgary Airport (YYC) where clearly no one knows about ostomies… I had to go though the full body scanner since I beeped. I told them I have an ileostomy so there would be a pouch on my side. The person on the radio asked if it could be inspected. I pulled it out & said it’s a bag of shit, so no, it can’t be inspected… THEN they took my carry-on to the side and started to unzip it. I told every single person on the way through security that the bag was full of medical supplies so they would find a pair of scissors and an injection. Yet, they still went through it (a problem I’ve never had before). I clearly stated that I was uncomfortable with them going through my bag and asked if I could do it myself since I had about $4000 worth of medical supplies in there and didn’t want anything to be messed up. They got all pissed at me when I started touching my stuff. One guy walked off with my ostomy supplies and injection. Then repacked it wrong so my needle that needs to be refrigerated wasn’t in my cooler bag. 

However awful her experience was, she still took the time to alert the media. She had her story published in Metro Halifax news to help spread ostomy awareness.

This is just one of many awful traveling experiences had by those with ostomies. While I’ve been fortunate enough to never had dealt with it myself, I am always on guard because it very well could. You would think that, by now, airport security would have learned about ostomies and would respect our privacy. I mean, traveling is already awful enough, it shouldn’t have to be worse for us. Unfortunately, it often is.

As always, I will be on guard while I walk through security for my trip across the sea. As an ostomate, I never know what situation I will be dealt.

Hopefully, the worst part about my trip will be the length of the flight.

Viva-Italia!

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What have your travel experiences been like? Good or bad? Ostomy or not, comment below or on the Facebook page!

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Jessica Grossman
info@uncoverostomy.org
2 Comments
  • Jimmy
    Posted at 02:18h, 26 September Reply

    Good post Jess. I have done a lot of airport security with ostomy. Over 65 flights already this year. Lots of different experiences in security. Usually when the ostomy gets picked up by the body scan, I suggest that they screen my hands. This usually avoids the uncomfortable pat down. Also, I usually pack scissors in my checked baggage so I don’t have to take them through security. In cases when I travel with carry on only I pre cut all my supplies the night before. It is a bit of extra work packing but is worth it not to draw the attention to your “baggage”. Have fun in Italy.

  • Evita
    Posted at 01:11h, 27 September Reply

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