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Airport screening

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LLNorth
(@llholiday)
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 543
Topic starter  

This week I flew for the first time since my colostomy, which was 5 1/2 years ago. The airport where I live is very small, 3 gates. Leaving was easy; I just walked through the metal detector and was waved  through. Returning, however - in the very large airport the TSA area was very busy and crowded. I went through the scanner where you have to put your arms over your head and this big thing revolves around you taking an image, and was told to step aside by a nice-enough young woman who said that two thing were showing on the screen; did I have anything on me, she asked. It was so crowded that we could only “step aside” about 2 feet. I half-whispered that I had an ostomy, she then searched me front, back, between my legs, told me that something else was showing on my groin (I think it must have been the tab/ opening at the bottom of the pouch), had me run my hands throughly over and under the pouch (thank goodness I was wearing stretchy leggings), tested my hands with some litmus paper, felt again to find where the bottom of my pouch is, and let me proceed. During all this many people were going through the scanner, and I was in their way so they had to step around me. By that time I was so mortified I was almost crying. I am 72 years old, a small lady with very white hair that pulls in and reflects  flourescent light like a beacon; people regularly notice this and comment - so I was seen by hundreds of people around me who no doubt I will never see again; they probably were feeling thankful that they weren’t me.  Really, I am so rattled by this - and I know the young woman was just doing her job, as she said, and I was nice to her and cooperative. But quite obviously mortified and rattled.

Colostomy 4/30/18.
I love the smell of coffee in the morning. It smells like .... victory.


   
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Kirsten
(@kirsten)
Joined: 10 months ago
Posts: 56
 

I'm sorry - it sounds like this was a really difficult experience. My goodness, if one is going to carry a bomb into a plane, would they just put it into one's pants? I'm very shy and self conscious, and I find airports very stressful. I would have hated that too. (Did you have to take your pouch out of your leggings? Or at least keep it inside?) 

How about I share my embarrassing moment this week in the hope we can laugh together...?

I'm a nurse and I work with teens in mental health crises. I had a kid who was very upset, throwing things, yelling, tearing up paper. They stopped for a second, gave me a double take and asked "what the he*l is in your pants ma'am?" I said "it's my sh*t bag. Wanna see?" I didn't show it, by the way! But it broke the tension, the kid laughed and we were able to get on with our day without further violence ?


   
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Tony H
(@tony-h)
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 294
 

that was not a nice experience , some times you gotta let it all hang out , trying to explain an ostomy to a busy security officer in a crowded area is really hard , 

I know its undignified but if they are too insistent I would just let them see it , that's just the way I would do it because I don't have any inhibitions left at this stage  and as Kirsten said just try to defuse it with laughter , and if that fails there is always the nuclear option of venting the bag as a demonstration ,

I know there are cards you can get but apparently TSA screeners have no respect for them , it would be great if there was a way to add the info to your passport , they have everything else there so that would help a lot .

Hope your next flight is less traumatic , I have yet to fly since i was gifted with my ostomy , hopefully they are more understanding in Europe , hope to visit France next year . 


   
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Tigerlily
(@tigerlily)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 369
 

Oh boy, that was not pleasant. I’m sorry that happened to you. I guess the silver lining is that you will never see any of those people again ( but they were probably more empathetic than you will ever know).  But feeling dehumanized is an awful experience. I like Kirsten and Tony’s take on it - use humour if at all possible (I notice that I get funnier as my anxiety level rises) and if necessary, just give them the big “reveal “. Is it possible to ask for a private room to do this? I also haven’t flown since my ostomy.  Keep two thoughts in mind; it isn’t personal, and you have done nothing wrong. In fact, you displayed your superpower by holding your head up and showing everyone in that airport your strength of character. ? Good for you! White hair, btw, is the new blonde, I keep telling my husband.

 

Laurie

Just a semicolon


   
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VeganOstomy
(@veganostomy)
Admin
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 4255
 

Posted by: @tigerlily

Keep two thoughts in mind; it isn’t personal, and you have done nothing wrong.

This is so important, and I appreciate you saying that.

@llholiday I can understand how that would be a stressful experience, but keeping those two points above in mind, I do hope that future TSA checks go by more smoothly for you.

Speaking of airport moments, I'm not sure if I've ever shared this, but here it goes:

On one of my trips (I believe from Orlando), our group was heading to the airport and one of my friends asked if I wanted her bottled drink (Gatorade, I think). I took it, thinking I'd be able to finish it before boarding.

As I'm at the TSA stop, i went through the scanner and so did my backpack.

The officer asked if I had any fluids, and I said no. He repeated the question, and I said no again.

Then he checked my backpack, finding a full, opened bottle of fluids there... my god, I thought I'd be taken to the back and interrogated ? I apologized and explained that I forgot my friend gave it to me. He was nice enough and let me go through. I'm sure I had to throw out the drink, though.

 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.
~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


   
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Tony H
(@tony-h)
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 294
 

@veganostomy something similar happened to my wife at Lisbon airport , asked if she had any sharp objects in her bag and she said "nada" , he then proceeded to open her bag and take out a fancy corkscrew which she had totally forgotten about , the security men were ok but all we could here as we left the area was , nada ,nada ,nada from the Portuguese guys laughing to themselves .


   
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 LK
(@dlkfiretruck)
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 1496
 

Kirsten, Thank you for sharing your story too, I'm so glad it worked out for the better & laughter helped. 

LLNorth ... Oh!  My! Goodness!! I'm so sorry you went through all of that!   I'm actually picking up my very 1st Passport application this week & am planning a trip for a year away & honestly I'm surprised to learn there is nothing in the application that would have excused you from such a "public" search. I know these searches are needed to be done for our safety but really, so openly??!!!!   You are a tough cookie!  I'm 65 &  I know my hair will glow in lights too.  My worst embarassing moment was not with my ostomy, but when I tried to home dye my gray hair back into submission only to result in a full head of purple hair! The young kids & teens thought it was great!   Me, not so much! Lol! It took over 2 weeks before my very kind understanding hair dresser could repair the damage I'd done but I was somewhat mortified ! Lolol... ugh. 

Good on you for keeping your cool! 

Linda


   
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(@squeakyandliza)
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 993
 

@dlkfiretruck 

That is so exciting, Linda!!  Where are you going to go?

-Liza
Ileostomy 6/18/2018
“May your day be bright and your bag be light.”


   
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(@loveanimals)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 42
 

Im sorry too you had to go through that but I’m 10 years behind you and just got through going through the same thing.  It’s tough but I new nobody that cared to stare so really didn’t care.


   
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BigMike322
(@bigmike322)
Joined: 9 months ago
Posts: 90
 

Tell them you have an ostomy and if it's an issue request a supervisor asap.


   
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LLNorth
(@llholiday)
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 543
Topic starter  

Hi BigMike, she did show me that there was something showing on the screen and asked if I could tell her what it was. I answered that I have an ostomy - but we (she and I) still had to go through this. It was very crowded and busy there; I can’t fault her for having to do her job, and she was nice about it - but it was a humiliating experience, just the same.

Colostomy 4/30/18.
I love the smell of coffee in the morning. It smells like .... victory.


   
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 LK
(@dlkfiretruck)
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 1496
 

I flew just recently from the interior of B.C. Canada to Vancouver. That Van. Airpirt is much bigger then I remembered but when booking my flight tickets, my daughter-inlaw ticked the box for wheel chair assistance. I told them at the check in desk that I had an Ostony & felt concerned about going thru Security.  I had a bottle of labeled water along I'd been sipping & they almost took it from me but I told them it was for medical reasons. They let me keep the labled water. 

I was pointed to an small area to go  & wait & once there my ticket was checked again & I was told to be seated in a small area in both airports. In the first airport, it was small enough I did'nt need assistance but was given a choice to a free check in of my carry on suitcase. I took the opportunity. 

Arriving & leaving Vancouver I was very impressed with the Air Canada service.  I was taken on a golf cart with a few other passengers from & later to the plane & right to where the luggage carosel was to pick up my luggage in Vancouver.  I had enough ostomy supplies to change my pouch 3 times if needed in my purse but it was a short flight so I really had no concerns.  I also did'nt eat the morning of my flight so I had no reason to use the washroom anywhere. At security, bcuz of my cane, I was given a wooden cane to go through the security xray? machine & I was never asked about anything on my body concerning my pouch area. All in all I felt it was a very good experience for my first Ostomy flight. 

Linda


   
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Tigerlily
(@tigerlily)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 369
 

I just returned from vacation - the first time I’ve flown since my cancer surgery. I was nervous about a couple of things - first, the airport screening, which turned out to not be an issue at all. I was waved through the scanner at both Detroit and Phoenix. More concerning was how I would manage the flight. So I irrigated the night before the first flight, and that gave me 3 whole days with no output (that’s the longest ever - I really did a good job irrigating). That wasn’t an option on the trip home because I didn’t bring my irrigation equipment with me. So I was careful to eat more starchy foods for a couple of days prior to the flight, and I used Imodium, two the night before, and two more in the morning. I was able to make it home without emptying at all. Now that I know things went well, I am definitely more confident about flying. I know that I can’t control how an airport screens, so I have just made up my mind that I will deal with it if it’s less than optimal. Life is too short to give up having fun.

 

Laurie

Just a semicolon


   
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(@john68)
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 2048
 

Hi Laurie, Sounds like a woman well in control to me. May you have many more adventures ahead 🤗🤗🤗

ileostomy 31st August 1994 for Crohns


   
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