Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Traveling with your insulin pump

Do you need to worry about anything when traveling with your insulin pump....particularly air travel?  No, in my mind, there is absolutely no issue traveling with your insulin pump. 

With my insulin pump I have flown domestically within Canada, to Hong Kong, to Indonesia, and domestically within Indonesia.  I have never, ever, had a problem with my insulin pump, but that doesn't mean I wasn't prepared for a variety of eventualities. 

1. for any flight, domestic or international, you want to ensure you have a fairly fresh vial of insulin in your insulin pump.  The last thing you want to do is have to try to change your infusion set while you are either in the cramped confines of your seat.....or in the toilet! 
2. For any trip, it is also a good idea to make sure you have packed extra vials of insulin, as well as syringes (or "pens" for injecting), as you don't want to be away from home and have your insulin pump break or get lost and you have no recourse for supplying insulin to yourself.  Remember, that not only will you have to bring your rapid-acting insulin, but also a long-acting insulin (like an NPH or Lantis).  Your diabetes educator or doctor can help you decide what you proper doses would be in that eventuality.  I generally pack some in my hand luggage, as well some spare in my suitcase, in case I lose one.
3. While I have never been asked for one, I have a letter that was supplied from my doctor indicating that I am a type 1 diabetic and need to bring with me insulin supplies, which could include syringes, testing supplies, infusion sets, and insulin.  I think it is a good idea, because bringing sharps on a plane can always be viewed as suspicious.  As I said, though, I have never had to produce this letter to authorities.

At the airport security check:
4. Of course you have to pull out your liquids on flights now, which will include your vials of insulin.  Ensure the prescription labels have the same name as that as is on your boarding pass.  There is no need to pull out your insulin pump supplies or other syringes.  Those will show up on the x-ray, and if they want to pull the supplies out, they will.
5. Going through the body scanner will have absolutely no effect on your insulin pump or the insulin inside it.  I have actually been behind people in line who have had an insulin pump on and have taken it off  would not put it through the scanner, insisting on a visual scan.  There is honestly no need for that, and I think it causes more issues than not.  The people I have seen who would not have their pump scanned, had their whole bags searched.  I simply walk through the scanner with my insulin pump in my hand, showing it off to the officers.  Every time, I have been asked if it is an insulin pump, to which I have said yes.  I have never had to say what it was, even flying domestically within Asia.  For those of you who generally keep your pump in a harder to get to area (to hide it more from plain sight), I would recommend for that flight to keep it in an easily accessible place, so that it doesn't look like you are hiding something....especially if you get patted down for some reason, and they find something under your clothes with a "wire" attached to it.

In Flight;
6. I like to keep my date and time settings the same as my place of departure.  This more refers to when you will be crossing multiple timezones.  As with any good diabetic, ensure you have an ample supply of food that you can eat, in case the meals in-flight do not coincide with your needs.  I also like to test my blood sugar every 2 to 4 hours of flying time, just to make sure everything is still good.

At your destination:
 7. I always change my date and time settings to my destination immediately, and also test my blood sugar every couple hours after the change.  Depending on what insulin doses your received and what you will be getting, you may have to adjust (bolus higher, or temporarily reduce some basal) your doses.

A long-winded response, but it all comes down to say, you don't have to worry about traveling with your insulin pump.  See your diabetes educator for a complete list of what you should take on vacation or what you may need, but have no fear about bringing your insulin pump through airport security or on the plane.

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