If you live with type 1 diabetes and travel, those three words: “Airport Security Hypo” probably strike fear into your heart. Airport security is stressful enough with type 1 diabetes, even when it goes smoothly but if you throw in a hypo it’s nerve wracking.
I traveled to London last Saturday solo and this happened as I was coming home. I was in line at the metal detector, I had put all my stuff on the belt and that’s when my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) alarm went off, telling me that my glucose levels were 4.4 mmols and dropping ⇘.
Emmm, what do I do???
Do I jump the person behind me to grab my bag off the belt and risk the security agents responding as I would expect? Or do I wait and see if a more opportunistic moment presents itself? I knew I was going to have to volunteer for a pat down anyway.
I choose the, “Well, it’s only going to take a few minutes and I feel fine so let’s assume my CGM is telling a bit of a fib for right now” option combined with the "wait and see" approach.
I went through the metal detector and it beeped. I was directed to the body scanner which I declined because of the manufacturers recommendations about my CGM and opted for the pat down. This airport likes to do theirs in a private room which means two female agents need to be available.
So I took a seat and waited. And waited. Thankfully the agent directing the other people through the metal detector had my back and kept checking that someone was coming to me. And another thankfully, I was at the airport way too early for my flight so apart from the threatened hypo I was chillaxed.
Another 5 minutes went by and I could start to feel the heat of my body increase but I was still functioning and calm. By the time the agent came to usher me to the screening room I could feel the heat turn into perspiration. I thought about asking if I could grab my glucose out of my test kit. But I really wanted to get this stress over with so I could relax. And I didn’t know how it would be received. These seemed like really nice, jolly agents but I did not want to push it.
I want to point out this was a choice that I made and take full responsibility for but I didn’t feel at any point that I could not ask for help.
The screening was over with in less than ten minutes and I was reunited with my bags. I could feel my hypo symptoms increasing but not at the pace of a hard crash. So I moved away from the checkpoint and gathered myself. I took some glucose and decided that even though it was a little early for dinner I was having it. I could feel the glucose tabs were already starting to work as I ordered but I was starving. So hungry that I "hypo-ordered" the biggest thing on the menu with a side. And I finished it. I was stuffed but I cleaned my plate.