Petitions: We Shouldn’t Need Them

Today’s D-Blog Week topic is about petitions. Here’s the prompt:

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.)

This prompt inspired thoughts not related to writing a petition but about the fact that we shouldn’t need them. Not that long ago, a petition to standardize TSA screenings for people with self-monitoring medical equipment failed to reach the required number of signatures to move forward. This disappointed me. I wrote about my experiences flying out of Cleveland with TSA and the multiple refusals to be scanned, and the not terrible pat down. My security experience flying out of Seattle was in some ways worse and some ways better. Had the petition been successful in its goals, the overall flying experiences of people with diabetes would be better, but we shouldn’t have needed a petition in the first place.

The travel story:

Are you ready to be scared? I again turned down the body scanner at the airport and respectfully requested a pat down. I again received the “it’s totally safe lecture” this time a little more sternly. I was then sent through the metal detector, didn’t set it off and TSA agent number two was about to just let me go about my business when Agent #1 yelled, “she’s wearing an insulin pump!”

Agent #2 barked at me to stay put and responded to Agent #1, “I don’t see one.”

Agent #1 “She already told me she’s wearing it.” (duh)

Agent #2 yelled, “I need hands!” then said to me, “Look, if we can’t see it, don’t tell us about it.”

I was pondering this frightening unspoken policy when a pleasant TSA agent (#3) lead me over to a workstation. A 4th agent asked her, “Did she set it off?” and Agent #3 told her no, I hadn’t set off the scanner (that I hadn’t gone through) that I just needed a medical device screening.

Agent #3 told me as she made me touch my pump and then swiped my hands that her brother has type 1 diabetes and wears and insulin pump. With my hands upturned for the scan, my medical ID was visible. Agent #3 pointed to my ID while the computer did it’s thing and said, “It’s a good thing you wear that. My brother forgets to wear his and it makes me worry a lot.” The computer indicated that I was good to go and she sent me on my way with a smile… and no pat down.

I beat Brad, who eventually just got sent through the detector, back to our things on the conveyor. I had my carry on repacked and shoes on before he could collect his own things. Not only was I not patted down, no one cared about my Dexcom, clearly visible on the back of my arm. In Cleveland they asked if I wore any other devices and I said yes, but that didn’t have to be scanned, inspected or explained. In Seattle it wasn’t even mentioned.

No need for a petition.

I feel like we should need petitions to make living with diabetes easier  more maneuverable. The fact that nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes means that the equipment and prescriptions that we need to live should be included in appropriate policies and training. A TSA agents, police offices, paramedics, teachers, nurses, etc. should know what insulin pumps, CGMs are, what insulin does, the basic differences in diabetes types and how to identify a low blood sugar. If a 20 minute appointment with a CDE can educate me on all of those things plus carbohydrate counting, then I think a short training session for professionals who will encounter people with diabetes in their line of work.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 after college was over, which means I have no experience with school nurses, teachers and 504 plans. But I can say that I have educated multiple new and seasoned school teachers on their students’ insulin pumps (not mine/OmniPods) and snacking in class needs because no one has taken the time to help them understand the children with diabetes who are in their classrooms.

We shouldn’t need petitions for research and public education. Diabetes is not new, it’s an identified part of our society. We shouldn’t need to fight in order to move forward.

But I realize we might need a petition to put coffee machines in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices (not just endocrinology offices!).


5 thoughts on “Petitions: We Shouldn’t Need Them

  1. This hits home hard, especially since we are in a legal battle right now over my daughter’s Diabetes. The school doesn’t test, nor do they administer her insulin like they should. It has absolutely been a nightmare trying to get a 504 in place. The school even called CPS on us, because we refused to send her to school on days that we’re worried something bad could happen. After the CPS visit, the kid gloves came off and my wife did a news interview that has created quite a ruckus within our school system. At the same time exposing the flaws within said system over the fact that (at least here) they are ignorant as to the necessary steps to keep any child with a disability safe in class. Especially children with Type-1 Diabetes, they act as though they are doing us such a favor by having a school nurse on staff, as though she’s ONLY there for us and we should be grateful, and keep our mouths shut,

      • Like I mentioned before, I don’t have experience with Type 1 and how schools handle children with it, I don’t even recall ever having to go to the nurse from 6th – 12th grade (I was home schooled for K-5). But from everything I’ve heard it’s a major problem! It’s beyond me that schools have dropped the ball completely on putting policies in place to care for young students with medical conditions.

        My heart goes out to your family for the crap that your school is putting you through. Families should HAVE to fight in order to keep their kids healthy in school. In the long-run, it doesn’t take that much effort to put policies and training in place to keep work with students like your daughter.

        • exactly, and it’s sad that there are A LOT of people who still don’t know that there are even 2 different types of this disease. So anytime we make a fuss, we get the “well gosh, it’s not our fault your child doesn’t exercise, stop feeding them so much darn candy and you wouldn’t have given her diabetes in the first place!” which in turn is an argument that may one day cause me to find myself locked inside a prison cell if things do not change. I am a grizzly bear when it comes to my daughter’s.

  2. I have a husband and daughter with LADA & type 1 respectively. We homeschool, so we’ve been able to avoid the school nurses and the 504 too. It’s funny to me that most of the time the TSA agents recognize his CPAP machine for sleep apnea, but that it’s really hit and miss with an insulin pump. I agree with you. How hard can it be?

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