Security Check: TSA's 3-1-1 Rule, Broken

Last Week’s Blog > 

n June of 2010, after Asher’s Christening and the
baby shower I co-hosted for my bestie, we made a quick trip down to Florida to celebrate my
nephew, Tony’s high school graduation.

As always, leaving the state and being far away from our
doctors and hospital was scary. With Atia’s delicate immune system, we were
hypersensitive to the risk of leaving our safety-net environment. However, we
were fortunate because we were going to be with Uncle Mike (Tony’s dad), our
doctor in the family.

As with our previous trip to Florida, we outlined the “emergency” plan
just in case Atia spiked a fever while there. Uncle Mike gave his colleagues
the heads up about Atia and the assistance we may need from them – as you may recall,
it was Uncle Mike and his neighbor, a pediatric oncologist, who thoroughly reviewed
and ultimately encouraged us to enroll in the clinical trial.

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At the airport, getting through security has always been a bit of
a production. Not only are we those
parents that have the huge double stroller that can’t be folded down and placed
on the moving belt through the scanners, but we have nine million little
items that needed to be placed into those gray plastic containers.

To make matters worse, we always carry on Atia’s chemo,
steroids, anti-nausea, Tylenol with Codeine, Bactrim, heartburn medications
and syringes. We can’t take the risk of packing them in our checked luggage and
then having them get lost.

Some of her drugs are liquid and none of them are within the acceptable 3 ounce size limit.

I’ve quickly learned to verbally announce that
my daughter is undergoing cancer treatment and in my hand is a freezer bag full
of medication. Without fail the TSA agent says, “Huh?”, and I’m forced to

about having absolutely no privacy.HIPPA-shmippa…

“We’ll need to test what you’ve got. Step around to the
counter”, they say.

The first time a TSA agent, a stranger, grabbed Atia’s
medicine and started opening it I freaked out; I had no idea how they were
going to test the liquids. I’d be damned if they were going to stick something
into it in order to get a swab sample.

Contaminating her medicine could be lethal to her system.

I demanded an explanation of what they’d be doing before any
bottles were opened. Thankfully, I was told that they’d simply hold a piece of
white tissue (or something like that) over the meds to collect the fumes and
then put the tissue into a machine to read the chemical makeup (or something
like that). 

All I really heard was that they wouldn’t be physically touching the container’s contents. Phew!

For us, security check is at least a 15 minute process,
and that’s when the line is short. Sometimes we have nice, caring TSA agents who
understand that we wouldn’t be carrying all this medication if we didn’t have to, and other times they treat us like we broke the 3 ounce liquid rule on purpose just to be difficult. 

As if…

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The good news is that once we arrived in Florida we had a great time. It was warm,
relaxing and fun hangin’ with the family. Atia and Asher got a chance to
be with their older cousins, and Tony officially graduated from high school.

Time passed quickly; as soon as we arrived, it felt like it
was time to come home and once again there I was shouting in front of a bunch of strangers, 


My Next Blog > “The Chicago Children’s Museum & Pump It Up”


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  • I can't imagine the hassle! Yuck! We've all been through this check, but not like you!

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