As we enter what is perhaps the busiest travel time of the year, this is a little “heads up.” If air travel is in your future and breast implants are in your chest, you’ve now been warned.
I can't complain about the way the agent approached me. I don't recall any discomfort. I do recall her saying she would need to "do a pat down" and she would be using the back of her hands. After the fact? I realized she specifically noted the area of my body that was being scrutinized. And the only area that she would be touching........
My brain is on a time delay and on principle, I am pissed. It took hours after the incident for the “I am pissed” to kick as certain things take some time to register in my chemo-challenged-brain, yet weeks later, I’m still pissed. I tend to get all huffy about “it’s the principle of the thing.” This would be one of those incidents.
Recently, I was in Boston for the weekend and Logan Airport has full body scanners. I've flown a number of times since my mastectomy. I've strolled barefoot through screening areas at JFK, LaGuardia, Miami, DFW, Tuscon, Aruba, Vegas and who knows where else while my laptop, phone and a ziplock bag took a ride on an X-ray conveyor with my carry on and my purse.
I think I was stunned by the swiftness. I know I was called forward by a male officer and I believe it was also a man who requested I remove my watch and showed me where to position my feet and how to place my hands. And then, there was a very pleasant woman with blue gloves explaining the pat down process. She appeared from out of nowhere.
Following the "pat down" which was in full view of the other four lines of security on one of THE most heavily traveled days of the year (the Sunday following Thanksgiving-a fun factoid from the font), I was told she wasn't quite finished with the slightly enhanced security check. My hands need to be tested for resin. HUH? As I said-it was quick but I remember searching in my challenged brain to recall what the hell I might have touched that would show up as some type of suspicious residue requiring her to pass what looked like a gieger counter wand over my palms and fingers. I think I did a flashback to the operating room for a split second. I remember a wand similar in appearance being passed under my arm. I still had my own body parts and the surgeon was showing another surgeon how to locate the sentinel nodes. I was injected with radioactive dye hours earlier to locate those particular lymph nodes if I happen to be educating anyone about those little nuances regarding The Full Mastectomy Experience.
This entire airport event took less than two minutes and being blindsided, I just followed instructions. It was when we arrived at the gate and I had a chance to actually PROCESS the event that I began to get annoyed. I've NEVER been pulled off a security line..... I don't think I ever had my carry on opened..... I'm the one who follows the rules...... three ounce containers, one quart ziplock, make sure the chargers/wires are attached to the electronic devices when I toss them in the gray bin. (FYI-that's not a rule, the wire stuff.... I just always figured a tangled mess of wires would look like a bomb or something so I just always made sure they weren't in their usual tangled mess-anything to keep the flow of traffic moving on the security line. I'm just That Girl.) Airport security is one thing I know how to do and I do it rather well if I must say so myself.
Sunday night when I finally kicked back and began to relax, I morphed into Ms. Internet Investigation. The gummy bears used in my reconstructive surgery are made of cohesive gel and they are foreign objects. Ergo, the Wizard behind the curtain who was looking at the screen and saw the foreign objects sent an immediate radio alert to the kind female agent. In my humble opinion, The Wizard should have been The Scarecrow. If he only had a brain......
I'm cool with whatever is being done in the name of keeping us safe. I am ok with the fact that I will likely be subjected to a pat down in any airport where full body scans being used. As I read the comments on various cancer websites, I understand the actual serial numbers of these stupid gummies are visible with these scanners (if I am to believe everything I find on the internet.... ). And, I realize that others may not be as cavalier about being pulled off the line. I hope for the sake of those women, TSA can find a better way to deal specifically with the breast cancer crowd. Some of us have enough trouble with body image issues. Maybe the airport shouldn't be yet one more reminder of Club Membership? Just throwin it out there for discussion, suggestion, solution on behalf of the sisterhood.
As for me? I have no attachment or modesty issues surrounding my amputated body parts and their replacements. The masterful plastic surgeon gave me some pretty great looking prosthetics. (And, by the way, Mr. Wizard..... what do you think about the nipple reconstruction and the tattoos. Nice job, no?) Apparently, the resin wand was to make sure I didn't JUST insert those gummies under my skin for use on the plane. I'm guessing the thought process is I would perform another self surgery to get the things out and turn them into an explosive?
In hindsight, I don't like the fact that I was felt up by a woman even if she was using the back of her hands. It had nothing to do with being felt up, either. It just would have been nice if she had attempted a little seduction beforehand. I may be easy, but I'm not THAT cheap. Hell, the least she could have done was offer to buy me a drink before copping a feel.