Tuesday, November 29, 2011


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's hours later so being pissed off is very much time delayed, but I'm pissed.  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 & who knows where else while my laptop, phone and a ziplock bag took a ride on the 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.

This entire 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.


  1. AnnMarie:

    Glad to know that the TSA is keeping the traveling public safe from the likes of you. It's a shame you had to go through such an unnecessary experience, but it sounds like you handled it with your customary sense of humor.

    Survival > Existence,


  2. Debbie,

    Thanks for the chuckle! Yes indeed, I am a complete threat on a plane. Really, they need to watch those restrooms...... As long as I'm sticking with "bawdy" I'd really like to see how **anyone** can become a member of that "mile high club" in a bathroom smaller than any closet I've ever seen ;)

    Yes, laughing is the only way.... sometimes, it's the best way out....



  3. Yep, I had a VERY similar experience this past summer--including it being a male TSA agent that directed me to the enhanced screening procedure, and female blue gloved agent appearing from nowhere! In my case it wasn't because of gummy bears. I still have most of my original body parts. I "supplement" the look with a lovely tear drop shaped filler. I don't know what it is made of, silicone or some other soft squishy plastic, but its a size 2 and I've never been a size 2 in anything in my life---so I kind of like this little thing.
    I too have flown enough times in the past four years that I didn't give it a second thought until afterwards as to why I was being singled out after my first experience in what made me think I was on the Enterprise about to be beamed to my destination. I usually wear my compression bra, something I have earned because of the lovely chest/breast lymphadema I have acquired along this journey. But because I DO usually swell to a certain extent when I fly --I know this is totally contrary to the point of having the lymphadema bra but--I decided to not wear it for this particular flight and save myself from having to remove the bra in the middle of the flight because it was too tight. (and by the way, I've removed it right in my seat since, like you mentioned, the bathroom closet just doesn't have the space for these wardrobe changes)I've decided that the next time I fly, which will be to San Antonio on Monday!!, I will whip out my prosthesis and ask to be re-scanned in the whole body machine. But what to do with the prosthesis? If I remove it ahead of time and place it with my little 3 oz bottles (you could call it "cosmetic") that won't be very dramatic. If I toss it ahead of me through the machine will fake boob eating dogs suddenly appear? Or maybe I should remove it before the complementary pat down to show them what is really in there.

  4. Ha, Deb!!! Yet one more thing connecting us together...... Was nice to hear your voice on the phone. You have a GREAT time in San Antonio.... I think I will be in DC for the NBCC thing in May.... and maybe the Project Lead training which I think is coming up in March..... I'll learn how to properly interpret statistics (which, prior to chemobrain, I really didn't require training to do.... ho hum...)

    TSA? Remove the prosthetic and choke someone with it if they don't offer you a cocktail before they get the cheap thrill....

  5. Happened to me b4 my BMX last Sept, got the full pat down, so did DH, couldn't figure out what they thought I could possibly be hiding, I was barely dressed in tiny shorts and a tank top, at best I'm a size 2 and was a 32 A ? I did question why they had the nerve to fondle my "girls" and not check his "guys" out, he could be packin more down there than I could possible put up here ( oh, did I mention I was braless, no need, not much in the boobs dept really) got a REAL BAD Stinkeye for that comment! Ummm mile high club...piece of cake ;). Jet Blue is the best for that..they have tables haha!! XOXO

  6. OOOhhhhhh Deb...... Jet Blue.... I was just on JB for my weekend in Boston. You CRACK me UP!!!!


  7. Like you I just blindly did as I was told. I didn't really feel harassed, just annoyed and sort of dumb founded that I was singled out more than once. Interesting that you had the pat down and the palm reading thing too. We breast cancer people are a suspicious lot aren't we? Kind of sad, but might as well laugh instead I guess. I don't have the drive or energy to take on the TSA. We've got bigger "fish to fry" don't you agree? Still, a bit more sensitivity training is surely in order. Great post. I missed it earlier. Thanks for directing me to it.

    1. Blessings to the Brest Cancer patients.


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