Traveling with ulcerative colitis was miserable. Traveling with an ileostomy is manageable, though the security checkpoint is always stressful. Will the x-ray machine think I have a liquid bomb strapped to my stomach? Will the TSA agent make me show him my ostomy appliance? Will other passengers see it?
This weekend, I traveled for the second time as an ostomate, and I was naturally nervous. All was going well as I approached the security checkpoint until, as I laid my bag on the x-ray belt, they closed the metal detector line and began directing everyone to one of the 3-D x-ray machines. Rather than get scanned and risk a TSA tackle when they see a plastic bag partially filled with liquid strapped to my stomach, I opted for the full pat-down.
I immediately told the agent I had an ostomy and, to my pleasant surprise, he seemed to know what that meant. The pat-down was certainly thorough, but not the horror stories you hear about. Rather than examining the appliance itself or making me show it to him, he simply had me touch it with my hands and then rubbed some stuff on my hands and tested it (presumably for bomb material or something). This was another pleasant surprise and made the whole experience relatively easy and as not embarrassing as a full-body pat-down can be.
I’m sure not all TSA folks I encounter will be as well-trained and professional as this guy, but it’s certainly nice to know that some of them are.