For as long as I can remember it has always been written that "if you travel with diabetes supplies, you should carry a note." This is a little embarrassing but, I travel a lot and have never carried a note. I'm seeking stories to scare myself straight (so I begin carrying a note in the future)...

Have you ever had to use your Dr.'s note to get out of a sticky situation while traveling? Please share, thanks.

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I've traveled throughout asia, europe, central asia, the middle east, over a period of a few years, using both pump and injections. (For injections, it is so much easier to get supplies in the rest of the world. For my pump... I had my pump fail in far eastern Russia, and it took me a couple weeks to get over the border into northern China, where I could receive a replacement from Medtronic - they really worked hard to get it to me, it's not easily done in that area. Pump supplies were virtually impossible to come by in Russia, and valuables can't be trusted to shipping & customs & courier services.)

But I've faced the most trouble in the US, dealing with TSA, or having Highway Patrol in Ohio draw their weapons on me when they felt my pump attached to my ankle while frisking me.

The back scatter images will show the pump, and a couple years before they were introduced in the US (in Aug, 2007), I went through one in Holland, where for whatever odd arrangement I was able to walk around the security booth and see the naked pictures of myself and barely make out the pump attached to me.

I've carried Dr.'s notes with me, which have helped me in cases when I needed to get some backup supplies from hospitals, but have done nothing to alleviate concerns from TSA.
I have never had a doctors note either. I haver never had an issue when i was traveling. I do have the boxes that show my prescription for the insulin and i figure that is good enough. I have a hard enough time getting into my doctors office as it is and getting anything signed is like pulling teeth.
I've never had anyone ask for a Doctor's note and I've traveled extensively. The only issue I ever ran into was in Hong Kong airport with disposable insulin pens, they took down all the serial numbers and my Dex meter in Beijing, they were curious and examined everything then waved me through. I think diabetes is a common enough disease that most countries have heard of it.
I carried a Dr's note when traveling soon after I was diagnosed- to Thailand and later to Peru/Bolivia. Noone asked for it and I was not given any hassle for my supplies or my pump, so I stopped carrying a note.

Now after traveling more extensively, particularly throughout South America, I don't see a need to carry a note anymore. Everything is available over the counter here, so a note wouldn't help with acquisition of supplies either. (Although I just learned today that Medtronic supplies are 1/3 the price in Chile than they are in Argentina. Thank you free trade agreement!! Looks like I'm going to Santiago again soon!)
Hi there

I was in HKG last weekend and they asked to see my doctor's letter and all my needles/supplies as I went through customs. Rarely needed but when you do it's good to have it handy!

We're going to (mainland) China in September; seems like there may be some beaurocratic requirement here. My wife is Chinese (Taiwan), so she'll make trouble and this may get interesting.

John Bowler jbowler @ acm.org

Well... that didn't happen - my mother got ill (she was meant to be coming with us) and my father got even more ill.

Well, we ended up in the UK instead and the only thing I noticed is that in the US (going through the whole body scanners) they are now wanting to check my Omnipod for explosives (i.e. they do a wipe of it or my hands.

The first time I went through they ignored it - clearly it must be visible since it is a bunch of electronics and liquid attached to my body.

John Bowler jbowler 2 acm.org

Yeah, know what you mean. I've travelled a bit and never carried a doctor's note until... Barcelona.

The problem wasn't the Spanish authorities, it was United Airlines "do you carry any" people. I said syringes and insulin, they basically asked if I had any proof; well, hey, I had a BG meter, so I ran a test and it came up 200 mg/dl... They sort of gave in.

Anyway, since then I've moved from MDI to Omnipod and I now carry a note (since I also carry rather a lot of electronics that has to keep (a) working and (b) attached to me.) I've never had to use it.

I suspect that for most people pulling out a BG meter and sticking yourself is, while maybe mystifying, certainly more than enough. Insulin supplies are self documenting; I can't see a need for a note.

Complex things like CGM or Omnipod, however, probably justify some explanation.

John Bowler jbowler @ acm.org

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