Friday, May 3, 2013

Clearing customs just got a lot more interesting

This week was my first business trip with my new travel companion...Copaxone.  Bringing these syringes with you on a plane requires some pre-work.  First, you need a letter from your doctor stating you must travel with this drug, second, you need a prescription label from the pharmacy, third, you need to have the card on the travel case also signed by your doctor and filled out with pharmacy info.  If you have all of this, things will be a breeze right? Wrong.

Flying out of Canada into the states went seamlessly.  I presented the medication, explained why I had it, let them inspect it, provided the letter, went through the metal detector and moved on to my gate.  Flying out of the states back to Canada was a whole different ball game.

First, you have to stand in a completely separate line.  The one that's marked for families, liquids, wheelchairs and medications.  My co-workers do not know yet that I have MS nor do I want to share it, so this required some interesting excuses and downright avoidance as I separated from the pack.  Then, I wait in the longest line ever.  I wait, and wait, and wait.  I start getting the BBM's.  "where are you?", "have you been arrested? :p", "LMAO, what the hell are you doing?".  I let them know they are hilarious and they could go ahead to our gate, already creating the excuses (lies) I would feel the need to make up for the line, delay, etc.

My turn.  I take off my shoes, take off my sweater, take out my laptop, phones, meds.  Place everything in the bins minus the copaxone (it's not supposed to go through the x-ray apparently).  I hand the copaxone to the customs officer.  Let the fun begin!  I get to go through the super cool body scanner first, I pass.  Then I wait while they analyze the one syringe I have left.  They put it in something that literally makes a rooster sound.  I'm not kidding.  Apparently this means I AM OFFICIALLY A THREAT TO HOMELAND SECURITY!  Now I am important enough for 3 customs officials.  The one tells me my medication has 'alarmed' and they will need to check everything. 

This is when I see my worst nightmare.  One co-worker, who thought he was being the only nice one, waiting for me 20 feet away, watching everything.  CRAP!!!!

They take me to the side.  I have a choice, I can be patted down here or taken to a separate room.  "Let's just do this", I say, I am NOT having this guy wondering what's happening as I'm escorted away.  I am groped and patted almost everywhere by a female officer while standing, get this, "arms out like an airplane".  This is for sure a new pic on my co-workers I-phone.  My laptop is swabbed, my phones are swabbed and my shoes are swabbed.  Then I am swabbed.  "Clear, clear, clear, clear".  They finally give me my shoes back, thank God, because I was barefoot on an airport floor, ewwww.  Then I have to re-pack everything I had strategically originally packed in my carry on, which was more than it could handle in the first place.  This, by the way, is a lot harder then you think when your hands are shaking uncontrollably and your brain has temporarily frozen. 

When all was said and done, they thought that would be the appropriate time to ask why I need this medication.  I answered "because I have MS".  Hearing myself say those words, going through the embarrassment of this screening and realizing that I was eventually going to have to tell someone at work, was a burning reminder that this is true.  This is my life now.  Not one day seems to go by anymore that I don't have to accept that everything....everything has changed.  Everything, has gotten harder.

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