Anything to declare?

Last weekend was the 2011 International Broadcast Conference, which is run in Amsterdam. It’s the biggest broadcast media event in Europe, second only to the National Association of Broadcasters event (NAB) in Las Vegas. This year over 50,000 people turned up, completely swamping Amsterdam, amd filling all the hotels and restaurants for 6 days.

IBM sends quite a lot of people to the conference – some to man a stand, run demonstrations, and meet our customers, and others (like me) are just there to host our customers to the conference. In my case, this was my second visit to IBC, but my first with an ileostomy. It was somewhat eventful.

The trouble with having an ilesotomy is that if you’re going out and about you need to do a fair amount of advance planning, and always factor in as much flexibility as possible, because (as Murphy has noted) things will go wrong.

The joy of business travel is that you are, thanks to the airport security requirements, rather restricted. Add in all the extra problems of attending an insanely large conference, and needing to attend or host a series of business meetings, and you become very restricted. Add to that the fact that it’s run over a weekend, so you’re more tired than normal, and switch the time zones around, and change your diet (because you’re living in an hotel) and things start to get hairy. Very hairy. Which is not a good thing.

In the end, over the 3 days I was there I had 3 bag failures. One at dinner with some customers, one on the way to the conference centre, and one in a customer meeting at the conference centre. I generally carry some medical supplies with me for emergencies, but it’s just not feasible to carry a change of clothes. Frankly, that whole aspect of the trip is one that I’d like to put behind me. The patience & forbearance of my customers and colleagues still amazes me.

But there was one amusing (in retrospect) ileostomy-related element of the trip, and that occurred on the way home. When I went through security I discovered that Amsterdam has some kind of body-scanner technology installed, which spotted my ileostomy bag. The security guards then wanted to frisk me, which was OK up to the point where they tried to grab my bag and pull on it.

There then ensued a fairly heated discussion, with them wanting me to take the bag off, and me not (as my changing kit was by now in the airplane hold). The security supervisor eventually turned up, and her better English finally meant I was able to explain what the bag was, and why it really wasn’t a good idea to take it off in the airport departure hall…

Thank goodness for having been blessed with a sense of humour.

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2 thoughts on “Anything to declare?

  1. You are a brave guy. Kudos. In two and a half years J had perhaps 2 or 3 failures at most with the colostomy – I know it’s different.
    I would imagine that the promotional T-shirts and polo shirts that are usually handed out at such conferences take on a new significance!

    • It’s nice of you to say so, but honestly, no bravery involved. I’m just pig-headed and stubborn and want to get on with my life as normal. I’ve just got to remember that sometimes I do need to adjust my concept of “normal” slightly.
      As for the freebie T-Shirts, no. I do pack a bit heavier than I used to though, and if things get really out of hand, I’ll pay for the hotels laundry service!

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