I Wear Medical ID

I wear medical ID.

It’s something I feel strongly about, and worry over when I don’t have on.

Most of the time I wear a bracelet and necklace, and also have stickers on my car. You might say I’m a bit paranoid about it. I would say rightfully so.

But I’m also completely “out there” about my diabetes. I make a living telling the world about it.

What about people who don’t want to broadcast their diabetes to the world? How can they protect themselves without complete disregard for their medical privacy? It’s a really tricky situation and there’s no easy answer.

All of this is even more relevant to me after passing out in public not long ago. It’s been almost a year, but the trauma is still fresh in my mind.

What if I hadn’t been with friends? I was at a place that also served alcohol – would the first responders have assumed intoxication? Who knows. But when it comes to low blood sugar, delays can be the difference between life and death, and that worries me.

Sticky Jewelry

I am a sucker for any good reason to talk about medical ID.

I was recently approached by Lori at Sticky Jewelry and asked if I would be willing to share some of their resources (full disclosure: I received a free medic alert bracelet with engraving from Sticky Jewelry, with a retail value of $43.35 +shipping). As you can see, I said yes. 🙂

One of the things I like about Sticky Jewelry is that there are some extra resources on their site. For example, there is a great page that talks about what to engrave on a medical ID bracelet (complete with a table of common medical abbreviations). There is also a nice video from a paramedic who answers a common question when thinking about what to engrave on a medical ID (includes transcript).

The selection of available styles is impressive, which brings up a question I’m curious about and will ask in just a moment. But first I’d like to show you what I picked and talk about it a little bit.

I chose the black stainless bracelet with black gunmetal insert (that just sounds cool, doesn’t it?). It’s the top bracelet in the picture below.

2013-11-04 19.29.57

 It’s a beautiful piece, and I wear it often. But there is one thing I didn’t think about when ordering this style. It is a much wider style of bracelet than the other two pictured (middle one is an older more traditional sort, the far right is one from ionloop (disclosure: also received free some time ago)) which means it can’t be flipped over to read the other side without taking the bracelet off.

I mentioned this to Lori after receiving it and she explained that her team usually covers that aspect with customers who order this style, but she missed it in my case. I appreciated her honesty. She said that with these wider styles they recommend putting diagnosis, allergies, meds, etc. on the front for first responders, and emergency contacts on the back who can be contacted shortly after treatment and when the bracelet has been removed for closer examination by treating medical professionals.

It’s an interesting situation and one that brings me to the question I mentioned above…

Traditional and Noticeable or Beautiful and Easily Missed?

Maybe I’m over-simplifying, but I think of medical ID in a couple of ways:

  • Traditional, ugly, but very noticeable
  • Beautiful, more like “real” jewelry, but easily overlooked by first responders

Is one of the reasons many of us don’t wear medical ID jewelry because it has traditionally been ugly? I think so.

Does the availability of beautiful medical ID jewelry make it easy for first responders to miss in the heat of the moment? I think so.

Are we still better off wearing beautiful but possibly easily missed medical ID jewelry than nothing at all? I think so.

What do you think?


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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate, and Senior Community Manager at Blue Circle Health. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer’s position. Read more…

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