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Do you wear a medic alert bracelet?

Posted Mar 09 2009 3:40pm

DiabetesHealth ran an article on its web site last week which got to me, "Medical ID Bracelets: The $15 Lifesavers." Admittedly, I've had diabetes for 37 years, been on insulin for 32 (I was misdiagnosed early and put on oral meds the first 5 years) and have never worn a medical alert bracelet. Why? Thirty years ago when I looked at them, there were few available, they were all ugly and screamed, "I'm deathly ill." Or so they made me feel. Then I just sort of forgot about them over the years. I learned how to recognize and treat a low, never expect to have a time I can't, and, never received any suggestion from either my general practitioner or endocrinologist that it might be a good idea to wear a medic alert bracelet. When I think about that now, that's a stunning lack of care.

But reading the article about how such a bracelet can and does save lives, I thought how foolish am I not to wear one. I have enough lows and am alone often enough that I could end up in a situation where I pass out and such a bracelet could save my life. Each morning I walk an hour around my local park. I take my SweeTarts, some money and my keys, but nothing that would alert anyone to the fact that I have diabetes. I do carry a wallet card, but often am out and about without my wallet. Thinking back, my last two great lows both occurred in airports when I was traveling by myself. Luckily I had sugar with me and enough brain cells working to stop and treat myself, but what if I did not....?

So, over the past week I've conducted an exhaustive online search to see what's available, and being the finicky Virgo that I am, have only had trouble choosing because quite a few different styles appeal to me. Although I know I'm in for a bracelet; necklaces bother me and something on your knapsack or some other hidden place defeats the purpose. Also, it's a bit tricky to find one that both is immediately identifiable as a medic alert bracelet and yet looks attractive enough that you'd wear it. But, too fashionable, and I doubt any paramedic would bother looking to see if there's life-saving information on your dangly, jewel-crusted bracelet. But feeling these two bracelets satisfy that debate, right now I'm  wavering between the beaded bracelet and more sleek stainless steel lynx bracelet, and then my friend who makes jewelry said, "If you buy an engraved plaque, maybe I can make a fashionable bracelet for it." Well, now I'm just stumped altogether. But, it's my plan to have one within a month's time. I also checked my local drugstores and found you can buy a medic alert bracelet there for about $7.00 but don't expect any style. 

If, like me, you haven't thought about getting a medic alert piece of jewelry for decades or no one's ever suggested you wear one, think again. And if you have access to the internet, expect to find enough choices, whether bracelet, necklace, charms etc, to spend a few hours finding just what you like. Well, that's if you're like me, I guess. 

Here's also what I learned as far as the information to have engraved: 1) Diabetes, 2) If you're insulin dependent which can be summed up in IDDM (Insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus) 3) Allergies 4) Phone number to call, and what I actually realize was really important, but 5) Your name. And that's because if you do pass out, those working on you will call your name to try and revive you along with other medical measures. Since space is limited depending upon what item of jewelry you pick and from what manufacturer, choose the info that's most important for you. Also, some bracelets will let you engrave on both front and back, others just one side. I'm going with:

Type 1 Diabetes IDDM

Riva Greenberg

Mom: Phone number

It will be interesting to see how I actually feel wearing it after being unencumbered all these years. I'm going to try for "Badge of Honor" rather than "Tag of Illness." Will let you know.

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