Why Every Person with Diabetes Needs a Medical ID

It’s November 13th, which means that it’s Day 13 of the Happy Diabetic Challenge! Today’s prompt is about medical IDs. Naturally, I started thinking about my history with medical ID and why I think they’re so important for people with diabetes…

My mother and grandmother instilled a love of jewelry in me at a very young age. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings…baubles of all kinds make me happy. So you’d probably assume that wearing a medical ID would be no big deal for me, since I’m almost always sporting something sparkly on my body.

Well, think again.

When I was a kiddo, I HATED wearing my medical ID. It was a long, silver necklace with a hexagon-shaped charm dangling from it. One side showed the caduceus (that medical snake symbol) and on the reverse was my “in case of emergency” information. I wore this necklace for about a decade before I lost it, and it stayed hidden under my clothing most of the time. It was ugly, and to my young and naive brain, it was also an unnecessary reminder of the chronic illness I dealt with each day.

The necklace seemingly vanished from thin air one day (I swear I didn’t lose it on purpose, because I knew that just tossing it would piss off my parents) and I went a few months without a medical ID. It was so freeing! But by the time I turned 16 again, my parents had a replacement ready for me. This time, though, they were more careful when choosing the ID and went with something a little more fashion-forward: They had a circular silver charm engraved with my contact information, and it was a part of a pretty silver bracelet with many other charms attached to it (a book, a dog figurine, and a heart were among them), much like the charm bracelet my mother had received from her own parents on her sixteenth birthday.

I loved how discreet this charm was – it blended in well with the rest of the charms on my wrist. A little too well, though. The bracelet served a dual purpose as a medical ID and a fashion statement, and to be honest, it was almost impossible to discern the medical ID from the other charms encircling it.

So I took it upon myself to get something separate from the charm bracelet, something that was a standalone medical ID but wasn’t a total eyesore.

Enter my Lauren’s Hope medical ID bracelet, which I’ve been wearing for about three years now.

I love this bracelet. It is very obviously a medical ID, but it’s delicate and dainty. I wear it on my right wrist, separate from all my other bracelets, and I love that you can see all of my essential information engraved on the back of it with just a quick flip of the charm.

Now, I’m going to guess that you’re saying, okay, Molly, we get it…stop summarizing your medical ID history and tell me why it’s so important for a person with diabetes to wear one.

You got it!

It’s important for people with diabetes to wear medical IDs – at all times – not just because it’s helpful to first responders and bystanders in case of emergency, but also because it should provide a source of comfort and reassurance to a T1D.

I mean, I know that I feel safer whenever I go out in public wearing my medical ID. I’m a paranoid person to begin with (streams of “what if…” constantly swim through my mind), but I can’t help but wonder what might happen if I didn’t wear my medical ID and an emergency struck. Would people assume that I was drunk and not help me? Would they not realize the severity of the situation? Would I be able to get myself out of whatever situation it may be? I don’t want to risk a negative answer or outcome to those questions, so of course I wear my medical ID everywhere I go. I know it gave me great peace of mind when I traveled to Las Vegas with my girlfriends last year; if I’d faced a situation in which they couldn’t help me in time, at least someone near me could see my medical ID and learn that I have T1D (and figure out how to help me from there).

So with that said, I’ve come to see the medical ID as a security blanket and just as much of a crucial piece of equipment as my blood sugar meter or Dexcom. If you don’t have one because you were stubborn like me and didn’t want the reminder of your diabetes, please…do me a favor and check out your options online. I promise there are so many more styles than there were a couple decades ago, and there’s something to suit everyone: You don’t have to like shiny or sparkly things in order to wear a medical ID.

Oh, and before I go: Tomorrow is WORLD DIABETES DAY! I’ll be celebrating by doing a “diabetes in real time” segment on my Instagram. Tune into my profile throughout the day to catch it! Use the Instagram link at the top right hand corner of the website to get there, or navigate to Instagram on your own and find my page by searching my handle: @huggingthecactus.

Favorite Things Friday: Lauren’s Hope Medical IDs

One Friday per month, I’ll write about my favorite diabetes products. These items make the cut because they’re functional, fashionable, or fun – but usually, all three at once!

I’d been meaning to replace my medical ID for ages.

It was in rough shape. The medical snake symbol (a quick search on Google told me that the technical term for it is “Caduceus”) was scarcely recognizable, for the red paint that once made it stand out had peeled off a few years ago. The etching on the charm was nearly illegible due to age, and the bracelet itself was a Frankenstein creation: The original clasp it came with broke last year, so I had to transplant a mismatched clasp from an old bracelet onto it to be able to continue to wear it. All things considered…it’d seen better days.

Fortunately, I knew exactly where I should look for a new one: the Lauren’s Hope website. I’d heard about Lauren’s Hope a few years ago at a diabetes conference, and made a mental note to check it out some point down the road. Fast forward to the present and I’ve finally had a chance to shop on the site.

I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a wide variety of medical IDs available. There were bracelets, charms, tags, and necklaces that ranged in style from fancy to simple. The choices were so varied that I decided to cut to the chase and check out bracelets only, since I knew that was the kind of ID I wanted.

 

But there was still quite a selection under that subcategory: I could choose from different metal tones, bracelet styles (cuff, stretch, woven, wrap, beaded, etc.), material types, and colors. Rather than go with something loud and flashy, I decided to stick with a basic silver link bracelet that came with an ID tag that allowed up to six lines of text to be engraved on it. I was thrilled that the space on the tag permitted so much information – I was even able to put a line on it about where I keep my glucose tablets stored.

And the part that’s really cool? The fact that the ID tag is interchangeable. This means I can go back to Lauren’s Hope whenever I want, order a new bracelet, and swap the tag from the old bracelet to the new one. It’s really refreshing to see a company understand the wants and needs of its customers so well; obviously, Lauren’s Hope gets that customization and options are important to people with medical conditions.

I’m loving my shiny, high-quality bracelet from Lauren’s Hope. It feels good to finally wear a piece of medical equipment (yes, I consider it medically necessary) that is both stylish and practical.