By Martha Zimmer | October 28, 2014 3:00 pm
When I learned I had developed Type 2 diabetes, I did not go out that day and buy a medical alert necklace. In fact, it took me several years to see the need to wear one.
Adjusting to this chronic condition took a long time because Type 2 diabetes turned my life upside down. There were new medicines, blood sugar logbooks, and diabetes education classes. I visited doctors more in my first year with diabetes than in my entire life before.
There was also a new financial pressure. Having diabetes costs money. So I was not interested in buying a necklace or bracelet to warn some stranger about my diabetes. Getting medical alert jewelry was not on my to-do list.
But experiencing a low blood sugar in the middle of the grocery store forced me to think about how having Type 2 diabetes was changing my life. I had to either stop going places by myself or plan ahead. This chronic condition makes us vulnerable in new ways. Things change whether we like it or not, especially as we grow older with Type 2 diabetes.
Here are some of the things that made me decide to buy a medical alert necklace:
• Almost every person with diabetes has blood low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) at times. These episodes can occur with little or no warning.
• One of the side effects of hypoglycemia is confusion. It may be difficult to communicate your needs, and a piece of medical alert jewelry can speak for you.
• Emergency medical professionals say they look for medical alert bracelets and necklaces. When questioned about it, three out of four said they looked for a necklace or bracelet first before they did anything else. So when every second counts, your medical alert jewelry saves time.
• Medical errors in hospitals do happen, and you are most at risk for those errors on admission and discharge. Wearing some medical alert jewelry is a powerful way to protect yourself from human error.
Once you are convinced that you need some diabetic jewelry, you will be faced with more decisions. First of all, how high-tech do you want to go? Do you want a simple necklace or bracelet that announces your condition, or would you like to carry your entire medical history with you?
You can find Flash drive jewelry in the form of necklaces, bracelets, and keychains. The Flash drive could hold anything you like. Your medical history, every condition you have, a list of medicines, insurance information, and contacts can be included.
Type the information into a word processing program on your computer, save it on the Flash drive, and carry it in your wallet, on a keychain, or around your neck. Medical personnel can then plug the Flash drive into a computer to have everything they need to know, saving time and reducing medical errors all at once.
Since most people with Type 2 diabetes have other medical issues as well, it is a good idea to include those on your medical jewelry too. Are you on insulin or a blood thinner? Putting that fact on a bracelet or necklace could save your life.
Once you know what you want your jewelry to say, there is another decision to make: How much do you want to spend? It can be anywhere from hundreds of dollars to as little as five.
Type “diabetes medical alert jewelry” into a search engine and you will find websites loaded with beautiful bracelets and necklaces made of expensive materials like titanium and gold. There are charm bracelets for girls, colorful plastic armbands for children, and rugged leather bracelets for men.
With an eye on my budget, I decided to buy a simple steel dog tag that cost less than $5. On the front is the standard red medical alert symbol, and on the back is the word “diabetic” in big letters. I wear it all the time, even in the shower.
The important thing, no matter what medical alert jewelry you pick, is that you put it on. Wear it everywhere you go. Do not leave home without something that announces your health condition. This one simple decision could make a huge difference to you some day.
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