The continuing story of my medic alert bracelet

A few weeks back I mentioned that I read an article in Diabetes Health magazine, Medical ID Bracelets: The $15 Lifesavers that made me realize it was a foolish move on my part not to wear a medic alert bracelet, especially since I have enough lows to warrant it. Granted, I haven’t had a low yet in 37 years I couldn’t remedy myself, but why take chances?

So I did a lot of web searching looking at various bracelets trying to find the right one. One that would say, “Yes, I have a medical condition!!!” if need be, yet be somewhat attractive, in other words not make it look like I was a goner, or be downright ugly. My first choices, could easily be missed as an attractive piece of jewelry, beaded and dangly, pretty, but who would know I needed help? So I settled one from American Medical ID. They have a large selection of bracelets and offer engraving for free and will fit a lot of it on your bracelet as opposed to some other vendors. I chose a sterling silver plaque, $59.95, and I just received it in the mail. It took about three weeks from order to delivery and is engraved on the back with:

T1 Diabetes IDDM

Riva Greenberg, NYC

Call Mom below:

Mom’s phone number

I’m quite pleased with my bracelet so far, it’s small and shiny. My friend who makes jewelry volunteered to make me a lovely chain for it. I think I’ve managed to hit the right balance of “Look, I have a condition that needs care” and an unobtrusive, simple and fine piece of jewelry. The plaque doescome with a free chain or you can select from three chains all priced at $6.

Stay tuned. I’ll show you the whole thing once done. I’m actually looking forward to being able to wear this, and intend to leave it on my wrist once I put it there. 

Do you wear a medic alert bracelet?

womens-medical-id-braceletsMedical alert plaque from Sticky Jewelry

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 seems 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, 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 life-saving medical measures. Since space is limited depending upon what item of jewelry you pick and from which 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. Will it feel like I’m shackled or a “Badge of Honor.” I’m going for the latter. Will let you know.

Protection in assorted colors

Stores medical, family and emergency information


I’m not in the habit of pitching products, except the ones I mysteriously find and love. But Marie found me, and loves the medic alert bands her company makes so much she wanted to share the news. 

So I checked them out, ID On Me, and want to pass along the word for those of you who may love them too. According to Marie, they’re “lightweight, stylish, great for kids and adults and only $12.” Combing their website I see they’re also waterproof and store, on paper in their little case, a wealth of information: your medical conditions, emergency contacts and family info — seems this is a particular advantage. So, there’s our little community. If you love something, let me know.

Alert: “I’m darn proud of all I handle,” said in garnet and silver

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 4.13.12 PM“Diabetes Pride,” it’s coming. Hear me Madison Avenue?

If you read about my day in the city with Ms. A“A day trip to Diabetes Land,”  I forgot to mention that I happened to admire a bracelet Ms. Awore. It’s a really nice piece of jewelry and serves as a medic alert bracelet. If you read about my new T-shirt, in“Don’t you love my T-shirt?”, you’ll know I’m starting a new wardrobe featuring messages of diabetes pride. It hasn’t been intentional, but it’s just seemed to have happened lately. Almost as though I’ve an alter-ego taking over my body.

But back to the bracelet. In all my years living with diabetes, thirty-five and a half to be exact, just between you and me, I have never worn a medic alert bracelet. While I’m no Fashionista, I don’t like what they look like, and I don’t like the reference I make in my head — “damaged goods.” Then, too, just to be clear, I’ve never (yet) had an incident where I needed one.

But Ms. A’s bracelet was so nice that after returning home I went directly to the web site where she got it,TAH Handcrafted Jewelry. I clicked ‘Bracelets’ along the left sidebar and scrolled through. There are several designs to chose from. Mine, pictured here, is seventh from the bottom, #9-S. 

I wanted something inscribed, but not one of the expressions I saw on the site, so I called handcrafter, Tim. I asked could he put two words on my bracelet? I wanted it to read, “diabetes” to the left of the center garnet, and “pride” to the right. Just enough to send a message to myself, and anyone who eyes my new bracelet, that not only am I not damaged goods, but I have reason to be proud: a lot of work, as you well know, goes into managing diabetes. It’s something extra we do along with everything else we manage in our lives. Why shouldn’t we be proud? And most people don’t even know we’re working this extra job.

Imagine if all of us who in some way feel “less than” turned it into feeling “more than”? Imagine turning this ugly, old image of diabetes on its head! After all, so much has changed in diabetes today: people are coming out of the closet for one, then there’s dynamic new research, fast-acting insulins, cool pumps, diabetic mountain climbers, triathloners and Olympic swimmers — why shouldn’t we have a new image? I’m imagining that lately —  thus the new wardrobe enhancement. As for my new bracelet, it’s slim, light and bright, and that’s how I feel wearing it. Powerful stuff, me thinks.

You should know 10% of the purchase price of the jewelry on Tim’s site is donated to the foundation of your choice. You get to choose among: Children with Diabetes, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diabetes Research Institute and the American Diabetes Association.

Now, if I should ever be found in distress, I think my really nice bracelet will catch some young paramedic’s eye and he’ll see that I have diabetes. He’ll also see I have attitude and extremely good taste in jewelry.