"Is that a medical alert on your wrist?"
The question caught me off guard. I was at the counter at the bank and reached to grab my receipt. The teller was looking at my wrist.
You'd think this would be a common question. I've been wearing a medical alert for years now, but this was first time in quite some time that someone had noticed and asked about it.
"Oh, yea it is. It's a piece of metal that you can fold around any watch band."
"That's so cool! Where'd you get it?"
I told her that I got it awhile ago online, and thanked her. I left wondering if perhaps she was diabetic too.
These days I wear my medical alert every day. Despite having a pump, which to me would be a sure sign that I'm diabetic, I know that it's still important to wear an alert in case of an emergency situation. But while it's important to alert an EMT, I don't always want to alert every single person I come in contact with. A medical alert bracelet is an identifier. It says something about you: you have a serious medical condition. While my alert does say diabetic, you may not see that at first glance. Instead, a person who sees it just knows that I have some kind of medical condition serious enough to need to wear an alert. There's nothing wrong with wearing some kind of identifier. I do it all the time. Sometimes I wear a Jewish star, other times I wear a Michigan sweatshirt, or a Detroit Tigers t-shirt. These all tell you something about me: my religion, where I went to school, where I'm from. But those are identifiers that I choose to wear, that I want to show others. I don't necessarily view my medical alert bracelet the same way, to me wearing it isn't a choice, it's a necessity.
I've gone through a few different medical alerts over the years, and went a few years without one. It's been kind of like Goldilocks, trying different styles and options until one was just right.
I was allergic to my first medical alert bracelet. Ironic, right? My parents got it for me after I was diagnosed. My mom picked out a delicate sterling silver bracelet with the medical alert plate that was engraved with type 1 diabetes on one side and my name on the other. But after starting to wear it, I began to develop a rash on my wrist where it was. Whether the bracelet actually gave me a rash or I just started scratching where it was, creating the rash, I'm not sure. But from that point on, I refused to wear it. After that one, I switched to a blue neoprene bracelet and wore that one until it started to fray. There were a few different bracelets after that, but those didn't last too long either. And there was a brief time when I didn't want to wear one at all.
I finally found one that worked for me, one that attached to my watch that I already wear every day, instead of being an added accessory. If you aren't looking, you don't see it, but it's there in case of an emergency. While the red may have faded, it still reads "Diabetic Insulin Pump."
That piece of metal has been on a few different watches over the years, but it's always on me. I forget that it's even there. But while I might forget that I'm wearing a medical alert, it's pretty hard to forget that I have diabetes.
Here's the website where I got mine, they are called The MediBand and have a few different options you can choose from. It comes with a silver and gold band.