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Medical ID Bracelets: Where do you stand on the issue?

20150502_174341Here’s a question for you: How many of you wear medical identification (ID) bracelets?  Or, do you know someone who wears one? How long did it take you to finally put one on?  For me, it took quite a few years.

Medical ID Bracelet

My parents knew the importance of having (and wearing) a medical ID that stated my information in case of emergency.  This was explained to me, of course, but to a child who is trying to navigate peer relationships and keep a low profile on the Epilepsy diagnosis, wearing a medical ID seemed like a horrible idea. My ID, at the time, was a silver chain that hung around my neck with a silver and red ID tag.  It didn’t blend in with my clothes and certainly wasn’t going to get me any best dressed award.

I thought that if people saw me wearing one, they would automatically think I was sick.  My peers would assume that I had something wrong with me and be repelled.  My teachers would view me differently; maybe they would coddle me or think I wasn’t capable of functioning.  To me, the medical ID served as a label– a negative label. The good news: Any time I had a medical event, someone who knew me and my background was around to inform others.  The bad news: this only reinforced my lack of desire to wear the ID.

Safety with Style

At some point, the medical ID community began developing more stylish bracelets. MedicAlert provided me with my first unique bracelet, just in time for middle school: a blue, braided, yarn-like bracelet that blended with most of my outfits and hid the ID on the underside of my wrist.  Eventually, my family discovered even more stylish bracelets. Lauren’s Hope is my current favorite site for ID bracelets.  Since my mom discovered this company, I have not stopped wearing my bracelets.

Making A Statement

Once I had a new bracelet, the stigma seemed to be gone.  I started wearing my ID because I believed I could now be viewed as a “normal” human being.  I was a person that didn’t draw attention to myself through a disability, but rather through my abilities.  It was (and still is) an empowering experience.  What has also happened, is a discussion about my medical ID.  When I was growing up, there wasn’t much attention drawn to it.  The ID was a bracelet I wore; my peers weren’t that interested in it.  Now, I have a few more interchangeable bracelets and I use them to match with outfits, making them a statement piece on my arm.  I receive compliments on them and people ask me where I got them.  I am proud to say that they are a medical ID, because a conversation is then started.  A medical bracelet is no longer a label, but it is a statement: that I am an individual, I am unique, I have likes and dislikes, and I happen to have Epilepsy. So, if you don’t wear a medical ID or are unsure about it, I encourage you to wear it.  You are not your diagnosis, but your diagnosis is a part of you.  You have the power to affect how that impacts your life.

*All opinions expressed about companies mentioned in this blog are completely my own. I received no reimbursement or compensation for my writing or opinion. I just really like sharing good ideas!

You’ve read my opinion on medical ID bracelets. Now take the poll to share where you stand on the issue:

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Leila shares stories on stigma and epilepsy based on her experiences and what she hears from others. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy at age 8 and is based in Pennsylvania.

6 Responses

  1. Rich Snow
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    I wear a Medicalert necklace instead of a bracelet. I tried a bracelet but found it a bit awkward. I switched to the necklace instead. I always wear it on the outside of my shirt.

    • Leila Zorzie
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      I’m glad you found something that works for you! At one point, I had a necklace as well. I didn’t like it, so I switched to a bracelet. Thank goodness we have so many options!

  2. nichola
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    At the moment i do not wear id bracelet etc for the same reason. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 11years old and have only just come to terms with having it the last couple of years, im now, im now 26. I have looked into them and wasnt keen however i never knew about the other sites you mensioned so may look into those as im now starting to think about it more. Thank you for your artical, im glad its not just me!

    • Leila Zorzie
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      You’re welcome! I hope you can find a style or two you like. There are so many options now, it actually makes wearing the bracelet fun!

  3. Katie
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    Thank you for sharing your experience with medical ID bracelets and for sharing these sources!

    I have a medical ID bracelet (quite a standard one), although I do not usually wear it. I’m going to be traveling alone and I plan on wearing it then. However, I am worried about some of these prettier looking medical ID bracelets not being recognized as a medical ID bracelet in the case of an emergency (especially while I am abroad). I am just worried people will be so stressed if I have a seizure that they do not look carefully enough at my bracelet, if that makes any sense? What is your experience with this?

    • Leila Zorzie
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      I’m happy to hear you have a medical ID bracelet! I’m an advocate of wearing it, but I understand that it can be hard to do every day. Just remember, it’s for your own safety!

      I’ve never considered that emergency personnel will not recognize my bracelet as a medical ID. I haven’t had any seizures while I am wearing it, so I can’t speak to how quickly medics will notice a fancier looking one. My view, however, is that it’s better to be wearing one than not. In my experience, people are less motivated to wear a plain ID. Without wearing one, there is zero chance that people will know of my diagnosis. By owning a prettier one, I make myself want to wear the bracelet, thus giving paramedics a better chance of noticing it. There is a chance that they won’t notice it, but I’d rather make sure I have one on with my information than no bracelet at all. I think (but am not 100% sure) medics are trained to look for IDs. This sounds like something we should look into! Regardless, always err on the side of caution and wear your ID!