Back in 2005 I wrote a very short post gushing over a “beee-uuutiful” new medical alert bracelet I had just purchased, that promised to "alert the medics without alerting the fashion police." But will it?! – I asked.
I was worried that it might just be too pretty. Should I pass out in an accident, would any paramedic (or anybody else) think to examine those charming multi-colored beads on my arm for evidence that I may suffer from a life-threatening disease? Considering that ordinary, hospital-issue medic alert bracelets are often overlooked, I was worried... and still am.
Today I plan to gush over a few of the newest designs from StickyJ Medical, one of the favorite labels in my growing collection of medical ID jewelry. But before I get into that, let’s talk safety.
What EMTs Learn
Mike McWhirter is a recent graduate of the College of San Mateo Fire Academy in the San Francisco Bay Area who currently works as an active Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and is training to become a paramedic. As a rather unscientific N=1 sample, I asked him about how he was instructed to recognize medical IDs, and respond to them.
He tells me there was no specific curriculum unit devoted to the subject, but looking for the caduceus medical symbol was definitely mentioned throughout. EMTs are also instructed to check blood glucose along with vitals on every call, because it so often comes into play.
“If someone’s unconscious, we have a procedure called ‘trauma naked,’ where we strip off all their clothes and go over their full body looking for signs of distress. Any medical symbol will key us in,” he says. “But it’s harder if the person is conscious and acting weird – we may not always find it.”
McWhirter adds that his training emphasized that someone who appears drunk may be hypoglycemic, so it’s critical to test glucose. “But If someone has a hundred bracelets on, we may not see (their med ID), so the more obvious the better. Necklaces are more obvious.”
He also shared an acronym that EMTs use for checking the cause of a person’s distress:
AEIOU TIPS, which stands for:
Stroke, or Sepsis (depending on who you ask)
“Symptoms can mimic each other, so we want to check all the signs, including blood glucose, on every call… Medical ID makes our jobs easier, because it helps narrow it down,” McWhirter says.
When I directed him to the StickyJ website to see some of their newest designs, his first reaction was: “Wow, that’s definitely cool… you can have your own style.”
Yep! But was he specifically instructed to look closely at pieces with beads and leather bands? Not really, he says. “But as long as there’s a clear plate with the medical symbol, I hope the common EMT or paramedic would notice that too.”
“These new fancy-looking bracelets should be talked about more,” he concludes.
Great New Medical ID Looks
Of course, there’s always the option of getting a medical alert tattoo – a growing trend! – but not everyone is up for permanently marking their skin.
Meanwhile, medical ID jewelry is getting more and more aesthetic and varied – with new players offering customized pieces and hundreds of items available on the craftsy marketplace site, including cool medic alert rings.
(You really have to wonder if any EMT would spot that!)
But at this summer’s AADE conference, the ‘last man standing’ in terms of established medical jewelry companies that invest in booths at diabetes events appeared to be StickyJewelry – the Florida-based company founded back in 2000 by Lori Torman and her husband Barry.
I immediately fell in love with their new collection of bracelets, which reflects the trend towards more artisan-style designs.
Among their huge variety of bracelets, necklaces in charms, I was particularly taken with these two designs, which both feature self-adjustable sizing (!):
This Beaded Medical Alert Bracelet in Moon Light:
This one also comes in ‘Calm Waters’ (a light blue) and a macramé version that’s available in a multitude of colors.
The beads are made of Rose Quartz, which StickyJ notes, “is said to be the stone of universal love and as such, it restores harmony plus trust in relationships so as to encourage unconditional love.” OK, wow!
This Carnation White Medical Bracelet, made of stainless steel with embedded white symbol:
This oval-plate model also comes with the caduceus sign in red, purple or pink. The product description boasts “fashion meets function with this classy medical ID… one of our top selling medical alert bracelets for women… Wear it with any outfit and still feel the security of knowing that first responders will see the bright white medical symbol in an emergency.”
Like: The 98% jewelry look of these elegant designs, and the fact that personalized engraving can be ordered on both sides of the beaded bracelet’s charm, and on the back side of the oval stainless plate.
Love: The new adjustable drawstring feature of both, which fits 5.5 to 7.5 inch wrists. This makes it oh-so-easy to put on yourself, with no need for the handy bracelet tool I’d gotten attached to. Note that if you have very small wrists like mine, you will have longer dangling beads at the ends, which doesn’t bother me (I like the look!), but might be annoying for some wearers.
Pricing: The beaded and stainless steel bracelets shown here range run in the $38-40 rang; but overall, StickyJ carries everything from a dainty silver-beaded bracelet for $14.99 up to a pure gold mariner link bracelet for $245.
Tips: On some models, StickyJ notes: “Do not submerge in water. It will effect the clasp over time.” So much for swimming with your pretty Med ID on.
Did you know that medical ID bracelets are covered by FSA and HSA spending accounts? Yep, save your receipts for submitting a claim!
If you want to get REALLY fancy, you could go with a beaded leather cuff for $94.99, although I’m skeptical about the very tiny medical sign these:
For men who want a sleek fashion look, check out these:
Prices on those man-jewelry items run around $40-$50.
Once they get past hurricane season, the folks at StickyJ the are prioritizing making connections with national law enforcement and first responder organizations, to help train them to be on the lookout for even the trendiest jewelry that may be yelling, “Hey, I’ve got a medical condition here!”
They’ve generously offered a reader giveaway (below), AND a discount code for our readers who choose to order items:
Use code DIABETESMINE for a 20% discount good through midnight EST on 9/30/17.
A DMProducts Giveaway
Just leave a comment below, and be sure to include the codeword "DMJewels" somewhere in your comment so we know you're in it to win it.
Since our comment system requires log-in, you may also email us your entry directly at email@example.com, using the subject line "DMJewels".
You have until Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, at 9pm PST to enter.
The winner will be chosen using Random.org, and announced via Facebook and Twitter on Monday, Sept. 18, so make sure you're following us. Please be sure to monitor your Facebook messages or email, as that's how we contact our winners.
Good Luck, You Diabetes Fashionistas!
This contest is now closed. Congrats to J Adkins, chosen by Random.org!