November 6, 2013

Importance of Medical Alert Jewelry

Warning – if you are taking insulin or oral diabetes medications that may cause hypoglycemia, you need to be wearing medical alert jewelry. Yes, I think it is that important. Everyday, an officer of law enforcement, somewhere in the United States encounters people that are driving as if they were drunk, but in reality, are suffering from low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and they have no indication that the person has diabetes.

One highway patrol officer of my state says he has no sympathy for people with diabetes that do not wear medical alert jewelry. Because he has a younger brother that has type 1 diabetes, he knows how quickly a low can happen and the dangers it can cause when driving. He likes to tell the story of how one afternoon near the end of his duty for the day, he came upon a vehicle partially in the ditch and a female driver slumped over the wheel. Upon going up to the vehicle and looking in, he could see a medical alert bracelet. Rather than investigate then, he returned to his vehicle and called for an ambulance saying he would return with information when he could read the bracelet information.

He returned to the vehicle with a tool to open the door if needed and it was needed. Upon opening the door, he could not smell any alcohol and went to the medical alert bracelet. He could read that the young woman had type 1 diabetes and recorded the telephone number and the number on the bracelet. Then he checked to see if there was a pulse and finding one, went back to his car and called the number to his headquarters.  This was then passed to the hospital and the ambulance crew. Then the hospital checked the information and suspected hypoglycemia.

When the ambulance arrived, the first thing they did was check the blood glucose level and because of the low number, immediately started a glucose IV and then removed the woman from the vehicle and put her in the ambulance. Within 20 minutes, she regained consciousness and shortly was able to answer questions. She had the officer search her car and find her glucose log book. She had him find the page for the current day and a reading for the time she had started to drive. He knew that the reading should have been okay and asked how long she had been driving. She indicated about an hour and one half. Actual time from blood glucose reading to when the officer read this was almost two hours.

She said that she had all of a sudden felt dizzy and had started to pull off the highway. She stated that she had apparently not been able to stop the car completely before passing out. She could only remember shutting off the car, but nothing else until coming to in the ambulance. The officer had put this much together because her car was not completely in the ditch and not completely off the gravel side of the road. The officer told the woman he was glad she was wearing a medical alert bracelet. She admitted that she did not like them, but her mother had insisted on her wearing one that day.

The officer asked her permission to see if he could get the car back completely back on the gravel and she asked him to do this please. The ambulance crew continued to monitor her blood glucose level and removed the IV when she attained a certain level. They then tested her a half an hour later to see if she was holding this and the officer said that since she was and could walk, that they could return and he would check her once more before letting her drive since she had her testing supplies located. When she tested herself about 15 minutes later, she was still okay and the officer asked her to stop in 15 minutes and check herself again. She said she would and he suggested that she continue to wear her medical alert bracelet. She said that she had to now as this had given her a good scare and without it, the officer may not have had a clue as to why she was slumped over the wheel.

He said in the next year he had seen her five more times and she always held up her arm to show him she was still wearing the bracelet. He said the one time that they were able to talk, she said that she has continued wearing it and had thanked her mother for insisting on her wearing it that day.

Read this blog about the pros and cons of the different types of medical alert jewelry.

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