Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!


The terrifying experience that taught me how a medical ID saves lives

Article Overview

Have you ever really thought about it? Did you know a medical ID saves lives? What would you do if you found yourself in an emergency situation and couldn’t communicate with anyone? Or what about your kids? Is there anything about your health (or theirs) that emergency and medical personnel would need to know to keep you alive and healthy?

Did you know that over 95% of medical personnel look for some form of medical ID in an emergency situation? That’s because they know anyone they encounter could have a chronic health condition or life threatening allergies, or be on medications they would need to know about. They look because they know a medical ID saves lives.

So, who exactly should wear a medical ID? Anyone with:

  • one or more ongoing (chronic) health conditions

  • food allergies

  • drug allergies

  • taking multiple medications

Take me for example… I’m a type 1 diabetic and I’m allergic to penicillin. Given that my life depends on 24 hour access to insulin via my insulin pump, and if anyone gave me the most commonly administered antibiotic, I could go into anaphylactic shock… it probably is a good idea for me to wear a medical ID. What if I couldn’t communicate that to anyone? What if I was unconscious and none of my loved ones were around to convey that information?

I wear a medical ID everyday just in case, but that wasn’t always the case. As a child, I always wore one because my mom made me. But as I grew into young adulthood, I got lazy about wearing one. And by the time I was pregnant with my first daughter, I hadn’t worn one in years. I took for granted the fact that I had an insulin pump attached to me and figured anyone could just see that and would know I was diabetic.

Well, one afternoon when I was about 15 weeks into my pregnancy, I decided to go for a run, just like I did several times each week. We lived on a street that made a 1.5 mile loop. I usually did 2-3 laps depending on how I felt. I also used to always take my insulin pump off while I exercised (especially while running) because I didn’t like the way it felt bouncing up and down. So, off I went. I felt tired, but hey… I was pregnant, wasn’t that part of the territory?

About halfway through, I noticed my blood sugar felt like it was starting to drop, so I ate the box of raisins I always kept on me while running (just in case), and kept going… but it didn’t seem to be getting better. The raisins definitely weren’t enough, and before I knew it, I was at the furthest point from my house, sitting on the ground… barely able to sit up, much less get up and walk home.

In my confused and desperate state, I started to panic. I didn’t have my insulin pump on. I didn’t have my phone (I was in my own neighborhood, it was daylight, and I was less than a mile from home)… nothing on me to indicate I was diabetic. (In reality, my insulin pump port was still on obviously, but I wasn’t thinking clearly, remember?) And I didn’t have a medical ID on.

I sat there for a good 15 minutes and just focused on staying awake. Oddly enough, no one drove by in that time. Slowly, but surely, I felt my blood sugar start to come up. An then, I got up and walked home. No dramatic rescue, no scary trip to the ER or hospital… but goodness it could have been so much worse.

That experience was life changing!

When my husband got home later that evening and I told him what had happened, let’s just say he was thankful I was ok, but also just a wee bit upset that I was so careless. And quite honestly, I had been. As a result of that one experience, I’ve changed a few things I do every single day:

  • Never take my pump off, just suspend it

  • Always just stop if I feel my blood sugar dropping

  • Always have a medical ID on

I now have two different medical ID’s I wear on any given day. This one for “fancier” outfits, and this one for everyday casual wear. These are both from American Medical ID. They have so many different styles and options that are the perfect blend: conspicuous to the common person, but able to stand out enough to medical personnel. They’ve even helped me set up a discount code for you all if you’d like to order your own ID or one for a loved one.

Not sure how to have your bracelet engraved? Don’t worry, they’ve got some awesome resources on their website to help, and you can always ask your doctor what he/she thinks you should have on your Medical ID. And they can have your ID engraved and in the mail as quickly as 24 hours after you order it most of the time!

Whether you decide to get one from American Medical ID, or another company, if this article taught you how a medical ID saves lives, and pushes you to finally start wearing a medical ID, or to get one for your child, then I’ll be very happy!

Note: The links above are affiliate links. Meaning I will earn a commission if you deicde to purchase a Medical ID from American Medical ID. All thoughts, stories, and ideas expressed above are completely true and come from my heart. This is a cause and issue I have very strong feelings about and hope you feel motivated to take action for you or a loved one. 

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