Diabetic ID

By | 15 October, 2009

Funky snake and stick combo

I’m a bad person. I’m bad because I don’t carry any form of diabetes-related ID on me at any time. I don’t have a laminated ID card, medical bracelet, one of those emergency button things, a lapel badge saying “Ask me about my blood glucose” or even a huge tattoo on my forehead reading “I’M DIABETIC”.

I was reminded of this fact as I was rummaging through my woefully large pile of filing recently and found an ancient ID card that I was given when I was first diagnosed. It listed my address (two house moves ago), the insulin I use (since changed) and who to contact in an emergency (wrong number); so it was almost entirely useless. The obvious fact that it was at the bottom of a pile of unfiled paperwork rendered it as utterly pointless as Anne Frank’s trombone.

I just think that medical ID is pretty pointless unless it’s so huge and obvious it renders it embarrassing. I could carry around a small laminated card in my wallet, but what use would that be? If I’m found unconscious on a bus, it’s likely that I’ll be TASERed by the police as a suspected terrorist or refused treatment for being drunk before anyone ventured forward to check the inner recesses of my wallet. In any event, if anyone did open my wallet they would be blinded by the flock of panicking moths making their escape.

So to really be useful, medical ID needs to be really obvious. Some people wear watches decorated with the Rod of Asclepius (the proper name for the stick with snake round it, fact fans) which might work, but then I would have to give up my fancy Titanium Seiko which Katie bought me. As I’m clearly not going to replace said Seiko with some mangy, cheap watch decorated with a cartoon snake, this isn’t really much of an option. Similarly bracelets a just rubbish and clearly wouldn’t fit with my metrosexual man-about-town image (such as it is).

In the most extreme cases, I have seen some diabetics submitting to the needle and getting medical ID-style tattoos done. This, obviously, is just silly. Imagine your embarrassment if some Nobel Prize winning genius suddenly came up with an overnight cure for diabetes (it could happen, optimists tell me) – you’re stuck with some stupid permanent tattoo saying “GIVE ME SUGAR” (no doubt illustrated with a snake on a stick) for the rest of your life. Not so good.

So until someone comes up with a good idea for medical ID that’s actually useful and practical then I’m just going to wing it and hope I don’t get TASERed.

16 thoughts on “Diabetic ID

  1. Melissa

    Good point about people getting tattoos. While a cure would be lovely, I’m sure people with ‘Diabetic’ written on their knuckles might feel a little more than foolish.

    And if you ever change your mind about bracelets, and want to perhaps add to your ‘metrosexual man-about-town image’ (hah), this website has some of the nicest medical IDs I’ve come across: http://www.laurenshope.com/
    A bit pricey, but a lot nicer then the usual chunky and clunky fake gold carry on.


  2. Angie

    I wouldn’t be able to decide where to put a tattoo! I mean you want it somewhere obvious, but not too in your face. The fact that I’m very squeamish about such things obviously has nothing to do with my feelings on the matter 😉

    I do wear a medic alert bracelet and have an ID card in my purse, but for me it’s not about being hypo, it’s more to do with ending up in hospital unconscious for some other reason, and them being able to know that I’m diabetic.

    Have you thought about the medic alert dog tags? Slightly more manly than a bracelet… 😉

  3. Tim

    I’m just not really a jewellery person I’m afraid. I wear a watch and sometimes – on high days and holidays – a Diabetes UK wristband thingy. But that’s it – most medical jewellery is just too vile to get me to change my mind. There’s definitely a gap in the market here!

  4. Lesley

    Sorry to disagree with you Tim. A friend once asked me about my id, looked it over and said “that’s no use to me – I need to be told what to do”. Exactly. Its called “MEDIC-Alert” because its intended to alert MEDICS to the fact that I am diabetic – not concerned onlookers or even police. So when my unconscious body is bundled into A&E, at least they know part of the story. And at that point they would remove (and therefore see) anything from my wrists or neck while they fit venflons and ensure my safety.
    I am also bad though – cos I cut the sensible stainless steel braclet off of my Medic-Alert and have made a number of pretty bead bracelets to fix it to instead…
    Try a pretty bead bracelet Tim – I’m sure it would look fab!

  5. Lesley


    Have you seen Laurenshope.com? That’s what inspired me to make my own (much cheaper) bracelets to put my id tag on.

  6. sam

    have you tried SOS talisman? Ive worn one for years, and its come in handy a few times

    the ICEgems ones are really nice too, they have some lovely mens jewellry!

  7. shiv

    i wear dog tags – very unclassy and unlady-like, but they have all my important info on, are bright red and stay tucked under whatever clothing i’m wearing. the chain is one of those ball bearing chain things so it swings around a fair bit (i suppose the point i’m trying to make is if i were passed out on the floor, it would fall out from under my clothes and hopefully be spotted).

    i also have a couple of bands from coodmedid.

  8. Jonah

    I agree that it’s for the medical persons, not casual passerby or police, and if you don’t want a watch, a dog tag works too.

    While I don’t have a tattoo, I imagine that the experience of being diabetic has fundamentally changed me for the rest of my life and if I had a tattoo that said I was diabetic (which is all it would say, not give me sugar) then putting a formerly on top of that, if that day ever comes, would be a meaningful part of identity.

  9. Amy

    I agree, a lot of the ones you can buy are pretty ugly. I got a jewellery making friend to make me a bracelet to order then attached a metal tag with the medical information on it. It’s nice enough to wear all the time but clear enough for any medical person.

  10. Alison

    I wear a simple silver bracelet with “Diabetic” engraved on it. I don’t like the Medic Alert bracelets and figure that the basic info that I’m diabetic is enough to go on if I’m found unconscious in the street.


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