Several months ago, I got sick. And I don't mean I got a little virus. I mean I got the, "What day is it? I can't remember the last time I ate. My fever is so high I feel cold," type of sick. Yup. The flu.
It happens to pretty much everyone at some point, and it stinks. The shakes, the chills, the nausea. We've all been there. But this one was pretty bad, as anyone who had last season's flu can attest. In fact, it was so bad that a friend hauled me out of bed to go to Urgent Care. After several days of not eating, combined with the fever and dehydration, it's no surprise that I promptly passed out on the floor. And in the driveway.
Once we actually got to Urgent Care, I shuffled in (with help), and plopped myself down at the admitting desk. I all but handed the admissions rep my wallet because I was so completely out of it and really in no fit state to dig through my thirty-seven grocery-store rewards cards to find my insurance card which was supposed to be behind my license but wasn't. ID, insurance card, name, rank, and serial number. Done.
And then she asked, "Do you have any drug allergies?"
The short answer is, yes, I do. But in that moment, sick, tired, nauseous, disoriented with dehydration and fever, I honestly couldn't tell her what they were. Having been in bed for days, I had no jewelry on, medical ID or not. At that point, I was lucky I had clean yoga pants on and had brushed my teeth. So I couldn't lean on my Lauren's Hope medical alert bracelet to protect me. I completely forgot about my Wallet Card. I said something like, "Um...yes?" Not exactly advocating well for myself, just then.
So they took me to an exam room where I realized I must look pretty terrible because the nurse came in within a minute and the doctor was right on her heels. Or maybe it just seemed that way because time was operating at a completely abnormal speed in my fevered state. Determined to stop my painful, haven't-eaten-in-days nausea, the doctor said, "We're going to get you some IV fluids and antiemetics."
That last word caught my attention. What was it about that? Antiemetics. I knew that word. I'd heard that one. I remembered that one. "Look at my keys. My keys are in my purse," I said, and then I passed out. When I woke up, I was nicely hooked up to an IV and a little more coherent, but still pretty dehydrated. I wasn't nauseous. It was glorious. The nurse came in and asked me where I got my keychain. It seemed like a pretty random question to me at that moment, as I was still a bit disoriented, but when she held it up, I realized my Lauren's Hope dog tag had literally saved my life. Because right on there, engraved on my aluminum medical ID dog tag, were my drug allergies, including my severe, life-threatening, I-Will-Go-Into-Anaphylaxis allergy to a very common antiemetic medication. The very thing the doctor would have given me.
They sent me to the Emergency Room for tests and more fluids, and after a day of being poked and prodded and pinched and scanned, I was finally rehydrated enough to go home and start getting better. And now, when people ask me why people with drug allergies should wear medical alert jewelry, because, after all, if you're allergic to a drug, you just won't take it, I tell them this story. Sometimes, you can't self-advocate. Sometimes, you literally can't function. And sometimes, you need a redundant system: a dog tag on your key ring in addition to a wallet card in addition to a medical ID bracelet.
My Lauren's Hope dog tag saved my life. What has your jewelry done for you lately?