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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Several years ago, it took me many hours of Googling to track down what I considered at the time to be the least aesthetically-offensive med alert bracelet then on offer.

What with me being diabtic*, it's important that any paramedics who should happen to be scraping me up off the street are aware that I may be in a hypo rather than dead drunk. And, whilst I fully accept the sound rationale behind med alert jewellery, I really don't see any justification for the vast majority of it being so ugly. I mean, it's not as though - as with crutches and wheelchairs - you can get it free. I've long assumed that part of the reason for NHS mobility aids being so unremittingly grim is the sound financial principle that, faced with a grey monstrosity, anyone with any financial cushion at all will rush to use it to buy something sleek and gorgeous, thus returning the grey horror to the NHS to be unleashed on the next victim...

But you can't get med alert jewellery on the NHS, so there's no good reason to deliberately design it to be as ghastly as possible. (Trust me: I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago with someone wearing a bracelet produced by the most well-known UK manufacturer of these aids. A thing of beauty it was most assuredly not.) I know stainless steel enjoyed brief (and inexplicable) favour as a jewellery component in the 1970s, but surely no-one wears it from choice now?

Why this constant assumption that nobody with a life-threatening medical condition and/or serious impairment will give two hoots about their appearance? Med alert jewellery is something which, by its very nature, one has to wear all the time.

If it's round your neck, you can't wear any other necklaces or pendants. (Well, I suppose you could. But I suspect the hideous med alert pendant would very quickly suck all the aesthetic merit out of anything else worn in its immediate vicinity.)

If it's round your wrist, you have to see it. Which, in the case of my own really-not-that-bad silver bracelet results in me thinking many times a day that my right wrist would look a deal better with something much more to my taste fastened round it. (No: not Pop's jaws: the very idea!)

Anyway, I am pleased to report that a solution appears to have presented itself since my last foray into the stainless steel world of med alert jewellery: behold, I give you the med alert watch**! Whilst not the most gorgeously-designed watch you ever did see, it's pretty inoffensive. And, importantly, it would free up my right wrist for lovely things. Also, it would carry a deal more information than just "diabetes" and "penicillin allergy", which are what's engraved on my current bracelet. Result all round, really....

The Editor

*Aunty Jan and self once had the great misfortune to meet a vulgar individual in a pub who insisted on showing off his ever-so-clever med alert solution to us. (Regularly useful in Spain, apparently, where he often fell down drunk and had to be scraped off the floor by paramedics.) He undid his shirt to reveal the legend "I'M A DIABTIC" tattooed across his chest. True story.

** Yes, thank you, I know it's a man's watch. But so is the watch I'm currently wearing. Dainty watches for laydeez look ridiculous on wrists the size of mine. And you have to squint to see the time on them.


Blogger Mary said...

Stuff me sideways - the prices! I'd be scared to wear some of those on a daily basis!

For any of your ladyship's readers who may be temporarily deficient in funds, may I suggest the more affordable solution of dog tags at £4.99.

10:43 pm  
Blogger laughing said...

Someday we will all have something permanently put on ourselves to tell all of our medical info to whomever might need it. A micro-chip or a tattoo number or something will tell everyone that you have this and that condition and take such and such drugs and the name of your regular doctor and everything. And it won't be limited to people with serious problems. And then it will either be something really good that we will all like, or something that really sucks and we can all bitch about it together.

Until then, I suppose you have to do something, and the watch doesn't look bad at all. I suppose that someone might take it a step further and make a digital watch which would also produce and endless stream of information about your conditions and drugs and doctors, if you don't want to wait for the micro chip or the tattoo idea to work out.

As for the guy with tattoo on his chest, might he get the wrong treatment before someone thinks to take off his shirt?

And for the previous post, I know this isn't something we are to vote on, but I think that you should trade the book to the girl with the homemade soap.

12:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has always annoyed me that so much women's clothing and accessories is designed to be pretty, dainty, and quite entirely un-pragmatic. Very few women's pants have pockets, which I MUST have to carry my hankies for my 24/7 allergies. And speaking of hankies, I always buy what I suppose are the unisex kind. My parents once bought me one that was clearly a lady's hanky -- it was so much smaller and thinner I couldn't see how one could USE it for anything much other than decoration.

I'm not sure if my watch is a man's watch or a lady's watch (I honestly don't care, I just buy whatever seems PRAGMATIC, and not too dreadfully ugly). But I certainly can't blame you for choosing a man's watch if those work better for you.

3:41 am  
Blogger Penelope said...

Can I just chime in with possibly one of the reasons medical alert jewelry is not pretty? (And this comes from my time working in emergency medicine) It's for the simple reason that if it's not pretty it stands out from "normal" jewelery. That makes it easier for medics to see it. We were trained (this is in the US, but I suspect it holds true in the UK as well) to look for the obvious medical alert tags and it's much easier to miss something that looks like a normal bracelet with beads or something.

That said, I do wish there was a way to balance the pretty with the functional in a way that medics will notice it.

3:23 am  
Blogger DD said...

Watches are always too big for me, but I love the kid's wristbands.

2:12 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


I don't want it to be pretty and obscured by beads: I quite accept that it needs to be a) immediately visible and b) clearly distinguishable from other jewellery.

I just don't think it should be beyond the wit of (wo)man to design something which is sleek-but-obvious rather than hideous-but-obvious... :-(

6:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool! The watches we have here in the states are not as modern....
I wound up making removable straps for my medic alert emblem- different beady chains that connect to each side with lobster clasps...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clevergirl/3296484954/ is one that I made that is more permanent (I made the chain too)....

My favorite new medical emblems are from http://wellalarm.com

I don't know if they are accessible from non-US locations (they should be), but there are some really pretty designs.....

12:56 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps. good point about beads/obscuring decoration (I did go a little nuts on the seashell beads)... I am going to pick up some of wellalarm's clothing tags and stickers though- for boy's stuff and for mine. I am happy that wellalarm seems to have a good program combined with attractive jewelry that bridges the gap between utility and fashion, without totally hiding....

12:59 am  

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