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The Ambulance Ride That Convinced Me to Get a Medical Alert Bracelet

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I just took the plunge and ordered my first Medic Alert bracelet. I have always been an independent person, and that can be a great thing. However, the unsettled feeling I had on my last emergency ambulance ride when the double doors closed and it was just me unable to speak and the medic, was too much. During a severe asthma attack, I am unable to speak, especially when it is allergically triggered. I have chemical allergies. Basically, I am allergic to smoke, fumes, cleaning products, most scents, and so on, but humidity exacerbates this.

That day when I walked outside with bronchitis at work (I have a primary immunodeficiency), already short of breath, fumes in the air, plus humidity, all hit me at once, and the asthma attack intensified quickly. As I mentioned I was in the ambulance, unable to speak, by myself for the 20 to 30-minute ride to the nearest emergency room and things turned bad. The medic assumed because I was gasping, but my oxygen levels were fairly OK, and my lungs didn’t sound bad, that I was only panicking.

What I needed was an EpiPen – this is what the ER usually does when I’ve inhaled something that creates this severe of an asthma attack, because my throat is closing and I feel like I cannot breathe. According to my pulmonologist, I am taking in air, but not really exhaling.

Try explaining all that through an oxygen mask, unable to speak and only with your eyes. Long story short he thought it was a panic attack and gave me Ativan, a medicine to calm a patient down. He also continued to tell me to calm down, as I begged with my eyes for him to do something so I could breath. I was strapped down to the gurney and passed out twice from lack of oxygen to my brain.


Finally, we were at the ER and I cannot remember everything, but I do know everyone moved very fast, because the Ativan on someone with respiratory issues is not advised. I was admitted immediately and diagnosed as septic on top of my asthma attack. My lungs were so raw at this point that I was put in the cancer wing and a sign was put outside of my room to not use cleaning products, have perfume on, and so on.

To this day I have no idea if that medic knows how wrong he was, or how I will never forgive him for telling me to calm down during anaphylaxis, which is one of the scariest things to go through. I refuse to ever be in that situation again, so my Medic Alert bracelet is on its way.

There are a lot of options out there, but I felt as though this should be simple and easy to find on my person. I spoke with a local paramedic, and he suggested a bracelet, either silver or gold. We have to be our own advocates sometimes, and I plan to make sure I stay around for my children no matter what it takes, so please take care of you as well.

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Thinkstock photo by Stockbyte

Originally published: August 7, 2017
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