Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst

A lot of folks who have had weight loss surgery were affected by diabetes, many of them maybe dealt with insulin… so many of them likely had medical alert bracelets or other form of medical id’s. If you visit various forums related to the various bariatric surgeries (like my favorite, bariatrictv.com) you’ll find discussions pop up from time to time about whether or not bariatric patients in general should wear some sort of medical id. It’s something I’ve been on the fence about for .. well… over two years. But I’ve finally ended up getting something for myself… one from Road ID.

My Road ID

I’ve looked at a number of medical alert type IDs over the last couple years, but honestly… I’ve just never been in to wearing “jewelry”. I find rings uncomfortable. I don’t even wear a watch any more, I haven’t for over a decade because it bothers me when I’m at a keyboard (exception is when I’m doing stuff like running, biking, playing paintball, stuff where I’m not at a computer and need to keep track of the time). I debated about the dog-tag style – I actually used to wear a set while playing paintball, one of which had emergency contact info on it. But again, wearing daily I just couldn’t get in to it.

I don’t really need something related to surgery. Well, there’s a bit of debate on that I guess – and I’ll get in to that in a bit. One thing I have always recognized though is the need to have emergency contact info with me, especially when I was out biking and such. Yea, putting the whole ICE thing in your phone is nice. But worst case scenario.. I’m on my bike, crossing a road and get clipped… my phone goes flying who-knows-where? Or it stays in my pack, but gets crunched by the vehicle that hits me? So yea, not reliable. I didn’t typically carry my wallet with me, didn’t want it in my pocket (for times I had a pocket) and didn’t want to worry about losing it should something happen… and really, didn’t need it. So my solution – well, about 4 months after surgery my drivers license expired so I put my expired one in a small credit card type case, a couple bucks of emergency money and kept that in a small pack on my bike. Oh yea, I wrote an emergency contact name/number on the back of the license with a Sharpie.

I suppose it wasn’t ideal, but it had my name, address and my mom’s phone number on it. But now this year I’ve taken to running a bit, mostly at the gym, but I was also running outside some. Sometimes I would grab that case and have it with me, but most of the time I wouldn’t. Sure, I’m probably at a lot less risk for getting swiped by a car in the short distance it takes me to get to trail from my house… but sometimes I would go around a local lake where I’m on the shoulder, there is no path. So I decided I needed to get something.

And while I’ve never been in to jewelry, I have sported those gel-bands here and there. Years ago, I had a black P.O.W. one I would wear quite a bit. Last year when at the State Fair with my then girlfriend and her girls, we each got a couple from some of the exhibitors and I would even wear those once in awhile. Then there’s the pink, BBGC one I got from Beth and Andrea in Vegas this year. I even wore that one while doing the Warrior Dash this summer. So when a discussion about medical alert ID’s came up again online, I decided I needed to just get one. Heck, I even had a gift certificate from a site that sells nothing but medical alert IDs. But again.. they’re all “jewelry”. And if it wasn’t something I was comfortable with, I wasn’t gonna wear it. If I wasn’t gonna wear it, what’s the point?

Then I was reminded of Road ID. Now these aren’t “medical alert” items per se. As the company name suggests, they’re geared towards those who need an emergency ID while engaging in sports and such. They have the basic styles that are worn on the wrist, stuff you can put on your shoe, dog-tag style, a shoe-wallet one. Heck, they even have one you can get for your dog’s collar. Me, the Wrist ID Slim is what I ended up getting. The band is the same size as the typical gel-band you’ll see all sorts of folks wearing, only visible difference is the ID tag portion that wraps around the band and is about an inch and half long.

I ordered mine on September 2 and it shipped on the 6th. I got it about 4 days later I think. I’ve been wearing it ever since. I did consider getting the ankle one, and had it been a case of getting something only for when out biking or running I might have. But since I plan on wearing this 24/7, I didn’t think I should have something where in an emergency it might get overlooked. I do have a slight concern in that regard because of the gel-band style, but I think if I’m in a situation where emergency personal have to attend to me, they’ll likely check out what’s on my wrist “just in case”. In the middle of winter if I’m wearing long pants and maybe boots… they likely won’t be checking my ankles out. And while there’s other colors available, I went with basic black, again cause of the wearing 24/7 thing. I figure even if I find myself in a formal situation it won’t stand out like the red or green would.

My only… well… concern. Not sure what I’ll do next time I wear a watch in a more formal situation. When I played paintball last, I wore them both on the same wrist. I suppose I could switch the band to my right… but I know it’ll be kinda weird. I’m just used to only wearing something on the left, that’s all. I’ll deal with it when it happens.

Now as for what to put on it… well, this was another nice bonus about the Road ID, even though I went with the smallest one they offer, I still got 5 lines of text. So here’s what I went with…

ROBERT M PORTINGA
GASTRIC BYPASS 20090408
NO BLIND NG – NO NSAIDS
PAT XXX-XXX-XXXX MOTHER
DR JOHNSON XXX-XXX-XXXX

It should all be pretty self explanatory, except maybe the middle line; my name, my surgery type and date, my mom’s name and number as well as my surgeon’s name and number. Now the middle line, the “no blind ng – no nsaids” is something that gets almost hotly discussed at times when it comes to gastric bypass types and what to put on one of these things.

First of all, what is a “blind ng”? Well, an NG or nasogastric tube is used during gastric intubation via the nasal passage. It basically provides access to the stomach for diagnostic or treatment purposes. If you really want to see what it’s about, check out the following video…

Now the danger of a “blind” insertion comes when someone isn’t familiar with the “pouch” on someone who has had bariatric surgery. A non-blind insertion would require the use of a scope that let’s the person doing the insertion follow the progress of the tube until it gets to where they’re looking to go. So yea, if they are trying to reach in to your stomach they could easily be reaching further than they should because of your surgically altered anatomy, thus risking poking a hole causing other unintended damage. So while if someone is aware of, and familiar with the altered anatomy of a bariatric type, they can probably handle doing it blind. They’re gonna know about where the pouch is, and when they meet resistance they’re not gonna go trying to shove past it thinking maybe it’s just caught against the stomach wall or something.

Now I’ve talked to a friend that’s been a nurse, works in a hospital ER, etc.. and she said it would be very very rare that they would do an NG tube in the field, that it’s not like some EMT would be doing so. So yea, there is a bit of doubt as to if you would need to put this on your alert. But, I suppose when all is said and done, it’s worth having because in an emergency, you don’t know who’s going to be treating you. Even if it’s a very qualified nurse or surgeon, you don’t know if they’re familiar with bariatric surgery… and even if they still do it blind, it at least gives them a heads up that hey, you’re dealing with a special case here… and unless they’re trying to suck something out that’s threatening your life, hopefully if they’re unsure what the concern over doing a blind NG is, they’ll take the time to ask someone and find out.

The no NSAIDS… well… honestly, I personally am a little more doubtful about the necessity of this one. If I’m unconscious in an emergency situation and need some medication to help save or stabilize me that happens to be an NSAID, I’ll risk the short term exposure. Now if I ended up in a coma and needed ongoing treatment, then yea… I would hate to be given something that’s going to probably cause further issues like ulcers on top of everything else. And again, I would like to think who ever ends up treating me would know better… but you can’t count on that. So bottom line, I put it in there as well so at least it gives anyone treating me a heads up… and hopefully once I’m out of any sort of immediate risk, they’ll take the time to figure out what’s best for me in the big picture.

Now, keep in mind, I’m writing all this from the point of view of a RNY/Gastric Bypass patient, but the above concerns are fairly consistent no matter what surgery type you’ve had. But as always… I’m not here to give any sort of medical advice, if you want that – talk to your own nurse, physician or surgeon, K?

But yes, I do recommend getting some sort of medical alert ID, and soon. It really is like a simple bit of insurance, and one of those things you’ll hope you never need… but won’t regret having in case you do. And when it comes to the Road ID stuff, I really can’t find anything bad about them… though the one suggestion I would make is they find a way to be able to have the medical alert symbol to some of the stuff. Like for mine, it could simply be another small tag with the symbol that fits on the band. Anyways, if you like the jewelry look, there’s lots of great options out there – in fact, feel free to share links to where you got yours in the comments so others can check them out. In fact, I’m going to post the photo of mine on the FFD Facebook page… and invite others to share what they have as well.

And one last heads up – yes, the links here to the Road ID site are affiliate links. That means should you click on them and choose to buy something (they have other sports-safety related stuff too by the way), then I earn a small commission. Yes, I could use the bucks to help offset hosting costs and such… but if you have an issue with that, don’t use my links, just put road id in your favorite search engine and I’m sure you can find your way to their site. But hopefully you’ve come to know me well enough that I don’t just recommend stuff for the heck of it.. I recommend stuff I’ve tried, like, and probably use. So if you are thinking you might actually want to buy something though, I would really appreciate it if you use one of my links.

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About Rob

I had RNY Gastric Bypass on April 8, 2009. I went from my heaviest of over 380 down to a low of 188 (for about a day!) before working on rebuilding muscle and such. Now I maintain at about 225. WLS has changed my life in so many ways, including my career as I now tackle nutritional coaching and other obesity education issues and is also a co-host on The Wake Up Call, a health and wellness radio show.