Ali’s Story: Allergies, Advice and Advocacy

My name is Ali and I’m 27 years old, currently living in Chicago. I have never known life without medical issues and I’ve accepted that as my norm. I was first diagnosed with anaphylactic food allergiesasthma and eczema at the age of two. My mother, doubtful that a toddler would be able to properly advocate for herself, immediately measured my teeny wrist using a dollar bill and ordered my very first MedicAlert bracelet.

As I think of the tools that have helped me navigate my life with more ease and less fear, my MedicAlert bracelet instantly comes to mind. It’s been a staple on my left wrist for as long as I remember, and I feel bare without it.

When I consider what that simple bracelet means to me almost 25 years later, I think of education and awareness. I’m fortunate that most of my allergic reactions and flare-ups have happened in the company of family and close friends who could advocate for me. MedicAlert has truly had the most impact on my life as a conversation starter, a bridge into a world of invisible illness.

“What are you allergic to? What does it say? Are you diabetic? What do you ‘have’?” are the usual questions when someone sees my bracelet. I can recite the exact words on my bracelet from memory, and then elaborate on what that has meant for my life and how I’ve been impacted by those small, engraved words.

That simple silver chain gives me an opportunity to share my medical profile with those around me and educate them on how they can be better allies. It’s the entry point into the world I typically keep private, and it reminds me how critical it is to advocate for myself and others with the same issues, so I can help normalize how society treats us.

As I’ve grown older, my medical issues have become more complex and the need for awareness and education is at an all-time high since these newer issues come with more complications.

There’s also an element of credibility that comes with wearing a MedicAlert bracelet. I can’t count the number of times I’ve ordered at a restaurant and the server has brushed aside the severity of my allergies. When I show them my MedicAlert ID bracelet, they always take a second look and cater more closely to my needs.

I’ve learned to advocate for myself over the years, and I’m now thrilled to share my knowledge with others on @AlloftheHealthThings. While technology will continue to innovate ways to track illness and log information in emergencies, there will never be anything more accessible and direct than that little bracelet resting softly on my left wrist, its silver emblem a beacon to the lifesaving message on the other side.