Ruth has been a MedicAlert member for over 20 years now, an allergy and eczema patient expert and influencer, running the award winning blog What Allergy. She has kindly accepted to be our guest author for this month's article on allergies, sharing her story and life challenges with us.

What’s it like living with that fear?

When you have a life threatening medical condition, you have to live with a level of fear and anxiety every day. This can be really difficult, exhausting and sometimes terrifying. I have been left completely helpless with anxiety, unable to breath, confused and lost. It’s horrible to go through that in public and not be able to explain to anyone what’s happening to you. I’m learning all the time and thankfully have fewer and fewer of these really debilitating attacks of anxiety. When you’re deep inside the hold of anxiety, it’s easy to see it as bad…

But it is also a mechanism to keep us safe, to keep us alert, to keep us vigilant. It’s anxiety that makes me look for ways to help me stay in control.

I do a hundred tiny things every day automatically, to ensure my safety and make sure I don’t come into contact with my allergens.

Things like carrying two adrenaline auto-injectors and all my medical paraphernalia with me at all times, having an up-to-date Action Plan, telling people about my allergies, showing them how to administer adrenaline, always phoning restaurants and carefully planning what is safe, helping prepare food at dinner parties, always carrying safe food with me just in case, spending ages scouring labels on food to check it’s safe, learning as much as I can, keeping regular asthma checkups, meditation, breathing exercises, being active, getting into nature, writing... the list is endless.

My little life saver in disguise

One of the really important things I do every day is wear my MedicAlert Activity Band. It’s like a tiny little life-saver in disguise as a piece of cool jewellery. I also often get asked about it, so it’s a really clever ice breaker too. It’s a way of someone finding out why I wear it and also a way of me sharing my experiences and spreading awareness about why it’s important.

It gives me peace of mind. It helps calm my anxiety, because I know that if I’m wearing my MedicAlert Activity Band and have an anaphylactic reaction, anyone treating me will be able to get all the information they need about me, my condition and the treatment I need. It’s just one piece of the preparation jigsaw that I do every day to make sure I’m ready for any eventuality and have everything I need with me.

Ruth wearing Activity Band

I’ve been really lucky so far and either have still been able to communicate with paramedics when they’ve arrived, or I’ve been with friends who have been able to talk for me. In the last few years my reactions have become more severe: I go into shock pretty quickly, begin shaking all over, uncontrollably and pretty quickly lose control of the situation. I then don’t remember anything so I never even know what’s happened to me. It’s a frightening experience, to know you are helpless if this happens to you and you have to rely on the people around you acting fast, recognising what’s going on and giving you the treatment you need.

I’ve had a MedicAlert necklace and bracelet now for about 20 years. They have improved a lot over that time from a very functional product to a huge range of really beautiful jewellery and more practical sports and kids options. There are hundreds to choose from!

If you’re like me and allergic to nickel, you’ll need to look at the silver and fabric options. For me at the moment I am only able to wear my fabric Activity Band because my skin is so sore and often with broken skin. Most things can irritate my skin when it’s like this but my Activity Band feels comfy and doesn’t irritate me at all.

I would recommend anyone with a life threatening medical condition should wear one. They give me a sense of being protected at times when I could be completely alone and vulnerable.

Ruth wearing MedicAlert silver bracelet

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