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All TopicsForum: High Risk for Breast Cancer → Topic: Do U wear a Medical Alert Braclets?

Topic: Do U wear a Medical Alert Braclets?

Forum: High Risk for Breast Cancer — Due to family history, genetics, or other factors.

Posted on: Jan 15, 2010 07:02PM

mawhinney wrote:

Do you wear a medical alert type braclet? Although I belong to several BC organizations I've noticed very few gals wearing medical alert braclets.  After my unilateral mastectomy I got a medical alert braclet stating no BP or needle sticks in left arm. While I haven't had a problem with lymphodema & my BS said my risks are very low, I want to avoid having BP or needle sticks into my left arm.

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Jan 15, 2010 07:05PM GryffinSong wrote:

I wore one for ages, but found that everytime I was hospitalized for chemo side affects no one ever took any notice of it. :( So, I've taken it off. Not sure if I'll put it back on, but they had to remove all my nodes, so I am at fairly high risk of lymphedema.

I found at the hospital that I kept having to remind them to use my ankle for bp and needles, until they posted a sign over my bed.

bmx, no recon - December 16, 2008, AC/T, rads

Dx 11/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 3/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 15, 2010 08:38PM Joviangeldeb wrote:

I wear one, but I, too, find that nobody ever looks at it when I go to the hospital.  I don't know why I still wear it. Maybe its my little way of trying to control the situation of blood pressure and needle sticks.

Debbie

Dx 10/1/2007, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 15, 2010 09:13PM SoCalLisa wrote:

I don't...I figure if I am unconscious, which arm is the least of my worries.

DX 2000-IDC-DCIS-LCIS- 2B..POS NODE--ER+. PR+, HER2 NEG

Dx 11/24/2000, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIb, Grade 1, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 15, 2010 09:16PM C130sunshine wrote:

I don't either....I am still not sure if I will get one.  I am not a "bling" type of person.  I only wear a watch because I have to for work.

C130sunshine

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 17, 2010 08:01PM mawhinney wrote:

When I went in for reconstruction, I asked the prep nurses if they put on me  a special braclet or mark alerting the staff not to do blood pressure or sticks into my left arm.  They said there wasn't any special braclet the hospital used.  I made them mark my arm and put a big note on the front of my folder.  I'd rather be safe than sorry so I remind all medical workers not to use my left arm. 

Dx 5/18/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 17, 2010 08:26PM bennetts1 wrote:

I wear one because I also am allergic to Vancomycin.  I put no BP or needle sticks to right arm as well as allergic to Vancomycin.  It is made of sterling silver and swarovski crystals...you can check it out at www.dazzlingtrendz.com.

Dx 6/20/2008, 6cm+, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 1/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 17, 2010 10:17PM Mantra wrote:

I wear one and it says "left arm - no BP, IV, bloodwork". I also have a TE so it says "no MRI"

Dx 7/10/2009, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-
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Jan 17, 2010 11:18PM junie wrote:

Agree with SoCalLisa's comment--in a life or death situation, they can do whatever they need in whatever arm they can.......

I had a snit several years ago when in hospital for some minor surgery.   Wore a neon pink LE bracelet on my at risk arm.   Supposedly my charts were to state no needles in right arm....NOT!!!  Long story short with one tech in tears at my tirade and me in tears at what I thought was sheer stupiditity.......a most wonderful and knowledgeable nurse explained to me....

...there are so many different colored bracelets that people wear these days to support many various great causes.....but in an emergency situation, nobody is going to stop and look at what your arm band says,,,and in that particular hospital a red band on the wrist was an alert for DNR (do not resusitate! [sp])

So, if I'm able to say, use the other arm--great....if not, so be it and I'll hope for the best!!!

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Jan 18, 2010 06:48AM, edited Jan 18, 2010 06:49AM by Leah_S

If no one is going to look at what an arm band says in a medical emergency, why bother wearing it?

I am allergic to penicillin so do NOT feel exactly safe knowing that in an emergency if no one is around to tell them it might be administered. Raising my risk of lymphedema is one thing, anaphylactic shock is another.

Leah

Dx 11/3/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 6/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 18, 2010 09:57AM pip57 wrote:

I have a bracelet but I don't know where it is anymore.  If I am in the hospital I have learned to have the nurse tape a large sign over my bead warning not to use my left arm.

PIP - multi focal, FEC100/Tax, rads, dble mast with no recon, ooph/hyst, arimidex

Dx 2/1/2007, IDC, Stage IIIb, Grade 2, 9/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 18, 2010 10:30AM JO-5 wrote:

I wear one and got it after a stay in the hospital where I had to keep telling nurses not to do a BP or take blood from my right arm!

They finally put a large sign over my bed like prettyinpink just said.

I also have a LOT of allergies to meds - so it is necessary for that, too!

In an emergency they may not look at it --- but it can't hurt. It has been my experience that most of the EMT's do look at them. Mine is fairly large and would be very hard to miss. I also carry a card in my wallet with all the info on it.

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Jan 19, 2010 10:48AM C130sunshine wrote:

I think the alert bracelet was started to alert the paramedics/EMTs in an emergency situation.

I agree what Junie said about there is so many colored bracelets......

Most hospitals put an allergy band on patients that are admitted to the hospital...maybe next time you are in the hospital (even if you are just visiting someone) you can get with one of the nurses and come up with a unique way to alert staff on the B/P situation.  Who knows it can even become a hospital policy. 

kim

C130sunshine

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 19, 2010 12:07PM EGAL wrote:

I wear one when traveling either by plane or long distance by car.  I worked with a CMT and he said that they do check if they get a call.  It is worth it if it does work, but even if no one checks I feel better trying.  Also in my hospital they use a bright pink plastic bracelet on arm that should not be used for BP, needles, etc.

Ellen

EGAL 10/06 dx'd with IDC Stage 3, 10/08 brain mets

Dx 10/19/2006, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 15/17 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 19, 2010 12:19PM Binney4 wrote:

Kim, I love the idea of making it hospital policy! There is a movement nationwide to standardize hospital band colors so fewer mistakes are made. The color proposed for avoiding use of that arm is pink (oh, goody!Undecided) and it's called a "restricted extremity" in hospital lingo. (Others with restricted extremities are people on dialysis, and they have the same worries we do about using that arm.) Since both my arms are "restriced extremities" I wear an alert necklace instead of two bracelets -- I ordered it from the American Cancer Society's TLC on-line catalog.

We're talking two different problems here: emergencies where you're not able to stick up for yourself, and hospitalizations or tests where the medical folks need to leave the arm(s) alone.

For emergencies the alert bracelets are the best bet -- EMTs are trained to look for them, and we hope they will if we ever need them to. It's true that they may not ever look at it, but if it's not there they FOR SURE won't know about our needs. So, no guarantees, but wearing it gives you your best chance in an emergency. I have also found that wearing it reminds ME not to let them use it -- we can get distracted or complacent and need the reminders ourselves!

For hospitals and tests, you can get a free neon-pink lymphedema alert bracelet at this website:

http://www.lymphedema.com/

On the left-hand side, click on "Free LE alertband." Order two, so you can keep one in your purse. You can also order a bunch of them free for your bc support group, or your onc's office. Wink

Another option is the G-Sleeve, which is a length of cotton stockinette printed with the arm restrictions on it. This is by far the most effective for surgery and hospital stays where you'll be drugged or asleep. They actually have to MOVE it to access your arm, so they see it and it's quite effective.

http://www.g-sleeve.com/g-sleeve.htm

Other ideas for hospital stays or test days that involve injections or IVs is to write restrictions on your arm and hand with a permanent marker. (It comes off later with alcohol.) I do write on my arms for all such events, and I wear a G-sleeve over it, with an alertband on my wrist. Overkill, sure, but those signs-above-the-beds haven't worked well for a lot of us. Especially at night, they tend to grab whichever arm is handy and not even look for signs.

If all that sounds like the voice of sad experience...it IS!Tongue out

Be well!
Binney

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Jan 19, 2010 01:39PM JO-5 wrote:

As I said before, Binney, I wear my ID bracelet but I just ordered one of the free hospital bands and am going to order the G sleeve. Can't be too careful!

I will write on my arm if I have to go to the hospital before I receive my band.

When I was in the hospital with the  cellulitis I almost had a fight with an aide that came in the room in the middle of the night to take my BP and headed right for that arm. Thank goodness, I am a light sleeper. She argued with me about it - until I got loud --- then she took it on the other side. (That was before my sign got put over my bed - but I still would have to point up to the sign when someone different came in.)

I will wear the free band when I get my colonsocopy, too!  There are lots of occasions where it is needed.

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Jan 19, 2010 01:47PM lvtwoqlt wrote:

My mom recently had to have surgery for a broken foot and she couldn't find her pink bracelet. I told her to write on her arm like Binney said she does. (she has replaced her bracelet with one from the support group) I had bilat and both arms are off limits, I wear the pink bracelets when going to the doctor for any visit and still have to argue with the nurses and lab techs to not use my arms. I do need to get the necklace like Binney has for my bilat and antibiotic allergies.

Sheila

Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006

Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodesSurgery 02/12/2005 Lumpectomy (Left)Surgery 09/10/2006 Lumpectomy (Right)Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 TamoxifenSurgery 06/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both)
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Jan 19, 2010 02:51PM otter wrote:

When I was going to an endocrinologist for a weird adrenal problem a few years ago, he insisted that I had to wear a Medical Alert bracelet.  He made all his patients wear them -- there was even a check box on the nurse's form to mark whether we were wearing ours when we arrived for an office appt.  Why me?  He said I needed one because I was on Synthroid for hypothyroidism and a beta blocker for mild hypertension.  WTH?  Oh, well.  I bought a really nice pendant necklace (I'll try to find a pic of it) but I never wore it.  I got "written up" and scolded a  few times, but then we had a big fight about my not wanting to start taking HRT and I stopped going there.

The only major surgery-type thing I've had done since my mast/SNB was a colonoscopy a year ago.  After I'd made the appt., a nurse from the GI doc's clinic called to get my med & insurance info.  I told her about my at-risk arm (which actually had mild, subclinical LE at the time), and I said I wasn't supposed to have needle sticks, venipuncture, or BP measurements on that side.  Would that be something they could accomodate?

She said, "No problem!".  When I arrived for the fun and games, the very first thing they did was check my record ... and put a large, bold-lettered sticker at the top of the front page that said "No BP or needle sticks on left side!".  And the nurse put one of those bright pink wristbands on my left wrist.  Nobody touched that side while I was awake.  I have no idea what they did while I was asleep.  Well, okay, I think I know what they did, ... never mind.

I need to call my sister, who's a long-time ER/trauma nurse, to see if the ER staff or EMT's pay any attention to wrist bands or Medical Alert bracelets.  And, if they do read them, to what extent do they follow them?  I already asked her once about LE specifically (messing with an at-risk arm), and she basically said when someone comes in bleeding from a gunshot wound or with bad head trauma, the first thing on the list is to save the person's life.  Okay, I get it.

I do think there's a bracelet overload, which is probably contributing to the problem:

My medical insurer has an Emergency Alert system where we're supposed to carry a card in our wallets with a web address that contains relevant medical info. I keep going to the website and updating my info,  But, I'm wondering how many EMT's who arrive at the scene of my car wreck are going to go to their trucks and log on to a computer to check my medical alert file before they start giving me emergency treatment?

otter 

Dx IDC, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 19, 2010 03:01PM Leah_S wrote:

Hmmm. Colonoscopy coming up in March. Note to self: write on at-risk arm in Hebrew and English (Hebrew for them, English because I want to make sure I say it right...).

Leah

Dx 11/3/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 6/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 19, 2010 03:16PM JO-5 wrote:

Leah_S,

Good idea! Can't be too careful! Smile

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Jan 19, 2010 07:11PM C130sunshine wrote:

Thanks for all the great information.....sometimes the simplest thing is the best answer....

JO thank goodness you are a light sleeper, but also that you stood up for yourself. 

Binney...thanks for the web sites.

kim

C130sunshine

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 20, 2010 09:04AM JO-5 wrote:

kim,

I had a lot of nausea because of all the IV antibiotics --- and the nurse came in with a pill and a shot.

She said the shot would put me to sleep and since I was awake a lot in the night (they would come in and my eyes would pop open) I should take the shot. The pill wouldn't help as much but would not put me to sleep.

I opted for the pill and she was irritated and asked me why. I simply told her because I am not going to be knocked out and have some screwball come in here in the middle of the night and do something to my right arm. She gave me the pill and left the room.

I am an old gal and not intimidated by much! So all you gals ---- stick up for yourselves and if you have to, BE FIRM!  This is not something you want to be passive about!

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Jan 20, 2010 04:11PM Mantra wrote:

You know, I never thought about being in the hospital and having a nurse come in to take my BP in the middle of the night and use the wrong arm. Hmmm, now I'm getting nervous about this. In my case, my left arm is "off limits" (mastectomy & SNB). However, my next surgery is a prophylactic mastectomy on my right side. Now I'm worried they will automatically reach for my left arm since it is the non surgical side. I'm not having a SNB on my right side but now I'm wondering if having an IV and BP on my freshly operated side is going to be a problem as well. Not sure what to do. I will definitely bring this up with the surgeon. GREAT . . now I have something else to worry about Surprised

Dx 7/10/2009, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-
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Jan 20, 2010 04:18PM lilith wrote:

No-way. I never thought about that, and now that I think of it, I don't want one. I am proud to be a survivor - but I don't wear it - litterally - on my sleeve. 

And as Lisa said - if I am unconscious, heck - I don't want them to waste time figuring out what arm to use. also, I have extremely bad veins on both arms... so far, not a trace of LE.  

Bilat MX, recon, Arimidex, 3 yrs 6 mths NED and counting!

Dx 7/4/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 20, 2010 09:32PM C130sunshine wrote:

Mantra...you have enough to worry about.....all you need if your worried is a nice fat sharpie.  You can have and IV and BP on the side they are operating on....most just don't like it because it is harder to get to the arm during surgery. 

I agree with JO...it is your body....I wish more people would speak up....it is like the new commercials where the person is asking the waiter several questions but when they get to the Dr office they clam up.

C130sunshine

Dx 4/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 21, 2010 07:48AM lvtwoqlt wrote:

Mantra, when I had my bilat mast with recon surgery they put a 'main line' iv in my neck to avoid putting IV's in my arms. When I was admitted my hospital ID band was placed on my arm but when I woke up after surgery (in my drug induced haze) I couldn't find my ID band on my arm and I worried about where it went. Evendentally after I was under sedation my ID band was moved to my ankle. Once in my room, when the nurses came in to take my BP, they would look for the ID band (to see if I was who they were looking for Laughing), after seeing the ID band on my ankle, they would take the BP on that leg and they never tried to take it on my arms. If you aren't going to spend extra time in the hospital they can put the IV in your foot/leg. Since my doctor was going to keep me at least 24 hours, he didn't want the IV in my foot to restrict my walking ability.

Sheila

Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006

Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodesSurgery 02/12/2005 Lumpectomy (Left)Surgery 09/10/2006 Lumpectomy (Right)Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 TamoxifenSurgery 06/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both)
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Feb 25, 2010 11:41AM PauldingMom wrote:

If anyone is interested on instruction on how to take a plain stainless steel MD bracelet and make them into much prettier beaded bracelets, drop me a PM. I learned how to make these and now have a wardrobe of bracelets, anklets with matching necklaces and earrings. I'm wearing my light blue crystal set today. :)

Remember the women on the Titanic who passed up the dessert cart. Erma Bombeck

Dx 5/27/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 25, 2010 02:54PM Faith316 wrote:

Can you post a picture of some of yours so we can see them?

DX 4/08 IDC, ER-, PR-, HER2+, IIB, Grade 3,lumpectomy,2/8 nodes,4 AC,12 wks.Taxol,Herceptin,30 rads. DX IBC 6/09 while still in treatment. Now Stage III. 6 mo. of Xeloda done, still on Tykerb. Uni-mx & another node dissection 2/4/10.

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Feb 25, 2010 03:16PM veggy wrote:

I'd like to see one also.

Biography: "Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I'd rather not belong to." - Gilda Radner, Saturday Night Live *********** (Me -stage 4)

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Feb 25, 2010 06:21PM mawhinney wrote:

In presurgery I ask to have  no iv, no sticks written on my "bad" arm. I also have them put a sign on the front of my file stating no IV, no sticks left arm.

Dx 5/18/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 25, 2010 06:39PM, edited Feb 25, 2010 06:40PM by dreaming

Anybody that had lymph nodes removed, not a sentine one,l but several should wear a bracelet and have it her records that no needles or blood pressure in this arm, we are all at risk to have lymphedema.

Medical staff forget,and yes they will check for a bracelet . I wear one and have another in my wallet that is a hospital pink one, is better to prevent than to be sorry.

After the mastectomy a second diferent cancer was found: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, C.F.M.:

Dx 7/7/1991, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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