A MedicAlert bracelet was responsible for the first fashion stand-off between my daughter, Nina, and me. She was three years old and allergic to peanuts. She did not take to the red lettering that I preferred. “No red. Pink. Pink. Pink. I want to wear the Pink!” (For those of you who have read the wonderful book “Ella Sarah Gets Dressed,” you’ll know just the tone of voice this was said in.)
Looking back now, eight years or so later as Nina prepares to graduate from fifth grade, I can’t believe I got into a tiff with my toddler over the color of the letters on her bracelet! But, to be fair to myself, I have to also remember that I was still a relatively new food allergy mom and that to me, so much was at stake in ordering this bracelet for my eldest daughter. This bracelet was to be her guardian angel. It was to guide others on how to save her life if I wasn’t there. The letters had to be red and vibrant and attention-getting; who would ever see those faint pink letters?
Well, I finally got my red letters, but not until bracelet #3, when I was several years into our food allergy journey and much more relaxed about the colors: the order went pink, lavender, and finally red.
What convinced me to give in on the color choice (besides Nina and her strong-willed Scorpio self), was the wonderful MedicAlert representative, who knew all the right questions to ask, all the right information to include on the bracelet, and who made me feel like there really would be guardian angels on the other end of the line should Nina need them. I realized in talking to her that the most important thing was that Nina wear her bracelet always – it had to become a part of her, and if pink was going to help make that easier, then pink was our color.
I don’t think that first bracelet left Nina’s tiny wrist for almost a year. When her younger sister, Daniella, started getting into the fashion scene at age two a year later, she wanted to know how come I hadn’t bought HER a pretty bracelet like Nina’s. Hmpf!
So much has changed in how we manage Nina’s food allergies now that she’s off to middle school. It is now a partnership between us, and that feels so good. One thing never changes, however, and that is the need to always be prepared: epinephrine always at her side most importantly, care and caution when choosing foods, and educating those around her – MedicAlert has been such an important ally for our family in this third, critical step.
For more information about MyVoice, the new program from MedicAlert and FARE, visit www.medicalert.org/fare.
Maria Acebal is a member of FARE’s Board of Directors and the former CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Her daughter Nina is allergic to peanuts.