Monthly Archives: January 2017


Wait–that still exists? World Leprosy Day 29 January 2017

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If you are surprised to read that we still need World Leprosy Day to bring awareness of Leprosy worldwide, you are not alone. The common thought is that Leprosy is not a disease that is present in the modern world: but it is. There are 210,000 new cases of leprosy diagnosed each year. [1] As leprosy is curable, in effort to eradicate this disease, the World Health Organization provides multidrug treatment for the bacterial infection causing symptoms of leprosy for free to people worldwide. [2] These two or three drugs given in combination kill all the bacteria that cause the leprosy infection, and cure the individual—leprosy is not highly contagious, but it can be passed from person to person through fluids spread by the nose and mouth with frequent close contact. [1] Symptoms can take as long as 20 years to become evident. If allowed to progress, leprosy can cause problems with the skin, nerves to the arms and legs, certain cells of the upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, etc.)—eventually, these symptoms can become fatal if untreated.  [2]
The good news is, from 1983 to 2014, Leprosy infection rates have dropped 99% (huge!). Access to multi drug treatment began in 1991, and so far, it remains effective and the bacteria have not become resistant to the antibiotics given. [2]
Do we have to worry about Leprosy in the UK?
About a dozen cases of leprosy are diagnosed in the UK each year. [3] The Leprosy Mission of England and Wales notes that the “last indigenous” (acquired in the UK) case of leprosy was diagnosed in 1798–219 years ago. [3] This means that new leprosy cases diagnosed in the UK are most likely acquired abroad. A UK couple originally from Zimbabwe (another place where leprosy is extremely rare, as it is in the UK) shared their story in 2014. Both were unexpectedly diagnosed with leprosy, and want to decrease the stigma of the infection. 
If you are traveling to places where leprosy is not technically eradicated, you may have cause to be slightly concerned. However, because the condition is treatable and repeated contact must be made to contract the bacteria that causes leprosy, there is likely not a lot of cause to be alarmed for most people.
Lepra UK’s slogan is “Fighting disease, poverty and prejudice”, and they are a leading authority on leprosy awareness in the UK. You can learn more about their work this World Leprosy Day. Sometimes, a conversation is all that is needed to raise awareness: if you live with a chronic medical condition, a medical ID bracelet can be part of that story telling journey for you to spread awareness of the condition you live with.

A shoulder to lean on – Self Help Group Awareness Month

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January is Self Help Group Awareness Month! Self help groups are also known as support groups. If you live with a chronic medical condition, these groups can be important to provide social and emotional support about living with chronic disease, as well as learn helpful “insider tips” and tricks for mitigating some of the effects of your diagnosis.
The nature of support groups are changing. While we may envision a circle of people gathered to discuss their problems, support groups really are gathered to discuss solutions! Support groups also do not all look like they used to—while some still meet in traditional environments like hospitals or clinics, many people now find support online through message boards, but more commonly, using hashtags on social networks like Twitter or Instagram, or even by finding groups on Facebook. Online friendships can still be a fantastic source of support—personally, in my asthma journey, I’ve acquired many friends because of reaching out online—some of these friendships have grown well beyond our diagnosis and a couple people I’ve met online are ones I now consider without a doubt to be my best friends!
Here at My Identity Doctor, we LOVE to partner with self help and support groups! If you are a member or leader of a group and you feel your members could benefit from medical ID jewelry products, please contact us about setting up a partnership! We can produce engraved bracelets (all the same or unique for each member), in most cases at a discount, for your group members, or provide your group a coupon code. Learn more about our group programs here, but remember, if you don’t see something that fits, we can talk! Depending on your group and your financial needs, we may even also be able to provide a portion of the sales generated by your group back to cover your support group costs! For both leaders or members wishing to pass information on to their leaders, please contact Kerri to learn more and together with Jon we will set something up! We may also opt to feature some groups on this blog to raise awareness of their condition and their group.
Self help or support groups are extremely important for physical, social and emotional wellbeing. We at MyIdentityDoctor would be honoured to play even a small role in your group’s story!

#SmearForSmear Campaign – Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

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Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in the UK has created a fun way to raise awareness of getting potentially life-saving smear tests (Pap smears or Pap tests) done to test for cervical cancer. 75 to 80% of cervical cancer deaths can be prevented by early screening, and 1 in 4 women in the UK—75%!—do not have this quick test done to detect abnormal cells early. [1] Not all abnormal cells are pre-cancerous, but can help in detecting cervical cancer early, providing the best chances of recovery. [2]
The #SmearForSmear campaign wants to change these statistics about cervical cancer. Next week, on 22 January, 2017, at 11 AM the campaign wants everyone to post their #SmearForSmear selfies—smearing lipstick from one side of the mouth to raise awareness for Pap smear tests that could prevent more cervical cancer cases from advancing, currently, 3 women in the UK lose their lives to cervical cancer every day. [1] To learn more about the campaign, visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and download the toolkit.
You can read more about cervical cancer screening and testing on our US blog site this month. The most important thing women can do is to receive regular pap smears, especially for those between 25 and 30 years old in the UK—these should happen every 3 years or so until your doctor either extends the duration between tests if you test normal repeatedly, or until a certain age where your doctor deems you no longer need these tests.
Ensure you have your own Pap test done if you are a woman, and talk to your friends as well—men can also encourage the women in their lives to have these tests regularly. Tests are quick, and while mildly uncomfortable, they do not hurt. To find out where you can access a Pap test in the UK call your GP’s surgery, or use this locator if you do not have a GP or prefer to visit a different clinic for your Pap smear. 
If you have had cervical cancer, wearing a cancer medical ID bracelet or necklace may be important—ask your doctor what you should engrave on your jewelry to keep you safe. For those supporting women with cervical cancer, teal awareness ribbon jewelry is also available from our shop. 

Tag your bag for the journey: Medical bag tags

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If you’re an avid traveler, you know the importance of keeping tags on your luggage. One trip, I could not for the life of me find a luggage tag in my house! Fortunately my suitcase made it successfully through both flights, but I can’t say I wasn’t just a tiny bit nervous because it seemed like I was tempting fate! But, how well do you identify your medical items as yours?

medical bag with red ID tag

Certain items, like blood glucose test kits, zip cases for medications, oxygen tanks or compressor bags and CPAP machines, wheelchairs or walkers, or nebulizer compressors are important, especially when travelling. Any bags that contain medical supplies should be readily identified so that if they are lost, the urgency to return them and their contents is known. Our red medical ID key chains also double as excellent bag tags. I have one attached to my nebulizer bag—if someone finds it somewhere and does not know what it is, they will at least know that it is medical equipment, and hopefully take it somewhere where they will find a way to contact me and return my supplies! 
Most of us are very careful with our medical equipment—but, especially in the hustle and bustle of travel, things happen. By outfitting your equipment or medication bag with a medical tag, such as our bright red ones, you can have the peace of mind that anybody who finds your bag can get it back to you. A tag can also help people identify where to find the medication that you might need if you cannot get to it yourself. Our tags come in both plastic and aluminum versions, as well as a red-emblem stainless steel version. While all of our products are light, I have the plastic red tag on my nebulizer bag—it’s low profile and stays out of my way, but is bright enough to see when needed. Since this small carry bag for my neb stays within my carry-on bag most of the time, I don’t test the tag’s durability too much; however, if you are really rough on your bag (like I am on my backpack!) you may prefer the aluminum version for your journeys.
And, unlike those those paper-insert plastic tags that sometimes only last one trip on your suitcase before the plastic cracks, these sturdy little tags will hold up to whatever you throw at them, just like the rest of our products. 
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