Sarah’s Story: MedicAlert and Marathons

I had my first anaphylactic shock reaction to fish in 1989, a couple months before my 9th birthday. I arrived at the hospital in time to receive epinephrine and thankfully I survived. Allergy tests would reveal I was allergic to all seafood and fish, though I’d been eating it without incident nearly every week for my entire life up to that point.

My second anaphylactic reaction was to chicken when I was 10. Again, I arrived at the hospital quickly, and epinephrine saved my life. I went to the allergist again for more tests and found I had to add poultry and tree nuts to my allergy list. It was at this allergist visit that my mom was given a MedicAlert brochure. She signed me up immediately, and my first bracelet soon came in the mail.

A Childhood Spent with Life Threatening Food Allergies

I was teased at school for wearing it. In 1990 food allergies weren’t that common, and the only people I saw with MedicAlert bracelets were of my grandparents’ generation. Kids said I was a grandma/grandpa, but I kept wearing my “grandma” bracelet because my mom said I couldn’t take it off.

I had another anaphylactic reaction when I was 11 while at a youth group BBQ. I inadvertently had a bite of a turkey hot dog. My youth pastor rushed me to the hospital and epinephrine saved my life yet again. I believe doctors used the info on my bracelet to contact my parents and allergist. This is the only time medical professionals used my ID.

“I’ll be a MedicAlert member for the rest of my life. MedicAlert means I can live the life I want to live. A full life. A life I love.”

— Sarah, MedicAlert Member

Sarah at a marathon leaning against a rail.

Sarah in front of a large red sign that reads LOVE.

It was at this time I finally started carrying an Epi-Pen. My junior high wouldn’t allow me to have it in my backpack. They said it had to be in the office. My junior high campus was once a high school, so the campus was large. I’d die of anaphylactic shock before I could reach the office. My parents petitioned the school board and I was granted permission to keep my Epi-Pen in my backpack.

Since then, I have added more foods to my “death” list. Currently, there are 22 foods/food groups I can’t eat. Fortunately, I can now eat shrimp and salmon after successfully completing food challenges!

Thirty-One Years with a Life Saving Medical ID

I’m now 39 years old (I’ll be 40 this year!). I’ve had life threatening food allergies for 31 years. I’ve survived anaphylactic shock many times, and a MedicAlert bracelet has been with me nearly every day since I was 10. I chose not to wear it on my wedding day, and I had difficulty wearing it while I was pregnant. At the time, it didn’t fit well and was uncomfortable. I feel safer having it on my wrist. My family feels more at ease knowing it’s on my wrist.

I’m a 5-time marathoner and 14-time half marathoner. A MedicAlert bracelet has been on my wrist every time I crossed the finish line. My most favorite marathon is the Surfer’s Path Marathon in Santa Cruz, CA. The course hugs the coast and there are gorgeous views to look at for almost all of the 26.2 mile race. My most memorable race is the 2019 Surfer’s Path Marathon.

The forecast called for electrical storms and overall unpleasant weather. I was nervous I’d be miserable for the whole race, but I managed to earn a PR (personal record)! For the first 10 miles there was torrential rain, hail, lightning, and thunder. Then the sun made an appearance over the Pacific Ocean and I was determined to do my best! My husband and daughter feel more at ease when I go out for a training run knowing MedicAlert will help in an emergency.

Educating the Next Generation on What to Do

I’ve been a primary teacher for 16 years (most of my experience is in kindergarten and first grade). At the beginning of each new school year, I share my bracelet and Epi-Pen with my students. Throughout the year, they remind me to get my “medicine” when we walk out to recess!

I’ll be a MedicAlert member for the rest of my life. MedicAlert means I can live the life I want to live. A full life. A life I love. I love my grandma bracelet!

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