Juno isn’t your average 4-year-old, but neither is her mum Mia, who was told her beloved daughter ‘Junebug’ would live life in a vegetative state after being diagnosed with a rare syndrome called Septo Optic Dysplasia (SPD) as an 11-week-old baby.
This basically means Juno has underdeveloped optic nerves and is severely vision impaired, as well as having hormone deficiencies that control her kidneys and thyroid, no smell nerves and multiple intra-cranial malformations (her brain isn't formed correctly)...and then there's the debilitating Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) that physically prevents her from tolerating certain textures, being touched and particular sounds.
“Even putting on the wrong clothes or music can make Juno vomit uncontrollably,” said Mia.
But her motherly challenges don’t end there, with her oldest son Rourke also suffering from a number of allergies, including wheat, eggs and peanuts.
“In the last 6 years I’ve tried everything I could get my mits on in an attempt to keep the kids safe and well labelled. I probably went a little over the top with 'do not feed me' t-shirts and badges and stickers all over his forehead, but hey, a 2-year-old that stopped breathing from a Wheatie Kiss is nothing to take lightly!”
“First off we tried Star Allergy Alerts’ silicon 'Allerbling' - they were super comfortable, colourful, funky, interchangeable, washable, bathable and just darned awesome - except they were probably a little too fun, and no one knew they were a medical ID and then the cute little details came off not long after we got them.”
“So then we got a 'Kids Alert Bracelet'. I loved that it was bold, obvious and precise, you couldn't miss it - ANAPHYLAXIS ALERT - it said, but it was a pain to clip on to a wiggling almost 2-year-old, came undone easily and couldn't get wet, so on and off and on and off it went.”
When Juno was born, Mia said she felt it was time to find something more robust and suitable for her kids to wear permanently, especially given their complex conditions.
“During one of our visits to the hospital I saw pamphlets for the Australian MedicAlert Foundation. It was a recognisable brand and appeared to be the most sensible option at that point,” said Mia.
“So I filled in the form, left the annual membership section blank and sent it off. I got a call from them soon after to say their membership wasn't optional. Personally, I couldn't see the point in paying to have info stored somewhere when it was already all kept at the hospital so I cancelled the order in my usual fit of ‘woggy outrage’ and went elsewhere.”
“The competitor I found, Medical ID Australia, was slightly cheaper and promoted themselves as being membership-less…perfect I thought. But, then it broke more times than I can count, the information was barely legible from the start, and in the end I got sick of it and threw it at the back of a deep dark drawer along with the rest of them.”
While Mia said she felt the kids were safe and sound while they were with her 24/7, a medical consultant said they recommended both kids have one on for kindy, school and parties and she was again given the same MedicAlert forms to fill in and send off.
“I’ll admit, I can clearly see the perks now, especially for ambulance retrieval and travelling interstate when you're away from the big three hospitals here in SA that share our information.”.
“And after a few ‘texture issues’ with Juno’s fabric sports band, which ended up on her bag because it made her vomit when she touched it, something quite wonderful happened. MedicAlert asked us if we wanted to trial their new Easy Flex silicon medical IDs. ‘Do I ever?’ I said.”
“Well, Rourke was instantly epically relieved at first feel. ‘Ohhhh mum, they're sooooo soft’, he said, and it hasn't come off since. Juno cried but didn't vomit, which is always a plus. We worked on her with short regular stints, and Puppet Olivia at kindy got her own bracelet to match. Slowly but surely over the next few months she could cope with it on more and more, and now whenever we leave the house she always wears it - it really is a miracle!”
As a mother of three, Mia said the final and often most important test for any product is durability, and it appears our silicon bands have passed with flying colours.
“Rourke has unrelentingly punished his – it’s been through sand, rocks, paving, gravel, dirt, you name it, so the black detail has worn off but underneath the important info is still as clear as the day we got them. The bands still look brand new. And Juno's band has even been through my super sonic washing machine several times without even flinching,” said Mia.
“Oh, and did I mention they come with a range of colours in each pack? This makes matching them with your latest outfit, wheelchair or school bag a lot easier.”
“I'm extremely confident you won't regret signing up with MedicAlert, and just quietly, I wish I needed one too as have been drooling over their new quilted silicon bands on Instagram! Oh and please also note that I am fiercely anti-sponsorship and this review is entirely one hundred per cent my own feelings,” Mia wrote in her recent review of MedicAlert on Facebook.
Read more about Mia and Juno’s journey and their full review of MedicAlert.