Gem of an idea

Payton and mum, Hayley McDonald.

Payton and mum, Hayley McDonald.

Dia-preneur Hayley McDonald, from Auckland, set up her own business selling funky medical ID jewellery after her daughter developed type 1 diabetes.

We were living in Christchurch when Payton was diagnosed. She was a normal seven-year-old, who enjoyed dancing, playdates with her friends, loads of giggling, and life was great! But one day Payton came home from school feeling really sick. She vomited all night but we put that down to the tummy bug that had been doing the rounds at school.

The next day she started to breathe heavily and I googled it (bad idea) and Dr Google said that you can experience this with a gastro bug. We didn’t take her to the doctor (another bad idea). About 10pm that night, she woke up with an extreme pain just below her ribs. I phoned Healthline and they told us to go straight to a hospital.  

We woke up Payton’s older brother Brody, nine, and off we went. The Christchurch Hospital waiting room was full but the triage nurse took one look at Payton and we had a bed (and a diagnosis) within 10 minutes.  She was presenting with all the symptoms of severe DKA – diabetic ketoacidosis – and we ended up being in hospital for about a week.

I remember a lovely nurse, I don’t know her name but will remember her face forever. She said to us, as we sat there wide-eyed and in disbelief: “This is shocking now but Payton will still do everything she was always going to do – this won’t stop her from doing anything.” And she was right.

But back then we were still in shock. We never considered diabetes as an explanation for the symptoms Payton had been experiencing before our emergency dash to the hospital. She was drinking a lot of water – but it had been quite hot. She had lost a lot of weight – but she had also just had a big growth spurt.

Luckily we had a wonderful team in Christchurch to educate us about how to care for a child with type 1 diabetes. They were patient, kind and very caring towards our little family and helped us come to terms with our “new normal”.  

Two years on and we are pretty onto it. We’ve moved back to Auckland to be closer to our family and life is still great. We are carb-counting machines!  Payton has four insulin injections a day, two in the morning and two at night. We have a fabulous, resilient, brave and happy 9-year-old girl who happens to have type 1 diabetes.  It doesn’t define who she is, it is just a part of who she is.  

I have a medication allergy and should always wear a medical ID but I had been really slack about it. So I decided to be a role model and start wearing one. I searched high and low for a nice piece and found some great items in the USA. But they were expensive to buy and ship to New Zealand.

My Identity was born after my struggle to find stylish medical ID jewellery here in New Zealand. I’m a web designer by trade, and had done online retail in the past, so I thought let’s give it a go.

There are many people in New Zealand who need to wear a medical ID for a range of health conditions. But who says these have to be ugly? Why can’t they be cool, funky, and fashionable instead? This is a feel-good business venture for me. I want everybody who has to wear a medical ID to be proud and happy to put it on every day.  

Anyone can nominate themselves or a loved one to have a piece in the range named after them. Ian had an ugly medical ID bracelet that got in his way at work. He chose one of my bracelets, we named it after him, and he wore it with pride at his wedding.

Check out My Identity at  www.myidentity.co.nz. There are cool items suitable for women, men, boys and girls. Each piece can be personalised and resized to fit anyone.

Hayley shared her story in the Summer 2018 issue of Diabetes magazine.

To read back issues, visit here

Join Diabetes NZ today to receive your copy.

Inspired by this story and have one of your own to share - read more here.

Jo Chapman