So it’s all over the media and social media platforms. EpiPens have jumped in price more than 400% in recent years. I was advised by my allergist to carry them in 2007, and I did for about 4 years. Then they became too cost prohibitive, and that was when they weren’t in the $400/set range. I had to stop buying them every year.
Fast forward to last year, and I suddenly have an episode of anaphylaxis and status asthmaticus. I spent a few days in the hospital and was on high-dose steroids for a couple months. Those EpiPens were looking like a bargain now. I was able to get a set of Auvi-Q epinephrine autoinjectors, but they were later found to be ineffective at delivering full doses so they were recalled and I got EpiPens, which were now (again) without competition in the marketplace. Lack of competition means that their dollar and fifty cents worth of drug in an auto-injector could be priced at whatever they want to price it at. Even with insurance from my primary employer, they were cost prohibitive, so I went to the EpiPen website to see if they had a copay savings card, and they did. My card reduced my copay to only $5. This year, the makers of EpiPens made the copay card even better by reducing the copay to ZERO dollars and it is good for up to twelve EpiPen sets (the two-pack, not the singles) per year. Then the card expires and you have to sign up again.
The only requirements are that you have a commercial insurance plan, and you are over 18. If that fits you, then go to their website and sign up and print your card, then take it to the pharmacy. The bad news is this is for individuals, not for organizations like volunteer fire and EMS, and if you have Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE, you are ineligible.
TempTraq is a wireless temperature monitor for consumers, but it has the potential to be quite useful for healthcare applications and for prehospital/perihospital care.
How does it work:
TempTraq by Blue Tracks Technology is a single-use device for wireless temperature monitoring that is compliant with ASTM E1112-00 (standard for accuracy in digital thermometers). It uses a simple push-button activation on the temp probe that activates it and then it has a life-span of 24 hours after initial activation. You connect to the wireless temperature monitor via a smartphone app for Android or iOS and your device’s Bluetooth connection and can configure the app to display Fahrenheit or Celcius. The wireless temperature monitor connects with the app and your smartphone using a unique identifier. The app has the ability to allow the user to configure parameter alarms, for instance, in case a temperature spike is encountered. The app gives digital and graphical readouts of the monitoring results. No patient identifiable info is transmitted via the temp probe, so if an eavesdropper comes in to range with several of these devices in operation, there would be no way for them to know which device belongs to which wearer.
Although the technology is still confined to the consumer workplace, it could be of value to us in EMS even now. Temperature monitoring with a full capability monitor is not always feasible. Think of Foley temp probes, for example. Invasive and expensive. This would be useful in monitoring a febrile child with seizures or an infection and could be transferred to the receiving hospital upon transfer of care. If a patient were to be seen in an Urgent Care or ER, then they could be monitored periodically by staff to see if their fever has broken or spiked. Oncology units could use this to monitor patients receiving chemo infusions. Long-distance transfer patients could also be monitored for temperature spikes.
My product evaluation:
TempTraq wireless temperature monitoring was easy to get going. I downloaded the free app from the Google Play app store and got it running with Bluetooth active on my smartphone. I simply followed the directions on the packaging for the wireless monitor and applied the temp probe to my left axilla. I connected it by performing a search in the app for the unique “Patch ID”, which you can customize with a personalized name (perhaps a child’s or patient’s name). You can monitor several devices at a time, so let’s say you have a house (or waiting room) full of sick kids and you need to track all their temps, you shouldn’t have any problem as long as you are within a few yards of the person wearing the TempTraq, which should be easy to achieve in a waiting room or in a typical single-family home. It is removable and re-applicable for bathing and should not be applied over any open skin wounds.
It would be easy to see first responders and prehospital care providers use a system like this. Say a first response crew arrives on scene, they could add this device to the patient’s axilla in a clinically appropriate situation, and then activate it, documenting the findings. When the patient care/transporting crew arrives, they can assume monitoring and collect all the temperature recordings logged to that point, and continue monitoring throughout transport. When care is handed to the hospital staff, they can keep using the system and uploading the temp logs into the patient’s chart.
I wore the monitor for a full 24 hours. It was noticeable, but not uncomfortable. I can imagine a toddler absent-mindedly picking at it. The adhesive seems to be consistent with hypoallergenic tapes, making it usable for sensitive skin. The monitor collected readings of my temps throughout the night while I slept and when I reconnected the app and phone, it downloaded all the data from the time of my last connection. In short, it worked exactly as described. I did not attempt to induce any false temperature elevations during my trial of the TempTraq. The app allows custom alerts to be sent and allows the user to add notes, like when a medication is given to the wearer (for example, if Tylenol is given to the wearer with a fever).
What would I make different:
I think the product documentation could be slightly improved by explaining the normal ranges of temps for axillary temps versus oral or rectal temps. The company is already working with various health partners in the US to integrate readings into EMR systems, like Epic. I had to perform a hard reset of my Android device after using the TempTraq and as a result, I lost all the data from my product trial, so there is no cloud account to retain information. The simplicity of the app is a strong benefit to using it, giving a very small learning curve to the user, which helps eliminate confusion in usage. Otherwise, I don’t see any need to improve or modify the system.
I wish to thank the reps at TempTraq for giving me this opportunity to review the TempTraq wireless temperature monitoring system.
So I’ve seen these glasses advertised around the web and on Facebook talking about how EMT’s and Paramedics are using them to see veins for IV starts and to identify blood pooling, such as in hematomas. I reached out to O2 Amp by 2ai Labs, and they sent me four different sets of these glasses to evaluate and report back on.
See veins more distinctly, identify blood pooling, see shifts in blood concentration in tissues (i.e., blanching, or capillary refill or lack thereof).
The Premise; How does it work:
Color shifts in vision can enhance the viewing of certain color spectra, allowing the user to perceive certain colors with more intensity, such as veins and capillaries.
By tinting the lenses, a color shift is introduces that obscures the undesirable range of color and enhances others. This is a tough one to tackle, because people don’t all perceive colors identically. For instance, I have a bit of color-blindness, which is not uncommon for men. I noticed that I perceived some things less intently than other users I shared this experience with, and other things more intensely than others.
In order for most of these glasses to do what we expect of them, you will require a pretty strong light. In fact, the manufacturer recommends you start learning how to use these glasses in full sunlight. I agree. Alternatively, exam lights and tactical flashlights offer very strong light to help make these glasses work for you most efficiently. My best results were obtained in direct sunlight.
I tried taking these to our only regional trauma center’s ER and worked with a couple nurses and a few medics that passed through while I was there. Results were not exactly overwhelming. Even with a tactical flashlight emitting over 300 lumens, I and the others that were using them were still not feeling like we had fared any better with or without the glasses. There are a couple possible reasons that things didn’t go so swimmingly:
Doubt/Bias: Any product that claims to allow one to perceive something differently by just applying a tint to your eyes seems dubious.
Experience: We work under ostentatious circumstances and we in the ER and in the field are often called to be expert phlebotomists, finding veins where there seem to be none readily available and starting IV’s and performing blood draws. We have additional training and experience in gaining IV access beyond the typical clinical provider. The only medical staff I have encountered that are on par with emergency personnel are surgical suite medical staff and blood bank phlebotomists (incidentally, I worked in a whole blood donation bank for almost a year and that is where I gained a significant portion of my own phlebotomy skills). One nurse who tried the glasses said maybe I should take these to the floor nurses and let them try, since they don’t do too many IV’s comparatively.
It’s a scam: Yes, it’s possible, but I don’t think it is likely. I have read the literature provided by the manufacturer and I don’t believe it is a scam.
I also took these glasses to my EMS station and worked with a few fellow medics to see what they thought. We were already outside doing simulations and it seemed like the perfect time. Of the four varying tints of glasses we tried, they all yielded positive results, but the darkest of the purple tints, the sunglasses style O2 Amp glasses, showed the most benefit in finding veins. Tactical flashlights just didn’t do these glasses as much justice as the sunlight. Maybe the LED doesn’t emit a broad enough light spectrum to compare with sunlight. The end result was that provided you had a bright enough light, like sunlight, they worked fairly well. In the back of the ambulance with all the lighting up and the tac light, you could still do well with these glasses.
The O2 Amp glasses by 2ai Labs are a promising development in rapid vein identification. Caveats are warranted for people with color blindness – your mileage may vary – but that is why I enlisted the help of many other practitioners to help me properly evaluate these glasses. As the manufacturer claims, they are an alternative to the more expensive Vein Light devices. They seem to deliver fairly well, when placed under more ideal circumstances. They may not be the best in helping in low-light circumstances, of which EMS’ers find themselves in abundance of. I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to try these glasses out. On another note, I have been in contact with the manufacturer several times since receiving these glasses, and they have been helpful in ensuring I get the best results from my product evaluation. I think their customer service has been excellent.
My forearm in bright sunlight. Decent enough veins.
Bare arm in direct sunlight. Oxy-Iso Sunglasses placed over the lens of the camera. Results in the image are not as evident as with the naked eye. The blue tint in the veins is more prevalent. Smaller, less bulging veins are more noticeable when viewing through the glasses than through the camera. The difference is probably due to automatic color correction of the camera in processing the digital image.
I have been asked by O2 Amp to include the following notes, which may help their users get the most out of their glasses purchase and to clarify some of the science behind why their product works:
Thanks, Chris, for reviewing our product.
Some follow-up notes:
(1) We like to emphasize that, If one should be wearing protective glasses anyway, then one might as well wear glasses that enhance health signs and veins. If lighting conditions are good, then you get perceptual advantages. But if lighting conditions are not good, well, then it becomes basically clear protective eyewear. So, we view them less as a competitor among the vein finders, and more of a “wear these protective eyewear instead and you’ll sometimes — with good light — get perceptual advantages.”
(2) The Oxy-Iso is stronger in some sense, indeed, than the Oxy-Amp Paramedic Vein Glasses. But (a) the Oxy-Iso also cuts out a lot more light, making it even more difficult indoors, and (b) it blocks the other blood dimension we can see, variations in concentration of blood (what the green Hemo-Iso amplifies), making one better at seeing veins, but potentially worse at seeing clinical signs more generally. That’s why we recommend the Oxy-Amp Paramedic Vein Glasses to paramedics, because it blocks only a very narrow band of bad signal (and the light pink is a functionless side effect of the way we have to manufacture it), and so leaves one’s general clinical sense unhurt, but only better. …because paramedics need their general clinical signs sense intact.
(3) It’s more than just tints that make the tech work. I realize you’re speaking without jargon for a general audience, but, say, merely finding some filter (or colored glass, say) having the same tint won’t reproduce the effect. It has to have the spectral filter function of ours. (Said differently, for any tint, there are infinitely many spectra that differ in how they modify colors, but still all have the same tint.)
(4) In our experience, the Oxy-Amp is not successful for hospital workers — perhaps because they’re more a hostage to interior lighting constraints, or are less the type that carries tool kits around with them — than paramedics, where we have had good results.
(5) Even though paramedics tend to do their procedures inside the truck, their initial encounter is usually outside the truck, and in daylight the Oxy-Amp makes all clinical signs easier to see, not just veins. Out hope is that paramedics have our Oxy-Amp tech as their sunwear, so they get the UV protection needed, but also clinical enhancement.
A friend of mine shared an article from EMS Leadership Academy with his link preface saying:
Classic leadership advice: “Its not what you say; its what they think it means.” (sic)
You’re trying to get your message across. Something needs to change, and maybe the impetus for the change wasn’t something negative that happened as you hear everyone suspects. Maybe it was benign or you felt it was a good direction to go, but still, you’re getting pushback. Let me give you a nickel’s worth of free advice…
If they aren’t getting your message, saying it louder won’t change anything.
It’s not a hearing problem. It’s an interpretation problem. Maybe you should consider changing your delivery rather than getting frustrated with their interpretation.
We do it every day. We start our shift on the computer, running our checksheets, checking our e-mail, logging in to our ePCR programs to check for QA kickbacks and open charts. We get in the rig. You get assigned a post or a call and you look at the CAD and GPS. You check your smartphone or tablet for CAD info on the call you’re about to go in to. You might start prefilling the ePCR now. Your eyes leave the screen long enough to clear intersections.
You’ve on scene and you’ve made patient contact. You’re back to the screen entering demographics, meds, allergies, vital signs. You move to the box with your patient. All your tech is coming together to form a mural of diagnostics on your patient and it too goes into the ePCR. You make it to the ER and now you have to finish your documentation with your final vitals, handoff report, diagnostics, and what have you. You’re back in the rig and at it all over again.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a few minutes to rest, so you pull out your phone and check your texts and Facebook. There’s that viral game everyone is playing and you’ve dropped a bit on the leaderboard, so you pop over to the game and play for just a couple minutes before you get back to charting or working on that online CE due by the end of today. Maybe you’ve got more time and a station. A cushy recliner to fall back into has your name on it, and you need to decompress so you watch a movie with the crew.
Do you even realize?
You’re now spending virtually every waking minute of your day in front of one display screen or another. Do you know what it is you have been unwittingly doing to yourself? Do you realize why you have that mild, nagging headache? Do you realize why you keep rubbing your eyes? You aren’t tired yet. You haven’t felt the need to grab an energy drink. So what could it be?
What you are unwittingly doing to yourself is constantly barraging yourself with artificial blue light (1). Every computer screen, smartphone, tablet, and television we encounter now emits this artificial blue light. It has been linked to sleep disorders by interfering with our Circadian rhythms, and it affects our blink rates, giving us dry eyes, and it even gives us headaches.
Sleep in public safety is precious enough. Need we discuss how many accidents and medical errors are attributed to sleep deprivation? It’s a well-known fact. Dry eyes due to less blinking can cause corneal scarring and abrasions, loss of visual acuity, and even ulcerations (2). There are many things that contribute to headaches, including medications, fatigue, stress, sleep apnea, and eye strain. Some studies suggest night owls exposure to light contributes to cancer, diabetes, and even more health disorders and recommended wearing blue light blocking eyewear (3). Emergency Services personnel work around direct blue lights regularly when we are responding to and on scene of emergency calls.
What can you do about it?
Many of us wear corrective lenses now, yours truly no longer being an exception to this. I worked for a blood bank for a year near the beginning of my EMS career and that was where I had my first blood exposure. From that moment on, I vowed to wear some kind of lenses in front of my eyes. I always wore clear lenses, even though I didn’t need them to be corrective. The problem is typical lenses don’t do anything about light outside the non-visible UV spectrum.
Recently, I came across a brand of glasses called “Gunnar”. I found them at the annual CES event in Las Vegas about three years ago, and I tried them out. I found them to be extremely comfortable and after a couple minutes, felt like my eyes weren’t working so hard to focus on the computer displays in their booth.
Gunnar Phenom – Amber Tint
Fast forward to the present and I’ve decided to give Gunnars a good long look (pun intended). I work in front of computers constantly in my full-time healthcare IT job where I have a wall of big screen monitors watching the health of hundreds of computer systems and I have three monitors on my desk, and when I’m not there, I’m studying to complete my degree online, I’m frequently on my smartphone, or I’m watching my LCD TV’s, or I’m reading a book on my tablet. On the ambulance, I’m blessed with a somewhat inefficient ePCR system and it isn’t unusual to take an hour or more to fill in a chart and check off all the special little boxes that are required to keep me out of PCR jail.
I’ve gotten out of the habit of turning my screen brightness to max when I can avoid it, and I try to get away from the tech for at least a half hour before bed, but I’m finding I still have headaches quite frequently. I’ll be due for some new eyeware soon under my insurance plan, so I’ll get my own prescription Gunnars then. A coworker of mine has a prescription set and he really enjoys them. They look sharp, are minimal in design, and are even becoming a favorite amongst gamers.
Gunnar has a couple lens tints, including sunglasses, regular clear (they call them “crystalline”), and amber. For what we do in public safety and patient care, I wouldn’t recommend the amber tint lenses, as they will shift color perception, which we depend on to assess a patient’s skin color (think cyanosis, pale, and even jaundice), so I’d stick with the crystalline lenses and the sunglass tints.
Remember, you don’t need a corrective lens prescription to wear these. The most common use of Gunnars is non-prescription. Prescription frames and lenses are available though. A nice feature about Gunnars is that they coat both the outside AND the inside of the lenses with an anti-reflective coating. Personally, I can attest to how annoying it is to have an anti-reflective coating on the outside, only to have a little light cause eye reflection on the inside (where you see your own eye refracting light onto the lens and creating distractions from your view).
They’re reasonably priced, especially given that they completely block the blue light wavelengths from all the assorted displays we spend our days and nights in front of. They also offer a wide range of styles so you can pick what’s best for your face and style. Check them out at www.gunnar.com. On their site, you’ll find a few different pages describing the benefits of each type of frame and lens, and a “How Do They Work” page as well.
I do not own a pair of Gunnars, yet. They are going to be my next prescription eyewear purchase due to the research I have done and due to trying a demo set on and wearing them for a bit to get a feel for them. I believe they are the genuine article and not a gimmick, so much so that I applied to be a brand ambassador for them and was accepted. This status with Gunnar thus far has resulted in me getting a free Gunnar t-shirt and nothing else, so really, I haven’t been incentivized to write this article, as I already have plenty of t-shirts… especially from EMS product and service vendors. 😉
Check out the references I used to compile this article below. If you have any experience with Gunnars, please drop me a comment and let me know what you think of them. Thanks for reading!
I like free as much as the next guy. In fact, I count on it to provide reviews on new tech for public safety here for you to read about. What I don’t like is false advertising, like when you are given a code to redeem for a “free” product (in this case, a Bluetooth tracker for your keys, purse, or whatever you want to attach it to) and you sign up on the site and are told you’ll get an e-mail with instructions on how to complete the offer redemption. Now they have the code, probably specially generated for the event or marketing campaign which is fine and probably a smart business decision to track marketing effectiveness, and they also have your e-mail address. Then they send you the “offer” to complete, and it takes you back to their site. The product is free, and suddenly, you see “+ S&H“. REALLY? You didn’t think to mention that when I visited your vendor booth at CES and talked with the rep for 10 minutes about your product, or to put that slightlytotallyrelevant information on the “free” offer card, or on the special website page you dedicated to it BEFORE I submitted my e-mail address? You had to wait until the page where you paroxysmally ask for credit card information?
…image by Fotomedic
Too bad! I was really looking forward to writing a review article here to share with the public safety community. Wouldn’t a relatively inexpensive product like that be useful for preventing crews from leaving jump bags and $25,000 monitor/defibrillators, or portable ultrasounds, or laptops and tablets, or apparatus and narc cabinet keys on scene?
I’d love to publicly shame the company that opted to use this disappointing tactic on its guests and potential customers, but I apparently have more integrity than they do, and I don’t post negative reviews.
Is it possible that you can still keep your Bluetooth headset on while you auscultate a patient’s chest? Absolutely!
At CES 2016, I was fortunate enough to make my way over to the Aftershokz booth in the Health and Fitness exhibit hall. Aftershokz makes a lineup of bone conduction headsets for athletes. The benefit they were touting is that you could still enjoy your music and keep your ears free for hearing traffic, someone approaching, and the general sounds of your environment. Well, that sounded right up the public safety alley to me.
I took a quick tour through their booth and listened to some focused sounds under a few sets of uni-directional speakers with their new premier product, the Trekz Titanium. Impressive is an understatement. The recordings playing for ambience were from Central Park in NYC. I was able to hear the cars driving by, the birds chirping, the conversations of passersby, and more, plus I still heard the music – all of it. At the end of the demo, I was given an opportunity to review this fine headset for myself in a much less controlled environment, so of course, I jumped on it!
Let me say that my experience with them has been mixed. If you were expecting a flawless, OMG, DROP EVERYTHING AND GET THESE kind of review, that’s not exactly what you’ll find, but it’s close. That said, I think this is by far the best Bluetooth headset I’ve come across. No, they aren’t perfect, but they are excellent.
I spent the next day with these things on my head, walking around the CES exhibit halls, which are plenty noisy, listening to music, talking with a couple friends I go with to the annual show, and carrying on conversations with vendors galore. At the end of the day, my ear lobes were sore and I had some pressure spots developing in front of my ears on my jawbone (not to the point of damaged skin, but noticeable). What I quickly surmised was that you shouldn’t spend an entire day with these headphones on, but that they would still be excellent for even up to four hours of continuous use while engaging in sports and fitness, walking, and even shift work. The rest of the time, they’ll rest unobtrusively around your neck, ready to slip back on to hear that music or take that important phone call. I learned that I can keep them on and running all day long and slip them on and off my head as needed.
Right now, I’m dealing with a doozie of an upper respiratory infection that has managed to work its way into my lungs, flaring up my asthma and giving me bronchitis. Inspiratory and expiratory wheezing, ronchi, and
even diminished bases at times. I was able to distinguish all this without removing my Aftershokz Trekz Titanium bone conduction headset. One of the major drawbacks I have encountered using ANY other Bluetooth headset was that I couldn’t have access to the headset while auscultating a chest. That is no longer going to be a problem for EMS practitioners with the Trekz Titanium.
As far as sound quality goes, I hope you aren’t expecting an audiophilic experience, because you’ll want to get a set of noise-canceling and isolating earbuds, and you might want to upgrade those silicone ear pads to the ones you can get from
the brand Comply (trust me, you won’t be disappointed). You are dealing with bone conduction sound here, so there is some expected drop in audio quality, but it isn’t that much. Although you might miss out on the finer details of a concerto, you’ll have no problem rocking out to your choice of music for a workout at any reasonable volume, from background noise to drowning out the world. Compared to a couple other bone conduction headsets I’ve tried, the Trekz Titanium is by far the best. Volume range is no limitation here either. You can make them uncomfortably loud if needed.
What may surprise you is the superb call quality you’ll experience. Now, I own a Plantronics Voyager Pro headset, given to me at a previous CES a few years ago. I’d consider its call quality to be well above average, but the Trekz Titanium surpasses it. Although I do still work in the field in EMS, my full-time job is in I.T. working in a Data Center for the only trauma center in Northern Nevada. I haven’t been able to find a phone or headset that will allow me to be standing in front of a computer system in the Data Center while talking at a conversational voice to the system engineer on the other end of the line. In my own truck, I have to at the very least roll up my windows or turn off the heater/AC and turn off the stereo, and often just plain pull over to be a part of a phone conversation with even my best Bluetooth or wired headset. The road and ambient noise is just too much, and I have a pretty well-appointed truck. Not so with the Trekz Titanium. I can be standing next to an in
dustrial Data Center Air Conditioner or rolling down the road with my stereo on and AC at full blast and my caller can’t even tell. Noise cancellation is hands down the best I have encountered. I know there are plenty of commercials advertising that their headsets will allow you to talk clearly to someone while you are in a rock concert or by a running locomotive, but this is definitely the real deal.
Placing a call is as easy as pressing and holding the button on the left earpiece. You will be prompted to state your call command and you can say to text or call a person in your contacts, or with my Android, it would eve
n search Google Now. A short press will start music, pause it, and resume it. I used it regularly with Google Music a
nd had no problem starting or stopping music. If the app closed itself, it would open the app and start from the first song in the library. Ideally, you would set your playlist, start it, put your phone away where ever you store it while you work out and just go. Range away from the headset was greater than 30 feet through an exterior building wall for me. I would have liked another set of buttons to skip forward and back on tracks, but that will have to be done on the phone itself.
Battery life has been far in excess of what the advertised expectancy is. I have left them running for several days and only found battery life to be medium after listening to about 3 hours of music per day and taking about half a dozen calls on them. No disappointments here. They recharge with a typical micro-USB charger, like most smartphones and accessories take.
So the pros and cons:
Excellent Outstanding call quality.
No removal to auscultate to you can be online with medical control or your supervisor while assessing a patient’s breath and chest sounds or responding to a summons on a 2-way radio.
Long battery life – several days with moderate use, and quick to charge.
Decent, but not audiophile, audio quality. More than adequate to entertain you while walking, running, working out, etc.
Great volume range.
Lightweight – your head and neck won’t complain about extra weight wearing you down.
The call/voice command button is easy to get to, even with a gloved hand.
Includes a carrying case for protection when you are not wearing them – I’ve not used the case because I’m almost always wearing them!
Sweat and dust resistant. They are meant for working out with, after all.
One Size Fits All – Non-adjustable headband means that on no necks like me, it sticks out the back making it move off the ideal placement when I lean back, but not really that bothersome. You’ll get use to it in a couple hours and adjust as needed. If you have a muscular head and neck, maybe it wouldn’t be too big of a deal.
No padding at all on the ear loops – This hard plastic only headset meant my earlobes were quite tender after wearing for more than about 3-4 hours. For me, I would just leave it on my neck until I was listening to something and then drop them back down when finished.
Neither Pro Nor Con:
The amount of tension exerted against the law was sufficient to keep the headset in place, which is great for exertional activity, but if left for a couple hours or more, then it could cause skin breakdown. Give yourself a break after a couple hours of use.
Where I’d Rather Be
My final verdict
The Trekz Titanium by Aftershokz is a fantastic headset for what we do in public safety, able to handle sweat, snow and drizzle, dust, and you can keep wearing them while you take care of patients, run your patrol beat in a squad or on bike, work out at the station, or even while you hike through the forest on a rescue mission. You don’t have to worry about them incidentally falling off. They offer superb call quality and a pretty good audio quality for music on par with a decent set of headphones, but they leave your ears free to hear your pager, station tones, and 2-way radio, or even somebody walking up to you.
They retail at $129.99 and seem to only be available at the Aftershokz website for now, but older models are available on Amazon, so I suspect since it’s a new model, it’s just a matter of time before they are available elsewhere. They come in Ocean blue (like mine), lime green, and a nice, subtle gray.
This past year has been full of problems for The Unwired Medic, after dealing with severe allergies and asthma for much of the year, tied with some other medical challenges, and getting behind on completing my courses for my degree, and January 2016 has held much of the same for me, after catching a URI that turned into bronchitis and more acute asthma exacerbation. It’s tough to stay focused on things like writing blogs when you are always shaky and apprehensive from nebulizers and steroids. I’m on the upswing again and am not feeling so shaky. I’m confident that will continue.
My New Year’s Resolution (Hey! It’s still January!) is to write a lot more than I did last year (God willing!). Early January is the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and I was able to go this year, and I’ve brought back plenty to talk about. Mobile healthcare and fitness were big last year, but they are HUGE for 2016, and I’ve already been testing some new gadgets I’ll be writing about in the next week.
Thanks for sticking with me! There’s a lot to see this year!
Okay, you’re probably already wondering what the heck this is about, so I’ll cut right to the chase. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and a couple of public safety bloggers started this non-profit to raise awareness (and funds) about male-specific cancers.
– 1 in 7 –
That’s the number of men who will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. That means if you look at your father, grandfather, uncle, brother, nephew, your son, of even yourself, at least one of you is likely to be diagnosed with it. Your brothers in your platoon, your company, your battalion, all the way up to the CMC and Chesty Puller himself (wherever he is), you’re all at risk… granted it’s (usually, but not always) the 40 and over crowd, but the majority of you aren’t so far away as you think. Most of you will end your careers just before you turn 40, and then what? You’ll get up settled in to whatever you want to do after the mainstream Corps life just to get kicked back down by cancer? Let’s not stop there. 1 in 263 men will be diagnosed with Testicular Cancer, and that is not an old man’s disease. That diagnosis usually comes right in the prime of your life!
– Talk About Privates –
The University of Science, Music, and Culture (U.S.M.C.) is a worldwide organization that is dependent upon healthy men, and they should step up to the plate and make it clear that it’s okay to talk about the privates (and I don’t mean the non-rates!).
Honestly, I don’t know why, but this sort of thing gets pushed aside except when it comes to a dick-measuring contest, then we’re all-in for talking about it. Accept reality… your anatomy plays a significant part in your overall self-image. No, your manhood probably won’t turn green and fall off, but you might experience frequent urination, difficulty urinating (it comes out just a little at a time and it doesn’t happen easily), blood in the urine, hip and back pain, weakness and/or numbness in the legs and feet, and even erectile dysfunction.
– Take Initiative –
It falls squarely on the shoulders of leadership. NCO’s (including you Terminal Lance’s 🙂 and up should be initiating the conversations. Face it, the non-rates are generally just learning about being a real man. They make goofy decisions, have short attention spans, and are trying to live larger than life with no thought to the consequences they’ll reap later on. I sure hope you’re not going to hope and wait for your Corpsman to bring it up.
Wear a kilt! No, you don’t have to be Scottish or Irish. I got my kilt before I had done some homework and determined just how much Scottish and Irish I have in my lineage. Did you know that the Marine Corps has an official Scottish tartan? The Leatherneck tartan is carried by a lot of kiltmakers and retailers. I got my own (pictured above) at Sport Kilt, as part of a special Marine Corps package, which included the sporran (belt pouch) and kilt pin. You can also find them at Stillwater Kilts and Atlanta Kilts. My son (born on November 10th, by the way) has a kid’s kilt in the Leatherneck tartan too and it was only about $20 shipped. These are generally mass-produced and good for everyday wear, and they would probably suffice for wearing to Marine Corps Balls (no pun intended). If you are looking for something a la Steampunk or Utility style, then may I suggest Alt.Kilt? They are a custom kiltmaker and they can do leatherwork and embroidery. Browse around their site and you’ll see why kilts for cancer awareness is a very special subject for them. If you desire a more formal approach, you can get the full, heavy wool kilt from a few places, or get the fabric and have one made for you. Kiltmakers are easy to find online. There are tartans for other branches too, but they’re apparently nowhere near as popular and no one offers a whole kilt package to go with that.
Mustaches are governed by regs anyway, and no one asks why you are wearing a mustache, but I’ve literally been asked why I’m wearing a kilt over a hundred times. It’s a conversation starter. Besides, Dunk Your Mustache just isn’t the same as Dunk Your Junk, which also beats an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge any day of the week and twice on Sunday!
Raise funds for research! We can’t put an end to these cancerous monstrosities in traditional Marine Corps fashion, with an all-out assault, so we have to adapt to overcome! We can do that with research, but R&D requires funding. Invest in your future and your brothers’ too. You can learn more by exploring my blog, then heading over to the Kilted To Kick Cancer website for more information and to donate. I’d sure like it if when you donate, you would put “Team Unwired Medic” in the comments or choose it from the team drop-down so we can conquer the other non-Marine teams, but even if you don’t, I sincerely thank you. You can also find Kilted To Kick Cancer patches, t-shirts, and polo shirts on the site, and your donations should be tax-deductible, to an organization that does not use your donations to pay salaries to the board. The lion’s share of funds pay for research and a tiny bit goes to overhead.
– Take Responsibility –
The most important thing you can do is to get your mean, green butt in to the doc for your annual check-up. Man up! Turn your head and cough! Bend over and grab your ankles! Take one for the Corps! Get your blood draw to check for markers that can show you are at higher risk for Prostate Cancer, like your PSA and your blood counts.
Do a self-exam at least monthly. You’re in the shower, the water is hot, the higher temps cause your scrotum to relax, and it makes it much easier to execute your mandatory hygiene procedures, and to roll your testicles between your fingers and check for lumps that don’t belong there. It’s even better when your best lady is there to help you out.
If you experience the symptoms I mentioned above, get in to see the doc right away. Do NOT put it off! When caught early, male-specific cancers are almost always easily defeated. ASSESS, ASSAULT, and CLAIM VICTORY! No long, protracted battles with the need for logistical support are necessary. That’s the Army’s job anyway.
– Conclusion –
You now know how to act, so it is your responsibility to do it!
You know the definition of Semper Fidelis. What you may have forgotten is that to be faithful to your brethren and your beloved Corps, you need to be faithful to yourself first.
– References and Disclaimers –
All of my statistics are from the American Cancer Society from September 2014 & September 2015. www.cancer.org
I have no conflicts of interest here and receive no consideration or compensation for links provided to any other site, manufacturer, or merchant. I wouldn’t mind if you said “The Unwired Medic” referred you, but I will get nothing in return. If you opt to donate with “Team Unwired Medic”, you would be helping me to beat the kilts off the competing teams, and there are prize packages awarded to the top teams, but I’m more interested in seeing Marines win and in beating cancer, which has already affected my life and the lives of many of my friends and family.
— Semper fidelis
To see more articles on this subject, please check out the following links:
Welcome to September 2015! It’s that time of year, when several public safety bloggers unify to present a non-profit organization called “Kilted To Kick Cancer” (KTKC) and their annual drive to bring awareness to male-specific cancers, and to raise funds for research and treatment.
The Hard Facts:
There is a strong presence for awareness, and research and treatment fundraising for female-specific cancers, such as Invasive Breast Cancer. Undoubtedly, you’ve seen pink ribbon campaigns and catchy slogans like “Save The Tatas” or “Save Second Base”. These are just causes and merit the strong support they receive. Invasive Breast Cancer afflicts 1 in 8 women. Additionally, it will take the life of 1 in 36 women¹ (males excluded from the statistics here, but recognize that, yes, men can get breast cancer too). This is a conversation that’s accepted in virtually any environment or social situation. We talk about it at work, we talk about it at the family dinner table
But it seems that talking about male-specific cancers is strictly taboo. We don’t talk about it in all but the most trusting social situations, such as a close knit group of guys, or in the bedroom with the missus when the diagnosis has already happened. Why is that? You’ve seen the women’s statistics, now check this out: 1 in 7 men will contract Prostate Cancer. That’s a slightly higher incidence than Invasive Breast Cancer in women. Guess what? It will take the life of 1 in 36 men¹. Testicular Cancer is less prevalent and less fatal, but still a critical part of a man’s whole self. 1 in 263 men will be diagnosed with it. Yes, 1 in 5,000 men² will die from it, which is much better than Prostate Cancer, but one is too many, especially when that one is you or personally affects you and your family. We men don’t have a special ribbon. We only now have catchy slogans thanks to the efforts of KTKC, like “Get Kilted, Get Checked”.
What Can I Do About It?
GET CHECKED! THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP!!! Get to the doctor and get your annual checkup, and don’t skip the prostate exam! Men, check your dangly bits while you are in the shower, at least once a month, and even better, get your woman to help!
TALK! Men (and women), we need to get our priorities in order. No more social stigma! Talk about this serious matter! Talk about it with the men you know and care about. Brothers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, nephews, sons, cousins, mentors, friends, all. If they’re too stubborn to listen, talk to their women and undoubtedly, they’ll help nag them until they get checked and open up to conversation (women: we know you do it strictly out of love and concern!).
And the Kilted Army at KTKC (which includes me) have vowed to make a statement to bring awareness to male specific cancers. We wear kilts every day we can during September, and let me tell you from personal experience, it IS a conversation starter. If a man walks in to a room with a mustache, you’ll probably judge the quality of growth and styling, and once that is done, you’ll likely not give it a second thought, but a man walks into a room with a kilt, and everyone wants to know, “What’s he got on under there?” And people ask! I’ve had literally hundreds of conversations and shared the Kilted To Kick Cancer website (bit.ly/getkilted).
RAISE FUNDS! I don’t place as much emphasis on raising funds as others, but it is still important. Without funding, there is no research. The goal this year is to break $50,000 with our September campaign. While on the KTKC site, you can read about what the organization is doing with the funds that are raised (important tidbit: none of it pays salaries!). I would be very appreciative if you would go to http://www.kiltedtokickcancer.org/product/ktkc-donation-2015/ and make a donation of ANY amount and select “Team Unwired Medic” when checking out. While you are there, you can get the most awesome patch ever created throughout human history! Just read the reviews and you’ll see why…
Part of your purchase is tax-deductible. They also have T-Shirts and Polo Shirts (yours truly sports one) with free custom name/department embroidery available.
WEAR A KILT! No excuses! It doesn’t matter if you aren’t Scottish or Irish. Kilts are for everyone! One of the corporate sponsors is Alt.Kilt and they offer a wide variety of custom and alternative style kilts to suit your mood or purpose for wearing. I personally wear a Sport Kilt. These are great for daily use and you probably won’t shed a tear if you damage one while working or hiking or Tough Mudder-ing. Before I knew I had Scottish and Irish heritage, I knew I am Once A Marine, so I bought the Leatherneck Tartan works package. There are clan tartans, some states have their own tartans, or there are plain colors if plaids are not your thing. There are even firefighter turnout gear kilts! I worked at Burning Man last year and I can tell you, utility-style kilts were all the rage. Men and women everywhere were wearing them. 5.11 Tactical, which ran the Tactical Kilt as an April Fools joke that backfired and became a major real-life seller, runs a limited release every year and it looks like they haven’t sold out this year yet. My mother-in-law and I are working on making me a D-I-Y custom utility kilt from the Instructable directions I found on the web, and with the tips of some other tutorials I found through a web search. There are plenty of other places to shop and they really don’t cost that much. Look on your favorite web search engine (Google, Bing, or [gasp] AOL, et. al.) for Stillwater Kilts, Atlanta Kilts, TactiKilts, Highland Kilt Company, UtiliKilt, etc. A simple, in stock kilt can cost as little as $50, or as much as $1,000 for the most formal getup. Caveat: You do get what you pay for with traditional style kilts, unless you are, or have access to, a seamstress or tailor and can make your own. You can keep it simple and strictly with a kilt, or you can accessorize with traditional garb like flashes, sporran, belts, fly sash, Glengarry, ghillie brogues, sgian dubh, kilt pins, and more. I wear a sporran all year now, usually on my pants belt or just carried in my hand, or I stuff it in my backpack. It carries my EpiPens, MDI’s, and other emergency meds and it’s completely full. I’m going to try my hand at making my own sporran this year to accommodate the meds I now have to carry every day, plus my ID, money, keys, and whatever else I might keep in a pocket.
SHARE! Share my article and connect with me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram). Help spread the word. You can even create your own fundraising team with KTKC.
Stay tuned to my website throughout the month of September and learn more about the Kilted Army and what I’m doing to help! THANK YOU!
Get Kilted, Get Checked! Kilted To Kick Cancer!
¹- American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) – September 2014
²- American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicularcancer/detailedguide/testicular-cancer-key-statistics) – September 2015