Here’s the truth: you never know what someone else might be going through or dealing with. This is true when we’re talking about people’s emotions, their finances, and yes–even their health. Just because someone looks healthy doesn’t mean that they aren’t dealing with serious health issues. Conversely, not all serious health issues require overt and obvious accouterment. Here are a few of the “invisible” ways that people deal with health concerns.
Stomp the Runway
It wasn’t so long ago that health care and fashion were seen as totally separate ideas. This is why it was so easy to tell if someone, for example, had spinal problems, balance issues, pain problems, blood clots, etc. The clothing and tools meant to help minimize symptoms were, forgive the bluntness, really ugly. Feeling skeptical? Do a google search for the history of orthopedic shoes.
Today many therapeutic clothing manufacturers have gotten hip to the fact that people will be more likely to stick to a therapeutic regimen if the garments they are required to wear blend in with the rest of an outfit. Consider, for example, compression socks. Used by thrombosis patients, diabetics, etc.–these socks used to universally be that gnarly “flesh” color. Today, compression socks come in a variety of colors and styles. They look just like any other socks or tights you might buy at your favorite boutique.
Pump Up the Volume
When we think of people who deal with diabetes, what comes to mind? Careful meal planning and an endless series of finger pricks and insulin injections? Today more and more diabetics are opting out of individual injections and into pumps. Instead of having to take time out of their days for individual injections, an insulin pump delivers steady doses of insulin all day–even between meals. The result is better blood sugar regulation and less stress for the patient. The pumps themselves have gotten smaller and easier to hide under a person’s clothing. The bulky obviousness has been traded out for pumps that sit flat against the skin, can be placed inside fashionable belts or even worn like pedometers. Unless you look very closely, you’ll never know it’s there.
Diabetics aren’t the only people who use pumps. People who are going through chemotherapy are also sometimes given portable pumps that will deliver chemotherapy continuously/on a specific schedule. These pumps, which deliver the drugs via a surgically implanted port, allow a cancer patient to spend more time at home and to better keep up with their regular lives. The pump itself can be contained in a fanny pack or a small purse-like backpack. The tubes that connect the pump to the port can be run under the shirt and the port itself can be covered by accessories or carefully situated clothing.
Move over, Fitbit, there are new (and better, less manipulatable) health-based wearables and smart gadgets in town. The smartwatch is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of health and fitness monitoring. A lot of attention has been paid to the smart watch’s ability to monitor a person’s heart rate, calorie intake, movement, food, etc. And when you pair the watch with a smartphone or a tablet, there are even more health criteria you can track and manage. But smartwatches aren’t the only devices that can help manage a person’s health.
People who are dealing with blood pressure and cholesterol related issues, for example, can purchase “smart” blood pressure cuffs that connect to their smart devices and tablets (either by cables or bluetooth). There are also portable ECG monitors for those whose cardiac needs/issues are more complex.
Portable gluten testers are fantastic tools for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. These devices allow people to eat safely when dining out or are away from their kitchens (and have little control over ingredients used).
Those with knee issues can benefit from the Quell smart knee brace. The brace looks like every other run of the mill brace and helps stabilize knee defects and other issues. It also contains pain relief technology that can sense and soothe the muscle spasms and pain that accompany knee problems.
The point is this: The people you see every day are dealing with a myriad of issues that you will never be able to see and, thanks to upgrades in fashion and technology, are easy to hide. The examples here are just the tip of the iceberg.