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The footprint of Carol’s grandson

February 25, 2022

4 minute read


Biography: Aldasouqi is a professor of medicine and head of the division of endocrinology at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing.


Disclosures: Aldasouqi does not report any relevant financial information.


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Carol came in for her routine follow-up for her pituitary disorder.

As I was examining her, I noticed a beautiful tattoo on her forearm (Figure). I asked him about the tattoo. She said it’s the footprint of her grandson, now 12.


footprint tattoo
Figure. Photo credit Salah Aldasouqi.

She shared the memories of the tattoo she remembered so vividly and happily:

Saleh Aldasouqi

“Shortly after he was born, I took the birth certificate, the familiar (preliminary) whimsical and colorful certificate with the imprint issued by the obstetrics units, to my tattoo artist and asked for it to be tattooed on my forearm.”

I was so touched by the story of the tattoo.

I then shared with Carol how I got into the tattoo literature on medical alert tattoos (MAT) many years ago.

In 2008, I saw a patient with type 1 diabetes. As I was examining him, I noticed a MAT that had recently been tattooed on his wrist. As I was surprised, but without opposing it, he felt happy to share his enthusiasm for tattooing. He said he accompanied his wife to a tattoo parlor to get a decorative tattoo, he had the idea to ask the tattoo artist if he can tattoo on his wrist a picture of the diabetes medical alert bracelet he wore on the wrist. The tattoo artist said he had never done this before, but would be happy to do so.

The tattooed MAT looked nice, and since it was new to me, I asked the patient’s permission to report it as a medical case report at the upcoming American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE) meeting, in as a case report summary. Not only did he approve, but he was so excited about it. He wanted to share his innovation with the world.

I did not expect AACE to accept my summary, but not only was the summary accepted, but they also informed me that they would include the summary for media coverage in the press room. I had never seen any of my previous research covered in the media! The case was published in USA Today, and it was the first media interview I ever had.

I was then pleasantly overwhelmed by the notoriety that the MAT case report achieved. Over the next 3-4 weeks I was called by many media, from BBC-London to Radio Canada, Voice of America, several other radio/TV stations, online and print media. If I remember correctly, the funniest interview was with the talk show “The Rutherford Show” in Edmonton, Canada. Show host David N. Rutherford surprised me with a question about the controversial “DNR” – for “Do Not Resuscitate” – tattoo that some people have on their chests. He asked, “What if I tattoo my name, DNR, on my chest, then I have a heart attack? Won’t the doctors resuscitate me?

This DNR dilemma is another story for another day!

I then published several cases and research papers on medical alert tattoos, which are available in the medical literature. However, the most interesting thing is what I just discovered while researching this topic: an article of mine was cited in Wikipedia under the search phrase “Medical Tattoo”. It is listed under reference #12 and linked to this sentence:

“Tattoos have also been used to notify emergency personnel that a person has diabetes mellitus; people with this condition may fall into a diabetic coma and be unable to communicate this information” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_tattoo).

Towards the end of Carol’s visit, as I finished her visit to the clinic in the electronic medical records, I spotted something very intriguing.

I said, “I can’t believe it!”

She asked, “Believe what?”

“Carol, you have the same birthday as my birthday, but a different year.”

She somehow didn’t believe and then asked, “Show me your driver’s license.”

I proudly pulled out my wallet and showed him my driver’s license. Then we discussed how we shared so much.

I finally said, “Do you know who else shares our anniversary?” My daughter.”

My youngest daughter, Malak, was my 39th birthday present, and she was heavenly compensation for the loss of our daughter, Jinan, whom we had lost a year earlier. I wrote about Jinan and Malak’s story in a previous post:

“And the best part about memories of Jinan, a kind of happy ending to this experience, is that our family was blessed with a beautiful little angel, Malak (“angel” in Arabic), who was born a year after Jinan passed away. Malak is now 18, healthy and smart with a great sense of humor! Malak has just started college at MSU, becoming the fourth Aldasouqi Spartan and the last still in college. MSU is a family tradition: My affiliation with MSU began in 1992, when I began postgraduate medical training at Hurley Medical Center, Flint, which is an MSU-affiliated community hospital Most delightfully, Malak was my “heavenly” gift for my 39th birthday, born exactly on my birthday, so April 20 is a double whammy with us.

I then asked Carol’s permission to write her story for this blog and with this photo. She approved and said she would share the story with all her family and friends. This will be the template for the blog, like many previous blogs, which started out as posts like this.

Reference:

  • Kluger N, Aldasouqi S. Press Med. 2013; doi:10.1016/j.lpm.2012.04.009.