Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blood Testing: Feeding the Daily Vampiric Meter

I hate pain.

Always have. My brothers and sisters can tell you any time we had a fight I was usually the first to start to cry when the punches started to hurt. So it should come to no surprise to anyone who knows me that I was less than enthusiastic to learn I'd have to poke myself in the finger every morning to check my blood sugar levels.

Let me explain what a glucose meter is. It's a medical device used to determine the approximate concentration of glucose(sugar) in the blood. It's essential for for people with diabetes to measure their

glucose levels at home.

To test your blood first you wash your hands, then load a lancet into a spring loaded lancing device. It basically launches the lancet fast and hard enough to pierce your skin and draw blood. Then you channel a blood drop into the coded test strip that you inserted in your meter beforehand. Trying to juggle the meter and the test strip can be difficult and even messy so take the time to do the prep work. The meter will then display your current blood glucose levels. Blood sugar levels are as follows:

Baseline blood glucose levels. What your sugar levels should be like first thing in the morning before you eat or drink.

80-120 Normal But ideally, try to keep it around 100.

70 and below Hypoglycemic Holy crud! Eat some crackers NOW!

Above 120 Hyperglycemia This is as bad as being to low! Exercise and burn it


If testing two hours after a meal, blood glucose levels should be no more than 140.

Either condition could lead to coma or death. This is why testing daily is so important.

This doesn't stop me from hating it. Aside from hurting my fingers on a daily basis I'm starting to get

callouses at the injection sites which means I keep having to change fingers so they're all equally sore.

I try to prick the side of my fingers because there are less nerves there than the fingertips.

Plus, there's the expense. I received my meter for free because many manufacturers proved them free of charge through hospitals or doctor's offices. That isn't out of altruism; it's because of those cursed little test strips. They're expensive. And profitable. Even with insurance they can cost between thirty-five cents and a dollar. A. PIECE. So if someone is Type 1 diabetes they may have to test four times a day whereas Type 2 people like me test twice. So that's two to four dollars a day, not counting the price of lancets (which are much cheaper) or medication (which can be equally expensive or worse.) Many people who are diabetic aren't even educated about home testing meters because health authorities don't want to bear the cost of the supplies.

The physician assistant who gave me my meter didn't even instruct me in how to use mine. I had to go to Walgreens, where the very nice pharmacist showed me how. That's just sad.

Take note! Used medical testing supplies like the strips and the lancets could NEVER be placed in the garbage can. Have a separate receptacle for them with a tight lid. They sell such things at pharmacies; similar to a biohazard box in hospitals. You can then take them to a participating hospital to be incinerated. Failure to comply could result in stiff fines by the city or county you live in if they're discovered by the waste management department.

But good news may be on the horizon. Different companies are working on non-evasive devices that use infrared to measure blood glucose. Others are working on continuous glucose monitors where a probe is placed under the skin and separate device monitors the sugar levels every five minutes. The cheapest retails for over one hundred and fifty dollars and I'm not sure if they're covered by insurance. Besides, if finger pricking hurts having a transmitter embedded in one's flesh must be painful.

Guess I'll stick with the vampire blood monitor for now.

Disclaimer: This is my personal experience and my own opinions. I'm not trying to treat or diagnose anything and the opinions I express are my own. This is all conjecture. I'm learning as I go so forgive any inaccuracies. This is a way for me to cope and focus my emotions into something positive. If you read this and recognize yourself in anything I've written about, please, talk to your doctor. Read some books. And never be afraid to scream, cry, or yes, laugh about being a diabetic. I'm going to.