The Life of a Meter (continued)
"Have you had a relapse of your Butterfinger addiction? Have you been sick? Have you been taking your meds? Any change in activity?"
Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Diabetes is progressive, but not this fast, I thought to myself."Are you… ummm… pregnant?"
OK, just had to ask. Then I noticed that her test strips were in a Ziploc baggie. Apparently she'd gotten frustrated having to fish strips out of the canister. Now if you look at the inside of your test-strip canister, you'll notice that it isn't a simple plastic tub. It's thickly lined with a white, clay-like substance. That's a preservative mixed in with humidity control stuff.
Ah-ha! I had her fetch an unopened vial and we did a one-rat clinical study. She lanced her finger, gave a gentle squeeze, and got a large drop of blood. Then we did two consecutive tests from the same drop—one using a fresh strip, and one using a Ziploc-ed strip.
Now generally speaking, you should never do this. It's the leading cause of depression amongst people with diabetes, because no two strips will ever give you the same reading. Most strips are accurate to within 20 percent, so you should expect two readings from one drop of blood to be quite a few points off from each other. But in this case…
But in this case, the readings were about 180 points apart. The fresh strip showed a number any PWD could be proud of. The Ziploc strip was crazy-high.
Mystery solved. Lesson learned: Always keep your damn strips in the vial they come in.
In summary, replace your meter every 3-5 years. Stretch your strips if you need to, but not too much. Keep them in the tube they come in.
And if you have a really, really old meter, donate it to someone who collects meters. Just yesterday I was meeting for the first time with a gentleman who'd just moved to our community. I asked him how long he'd had diabetes, how he felt about it, what meds he took, and what meter he used.
He couldn't remember the brand of meter he used.
"Sir," I said, "If you'd kindly direct your attention to the back of my door… Do you see your meter up there?"
He swiveled in his chair and gasped, "Goodness! That's a lot of meters! Well… Let me see…"
"Not that one. Too big. This one looks kind of like mine, but something's not quite right…"
Wil Dubois is the author of four multi-award-winning books about diabetes. He is a PWD type 1, and is the diabetes coordinator for a rural non-profit clinic. Visit his blog, LifeAfterDX.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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