Alert: “I’m darn proud of all I handle,” said in garnet and silver

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 4.13.12 PM“Diabetes Pride,” it’s coming. Hear me Madison Avenue?

If you read about my day in the city with Ms. A“A day trip to Diabetes Land,”  I forgot to mention that I happened to admire a bracelet Ms. Awore. It’s a really nice piece of jewelry and serves as a medic alert bracelet. If you read about my new T-shirt, in“Don’t you love my T-shirt?”, you’ll know I’m starting a new wardrobe featuring messages of diabetes pride. It hasn’t been intentional, but it’s just seemed to have happened lately. Almost as though I’ve an alter-ego taking over my body.

But back to the bracelet. In all my years living with diabetes, thirty-five and a half to be exact, just between you and me, I have never worn a medic alert bracelet. While I’m no Fashionista, I don’t like what they look like, and I don’t like the reference I make in my head — “damaged goods.” Then, too, just to be clear, I’ve never (yet) had an incident where I needed one.

But Ms. A’s bracelet was so nice that after returning home I went directly to the web site where she got it,TAH Handcrafted Jewelry. I clicked ‘Bracelets’ along the left sidebar and scrolled through. There are several designs to chose from. Mine, pictured here, is seventh from the bottom, #9-S. 

I wanted something inscribed, but not one of the expressions I saw on the site, so I called handcrafter, Tim. I asked could he put two words on my bracelet? I wanted it to read, “diabetes” to the left of the center garnet, and “pride” to the right. Just enough to send a message to myself, and anyone who eyes my new bracelet, that not only am I not damaged goods, but I have reason to be proud: a lot of work, as you well know, goes into managing diabetes. It’s something extra we do along with everything else we manage in our lives. Why shouldn’t we be proud? And most people don’t even know we’re working this extra job.

Imagine if all of us who in some way feel “less than” turned it into feeling “more than”? Imagine turning this ugly, old image of diabetes on its head! After all, so much has changed in diabetes today: people are coming out of the closet for one, then there’s dynamic new research, fast-acting insulins, cool pumps, diabetic mountain climbers, triathloners and Olympic swimmers — why shouldn’t we have a new image? I’m imagining that lately —  thus the new wardrobe enhancement. As for my new bracelet, it’s slim, light and bright, and that’s how I feel wearing it. Powerful stuff, me thinks.

You should know 10% of the purchase price of the jewelry on Tim’s site is donated to the foundation of your choice. You get to choose among: Children with Diabetes, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diabetes Research Institute and the American Diabetes Association.

Now, if I should ever be found in distress, I think my really nice bracelet will catch some young paramedic’s eye and he’ll see that I have diabetes. He’ll also see I have attitude and extremely good taste in jewelry.

Meter inconsistencies

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I’m still hot on the Pelikan Sun (mentioned below) lancing device, and how lucky right now to have a lancing device that’s less painful. For after a truckload of new supplies hit my house yesterday: syringes, lancets, test strips and a new-for-me Freestyle Flash, last night and this morning I conducted a meter comparison test. And that meant a lot of finger-sticks.

I lined these 5 meters up to see if/how the results would vary. Pictured are the One Touch Ultra 2, Freestyle Flash, Freestyle Lite, One Touch UltraMini, and One Touch Ultra. One Touches seems to bond together like a family within a small variation. Last night, the One Touch Ultra 2 gave me a 90, Ultra Mini, 96, and One Touch Ultra, 91. The Freestyle Flash came in at 100, and Freestyle Lite, 105.  A 15-point outside spread, not terrible. Yet what was somewhat disconcerting was when I got the Freestyle Lite (newest model, no coding) at the Children with Diabetes conference last month, I ran this comparison test there several times. Each time the Freestyle Lite came in 30 points higher than the One Touches. What was it doing now at only 15 points higher?

This morning before breakfast I tested again in the same order, the One Touches gave me: 98, 96 and 85 (I have to say here, though, I believe the 85 was caused by the One Touch Ultra being the last to feed off one poor, squeezed drop of blood, where some intestinal fluid likely got mixed in.) Meanwhile, the Freestyle Flash reported, 105, and the Freestyle Lite, 113. Eliminating the 85 test result, the outside spread was 17 points. Pretty consistent with last night.

I did a second test round only minutes later this morning. I was just going to re-test the One Touch Ultra, since it had given me that 85, but I couldn’t help myself, and retested all the meters. This time I did the One Touch Ultra first — beside wanting to see if that 85 was an aberration, I didn’t want it to feel left out. Boo hoo. It came back with 100. The One Touch Ultra 2, a 105 and the UltraMini, a 101. The Freestyle Flash was 109. I had no more strips left, unfortunately, for the Freestyle Lite so it was left out of the line-up. Again, pretty consistent with my two other findings, yet now I was newly amazed that only four minutes later my blood sugar was already on the rise.

So what have I learned? For me, the three different meters from One Touch all gave different numbers yet not far apart. The two meters from Freestyle similarly gave different numbers, but not far apart from each other. Yet, they were 10-15 points higher than One Touch. And in Florida the Freestyle Lite was consistently 30 points higher than the One Touch family. I could say that the 30 point high was the meter itself experiencing the stress of being in Orlando in July! However, I think that’s probably not the answer.  Unfortunately, I have no answers, just lots of questions.

If this meter comparison interests you, and you have a bunch of meters at home, see for yourself. However, you will likely be only more confused and frustrated when you finish, since the question then will be, “Which one do I trust and follow?” As a type 1 diabetic, I will take an injection of insulin to correct down if let’s say mid-afternoon I’m over 140, and eat fast-acting carb to correct up if I’m under 50. Yet, if my blood sugar’s really 110 and not 140, I wouldn’t do anything, but smile. If it’s really 80 instead of 50, my smile would be all the wider.

I spent some time this morning searching other blogs for meter comparisons and found a great batch of comments that made me feel many have experienced my angst: http://sixuntilme.com/blog1/2007/05/meter_meter_averageeater.html

This is from a great site I just found, SixUntil Me.

In the end, I agree with what many commented. Use one meter that seems to correspond to your A1cs and symptoms, and expect no meter is entirely accurate.

Still, I am both horrified and saddened that since testing is the best weapon in our arsenal to keep blood sugars in target range and complications at bay, we cannot even rely on the accuracy of our meters. So I want to ask someone — why is there no universal standard, and where is the quality control in the meter industry?

The sun shines on my new lancing device

Less Pain, More Convenient

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I remember someone once telling me, “I don’t participate in trials for new medicines because you never know….but devices, that’s another story!” So, here’s my story. I’m testing a new lancing device that’s already on the market in Australia and coming to market here in the fall.

The device is made by Pelikan Technologies. I saw it exhibited at the Children with Diabetes conference I recently attended. It’s a great lancing device for anyone, and especially for children because it truly is less painful. Here’s the deal: it has 30 different depth settings, holds a cartridge of 50 lancets so you always get a fresh one and never prick your finger accidentally, but the real deal-maker is — when you press the button to fire the lancet, you feel the lancet come out and just softly brush against your finger. A second later, it enters with the softest touch. It’s a little hard to explain, but amazing.

Now dialing a typical lancing device from ‘1’ to ‘2’ to ‘3’ seems so primitive. I’ve also learned using this device, that different fingers vary in skin textures, from rough to smooth, and benefit from a different depth setting. From my pinky to my thumb, I change the depth setting for each finger from 0.4, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8 to 0.9. 0.9 on my pinky would hurt like heck. 0.4 on my thumb wouldn’t penetrate the skin. So once you work out the right depth setting for each finger, you’re assured minimal pain and the amount of blood you need. 

While I ordinarily change my lancets with the coming of each new moon, having them change automatically in the machine both combats my laziness, and really does help minimize pain. And of course, the idea is less pain promotes more testing.

This first digital, battery-operated, lancing device also results in less skin damage, minimal bleeding and faster healing of bruises. All around, this device is heads above anything else I’ve ever seen or tried. Its cool gold color is nice too.

The company is at work building in a meter to make the Pelikan Sun a one stop-shop. I’m glad to hear that because the only disadvantage this lancing device offers me right now is it’s bigger than I really want to carry around. 

I’m sold on this company’s ethics too. As they say on their web site, “All profits from the sale of Diacare products, including the Pelikan Sun, go towards Diabetes Australia-NSW’s research, education, awareness and advocacy programs.” Personally, in today’s global world of diabetes research, I don’t particularly care who gets there first.