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Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

Rewind.

Put test strip into glucose meter.

Prick finger.

Apply blood.

(Yawn as the meter counts down because it’s six in the morning and what’s sleep?)

Look at screen.

Blink.

Pull strip out of the meter.

Toss it into the meter back with all the other dead strips.

Zip up meter bag.

Brush teeth.

As toothpaste foam starts to drool out of my face, promptly forget what the meter result actually was.

Toothbrush hanging out of my mouth, turn meter back on and scroll back through the memory.

See result.

There it is.

Finally register result in brain.

Repeat every single day.

That Low, Though.

The low blood sugar hadn’t rooted firmly enough in my brain yet, but I knew something was wrong.  My feet were heavy against the treadmill belt, and I kept rewinding the show I was watching because the dialog wasn’t making much sense to me.

BEEEEP!  BEEEEP!  BEEEEEEEP! hollered my phone (aka surrogate Dexcom receiver) from the cupholder of the treadmill.

57 mg/dL with the pigeon head facing south.

Dexcom G5. Looks like a cute little pigeon who wants a hotdog until you realize, "Fuck – I'm really low." #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

“Oh hey,” I said, all casual, while my brain was throwing itself against the inside of my skull, shouting “That low, though!  Go get something to eaaaaaaaaat!”

Instead, I felt compelled to wait until the treadmill had reached an even number of minutes left (WHY?? This sort of compulsion happens regularly.) before I would head upstairs to grab a snack.

Upstairs, I walked through the living room into the kitchen, passing Chris, who asked, “You okay?” and I responded with a grunted, “Low.”

Reaching the fridge, I opened it up and grabbed the first thing I saw:  an already-opened juice box.  The straw was at the ready, making my fumbling fingers flex with relief.  Slightly dizzy and with the low blood sugar almost fully acknowledged by my mind, I drained what was left of the juice box.

Trouble is, the juice box had apparently been left in the desert to ferment and was then tucked back into the fridge.  The fizzy, nasty grape taste in my mouth woke my brain up completely, only urging me to throw up instead of deal with the hypo.  I ambled over to the sink and stood there, holding the edge of it, the breaking news ticker in my brain reading “DON’T PUKE DON’T PUKE.”

I didn’t puke.  

I chased the fermented juice box with some raisins.  I returned to my work out. I wondered briefly if I was somewhat drunk. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it sure as hell won’t be the last.

Review: Verio Flex Meter.

For years, my love for the One Touch Verio Sync meter knew no limits.  Despite a slightly MS-DOS interface that only showed me one result at a time and didn’t let me scroll back to other results unless I loaded them to the Reveal application, I loved this meter.  It was small, it was accurate (as compared to my Dexcom CGM, which I feel is my personal gold standard), and it was covered my by insurance.

I really liked how it worked with the Reveal app the most, though.  I have always struggled with maintaining a blood sugar logbook, and being able to bluetooth my results to my phone and have them collect in an at-a-glance and also an in-depth data map took the heat off my data angst.

But not everyone loved the Sync.  And recently, it was scrapped and replaced by the Verio Flex meter.

I resisted the Flex mostly because I hate change (<– curmudgeon font), but a few weeks ago, I finally switched over (after putting my two Verio Syncs into a cryptex).  Here are my initial thoughts:

PROS:

The Verio Flex turns off immediately after you take the test strip out of it.  This is a nice change from the Sync, where it would either have to time out or be pushed off using the button after each blood sugar check.  The auto-off helps conserve battery (more on why that matters in the CONS section).

There’s a small color chart on the bottom of meter screen (on the actual housing of the meter – see picture) where an arrow shows up underneath each BG result to indicate low, high, or in range.  While this isn’t as useful for me because I’m familiar with the ranges recommended for me, this could be a really useful feature for folks newly diagnosed or who aren’t as familiar with in-range and out-of-range.

It comes with a Delica lancing device, which is my favorite, if you can say such a thing about a device meant to pierce skin.

It’s durable and decently priced.  I paid $19.99 for mine at CVS and when it dropped onto the hard kitchen tile that same night, it did not smash to bits.

CONS:

The battery life doesn’t appear to be awesome.  My glucose meters in the past have taken over a year to burn through a battery, but I’ve already replaced the Flex battery after about a month.  I’m sure the bluetooth transmission cycles the battery quickly, but it was irritating to have to switch out the battery so soon.  I like my t:slim pump because it can be plugged in and charged versus needing to keep a stash of AA batteries, and I liked the Sync for the same reason.

No light!  On the Sync, there was a light at the top of the meter that was bright enough to test in the middle of the night without turning on the lamp.  This was an awesome feature, and I have no idea why it was removed from the Flex, but it’s SORELY MISSED.  Never underestimate the value of a little light that keeps you from putting blood on the strip in a mangled way, wasting the strip.

And the syncing feature takes a while.  I feel like the Sync synced faster while the Flex takes more time to flex its bluetooth muscle.  The way the data maps on the app is identical, so that’s fine, but getting that data there is something I have to remember to do, so every second matters.

Overall, the Flex is similar enough to the Sync that I won’t bust the cryptex back open yet, but hopefully the next iteration will be better on battery, upload automagically to my pump, and the light will return!

Sweet Little Lancet.

Sweet little lancet
You are so damn tough.
I keep you until
All your edges are rough,
Until your sharp peak
Becomes dull and harpoons.
Oh sweet little lancet,
I will change you soon.

Sweet little lancet,
You deploy with a thud.
It can take several tries
To get you to draw blood.
And at that point, you’d think,
I’d wise up and swap out.
But sweet little lancet,
You should have your doubts.

Sometimes I forget
I have a vast collection.
No need to reuse!
I’m inviting infection.
I should change you out
Before you get strange,
But it takes a reminder
(Like when the clocks change.)

Sweet little lancet,
I respect what you do.
My supply closet’s stashed
With an army of you.
But in the event
There’s a cure that’s clever,
I’ll repurpose your ass;
I’ll have thumbtacks forever.

Enjoy the Silence. Or Not So Much.

[Disclosure about my relationship with Dexcom]

During the first trimester of this pregnancy, lows were intense and weirdly symptomatic; a nice contrast from the hypoglycemia unawareness that’s crept in over the last five or six years.  (I ended up stashing a jar of jellybeans in the dining room hutch, only to have to move it into direct line of sight in the kitchen in efforts to keep up with the persistent low blood sugars of those first few weeks.)  As this pregnancy has moved forward, the lows have become slightly more predictable and the hypo-unawareness has returned, making the Dexcom BEEPS! and BLARGHS! more necessary.

Until that week when I noticed, “Hey, the alarms have been quieter.”  And then I realized, “Hey, the alarms aren’t working.”  Because overnight, my G4 receiver had been rendered mute.

When I received the Dexcom recall notice several months ago, it was very early February, and I was still using the G5 transmitter.  At the time, the only people who knew I was pregnant were my family and my medical team, but I knew, and I was stalking blood sugars with vigor (and a side of panic).  My endocrinologist, not a fan of the data output from the G5 application, asked if I would consider using the G4 for the remainder of my pregnancy.  Wanting her to check the “compliant” box on my chart (there’s a first time for everything), I switched back to the G4 the following week and have been on it since.

And for months, my G4 receiver was fine.  Alarmed all the damn time, vibrating and buzzing from my bedside table or my purse and alerting me to the changing needs of my baby-hosting body.  And then, all of a sudden, the speaker went full garbage, not working at all.  Only a vibration came from the receiver, making my phone* the best laid plan for alerting me audibly.

It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and saw the empty raisin box and the discarded juice box that I realized the night before wasn’t very comfortable.  And that I didn’t wake up because of alarms, but instead because of aggressive baby kicks.  I couldn’t ride out the rest of this pregnancy without replacing the receiver, because I was NOT waking up even with the phone alarms.  I needed high octane, receiver-in-a-glass-with-some-coins sort of jolting.  I needed to connect the alarms to Siah, encouraging her to walk across my face when I was low.  Or similar.

I needed the receiver to actually WORK PROPERLY.

So I went to the website – Dexcom has a special page set up for this particular issue.  There’s also a special hotline number to call: (844) 607-8398.  After a quick exchange with the woman on the phone, she asked me to confirm that my alarms weren’t working by doing the following:

  • press the center button on your receiver to access the Main Menu
  • scroll down to Profiles
  • select Profiles
  • scroll down to Try It
  • select Try It
  • scroll down to 55 Fixed Low
  • select 55 Fixed Low
  • verify that you receive vibrations first (vibratory portion of alarm), followed by beeps (audible portion of alarm).

And once we confirmed the alarm absence, a new receiver was scheduled to be shipped out.  Should be arriving in the next few days, in time for me to finish up this pregnancy as a G4 user (to make my doctor happy) and hopefully by staying in my threshold lines (to make my fetus happy).

If your G4 receiver suddenly craps out, sound-wise, call the hotline number and have a new one sent out.  Alarms that won’t alarm are alarming.

(* I follow myself on the Dexcom Follow app, along with one other person.  Yes, redundant.  In response to the dead receiver speaker, I changed the alarm settings on my phone so that I’d be alerted for highs and lows.  This worked, in theory, except when my phone was on silent or in the other room.)

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