(Ignore the fact that I will surely be low, or high, or somewhere not exactly 104 mg/dL in a matter of hours. But in that moment, I’ve got this. Actually, since writing my post the other day, I’ve been actively working to spend more time in range and I’m seeing better results. Averages are tipping back into my favor, and I’m reminded once again how much of diabetes is a total crap shoot and how much is something I can change … and how much those ratios of crap:change fluctuate.)
But the flurry of leaving the house that morning to catch an early flight left me mentally snowed-in. I brought it with me, right? I know I checked my blood sugar that morning, and I had a clear memory (didn’t I?) of pricking my finger on the plane after we had reached cruising altitude, so where the hell was my glucose meter? I had it just a few hours ago?
“Where is my glucose meter?”
The search went from casual to frantic in a matter of minutes, when I realized that my meter bag was nowhere to be found. Not in my suitcase, not in my book bag, not in the rental car. No memory of where the hell it could be, and all the moments I’ve ever checked my blood sugar on a plane were melting together. Did that happen today, or had I been working off info from my CGM graph all day long?
Just as Chris and I confirmed that my meter was, indeed, MIA, my Dexcom sensor alarm went off, warning me that my sensor was going to die in two hours. And the “low battery” alarm went off a few minutes later on my pump, reminding me that it needed a new battery.
“Everything is breaking and I’m an idiot. I’ve never, ever left my glucose meter behind before. Ever! On so many of my trips, I’ve packed an extra meter, but even on the trips where I didn’t, I still didn’t lose my meter! I’ve never lost my glucose meter before, in like three decades with diabetes.” I was rambling, but frustrated. The device I needed most to properly dose the drug I needed most? Missing. Data crucial to my safe survival? Inaccessible without purchasing a backup system.
(And, as luck would have it, I had just refilled my meter bag with a brand new bottle of 50 test strips and a fresh AA battery for my pump. Reminded me of the time I replaced my car’s exhaust system, filed the tank up with gas, and then proceeded to total the car.)
Thankfully, finding a pharmacy that sold the brand of glucose meter I had strips at home for was easy enough. (I didn’t want to have to replace the meter, again, when I got home.) And thankfully, we have the means to purchase a meter and a bottle of test strips without insurance coverage. But holy shit, I was shocked to see the sticker price for a bottle of 25 test strips.
“Forty five dollars? For 25 test strips? That’s bananas!” I said the pharmacist. “How do people afford these things without insurance coverage?”
She shrugged. “They don’t. They buy the CVS brand and the strips that go with that one. Most people don’t pay for the top tier strips out of pocket.”
“It’s what it is,” she said. She finished ringing up the meter and strips (and AA batteries for the pump), bringing my grand total up over $100. For a meter, 25 test strips, and batteries.
“This is the price for maintenance,” I said to Chris. “For the stuff that keeps me healthy. I can’t imagine what the cost would be to do more than “maintain.’”
After reuniting with a glucose meter, our trip continued on without issue. But throughout the rest of the week, I thought about having access, and having the financial means to replace things I accidentally lose, and being grateful. I thought about the Spare a Rose campaign and how far $5 goes.
This holiday season, I’m more grateful than ever for more things than I realized.
(And when we came home on Friday evening and I went into the bathroom, I saw my glucose meter sitting on the bathroom counter, halfway hidden underneath a hand towel. Never again!)
[Second Disclosure Verse, Same as the First: I have received the Verio Sync meter for review prior to the full US launch. I was not asked to write this review. Opinions shared, for better or for worse, are mine. Typos, too.]
It’s been about five weeks since I started using the Verio Sync, and after getting over the initial “eh, the screen isn’t as nice as the Verio IQ,” the transition was smooth. The meter performs similarly to the Verio IQ, but it does have some potent perks.
Ahem. Potent perks:
The battery life on the Sync is better than that of the IQ. I think. I actually haven’t seen the “low battery” icon yet on the Sync (except when the meter starts up after sticking a strip in, so I at least know the meter has a low battery icon). With the IQ, I was charging it every five days or so, and it only lasted that long when I would manually shut the meter down after testing (holding the button down until the meter screen went blank). The Sync turns off automatically much faster. For now, I charge the Sync when I charge my Dexcom, which is every five or six days.
The syncing feature of the Sync doesn’t drain my iPhone battery as much as I’d thought, because I don’t leave the Bluetooth feature on my phone enabled all the time. I enable Bluetooth as needed, uploading the results once or twice a day instead of every time I test. This helps conserve battery on all fronts.
As a PWD who has always struggled with logging blood sugars, the app for this meter is awesome. Not because it does anything truly remarkable (it doesn’t fly, and it doesn’t make me fly), but it does what it’s supposed to do: automagically sucks my blood sugar results from the meter and loads them into the app. For someone like me, who struggles with making the time to download meter results, this is extremely useful. At a glance, I can see how things have been going, and it’s powerful motivation for me to either continue on the same path or to change the course of it … blood sugar-wise. (See also: things have been good the past few weeks, so lots of green on the graph. But back in mid-December, there was more red up there than I’d like. Something about keeping the green as the dominant color serves as incentive. In other news, a bell just rang and now I’m craving a snack.)
I also saw some of my first pattern alerts crop up, which were more common with the Verio IQ. Tagging doesn’t seem to be tied to “I ate” or “I didn’t eat” but more to time of day, seeing as how manually tagging blood sugars is a feature that was removed for the Sync. (Again, this didn’t affect me much because after about four months with the IQ, I turned off the tagging feature. It frustrated me that I could only be a “full apple” [before meal] or a “bitten apple” [after meal]. I needed a third icon for simply “not eating.”)
Another powerful bit of information for me is the ability to see my 14 day averages portioned out by time of day. Again, being able to score at-a-glance information about when my blood sugars are in range, out of range, and free range (read: bonkers) is very useful and helps me make tweaks as needed.
I do not like swapping one feature for another, though. The Ping meter had the ability to send results straight to my insulin pump, and I was to remote bolus using the meter. The Verio IQ and the Sync do not. And as I mentioned before, the Sync seems like an aesthetic step back when compared to the IQ. I really wish glucose meters, as they are improved, didn’t take features away as they moved forward.
But, as previously mentioned, it seems accurate. So far, it’s matched very well with the results I’ve seen from my Dexcom G4 sensor, and it’s also lined up neatly with the results I’ve seen from hospital-grade lab work (A1C draws). Bells and whistles are nice, but accuracy and dependability reign absolutely supreme in this house.
Today’s Diabetes Month Photo-A-Day prompt is “check.” And seeing how different my Dexcom result is from my meter proves why it’s still important for me to check my blood sugar instead of relying on the information from my CGM. (Also, you can’t see the “blood drop” request for calibration because the overhead light flushed it out, but this Dexcom sensor was four hours overdue for a meter check.)
Diabetes is a science experiment, with imperfect tools, an imperfect host, and a busted up pancreas. But we keep rockin’.
I am not a doctor. I am not a certified diabetes educator. I have no medical degree. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice, and if you are taking it as medical advice, I suggest you contact your doctor immediately for issues other than diabetes.
This is my diabetes life - if you are interested in making changes to yours, you need to consult your doctor.
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