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Old School Diabetes: Meters.

A few weeks ago, when I was poking through some old photos, I found my first teaching manual from Joslin.  (The big, red book.)  And tucked inside of that book were some old advertisements for glucose meters.

Like this brick from Accu-Chek:

Old meter from the dark ages of diabetes.

This thing was huge, took two minutes to produce a result, and it was heavy enough to double as a hurricaine doorstop.  It's remarkable how much this technology has changed in the last twenty-two years.  Here's another oldie:

Another oldie.

I love the instructions - they're a freaking mile long!  Blood glucose monitoring has come a very long way since my own diagnosis - from urine testing to blood testing to the Dexcom that reads me every five minutes - but I'm not as impressed as I'd like to be.  I heard a few months back that the accuracy requirements for today's meters are the same as they were back in the late 1970's.  (Is that true?!)  Color options are great and shorter instruction manuals are also nifty, but I'd like this thing to give me results that are SPOT freaking ON. 

Like this morning.

I tested and got 77 mg/dl on my meter.

The Dexcom said I was 39 mg/dl.

I tested again and saw 101 mg/dl.

How can I respond to a number that doesn't sit still for even a second?  How is a diabetic supposed to aim for that moving target?

Most days, diabetes doesn't get into my head and scratch around.  Most of the time, I feel emotionally and mentally equipped to handle the disease management and "life" management.  It's never fun, and never simple, but it's something I feel at peace with.  But this morning, I couldn't even get a sense of what blood sugar number to react to.  And when I peeled off the Dexcom sensor to replace it, a ripe, red dot of infection had brewed up underneath.  My blood sugar, when I arrived at work, was 123 mg/dl but after I ate my snack, it crested up to 234 mg/dl for some ungodly reason.  I don't know which end is up.  And technology isn't doing anything to make type 1 diabetes any easier.

Today, I'm spent.   


ARGH how frustrating, Kerri! I've heard that too about the accuracy not changing - but don't remember what the source of info was...

I'm impressed you keep diabetes from getting to your head on most days, I think that's a lot of days more than me! But I'm so sorry to hear today wasn't one of them and I'm holding out for you that tomorrow will be.

I need a diabetes vacation today too. Hang in there.

I am right there with you. I want to remove all my cyborg nodules from my body and just be for one day. No beeps, no blips, no loud freaking alarms, no testing, no thinking about eating, no diabetes. Free. For one day. Could we do it though? *sigh*
Chin up, Kerri. :)

oh i feel you on the diabetes vacation! i hate those red infection spots!

i start my dexcom trial next week **does happy dance** i can't wait!!

I'm beginning to think the issue with blood glucose measurement is that blood has to circulate at different rates through different tissues (rate determined by cross-section of blood vessel, distance from heart, muscular tone of arterial walls, and requirements of particular tissues), plus, the addition of glucose and insulin into the system also comes in at different rates, from specific spots in the body.

This is normally encompassed in the idea that fingerprick tests are supposed to be the most accurate for home testing and that blood from whichever vein it is in the elbow is the lab standard.

Probably more accurate would be a collection of sensors in a variety of locations: internal near the pancreas (or injection/infusion site), internal near the aorta, internal near the vena cava, something near one or the other carotid arteries (and one near the opposite jugular vein), one by the vein on the inside of the calf, and one or two on the arm and the dominant hand. These would be flow-sensors, and a central computer would give out several readouts including average blood glucose, blood glucose utilization efficiency, and -- by checking the trends from the central to the distal measurements -- circulatory efficiency.

Will this happen for home use in the next 20 years? I doubt it. Would it make us feel even more like cyborgs? Definitely.

Ah, I hear ya!!! I'm obsessed with knowing what my numbers are all the time (I don't have a CGM YET). There have been times I've tested 3-4 times within 5 minutes because I felt differently from my my meter was telling me...and it's been 349, then 258, then 309...AHHHHH!!!!
...at least it's Friday!!! (that helps sometimes) :)

I hear you on your frustrations! I just did a basal test last night - and scratching my head at why the heck my results are okay this a.m. - and were the flukey BG's I've had lately in the morning just part of being part alien or ???? Scream. Sometimes, I wish I was an ant (oh no - here comes a child with a magnifying glass!!!). Anyway, hang in there.

Hurricane door stop? The season is about to start down here, so that sounds good to me.
When I was first diagnosed you had to wait 30 seconds and that seemed like forever to me!! :)

Thanks, guys. Today has been The Suck. I'm hopeful that a weekend home in RI will alleviate some of my homesickness and my diabetes chaos. :)

The one in the bottom picture of that ad looks just like the first meter I had. I kind of wish I had saved it now. :)

I hear you on the last part. Out of my current box of 10 sensors, only one or two have really worked correctly. (I know I should call Mimimed, but I need to psych myself up for that.) And my meter read me at 17 over the weekend. Retested immediately, and it said 39. Still way too low, but less scary to think about than 17.

...so... could this monitor inaccuracy explain why my three year old will sometimes present with all the typical low signs and be 5(90) then another time seem fine but test 2.8 (50)? There are times I'm surprised by how low she is considering her lack of symptoms. It scares the hell out of me, quite frankly.

awhile ago i found one of my grandma's old meters and started to play around with it, i was shocked when i read it took 45 seconds to get a result!

the one she has now is the replacement she got for that one, takes 15 seconds and i thought again that took awhile when i tested one day because i was curious.

all i can say is wow! how the technology has advanced!

I agree that the technology has come a long way. But seriously, isn't it all still pretty damn primitive?

OMG, I *think* that Glucoscan meter is the first meter I ever had, and I've been looking FOREVER for a picture of it! Would you be able to send me a copy that's bigger so I can get a closer look at it?

I've looked through 100's if not 1000's of images online trying to find a picture and I've never come across one. I swear, back in 1984 when I got it, I was the only one with that meter because everyone else had a Glucometer or Accuchek meter.

I am so excited! Also, I'm such a big dork...

And I'm so excited!!

:( sorry you have been feeling so puny. I hate when that happens.

For my 8 year dversary on May 17th I posted some old stuff from diagnosis! It is funny to see how much has changed! even in only 8 years!


I am agree, glucose meters have come a long way. I am still on the fence about the CGM. I see people tweet their numbers (CGM vs Meter) the huge gap between the meter and CGM scares me.

I had that Accuchek Meter! I soooo wish I hung on to those dinosaurs now but I remember being thrilled to throw them out when better stuff came along.


So nice to see a blog from someone that makes me feel so less "alien." I've had my Dexcom for about 4 weeks and I can't tell if my blood sugars are crazy or it is. Today it keeps reading high and low as if I'm roller coasting and yet, my monitor keeps read constant 120's 130's. ARRRRGGH!
- Kimberly

I was just wrestling with bouncing numbers this morning myself! Within one minute I saw: 138, 105, 84. When I called up OneTouch, they informed me that a 20% difference is an acceptable variable for their meters... And I learned that, speaking of different BG readings around the body, the left hand typically reads higher than blood samples from the right because blood from the heart pumps blood there first. Weird. As much as we trust our meters to be right, sometimes it seems they can get mixed up about our diabetes just like we can :)

A couple of the comments resonate with what my doctor told me: successive meter results will vary and are perfectly within the 20% tolerance and that the CGM is probably more accurate than the test strip. Still, I admit, I feel quite excited when the meter and the CGM match!

My sister had that old accu-check back in the 80s, second photo down.

If I recall it took about two minutes two get a reading, and was almost the size of an old brick cell phone.

I think of those at times when sitting at a table with friends, or on a plane- and I take get a reading in about 5-6 seconds...

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