« Old Photos. | Main | Easter Eggin' It. »

Color Comparision Chart.

As I mentioned yesterday, I stumbled upon some diabetes relics at my dad's house the other day.  Now I'm totally in memory lane mode.  :)  I found this staple of my early diabetes management:

The Red Diabetes Book

The "Red Bible."  This book was given to my parents by the Joslin Clinic when I was diagnosed, and it held the supposed answers to any diabetes questions.  (You can see on the cover there where I was practicing spelling "restaurant" many years ago.)  I thumbed through the book and found plenty of recipes and snack ideas, all using the old food exchange philosophy.  Pages and pages of things I couldn't eat, and small sections of what my lunch options were. Half a cup of spinach, one sugar-free popsicle, rice cakes with peanut butter, those peanut butter nab things ... places to buy food scales and measuring cups ... countless pages focusing on food.  I always hated that assumption that a healthy diabetes life was achieved solely through my dinner plate.

There were three pages on handling diabetes in school settings.  No mention of 504 plans or testing in the classroom or anything about how my fellow students would react.  A short description of the symptoms of low blood sugar and how to treat it, but that was about it.

The pages on blood sugar monitoring and management brought me back to my diagnosis days.  When I first started testing my blood sugar back in 1986, we used a machine that took 120 seconds to produce a result and the strips were color-comparison ones that had to be wiped with a cotton ball and then plugged into the meter.  The color comparison chart seems so remedial compared to the UltraLink on my desk or the Dexcom on my hip.   Here's a screenshot of what we'd compare the color pads to:

Chemstrip color comparison chart

Not much to go on.  (And the numbers were too easy to manipulate.  I remember wiping the color pads on the strip with rubbing alcohol to make the results seem lower.  I wasn't the most responsible kid.)

The thing that kills me is the lack of focus on the emotions of diabetes.  There were only TWO pages on "living with diabetes."  How stress can affect blood sugar management.  How important the impact of a support network is for acceptance and dedication.  I want to rewrite this Red Bible and flesh out more of the parts that count.  Support groups, diabetes blogs, communities ... this is the future of diabetes management.  Meters have improved a little, insulin has improved a smidge, but our methods of support have leapt by such enormous margins that my future health is already brighter.  

My Joslin appointment is next week.  And believe me, I'll be talking about you guys there.


Oops - this sentence is unfinished: "I always hated that assumption that a healthy ..." (end of first paragraph after Red Bible photo)

The only "documentation" I remember receiving after my diagnosis was a little meal conversion chart to get an idea of how much food I could (should) eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner. And then boom, back to college...figure it out. I guess progress a relative term.

But you're right about community. I've learned more in the past 6 months than I have in my first 6 years with this thing. No telling what condition I would be in without all of this...

Ahh... memory lane! I've been going down there a lot lately. As I noted this week I used to manipulate the results with those strips too. The colour chart really brings back memories, as I couldn't find one of those amongst my own stuff.

I've turned up a bunch more diabetes history today in the course of a big spring clean. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's kept it all, or looks back on it with mixed emotions.


Yes, I remember those ChemStrips. My most vivid memories of them are the giant blood drop that was needed, and my father sitting in our family room cutting them in half to make the drop needed smaller, and to save money.

It's also good to hear that I'm not the only one who did the rubbing alcohol trick. I didn't do it with the ChemStrips, but I did with the first meters. I actually learned that "trick" at diabetes camp. Probably not the sort of education the staff hoped we'd learn.

I used to cut the Chemstrips in quarters, lengthwise, so they'd go further. (Even though the package said not to).

I remember thoes strips too! That's what happens when you're diagnosed in 1985. Sigh.
I also remember the days of 120 BG results and a meter the size of a brick.
And the food options.
And the kids in my class all gathering around to watch me test my blood sugar before lunch.
I'm glad you will talk about us. I wish I'd had something like this when I was growing up. I know most of us wish we'd had a wider support system.
But, the good news is that it's there for the children and parents of today. And us. The diabetes "vets". :)

Wow!...that is great that you still have those things! Kerri...you really should re-write that book! You are such a strong voice for all of us! Yes...diabetes carries loads of emotion!

So interesting! Isn't it crazy to think about how the heck we made it through all those years? :-)

I used to scratch away the color pad with my fingernail before sticking it into the machine...

Did you guys ever use the strips to test soda to make sure it was diet when you were out to eat? They were the best for that!

I have to say, one of my earliest memories of anything is of you testing as a little kid. I distinctly recall waiting for that machine to come back with a number, and I remember that number was seriously important. I have a very visual memory; I'm pretty sure I can still see the orange-capped syringes you used to use.

[The cool thing is that I also remember a lot of non-diabetes related stuff, including your Slip 'n Slide and, ahem, CK.]

It's intriguing you've mentioned something that I hadn't thought much about until the last month or so. I also go to the Joslin Center in my home area, and they never have talked, nor had any classes, on the emotional part. And I'm not talking just the part when you first find out about it. I'm talking about after time, when you're irritated after hearing someone comment on something you want to eat because they know, or just because you sometimes feel you get angrier quicker than you used to, which can be a side effect of diabetes, along with depression. Yes, you mention it, and see what they have to say about it all.

Glad to have found your blog through Twitter! Mine isn't a diabetic blog, per se, but I've talked about it a couple of times, including a long post on National Diabetes Day.

I used alcohol pads on my chem strips too when I was little!!!!! I am so relieved that I'm not the only one going to hell for trying to make my numbers look better (just kidding!!!) I really thought I was alone on that one.

Chemstrips. Ah the memories. We cut them into skinnier ones, too. I never learned the rub it with alcohol trick, though. I was dx'd in 1985, in 9th grade. The other kids were always asking why I got to eat in class. In a final exam in 11th grade, the principal was called to race to the class with some juice, cause I went low and I wasn't allowed to leave to get more (I had already used my stash and it wasn't helping).
Lots of memories. :)

Yep, I remember those strips and the agonizing 2 minute wait - but it got us out of class! And if you were high or low, that'd be even MORE time waiting for your blood sugar to return to a normal range (though we did have to endure awkward conversations with the school nurse at Babcock. I have a horrible memory burned in of her basically telling us we were getting boobs and should start wearing bras. I think the word she used was "breastlings")

And while Bob and his needle-phobia remembers the orange capped syringes, I remember firing the pea-sized yellow thingeys from the top of the finger prickers out of the pen thingey. (PEW PEW!)

Look at my diabetes knowledge... thingeys all around!

And how can we forget the infamous Morrone hampsters? Phee, Phi, Pho, Phum and Phlippy... Phido.... Phephe? Phoebe?

Prinderella always had to wean the clindows and do all the worty dirk.

I was diagnosed in 1993. Do you remember the Pink Panther book? I guess it had a little more of a "living with diabetes" section!

I'm always impressed with your blogs. You write about your own personal experiences with "D" and it seems like you speak to (and for) the millions of us with it. Thanks for being so good with words :) You make the world seem more understanding for us. Thank you!

Thank you for finally posting a picture of the color chart on the Chemstrip vial! I have been searching for a photo like this for my talks for YEARS. It's great to educate those who split hairs about a blood sugar of 116 vs. 120!

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)