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Diabetes Torture Devices.

Last week, on Twitter, Elizabeth Arnold posted a link to a photo that made my whole body cringe and I instinctively said, "Oh crap, THAT thing?" (I'm stealing and reposting this photo here, but the original photo credit belongs to Cardinal Health.) 

Behold - The Guillotine:

The Guillotine:  Worst Lancing Device EVER

This photo made me shudder because I remember this lancing device clearly.  It was the first one I ever used, outside of having my finger pricked by the nurses with the lancet alone, and I remember the shunk sound it made as it came careening towards my fingertip.  It wasn't the standard shunk we know now - this sucker would have to be cocked back like a rifle, and once it clicked loudly into place, you had to hit that button on the back to release the spring-loaded lancet.  And it wasn't just spring-loaded - The Guillotine had an agenda.  It would come screaming over the top of the curve and embed itself into your fingertip, and it was all my mother could do to keep my hand pressed against that little plastic circle at the bottom there. 

I hated it.  It scared the crap out of me, and even though more humane lancing devices were introduced soon after my diagnosis, The Guillotine lived in our house much longer than I'd care to admit.  Even the lancets looked like little harpoons. 

Back in 1986, diabetes technology wasn't completely archaic (I was dx'd after disposable syringes were used, and way after pumps were the size of backpacks), but it wasn't comfortable in the slightest for a second grader.  That Guillotine still makes me cringe, even 23 years later, and I'm increasingly thankful for every little advancement we've seen over the last two decades.  

Because I mean, really.  Look at that thing.  OUCH!!


Before the Autolet became available I was using a sewing needle. Go figure. Nearly impossible to get the big blob of blood that was required at that time.
So, when I got my AL I was in heaven (granted, I was a lot older than you).
Although to this day I can still hear that snapping sound as the lance came down.
The instructions also said to change the little platform for each test, in addition to the lancet - got you coming and going even back then

WOW, that thing brings the NOISE! Thank goodness for my 33 gauge lancets now that fire out of view.

Argh, I hated that thing. We used them at camp, and I totally had to psyche myself into pressing the button. Oh, the bruises I'd have on my poor fingers! At home I was old-school though and just used the lancet until '84 when I got the first One Touch meter that came with a pen-style lancing device.

i remember that thing... even though it did about the same thing as the new ones.... man do looks matter. it is amazing what hiding the guts of a machine can do for your fear...

OMG. And I thought the one I first used (with the One Touch II) meter hurt like a son of a gun! :(

Ouch! Thank god inwas dx'd in 2004!

Worst lancing apparatis EVER & it's the main reason I don't use a lancing device now.

This was all that was available when I was first DX ----I couldn't do it then and still can't. I started using the lancet 'free hand' and do it to this day--it still seems 'kinder'!

I used one of those for YEARS!

I remeber in 1982 I got a infection in my finger and had to go tothe base hospital in Grand Forks ND with a very puss filled swelled up finger tip. They had to cut it open and drain it. I NEVER got another infection like that from any other device.

I can still hear that "BANG!" it made when hitting the removable plastic piece at the end of it. (No wonder my fingers are so tough and hard to poke now days)

I wish you well


Yikes! That is freaky looking.

Yuck, I remember that thing!!! Hated it!

Just think, in 10 years we'll post pictures of the needles our current CGM sensors have. And we'll cringe and laugh and be happy that they make them thinner and smaller and that they work better. Right? A girl can dream!

I absolutely cringed just seeing the picture. I last saw one of those recently when i gave blood to Red Cross and they used it to test my hematocrit. I thought I had gotten over my fear of all things sharp. NOT! Thanks for the reminder of how good we have it now (as I check Dex to see how breakfast is digesting) and what marvels new techology has brought us. You rock!

I still have my old one. I used it recently when I lost my lancing device and it turned out that my spare was broken. It actually wasn't bad. Probably because I used a fresh lancet for the first time in forever.

Wow..at least something's improved in 25 years.That thing is evil-looking.

Evil looking device! Thank heavens for are very quietly clicking pen!

WOW!!!! So happy we don't have to use that.... that's horrible!!!

I had one of those torture devices. I too can recall it's sound and what it felt like... ouch!

OMG...my stomach is in a knot. I haven't seen one of those in years, but it was what my first lancing device was. I hated it. I hid it and my mom always found it.

Revenge of the Thanksgiving turkey's widow(er)! Were they all decked out in mourning attire, or were there more optimistically feathered birds to be had? (Thank goodness for the sheathed fangs of Softclix.)

I wrote about this exact device earlier this year, because I still have mine! I'm a hoarder and just can't throw these pieces of my history away.

I posed for a picture with it pressed to my finger, but after all this time I couldn't bring myself to actually try it out. How on earth I did as a three year old child... Still sends shivers down my spine.

@Ckoei Hahaha. It really does look like a turkey in mourning! That comparison just made my morning (sans 'u').

That just looks wrong. I suppose I'm glad I got diabetes after tech got better (if one can be glad about diabetes? Lol...)

I was diagnosed just months before you. I, too, remember that evil device. I was only 4, but that thing will live in my memory until I'm old and grey.

Ah, Kerri, as the mom of a boy who was diagnosed at age 3, your post actually made me tear up. I can't relate to having diabetes, but I can relate to your poor mom who had to make her unwilling child use that terrible thing. I still remember the horrible lancets that they had in the hospital (made for adult fingers) that made his little fingers bleed and bleed....

That photo makes me nauseated! And I am not squeamish at all. SCARY.

I have a stomach ache just thinking about that thing. Thank the good lord my little guys don't have to use that contraption!


Hi Kerri,

Oh my, that's one nasty looking torture device. I showed my daughter who has been using a Freestyle for the past 6 1/2 years. She thought it was a tape measure. Quick explanation and she's once again appreciative of the latest and greatest in technology. Of course, the large ketones earlier today that were dealt with by a quick site change, double correction and a 200% temp rate plus bg tests every hour help her to appreciate the advances over the years.

Have a great Thanksgiving, Kerri.

All the best,

I was lucky enough that I was diagnosed after this beauty went out of use. Looking at it made me a teary eyed thinking of a child being submitted such torture. I feel even worse still for the poor mom's and dad's who had to use this on their children. Ouch!

I remember seeing one of those when I was younger. I can't remember if it was at the doctor's office or with my friend who is Type 1 when we were younger.

i remember my mom telling me when she was in highschool they would test their blood to find out their blood type and had to use the "The Guillotine figure poker" as she would say.

now that i have seen it i can say...owww.

LOL - thanks for the laugh, I think I still have one of those beasties in my box of memorabilia... Here's to old school! :)

That thing gave me nightmares, and I only saw my grade school friend use it a few times.

Ha ha! It looks a little (ok, a LOT) like a guillotine, doesn't it? At that time, I chose a less-ominous looking lancet device called the Autoclix, which was no less painful, but still LOOKED less creepy.

Holy hell, girl! That thing looks positively HORRIFIC. I wouldn't have tested my sugar at all! Good control be damned! *shudders* I'm really glad those are long gone.

DUDE. That's what they used on me in the hospital when I was diagnosed -- in 2002. That's the lancet device from HELL. I'm always describing it to people and I can't help but shudder...seriously, who designed that instrument of torture? It made me bleed buckets and bruised me horribly. (I also got into an argument once with a nurse who was talking about how testing blood sugar is messy and that's why we shouldn't do it in public places, or we'd leave blood everywhere. Maybe if y'all weren't using lancing devices from three decades ago you'd understand that it is indeed possible to test one's blood sugar without one's bodily fluids flying everywhere...?)

K rant over. Shudder!

Compared to the folks here, I am a dinosaur. I'm 62 and have Type 1 for over 51 years. When I first began taking insulin shots there was this thing called, the Bush Automatic Injector. It was an all steel device and you had to place the glass syringe after putting on the steel needle (which was not disposable, and hence dulled), into this device and after pressing the platform against your inner thigh, hit the button which released the syringe and needle into your leg. Most of the needle would be buried in there. You then pressed the plunger to release the insulin. In those years, there was very few kinds of insulin and so I only had to do this once a day--but for this 11 year old it was one time too much. It was as if Margaret Mead designed that instrument.
I remember well the lancet device that you pictured; in fact, I remember most of the advances since becoming diabetic. The first glucose testing machine that came out for public consumption was as big as a Cadillac and slow--3 minutes, I think, before you got a result.
I wrote a memoir about all of that, as well as a life lived on the edge of life. It's called, JUNK SICK: CONFESSIONS OF AN UNCONTROLLED DIABETIC. A major publishing house hear in NYC almost published it until this economic catastrophe hit. My agent told me to wait, but I didn't think I could. It's now available as an ebook. I always thought that there were a lot of "how to" books on diabetes, but very few that discussed about the emotional aspect of having a chronic illness and other things that we are all subject to.
I've really enjoyed reading this blog, including the comments over the past few months. Each time I get an alert to a new posting, I check it out.

I remember that evil thing! Luckily I had the One Touch "Penlet" device, but it broke once and I had to use this thing as a backup. I never had a problem giving myself shots or pricking my finger before that, but just knowing how far back you had to pull that thing to "cock it", the though of pressing that button scared the living hell out of me. And why on earth did the lancet need to be so long? I just don't get it.

I've researched and found that there's a glucose meter or not a pricking thing on your finger device. It's not out yet because they're checking on it's accuracy. It looks like an mp3 player.


Oh man. I totally remember that thing. OUCH!

I am not squeamish by nature, but OMG....seeing that horrible contraption after all these years actually made me shiver! I had one of those things--and that is the ONE, SINGLE reason that I never tested! I told my mom that I did, but I lied, lied, lied. To this day, I still cannot prick my own finger--even with one of the ultra-fine lancets/devices. I've been scarred for life because of that awful thing! PS: My endocrinologist lets me use my earlobe to test my blood. There is almost no feeling in the lower, fatty part and you can get a pretty good drop of blood from it and the results don't differ much from the finger poke.


I forgot about that thing. Yes, I had one, too.

I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

seeing that pic make me feel ill, its horrible when ya young and the first thing they use in hospital to test ya blood is that, im glad there have been improvements

lol, i remember that thing! i still have mine in a drawer of old school torture products. anyone remember a device to inject your insulin for you? it was a foot long and was like a broom sticks thickness, you'd cock it back and press this rd button and "KER-SMACK!" it would slam your syringe into you and inject it in a nano second. wish i still had that baby.

Good God! This was the thing that led to my 27 year phobia of lancing devices - I have only just got over it!! Those were the days my doctor told me to cut the strips in half to help save money! Hurrah for medical advances!

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