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Gripes About Glucose Meters.

April 30, 2008


I would like to register to a complaint.

Twice in the last few days I have had questionable results on my glucose meter. While this isn’t the first time that this has happened, and I know quite a few people in the community have lodged their concerns about the accuracy of glucose monitoring, I would like to add these two anecdotes to the books.

This past Sunday I woke up very, very late (as in, past noon) and eating in the morning isn’t something I typically do on the weekend. Usually I wake up around 11:30 and I’ll just wait a couple of hours until lunchtime and eat then. Sometimes I’ll even go longer and just eat an early dinner if I have a lot of errands to run and my blood sugar is steady. However, on this particular morning, I awoke with an 89 mg/dl (or something like that). It was a little too low to just forgo eating altogether, but I wasn’t that hungry and wasn’t sure what I wanted. I had a bag of chips left over from Panera, so I snacked on that for awhile before heading out to run my errands. I didn’t bolus for this bag of chips, but it was small, coming in at only 19 grams of carbs. I thought perhaps I might go a little higher than ideal, but I also didn’t want to take insulin and then go low while I was driving. I thought I was being smart.

Well, 3:30 p.m. rolls around and I’m starving. As in, I can’t go one more minute without shoving something in my face. I was about to go grocery shopping, and you know what they say about grocery shopping on an empty stomach (anyone seen those Mastercard commercials? Not pretty). So, being the bad diabetic (and WW participant), I went to Burger King. It was was close, it was convenient and it was cheap, especially important when the oil companies are sucking my wallet dry.

I sat down with my food and brought out the trusty Lifescan Ultra (the Keynote was out of strips so I grabbed the other meter before leaving). Whipped out the lancet, pricked my finger and five seconds later…

484 mg/dl

Excuse me??

Okay, now, I know I didn’t bolus for my chips. I realize that may not have been a smart move. But I know carbohydrates pretty well after almost fifteen years of tracking my blood sugar and there is no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that 19 grams of carbs would take me from 89 mg/dl to 484 mg/dl. No way.

In complete disbelief, I tested again.

218 mg/dl.

Sigh. Now that’s more like it.

Seriously, now, what the hell was that 484? I clearly was not 484, as I would have been gulping down the Diet Coke like I was in the Mojave Dessert. How does something like this happen? I understand there being some degree of variance in blood sugar meters (I understand it, I don’t like it one bit, but I understand it), but this was a difference of two hundred and sixty-six points!

I’ve even noticed meters that register me higher than I feel when I know I’m low. When I can clearly feel it. Trust me, I am not the least bit hypounaware ( ::knock on wood, toss salt over the shoulder, spin around three times, spit:: ).

You know, these fancy gizmos like continuous glucose monitors and wireless insulin pumps and laser finger pokers are great, but I could really go for a glucose meter that did its job right.

Thank you.

8 Comments
  1. April 30, 2008 4:01 PM

    Could it be an issue of there being something on your hands? Like lotion, or even chip residue? I know I’ve had problems when I’m baking and I still have some icing, cake batter, sugar, whatever on my fingers.

  2. April 30, 2008 4:02 PM

    I hate when this happens.

    Especially if the first reading is inaccurate by, say, 30 points. Enough to make you do something but not enough to make you check again. That can really throw you for a loop.

  3. April 30, 2008 4:13 PM

    The only time I’ve had that huge a variance I had coconut dog shampoo residue on my hands. So I can’t exactly say I feel your pain.
    The ones that are closer, but not exactly right piss me off way more. Like correcting a 160 even though I feel more like a 120, and then an hour later I end up low. You can’t always rely on the meter and that truly sucks.

  4. April 30, 2008 4:28 PM

    Amalas: It could be – but I wasn’t wearing any lotion and it had be three hours since I ate the chips (and I don’t eat with my pinkies either) so I don’t really think so. Also, I *didn’t* wipe my hands at all between tests – and didn’t think about it until after the blood was already on the strip – which made me even more shocked when the result changed so dramatically!

    Bernard: Exactly – if my reading came back at 270, I probably wouldn’t have bothered checking again and then I probably would have crashed!

    Jillian: I totally agree. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything on my hands, so who knows? I feel terrible like I’m advocating not testing, which isn’t true, but I just wish there was more accurate testing, ya know?

  5. April 30, 2008 4:42 PM

    Oh, I hear you. I’ve had to test four or five times in a row with my piece o’crap meter, which routinely gives me 30- to 40-point differences between hands. Not only do you waste expensive strips, it’s a time-consuming and frustrating process to try figuring out where you ‘really’ are. Ugh!

    I’m with you on the gadgetry, too. Why, after 20+ years, is it so hard to ask for a little accuracy in the most basic of diabetes tools?!?

  6. April 30, 2008 5:53 PM

    Grrrrrr! I have had the same thing. I checked yesterday and it said 87. I knew that was wrong. I was really feeling high. I checked again, 199. More like I felt. Same meter, testing within minutes of the other!
    How are we supposed to know which number to believe????????

  7. April 30, 2008 6:18 PM

    I know what it was! It was the simple thought of CHEESY TOTS from BK!!!! 🙂

  8. April 30, 2008 6:23 PM

    Aww man! Now my *thoughts* affect my blood sugars…. dude, I am so screwed.

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