Lemonade Life

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Can I Please Throw My Meter Out the Window?


I promise to throw it really hard so it's a quick death and it won't hurt.

OK- perhaps I should start at the beginning. Lately, I have been feeling that my meter (a BD meter that is connected by radio frequency to my pump, so theoretically Very Cool) is lying to me. Bald-faced lying. It's really quite irritating because this little pip-squeak of technology is one of two things keeping me from croaking off at an early age.

So it's quite lame.

Anyhow. I've always thought I was uniquely sensitive to my lows. I'm talking ridiculous uniquely sensitive. Why is that? I can feel low as high at 85. Sometimes even 88 or 89. I always thought my body was just nice and liked to tell me when it was about to bottom out.

"Body to Allison, you're plummeting at a rate of 5 mg/dls per minute- Go Do Something!"

I have come to respect my body for this kindly consideration. However, lately I've been feeling doubt about my Ridiculously Uniquely Sensitive condition. Why is this? my Fine Blogging Friends may ask. Well, last week while home on Christmas break, I was in bed, getting ready to fall asleep when I get the Odd Sensation that something might be amiss. So I get up and trott downstairs and tested my blood sugar. At first, it registered at 101. And I thought, "Well, that can't be right." My hands were trembling slightly as I popped off the test strip bottle. So I tested again. Clocked in at 87. I thought, "Well, okay. That's a little bit more in the range of when I feel low."

But then I noticed my little Back-up Meter that I brought along, just in case. It is an Lifescan Ultra. I pop open the case and test. Little Ultra says, "Sorry hon, you're 50."

Huh? 50? Me? The girl who doesn't remember hitting below 60 in the last 4 months. But the strange thing: I felt really low. Not just kinda-sorted-shaky-out-of-sorts low, like I usually feel. I'm talking Falling-Face-Down-in-Cereal low. Requisite juice and raiding of the snack drawer was in order, seeing as how it was 12 a.m.

The next day: Went low again. Tested, per usual. Rang in somewhere in the upper 70s. Double checked with our friend Little Ultra. 68. Huh.

I've done this on two other occassions. Once, when BD told me I was 230, and Little Ultra said I was 207. Another time, BD told me I was 97. Little Ultra concured with a 97. And now, tonight. Just now. I tested on BD: 180. I tested on Little Ultra: 265. Who to trust? Who do I high bolus off of? I'm so confused!!! You have now entered Frustration City.

Now, I have some theories. The first being: all meters have discrepancies and there is no way to tell which one is truly the accurate one. BD might be dead-on, while Little Ultra aim is skewed. Little Ultra could be right, while BD is leading me astray. Second theory: The Little Ultra strips are expired. They expired last March. Does this have anything to do with the children arguing? Perhaps? Third theory: I have a bad batch of strips for the BD and this will simply pass and regulate itself once I open another set. But I've been noticing this trend for months now (feeling one way and getting a result that doesn't quite match up).

My question to you, my Fine Blogging Friends (and Resident Lurkers): Do you have any experience with the accuracies of glucose meters? Have you found one that gives better readings than others? Do you think either of my theories are legitimate or am I just over-thinking things? Is this just one of those Mysteries we must all deal with in our daily lives of diabetes management?

I still feel my lows. But I no longer know if the number I'm used to associating as my threshold is accurate anymore, it's a bit scary. Any ideas? Tips? Suggestions?

It's just a little pip-squeak of technology, but it's making me doubt my entire health. Stupid piece of [enter expletive here].


At January 12, 2006 4:20 AM , Anonymous Kathleen Weaver said...

Call BD and make them send you another meter.

I don't use BD, but I think it's the meter and not you.

At January 12, 2006 6:05 AM , Blogger Erica said...

I've heard lots of negative comments about the BD meters on the ADA message boards. Most people just don't use them and manually enter their bs into their pumps.

Here's what those guys had to say: http://tinyurl.com/8u5x8

At January 12, 2006 6:23 AM , Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Sometimes the same thing happens to me. I know my meter is wrong. I know also that BD will replace the meter for you (like Kathleen said) so I would take that approach. If that doesn't work, then get a new meter. A guy is on the forum at Diabetes Daily asking what meters work best and why.
Hope you can find out what's wrong.

At January 12, 2006 7:44 AM , Blogger Kassie said...

All meters on the market are allowed to have a 20% margin of error. We put a lot of stock in what is really an educated guess.

Call BD (for sure) and do all that control solution and coding stuff (seriously, this is why I love my Ascensia: no coding. I never did it).

I usually just take the average of two readings and go from there. It's frustrating, though!

At January 12, 2006 8:01 AM , Blogger julia said...

I was also told never to compare two different meter's readings. They can read blood differently - the terms escape me right now. I sympathise, though. It sure makes dosing hell.

I'd get the meter AND the strips replaced, if you think either or both are defective.

Olivia has a BD meter, too, so now I'm going to be worried and probably go against my own assvice and check her on the Ultrasmart we have at home....

At January 12, 2006 12:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with checking the strips with control solution as well as making sure your strips are coded correctly. Usually when I visit my endo I test with my meter at the same time they test with theirs just to see if they are remotely in line. Maybe try this before you murder your BD meter. I have also heard that business about a range of accuracy in the area of 20%. This doesn't seem too great considering the ideal Blood Sugar levels are only a window of 80-120

At January 12, 2006 12:44 PM , Blogger Allison said...

Thanks guys! I actually replaced my meter in November (and that's why I got the Ultra, to have something to test with during the interim). So I don't think I could have two defective meters in a row. But I just got a new shipment of strips, so hopefully now that I'm using those, they will be more reliable. I will also start checking the strips under the control solution, just to be safe. I did it for the first box of strips that I got during my last shipment, but I've been lazy and haven't been doing it.

Do you control solution each individual bottle or just the box?

At January 12, 2006 1:39 PM , Blogger Ellen said...

Besides DEMANDING a replacement meter be sent to you overnight, I do have a suggestion for the frustration. We have loads of old meters around here, although I tossed a lot out since I'm decluttering my house. Get out one of those OLD USELESS meters and stomp on it until it crumbles. Bash it with a hammer (use goggles HAHA). It may just be good therapy.

At January 12, 2006 2:51 PM , Blogger Nicole P said...

Allison --

I have heard numerous complaints (both in my personal life and professional life when I worked with the ADA) about the BD meter that communicates with the pump. Most of the complaints centered around reading inaccuracies. I would call BD and ask for another meter, use your control solution to test at least once monthly, and on occassion double check with the spare meter...


At January 12, 2006 3:54 PM , Blogger Allison said...

I did get a replacement in late November, which is why I'm so pissed about the possibility of needing to get another one. I think I'm going to try the control solution, and perhaps finding Not Expired Test Strips for Little Ultra. And do some real scientific comparisons before deciding to throw my meter out the window.

I've been told that when the glucose ranges are outside of the normal range, they can be even more off than 15%, and they are really just ballpark. I think mostly I'm freaked out that I might be edging towards Hypo-unawareness. I've heard enough O.C. horror stories about driving while 29 (::cough::) or waking up at 34 (::cough::) to be scared that this might be happening to me at the age of 20.

I need to go chill. Go do yoga or, as Gary recommended, watch the Simpsons.

At January 12, 2006 8:27 PM , Blogger Megan said...

I went through no less than 10 BD meters. All were grossly inaccurate, gave me tons of errors, and did other weird things. I would never recommend that meter to anyone. I use the Freestyle Flash. I've compared it to lab results more than once, and it's dead on.

At January 12, 2006 10:36 PM , Blogger Wil said...

Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: all BG meters suck. This bugs the hell out of me because the foundation of our entrire treatment is built on sand.

That said, it beats the hell out of peeing on a strip....

At January 13, 2006 12:04 AM , Blogger Allison said...

Amen, Wil!

At January 13, 2006 6:23 AM , Blogger Kerri. said...

Ah. but Allison, I do not have hypoglycemic unawareness. It's just those lows that hit me while I'm vulnerably sleeping. I've been that way since I was diagnosed. I suppose the warning signs hit a little later now that my control is tighter, but that's a result of my efforts towards a lower A1c, not my age.

You should look into some Vicks menthol for that cough.


At January 13, 2006 8:41 AM , Blogger Nicole P said...

And my problem is less hypoglycemic unawareness and more that I'm as stubborn as a mule. I sometimes feel a low coming, but deny that there's anything wrong. Totally mulish.

My unawareness has improved quite a bit since going on the pump. I usually feel it somewhere around 50 or 60, but, you know, I may or may not want to admit I feel it.

At January 13, 2006 10:43 AM , Blogger Allison said...

Thanks guys. I guess I'm just paranoid. But I think there are enough people who have said there are issues with the BD meter to make me think that after I'm done with the latest batch of test strips (so, within the next 3 months), I'm going to look into switching meters. Perhaps Lifescan UltraSmart, I've heard they are the most accurate out of all of them.

Oh, and I'm feeling much better, Kerri, thank you.

At January 13, 2006 1:00 PM , Blogger E said...

Ahh the technology.

I ditched by BD a few months ago for the UltraSmart. Don't know if I ended up paranoid from all the anti-BD feelings on the web or if it really was just a horrible meter. End of story- I am still happy with my little UltraSmart.

Side technology note. I just upgraded to the 515 pump from the 512. All excited about download all my info to the web based program carelink. I am a mac girl. Have to use a PC for their software- but a web based program should accommodate everyone with web access, right?
Ten minutes later- I get the error message- Sorry your system is not compatible. urrrrrrr.

This is the only time I mind being in the 5% minority.

Oh- BTW - don't chuck that meter - it's the only way to download your pump info.

At January 13, 2006 2:16 PM , Blogger Allison said...

I don't use any of the software. Somehow, it just never really appealed to me. I use a Word document logsheet and I fill in every night. Well, not every night...

Why would they need the meter if there's nothing on it? Won't they want the meter I'm actually using, plus my pump? I'm confused.

At January 13, 2006 10:11 PM , Blogger Felix Kasza said...

Hi Allison,

the BD meter is junk. It's worse than no meter -- with no meter at all, one _knows_ one lacks a reliable BG reading.

The most accurate meter I know of is the Bayer Ascensia Contour -- agrees with lab values to within 5 mg/dl, repeatable results to the same tolerance. And NO CODING!


At January 14, 2006 2:43 PM , Blogger bethany said...

About a week after I got my pump I stopped using the BD meter that came with it ... it just isnt worth it to me ... it was always so inaccurate I couldn't deal with it ... good luck!


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