The Lost Test Strips

It was recently that time of year again…time to clean out our diabetes supplies.  What once was able to fit in a drawer was now taking up a drawer, a roll-out tote, and underneath of my youngest son’s bed.  This had to stop.  I had no clue that he had supplies hidden in all of these places and was no longer sure as to what supplies we had and what we needed.

We found boxes of Cozmo reservoirs, a few different types of infusion sets, his very first meter, a Polar bear meter holder, way too many lancing devices and enough lancets to keep him going until he is 100.  We also found test strips that were about to expire.  There was no way I was going to waste these strips.  This was $100 and many people can’t even afford to buy them.  The strips would be used at home until such time as they were gone.

My son was fine with that. Like his mother, he loves trying out new meters.  This meter was far from new but since he hadn’t used it in a few years, it was new to him again. The novelty quickly wore off.

“Mom, this meter takes FOREVER to read!”

“How long is forever?”

“15 seconds! Can you believe that? This is crazy!”

I started to laugh! My son was far to used to the immediate gratification found after a five second countdown.  He did not remember the days of his first meter.  Thirty seconds seemed like an eternity and yet I remember back then knowing how lucky we were, the previous generation of meters had taken 60 seconds to show results. 

Despite the “long” wait, he continued to use the old strips.  A few lows and bad sites meant that it did not take more than a few weekends for the 100 test strips to be used up.  I must admit that I had been spoiled too. A few nights of having to wait for those extra 10 seconds did seem like forever.  Nonetheless, it still was not as long as waiting 30 seconds and wondering if your toddler was asleep because he was tired or passed out from a low. 

I love technology!

More than we use toothpaste

After complaining yesterday about having to begin to search for a new insulin pump and the lack of new technology, I figured that I really had to add my two cents to the DSMA July question of  “What improvements of adjustments would you make to current diabetes technology?”
Years ago, I had the privledge of attending a diabetes conference in Edmonton.  At that time I was shown some amazing new technologies.  I looked at a pump that was simply a chip.  It was about the size of a small Post-it note.  Inside the Nano pump was the insulin a person required and the mechanics of a normal pump.  The device would have a remote from which you would bolus and program. It looked amazing and I waited for it to appear on the market…and I waited. I have seen similar prototypes. I have seen the Omni pod but none of them were close in size or design to this new pump.

Looking for a new pump today, I see nothing that excites me the way new Cozmo technology has done it for me over the years.  When I first started pump shopping over eight years ago, Cozmo led the way in bells and whistles. It had alerts that were second to none, but I quickly learned that a person wearing a pump with alarms simply turns off the alarm without paying any attention to what it was for!  Well maybe not everyone but my son definitely did.  I suggested that pump companies allow the pump to zap rather than beep or vibrate.  I felt that the shock may stimulate my son to properly respond rather than ignore. I am still waiting for this feature.

Manufacturers seem to now feel that the pumps they have will do, despite not reaching Cozmo standards I have been told. Their focus now is integrating CGM technology.  Here is my first big complaint.  Our first pump was funded by family and supplies were paid out of our pocket.  After a lot of lobbying, pumps and their supplies are now covered for my son in this province.  CGM technology is financially out of my reach. Manufacturers, if you want to make some changes then please make technology available for everyone no matter what the size of their wallet or their insurance plan.

New glucometers, however remain in the budget of the masses for the most part now. They are often offered free with 100 test strips. Honestly, for the companies who are not doing this…I spend over $400 per month on test strips. I think that more than covers the cost of your meters over the course of a year. Please continue, or start, to offer all meters at a reduced (or free) cost to those of us using your product more than we use toothpaste.

Meters have come a long way in the past 11 years, but also seem to have stalled in technology.  They also seem more focused on integrating with pumps…which is not a bad thing BUT when we used the Cozmonitor, I could not keep up with the batteries. They forgot that we test 10+ times per day and batteries have to withstand that.  The idea of an integrated system is wonderful for logging and keeping track but its cost and lack of flexibility led us back on the trail of the perfect meter. Don’t get me wrong, we have gone from a finger covered in blood to a pin drop of blood. We have gone from 30 aggonizing seconds to 5 dreaded seconds. These are all things that are hugely appreciated.  

We still have multiple step Glucagon kits but perhaps because we never hope to use it, we just don’t care as much as we do about our meters and pumps. Insulins have evolved from the unpredictable NPH and the slow regular insulins to rapid insulins and more stable long lasting insulin. This is a huge benefit for everyone.

Technology has come along way since we started on this road, but seems to have veered off on its own track lately.  The move seems to be away from the general masses who have to pay their own bill. My main message…please work to perfect what we can afford and help to bring into our grasp technology that will keep our loved ones safe and healthy for years to come.

Well, that was my July entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you would like to participate too, you can get all of the information at