hairs, bears, and blood sugar meters

I’m shedding.  As I’m sitting at my desk, listening to my husband tell me tales of hackery and woe, I brush a few stray hairs off my work space.  And then see more, just over there.  And a few more to my right.  I’m accustomed to seeing hairs in the tub drain, more now around the sink, and on the bathroom floor.  I’ve reached a point where I’m rivaling the cat for volume of hairs found off my body.  “Maybe it’s a medication” my hairdresser says.  Maybe it’s malnutrition, I add silently in my head.

photo of a woman's hand holding a teddy graham

Hi! I’m the hypoglycemia bear!

Yesterday, while stuffing my face to move up from a quite low blood sugar (55), I started wondering about bear shaped food.  Specifically, two of the several snacks I had immediate access to were teddy grahams and gummy bears.  I have since dubbed a teddy graham as the hypoglycemia mascot.  His name is Hawthorne, the Hypoglycemia bear.  When my blood sugar was reading in the 70s, I found this uproariously funny.

And this brings me to the topic of blood sugar meters.  Earlier this summer, my doctor had to renew my script for blood sugar testing supplies.  He wrote for the aviva monitor supplies I usually use and the pharmacy freaked out.  Turned out that it was no longer a “preferred” meter by my insurance company.  After much phone wrangling, I was given one that my insurance will not kick, the freestyle lite.  Partly because of my nature, and partly because of many years of graduate training in an experimental research field, I have started to wonder if this new blood sugar monitor is the driving source of variance in my recently very low blood sugars.  A simple, if not cheap, way to find out exists.  I will be buying (out of pocket) some test strips for my old monitor and using it as a comparison with the new one.  So far, an internet search on the new monitor is not very elucidating.  One Amazon review says it gives “falsely low” blood sugars, but this reviewer was speaking for diabetics and based on the context, was discussing results in the “normal” to high range.  I want to know how the monitor does at the low range.  If you read product details from the manufacturers, you will see that they often give a breakdown of accuracy within ranges, i.e. “this monitor is accurate to a level of x for blood sugars below 70….”

So I will soon be conducting a study comparing the two monitors.  I know enough to realize that while the freestyle lite might be running low, the aviva might be running high.  And this is why the next time I have blood drawn, I’m asking for a glucose and I’ll test capillary blood sugar with both monitors when they are doing the glucose draw.  I’ll post results, possibly in two batches since it might be a while before I have a blood draw (let’s hope it’s a while, I had enough blood drawn this spring and early summer that I was feeling like a pin cushion).

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  1. queenofoptimism

     /  August 8, 2012

    This post makes me hungry for Mr. Hawthorne and friends. Maybe post on FB to see if anyone has the test strips and can mail??

    I applaud you for taking all the steps to monitor, etc. I know it’s a lot of work!! I mean a ton!!

  2. Hey Q, it’s good to hear from you!

    Yes, it’s a major pain in the ass! But I’m glad I’m checking. I apparently have what they call “hypoglycemia unawareness”.

    It’s interesting to know that some of it is just plain biological/physiological – hypoglycemia begets hypoglycemia it seems, and runs of it can lead to a muted response.

    But I think some of it is the fact that I’ve gotten used to feeling inexplicably and irremediably shitty so often that I tune it out until I’m at the ready to drop point. I am going to need to talk to my primary care about upping my test strip script though. Since I am so bad at knowing when it’s low based on symptoms, I do need to test more often. At least until I manage to get a handle on it and what triggers its downs and…um, more downs.


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