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Glucose Testing and A Lesson Learned

Glucose testing seems so simple.  Grab a "lancet" (fancy word for stabbing device), prick your finger with the lancet (not so fancy word for making yourself bleed), and hold finger so the "sample" can be taken into a glucose meter for analysis.  Easy!

Here's the trouble.  Reading glucose levels, as it turns out, isn't an exact science.  You can bleed yourself dry testing every glucose meter on the market, and if one of them ever agrees with the other... Look up... Because the sky may ACTUALLY be falling!  Heck, I've even tested with the same meter seconds apart and gotten different results!

I know that description is perhaps a bit over the top, but based on my own experience, it truly seems to be the case (minus the sky falling part).

Don't lose heart!  While it may not be exact we can find our center!

Choosing The Correct Diabetic Glucose Meter

So here's the secret!  Choose a glucose meter you like.  One that has all of the features you want, fits your likes, and readings make you feel (from a symptom standpoint) comfortable.  That's literally it!

Of course I'm serious!  You see, every glucose meter I've tried can read close enough to keep you within the "healthy range".

However, I once had a situation with a neighbor that came to me asking for me to test his son because he had all the symptoms of extended high glucose levels.  When I used the meter I had, I got an error, and upon re-testing, I got a glucose reading within the normal range.  His son ended up being diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes with an ER measured glucose reading of 1,500!

With the error and then the "normal" reading I decided it was time to get a new meter.

I won't mention the name of the glucose meter I used. Most meters will return something like, "high" when the reading is beyond it's max. Glucose meters should be replaced after one or two years at most.  Mine was over five years old, so this incident was on me!

I may have been able to save the kid a lot of pain, if I had kept my meter current.  Lesson learned!

What Is A Healthy Glucose Range For A Diabetic?

Well, to quote so many professionals, "Before-meal normal sugars are 70–99 mg/dl. “Postprandial” sugars taken two hours after meals should be less than 140 mg/dl".

I can honestly tell you that glucose levels below 110 make me shaky and uncomfortable.  Personally, my range is 110-160.  This is the range I feel comfortable in and can still detect low glucose after prolonged exposure to those ranges.

What do I mean by "detect low glucose after prolonged exposure to those ranges"?  Simply put, our bodies adapt to our (we'll call it) average glucose levels, like anything else.  Lets say I was able to consistently keep my glucose levels between 70-100, it would take my glucose dropping between 40-70 before I could feel that I was dropping/low and would have considerably less time to react at those levels (especially sleeping).  At 110-160, I can detect the glucose drop between 80-130 and can more comfortably make adjustments.

Not all people can detect glucose changes, and I'm not sure why, but those are my base calculations.  We may need another post for this topic 🙂

Some Meters That I Have/am Used/Using

I'm listing some of the meters I've personally used and have found accurate enough for me to control my glucose levels.

FreeStyle has been one of my favorites and I found it to be one of the most accurate for me.  It's a very simple glucose meter, no nonsense, no frills, or super special features.  The thing I like most about the FreeStyle glucose meters though is the minimum sample size required for a reading.  It just slightly larger then the point of a thumb-tack.  It's also very quick when reading.

The thing I like least about the FreeStyle glucose meters is the cost of the test strips.  Fifty test strips are about $30.00.  Others are around that price for one hundred test strips.

It's frustrating for me to bad-mouth the cost of the test strips for one of my favorite glucose meters, but I have to be honest.  Insurance, and pharmacy diabetic programs can help offset the cost of test strips from most meters though so if you like it you can reduce the costs a bit.  I may write more about how to offset some of these costs in future posts.

This particular glucose meter is a bit new to me, but has trend tacking and notification built in.  It requires a bit larger sample than the FreeStyle, but so far seems to be in the realm of "normal" glucose readings for me.

This meter too has somewhat expensive test strips, but still less expensive than FreeStyle at price of around $50.00 for 100 test strips.