First, the confession – I don’t have diabetes…or at least that is what my doctor tells me after several blood tests over the last several years. This confused me, as I seem to be a prime candidate for diabetes and I’ve had some seeming symptoms.
I’m a big fan of the current infantile, yet developing, self-monitoring and digital monitoring health systems. Health systems which I believe in the near-term future will provide constant health monitoring of individuals – alerting them to issues long before they are aware of them – and also alerting medical professionals if allowed by the patient. In my humble and non-medical opinion, this would result in significant reductions in health care costs and drastic improvements in quality of life.
Not quite trusting the doctor’s once a year tests and wondering if I needed more frequent monitoring I decided to see what devices where available for monitoring my blood glucose level – and low and behold – I found the Bayers Contour USB Blood Glucose Monitoring System. I bought it off Amazon for less than $30, which is a significant drop off its list price of $75.
A few days later a small box arrived at my doorstop. Inside was my Bayers Contour USB. Its packaging was swift and included quite a few nifty little gadgets. First there was the USB monitoring device which plugs into a computer and downloads the results which can be reviewed and analyzed via a free Bayer‘s GLUCOFACTS application. Then there was a bottle of twenty-five test strips, which uniquely “suck” the blood up and which you insert into the USB device for analysis (the blood always remains on the test strip, never actually in the USB device). There were micro-lancets – ominous little plastic pieces with needles inside and a plastic lancing device into which one inserts the lancet and then pricks oneself. A USB cable and a power charger (using USB), a small carrying case, lots of manuals, and that’s about it. All in all, a pretty impressive and shiny little package.
I actually had to read through the manual a bit to understand how things worked – not the whole USB aspect, but the whole how to stick oneself with a needle and draw blood. I was a little anxious – I hadn’t ever pricked myself before and am not a fan of pain – so I tried the lancer on its “shallowest” setting. It pricked, but not deep enough. I repeated the process four or five times before finally getting one to bleed enough that the test strip accept the blood sample – all the rest I had to throw away b/c they complained I hadn’t given them enough blood.
This was a little annoying – why didn’t it just let me give some more blood? Hold on a second, I’ll get you some more? But no, throw it away and start over. Blahh.
I inserted my USB device before opening the GLUCOFACTS software (the manual probably told me not to do that, but I didn’t read it that much!) and when I opened GLUCOFACTS nothing happened, then I redid the process but opening GLUCOFACTS first and it auto-found my USB device and allowed me to setup a profile and download my reading. Only one reading – so nothing too interesting thus far, except that my glucose is showing up as too low (53 mg/DL whereas the ‘low-end’ target is 70-180 mg/DL). Hmmm…maybe its a fluke, we’ll have to wait and see…b/c I eat sugar, and I don’t have hypoglycemic symptoms, so it would be weird for me to have regularly low readings.
Overall, I’m pretty happy so far. The prick didn’t hurt worth mentioning. The software is intuitive. And it all comes in a nice little snazzy package.
For those who are interested, I’m not just interested in trying to prove the doctor wrong – I actually accept that I don’t have diabetes – but I am interested in looking for any correlations between my blood sugar levels and my experiences/emotions throughout the day. e.g. when I am depressed, does it correspond with low/regular/high levels of blood sugar? There may be no correlation, but I figure it is worth looking into.
Yes, yes, I know this makes me a dork. I’m okay with that.