Diabetes Frustration: Why Can't My Blood Glucose Meter Do It All?
I have four blood glucose meters. Four. And not one of them does all the things I want and need a blood glucose meter to do.
I find this all very frustrating and annoying.
Before you dismiss this declaration as whining, understand that when the tools we use to manage life with diabetes are frustrating they can undermine effective self-care.
4 meters, none does the whole job
My first meter is your basic, traditional stand-alone meter. Nine years ago, when it was prescribed, it was probably state of the art. It’s a good, old reliable meter—nothing more. When I use it I have to remember to record the readings in my tracking app immediately because retrieving the numbers later is a real pain. The only way to see my readings later is to scroll one-by-one through screen-after-screen until finally I get to the date and time I need.
My second meter is the mini version of first meter. I bought it because my first meter seemed kind of bulky to carry around in my bag. Two things made it appealing: I could use the same test strips as my first meter and it was supposed to be smaller. The first reason worked out just fine. No need to buy and store different supplies. But the second reason? Not so much. The meter wasn’t so much smaller than it was a different shape. Instead of being round-ish it was long-ish. In the end it took up just as much space in my bag.
My third meter is connected to the cloud. Every time I check my blood glucose the reading is automatically stored online. I can see all my readings by using an app on my smartphone or by visiting a website. Very handy. But the software on the meter is very limited. I can record my insulin dose, but I can’t record any other medication or type any notes from the meter. For that I need to take extra steps.
But the thing that really annoys me about this meter is that it is slow. Getting to from the “checking strip” screen to the “ready” screen seems like an eternity—especially first thing in the morning when I’m not all the way awake. The upshot is that I waste a lot of testing strips by putting my drop of blood on the strip before the meter is ready for it.
My fourth meter connects to my favorite tracking app. It’s accurate, quick, and connected. I thought it would be the solution to all my blood glucose meter needs. But it uses a bluetooth connection to transmit the blood glucose reading to the tracking app. Bluetooth connections are notoriously glitchy. Not only does this make for laggy connectivity, it also eats up the meter’s battery.
My blood glucose meter wishlist
My wishlist is pretty short and, I think, pretty reasonable. Here’s what I’m looking for:
Inaccurate readings are not useful. They don’t provide reliable data on which I can make self-care decisions.
The more often I monitor my blood glucose the better picture I have of my diabetes health. But the more I monitor, the more it costs. So affordability is key for being able to test as often as I like.
Reliable connection to the cloud
With today’s technology a blood glucose meter should automatically transfer its data to the cloud and a tracking app. We have the means to eliminate redundant manual steps, so let’s do it.
Robust tracking app software
Having an easy way to keep track of my blood glucose readings, medications, activity, etc. provides me with a powerful tool for managing diabetes. I expect any tracking app to make putting data in and getting information out frictionless.
Each small frustration undermines effective self-care
Each point of frustration sounds small. And a lot of them are, when taken on their own.
But consider what it’s like when you’re faced with the same frustration over and over again, day after day. What starts out small grows large.
How many times have I had to prick my finger one more time because the meter is too slow? Or wait for my tracking app to catch up because of a glitchy connection? Or press a button a dozen times to get to the reading I’m looking for?
Each time I experience these frustrations it adds up, eating away at my motivation to take care of myself and my diabetes.
What are you looking for in the tools you use to manage life with type 2 diabetes? Share your ideas in the comments below.
How well does your doctor explain diabetes care terms to you?