Friday, August 16, 2013

StripSafely - And Get Your Reps In Congress To Do The Same!

My fingertips (especially my left hand ) are callused, bruised and filled with tiny pinhole scabs because I test my blood sugars between 7 and 10 times a day, everyday and without fail. 
I test because glucose testings tells me where I am, what direction my body (glucose) is heading towards, even if it's not where I want to be. But thanks to glucose testing, I can test and correct. Meters and test strips act as my Diabetes GPS - and without them I would be lost.

I remember the days before glucose testing. I remember clini-test fizzy blue pills in urine filled glass test tubes that burned my fingertips and would shatter if you dropped them. - They came with a portable and more discrete counter part called Tes-Tape which was basically a strip of tape you peed on to find out what your"sugar" was.
Those urine readings were measured in colors and percentages instead of actual numbers. They were anything but accurate, but it was all we had.
When glucose meters came to be in the 1980s, they were game changers for sure, albeit slow and painful ones. 
Lancets literally started out as carved pieces of slanted metal that would leave actual cuts on your finger. Followed by a new and modern harpoon auto-let that hurt like hell, followed by the less evasive but still painful lancet clicker pens. 
And my family and I actually  had to go to our local pharmacist to take a class to learn how to use our glucose meter. 
Our shared meter (3 of us used it,) costs hundreds of dollars, wasn't covered by insurance and took three minutes to test our blood glucose and came with an instruction book that was over 100 pages long.
My father silently took notes on the technical trickery and worried about the price, as the pharmacist slowly and methodically showed us how our meter worked. 
That first glucose meter was the size of a brick and took 3 long minutes to test our blood glucose. 

It was supposed to be worth it - It was supposed to be high tech and more accurate and it was - Technology made our lives with diabetes healthier. 
Diabetes care is technology based - And diabetes technology in the form of meters, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors are how we stay healthy. 
Glucose testing tells me how much insulin I need to take (or not,) and it's supposed to keep me ( us) safe. 
I test before and after meals, before I drive, swim, or workout. I test when I'm sitting on the couch - Just to see where what direction my glucose is headed in.

I test because I want a healthy future filled with love and family and lots of laughter.  

Over the years meter companies & the FDA have worked with together and have come up with a margin of error of  -/+20% off the mark in either direction. Not great, but it's something. 

Currently meter companies & FDA are working together to get the 20% of the margin mark changed to -/+15%. 
But as of today, 25% of the meters out on the market fail when it comes to the 20% in either direction range. 
And many feel that 20% is a conservative estimate, and that number could be as high as 40%.

Like many, I not only believe that 20% in either direction is incredibly conservative - I've experienced it first hand.

Last Monday night I tested three times in a row and had 3 vastly different numbers 200, 226, and 234. 
After I input my blood sugar 7 carb into my insulin pump for each one of the numbers, resulting in 3 vastly different insulin doses:  4.20, 5.00 & 5.80

3 different doses of a prescription drug that people with diabetes rely on to stay alive - And a drug that is also outlawed in professional sports, unless the athlete has diabetes. A drug that if not administered in its proper doses to a person with diabetes can cause cause either DKA or Hypoglycemia - And  both can be deadly. 

Then there was the 119 blood sugar before lunch a few weeks back that caused me to break into a cold sweat - and get that wobbly feeling in the pit of my stomach. It felt more like a 62, and I didn't dare take insulin to cover my meal. 30 minutes after eating I was 89 and it was scary & frustrating. 

Here's the thing: I (we) shouldn't have to guess when it comes to my blood sugars or my insulin.

To quote directly from the StripSafely website: At a recent public meeting the FDA acknowledged that there are some 510(k) cleared blood glucose (BG) meters and strips that do not meet the accuracy standards for which they were approved. There is currently no clear course of action to insure people with diabetes are using blood glucose strips that meet regulatory requirements."

And now that Medicare and competitive bidding are coming into play, the potential for inaccurate off brand test strips to flood the market is a very real threat.  

People with Diabetes shouldn't have to guess when it comes to our blood sugars or our insulin dosing.

If a flu vaccine was found to be 20% to 40% off the mark, without question it wouldn't even be allowed on the market because peoples lives would be at risk.

So why is it OK for people with diabetes lives and future health to be put at risk with test strips that are anywhere between 20 and 40% off the mark?  
 Which is why I'm a huge supporter of the StripSafely Campaign - Started by the YourDiabetesMyVary Blogger, Bennet Dunlap.
Every single person living with, or who loves someone living with diabetes needs to get behind StripSafely & write their congressional reps and tell them that not only don't people living with diabetes want our health compromised by inaccurate glucose strips, we also want them to attend Diabetes Technology Meeting on September 9th in Bethesda, Maryland so they can learn and become empowered about this issue first hand. 

I'll be writing and sending out my letters to my Congressmen at both their local and D.C. offices this weekend. 

Worried about writing the letter? Don't be. You can find a wonderful sample letter that you can actually use, HERE, as well as links to contact your elected officials.
You can join others fighting to  StripeSafely by clicking, HERE

And you can tweet about #stripsafely  - Christal over at ThePerfectD has twitter handles to send suggest tweets to, HERE.  

We are worth it, your diabetes voice makes a difference, use it and be heard!

My callused, bruised & pinholed fingertips.

1 comment:

StephenS said...

Love your post Kelly. You are absolutely right. It's not okay to have strips as inacurrate as we have today. Thanks for telling it like it is.