Letters to the Editor

March 1996

Mar 1, 1996

MediSense Pen Meter

I have the MediSense pen model, which is the smallest meter I know of. The program and interface that go with it, which I believe are the same for the QID, were around $100. It is very easy to use and provides lots of analysis features. I have a Profile meter and the software and interface that go with it, too, but I have not used it yet. I am hooked on the convenience of the MediSense. I like the 20-second result time. I monitor about ten times daily, so it saves me five minutes every day. That's 30 hours per year that I'm not waiting for my monitor.

The pen meter comes in a leather case that is just the right size to hold a Novolin prefilled pen, so in one wallet-sized carrying case I can have my meter and insulin pen. The ease of use of this set-up, along with the management tools of the computer program, has helped me improve my control significantly. My last A1c was 5.3, down from the 7-8 range.



LifeScan Diabetes Management

For what it's worth, here are my comments about Lifescan Diabetes Management Software for use with their meters. The program is good, with many types of reports that print nicely, but it could be much better.

  1. At $60 to $70 it is much too expensive considering that adequate shareware programs are available at half this price.
  2. It is unlikely that the average person will be able to install it without spending a lot of time on the phone with technical support (800-382-7226).
  3. The chart screens cannot be resized so it must be scrolled. This means it is impossible to see the entire chart at a glance.
  4. Whenever you make a change or install another Windows program it is likely that the Lifescan software will not load due to conflicts with DLL or graphic files. Then it's back to tech support for help.
  5. Windows must be enabled with "small" fonts. If you use "large" fonts the bottoms of the windows are cut off.

Lifescan is aware of these problems and will fix them eventually. It would help if users would contact Lifescan with their comments. I have already done so.

Gordon Fletcher


Talking Meters-Not Just for the Visually Impaired

At present, despite what you may read, the state-of-the-art in blood glucose testing for blind and visually impaired diabetics is less than ideal.

Close your eyes and try to correctly place an adequate drop of blood on the strip. The process is not quick or painless. I've spent up to 45 minutes desperately trying to get it right. The resulting calluses can interfere with reading braille.

None of the companies currently developing non-invasive technology has any intention of including a speech chip in their products. Their reason is marketing. They claim that due to improved control, there are fewer blind diabetics now, so it's not cost effective to include speech. Yet just last week, I found a newspaper ad for a talking spatula.

I contacted some endocrinologists, organizations for the blind, and major diabetes organizations. They all sympathize with the companies, and suggested that there will likely be add-on boxes later. I just spent about $200 for a voice module for my One Touch II, which isn't being made any more! Can you imagine an add-on box for something like the Glucowatch? It's much cheaper to include a speech chip during the developmental stage.

Obviously, all I have to do is convince these companies that speech would also benefit sighted people with diabetes. I've come up with a list of reasons why I think sighted people might enjoy having meters that talked. I'd like to know if you think my reasons are valid. I'd also like to hear any other ideas you may have.

1. Drivers' and pilots' licenses

How often we hear of states threatening to restrict licenses of people with diabetes because of the fear of accidents caused by hypos. Imagine having a watch on, or a meter beside you, and being able to stop for a light, put your finger on something, and hear a number without ever taking your eyes off the road!

2. Testing when it's dark

Imagine testing in the middle of the night without waking up those who sleep in the same room; or testing in a movie theater or dimly lit restaurant by just holding something to your ear and hearing a number!

3. Vision loss due to diabetes

Thousands of people have and will continue to have vision problems due to diabetes. This is especially important for those who may still be in denial about their vision loss. At least when no one was around, they could turn speech on and hear a number. The person losing vision wouldn't be faced with having to buy all new equipment.

4. Children

As we all know, kids love to play with things that are fun. At my house, they are drawn to my many things that talk. Imagine a child wanting to show his friends or relatives that when you put your finger here, it talks to you and says a number. Consequently, the child is testing more often. Imagine the possibility of someone being diagnosed because they were playing with a child and his/her talking meter!

Thanks for taking the time to help me out here. Remember, you could be helping yourself too.

Veronica Elsea

Readers can also contact Veronica by writing to DIABETES HEALTH.



Forecast, Diabetes In the News, Self-Management, and DIABETES HEALTH are the diabetes publications I've been reading for many years. But you know what can happen with magazine subscriptions. They creep in and take over your life. I decided it was time to take control of the situation by choosing the best of the lot, subscribe to it alone, and reclaim my sanity. There wasn't much to think about. DIABETES HEALTH won. Not only is it informative, interesting, current and vital, but what sets it apart from the rest is a concerned editorial attitude that comes across, as they say in some circles, "user friendly."

Judith Jones Ambrosini
New York, NY


Denial is Dangerous

I have had type I diabetes for over 25 years and I am afraid I am paying for the sins of my youth. In the past seven years I have finally learned how to take better care of myself, but, alas, I am afraid it is too late. I have developed retinopathy in the past five years, and I fear that I may someday be blind.

Denial is not the best treatment for this disease, and I urge anyone who thinks they can live for today and worry about the consequences later to please rethink your philosophy. It's later than you think.



Diabetes Is His Co-Pilot

I've had type I diabetes since I was five years old. I love flying and have completed ground school and all aircraft training except soloing thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration. I can tell you my blood sugar level within five points at any given time, and I have never been hospitalized or missed work due to diabetes, yet I can't get a private pilot's license thanks to our "you can't protect yourself so we'll do it for you" government. These same do-gooders won't get off their fat asses to help me get health insurance to protect my family. Thanks, Uncle Sam, and kiss my diabetic ass.



Frozen Shoulder-A Personal Experience

[Last month, in this column, Anna Hain asked for help with her Frozen Shoulder. We offer this response to Anna from another reader.]

I read, with interest, your letter about your shoulder. I know quite a bit about this problem and have tried almost every solution. I hope your prognosis is better than mine. It should be, since you have had diabetes for only 9 years. I am 43, and have had diabetes for 33 years. I am physically active, test my blood up to 5 times a day, and find the disease a continuing and ever-changing challenge!

I experienced pain and reduced range of motion in my shoulder. Cortisone injections and an antiinflammatory were first suggested by an orthopedist, but I decided to forgo them for fear they would interact with my insulin or have other side-effects. Instead, I went to a chiropractor who tried massage, electric stimulation, and manipulation. All of this time, I was also going to physical therapy and following their regiment of exercises. After many months, I went to an acupuncturist who used herbs and acupuncture. This did not increase the range of motion, but reduced the pain. I even went to a physician specializing in never disorders. The diagnosis from all were the same- frozen shoulder, which is very common in diabetics. You should be able to do a search and come up with lots of information. I think mine was aggravated because I am a long-distance swimmer, and when I felt panic instead of reducing use of the shoulder, I just kept swimming. Soon, I could not reach my head with my arm, and sleep was aggravated due to pain. As a result, I was constantly tired.

After a year, I opted for arthroscopic surgery. This procedure only entails 2 small incisions. Surgery proved a failure; there was much scar tissue surrounding the shoulder which the surgical instruments could not penetrate. Instead, he removed some of the clavicle which did not make a difference. Three more months of physical therapy was also a waste. Then, I went to another recommended orthopedist. Extensive surgery, followed by grueling physical therapy, resulted in greater arm movement and an absence of pain. I still cannot raise my arm above my shoulder in many positions, but it does not affect my life. I only notice it when I do yoga or try to reach up.

What I learned through all of this: was to be more sensitive and realize that when something hurts take it easy for awhile, that I would not take the cortisone shots or an antiinflammatory again, and discuss with a surgeon the possibility of surgery not working.

Good luck and I 'm happy to answer questions if any of this sounds familiar.

Wendy Brashares
Watsonville, Ca.

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Categories: A1c Test, Blood Glucose, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Insulin, Letters to the Editor, Meters, Pens

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