Sharing my frustrations about diabetic test strips

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, the trappings of blood sugar testing -- the meter, the log and the test strips -- made me feel confident that I could handle diabetes. After a few weeks of vigilant testing, the reality of test strips began to set in. I was still confident, but now I was also getting a little frustrated.

What frustrated me the most? Here are the top three.

Three frustrations with diabetic test strips

1. "Diabetic test strip prices are outrageous!"

When the test strip freebies from my doctor ran out, I went to the store to purchase more. That's when the sticker shock of diabetes hit. I had to find some way to bring down my costs. Since there is nothing we consumers can do about the price of test strips, the best strategy is to find ways around it. I asked my doctor for free samples every time I went into the office, shopped around for the cheapest ones and took advantage of manufacturer discounts and coupons.

2. "Why can't I get the right amount of blood?"

A few weeks after I began testing, my fingertips were sore. I began to handle the lancing device gingerly, avoiding the tender areas. This resulted in the dreaded beep that said there wasn't enough blood on the test strip. Not only did I have to test again, but I had just wasted one of those valuable little strips.

There are many different solutions to this, and I have tried them all. Using creams to soothe the skin can make lancing easier, and alternate site testing can be great for those days when my fingertips are aching. I also never test when my hands are cold -- it's harder to get a good sample and besides that, it hurts like crazy.

3. "How did a test strip wind up there?"

This is one of those little mysteries that will follow you for the rest of your life. Though most used test strips wind up where they should be -- in the trash or in the sharps container -- some wind up in the strangest of places.

It can be annoying when an errant test strip shows up during dinner with friends, which then prompts the "should you be eating that?" question. It can be frustrating when those test strips appear out of the blue on a day when my blood sugars are high, as though diabetes is mocking me with the reminder.

But sometimes, a test strip reminds me I am not alone. I have seen test strips on the floor of airport bathrooms, on a desk in a middle-school classroom and in the discount store parking lot. These strips in the wild are a reminder that others are living a normal life with diabetes every single day, and that I can be confident in doing the same.

About Shannon Lee

Shannon Dauphin has lived with diabetes since 1998. When she is not playing ninja with lancets or test strips, she can be found traveling around the country with laptop in hand.


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