This photo represents the 89 times Q’s blood sugar was tested during one week.
You’ll notice the little flecks on her fingertips, each a wound from being poked with a lancing device to get a drop of blood.
What’s worse than having to physically hurt your child each time you need to know her blood sugar levels? Having to poke her a second time because you can’t trust the accuracy of the test strips.
Last week we were without Q’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM). You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone, right? That week I returned to overnight blood sugar checks and we saw some of both the highest and lowest numbers we have seen since beginning the CGM about 15 months ago. And in fact, Q had her absolutely lowest low ever: 30 mg/dl. Plus she had a 38 after coming home from her first day of school. We rely on the high and low threshold alarms on the CGM to head off those crazy numbers. To have a small snack, a few glucose tabs, or reduce her basal rate if we see she’s trending down or give some insulin or increase her basal rate if she’s starting to go too high up.
In the week we were without the CGM (and it’s still not exactly fixed, but that’s a story for another day), we tested her blood sugar 89 times. Eighty-nine!
Because I don’t trust the accuracy of test strips, when her blood sugar is above 300 we always test a second time after a good hand washing. Can you imagine if I treated a high blood sugar and she wasn’t really high?
(Read my post Go Wash Those Hands!)
I think that test strip accuracy is incredibly important, particularly for small children who require small amounts of insulin. We’ve tested twice and had numbers as far off as 80 or 100 mg/dl. That could mean a full extra unit of insulin for my child!
The margin of error that is allowable according to FDA standards actually means that wide variances are okay. But it’s not okay.
For our children’s safety and health we need to demand more accurate test strips. We need the FDA to make sure that strips and meters on the market continue to meet standards even after they were originally FDA-approved.
How can you help?
Check out the StripSafely website where you can find a draft letter as well as contact information for your representatives.
Tweet about the issue using hashtag #stripsafely.
You can also create artwork featuring test strips (see my photo above) or reflecting your thoughts about test strip accuracy for a special addition of Diabetes Art Day on August 26, 2013.
And Another Thing…
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