LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The vexing vile vial

I can’t stand it anymore. Will someone please re-invent the frickin’ teststrip vial??! Our meters get smaller, and sexier, and faster with each passing year—but the stupid tub that holds the strips still wallows in the past.

Only Walmart, of all people, has done anything at all with their tear-dropped shaped vial for Reli-on strips, but I know we can do better. Let me tell you what I want. (Listen up diabetes investors, because I doubt I’m the only one.)

I want a high-tech reusable vial that can hold any brand of strips. I want it small and flat, flat, flat. And it should have a built-in light that comes on when you open it. I thought of that just last night when I spilled 49 test strips on the floor in the dark while trying to get out one strip to confirm a bloody CGM alarm.

Naturally it was a false alarm. But thanks for asking.

So a light would be great. Not something that will blind us or wake up our type 3s, but something akin to those soft orange night lights of the 1960s that every house in suburbia had in each and every hallway.

Now I know what you are going to say, the problem with a reusable strip carrier is that the strips will go bad. The disposable tubs we’re stuck with now are lined with a white clay-like substance that’s a preservative and a passive anti-humidity system. But I don’t see a problem here. A reusable vial could have a replaceable insert to help it keep the strips fresh and in fighting condition. And this Über vial doesn’t need to hold fifty strips. It only needs to hold a dozen or so. Just a day’s supply. I don’t mind filling it up each morning if it means I can leave the vile vial from the strip manufacturer behind.

But, of course, I want more. Why should the vial just be a vial? Why not build-in a high quality lancing device while you’re at it? We have to carry both a vial and a lance with us 24-7-365. Why not make it one unit? And I’m not talking about the cheap ticky-tacky plastic crap we’ve been living with for years. I want something wonderful: well-built of quality materials. I will gladly get out my wallet and pay for that. And for a two-in-one, I might even give up flat—so long as it isn’t bulky. It could look like a quality fountain pen and I’d be happy. In fact, why not a hinged “pen?” Lance in the bottom two-thirds, strips in the top third. And don’t forget my light inside. And you should probably give me a second light on the lancing end, too. With a well-made clip, a pen-style vial and lance device could be carried in a shirt pocket, a purse or go-bag, a meter case, or just about anywhere else.

And just like quality pens, it could be either spiffy hi-tech or old world wonderful. I know a lot of people would go for hot-rod red enamel lacquer or a pattern-etched stainless steel. Personally, I’d like one with the exotic wood, like Cameroon Zebrawood. Or maybe Macacauba Monkeywood.

We need both function and style, and there’s no reason in the world we can’t have both.

And think about it, the vial and lance is the single universal need of all people who have diabetes. That means a huge market exists for the clever person who fixes the vial and lance problem for us. We have a vast variety of meters we can’t choose from, as we can’t afford to use a strip our insurance won’t cover. But something wonderful that we only have to buy once? Screw insurance, we can afford that no matter what.

Trust me, if you build this, we will come. And we’ll reward you with our wallets and purses.


Blogger Scott E said...

This post reminds me of the old Ascencia (nee Glucometer) Elite strips. They were individually wrapped in foil, with the foil packs attached side-by-side with a perforation between each one - kind of like Band-Aid packaging. You could pull off however many strips you needed for the day and shove them in your pocket, your wallet, or the used-strip zipper compartment in your meter pouch. They were flat, and there was no chance of accidentally opening more than one. And they didn't rattle while you walked.

Sure, it was wasteful -- but in some ways it was oh so convenient.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Skye said...

I have converted (by way of taking off the label) a container for Listerine strips, "aka Listerine pocketpak", into a test strip holder. It certainly covers the Flat, Flatter, Flattest requirement that we both want, and I stuck a piece of 3M velcro tab on the back, and another velcro piece in my case so it stays attached when I open it. Its not always easy to get just one strip out, but I've never dumped it and I have on many occasions dumped the whole vial of test strips, so I think its at least some improvement. I also think that when going through as many strips as many of us are prone to do means they aren't in the non-approved vial for more than a day or two so they shouldn't rot or self-combust or whatever the ugly vial is protecting them from doing.

My biggest annoyance is the stabbing devices, I don't see why they have to be any thicker than the lancet itself, so why they're always highlighter-thick... I don't know and I don't approve!
I've got a whole collection of remodeled devices- the 50% length Delica stabber taking the prize for best reduction in size without losing functionality award- and make-shift containers, and by far the most compact system I've come up with so far fits a glucometer (freestyle lite, specifically because its the smallest I can find), 20 strips and a Delica stabber in an Altoids tin, but I can't get any thinner than that because of the stupid thick stabber.

There's tons of room for improvement in the size and overall functioinality of the "accessories", what I also don't understand is why I still have to invent it myself!

Scott- I remember the foil-wrapped strips, and they certainly had their benefits! I did a 5k race a few years ago where I had my kit stuffed into a SpiBelt, and when I got done the guy who was just in front of me the whole way made a comment about how noisy my "keys" had been so he knew I was just behind him the whole way. : P

12:44 AM  
Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

I think this sounds like a brilliant idea!

I tried the listerine strip thing, but it kept coming open in my pocket. Ooh - but now that my son has braces, maybe I can repurpose one of his tiny rubber bands!

8:13 PM  
Blogger Tamara Hagler said...

I use the Reli-on Ultima from Walmart and it has individually wrapped strips!

3:15 PM  

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