Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Travel

Week 4: GIVE
Tuesday, November 23

Holiday Travel – The pilgrims traveled for 66 days to make it to the “new world.”  Do you travel for Thanksgiving or other holidays?  What tricks or tips do you use to navigate airport crowds, traffic-filled highways and blood glucose fluctuations?

We don't usually travel very far over the holidays, because most of our family lives fairly close to us.  The longest trip we have to make over the holidays is about four hours one way, and there isn't usually a whole lot of traffic since we live in the Texas panhandle.

About a month ago, I took my first trip since being diagnosed.  My husband and I drove to Oklahoma City and spent the night, then drove another hour the next day to pick up a trailer.  Packing was an adventure, because I had to get everything ready to go right after I got off work (it was a spur of the moment trip), and I was terrified I would leave something I needed.  My husband laughs at me, but I always tell him I need the exact same things wherever we go, and for however long...The only thing that varies is the amount of clothing I pack!

I somehow managed to only forget my contact solution and case, and my ketone test strips.  Since I hadn't dealt with very high blood sugars before, it really didn't cross my mind to toss those in my bag, but later I was wishing I would have.  That was the night I saw my first 300+ blood glucose reading, and I was scared, angry, and just upset in general.  After I had a chance to calm down, I just had to wait it out since I wasn't on any kind of diabetes medication then.  My numbers went down slowly, but by the next morning they were close to normal.

The next trip I took was just over a week ago, when my mom & I went to the Diabetes Education Course in a city a couple of hours away.  We stayed overnight, so I made sure to pack everything I would need...And I managed to get my ketone test strips this time.  HOWEVER, I thought I had enough test strips for the couple of days we would be gone, but due to the class and other out-of-the-ordinary things, I ran out that night we were staying in the hotel.  I didn't want to pay $50+ for a box of test strips (I had a new box at home, and I get them close to nothing through my insurance), so I paid $18 for a new meter I was wanting to try instead, the Freestyle Freedom Lite.  My first two meters (the Bayer Contour and Bayer Contour USB) both came with 10-25 test strips, so I assumed (I know, I know) that this one would too, but I was wrong (of course).  Luckily, though, the Diabetes Health Fair was the next day, and we managed to trek through 6" of new snow that had fallen overnight while we were sleeping to get there.  The representative from Abbot (who makes the Freestyle meters) happened to be there, and he was kind enough to go out to his car in the freezing cold to get some test strips for me!  He said he felt bad that I had to buy my meter since they were giving them away at the fair, so he gave me six or seven sample boxes of test strips--which was very generous, because that saved me $60-70.

I ended up loving my new meter, so I suppose his efforts gained a new customer for Abbot! 

As far as I'm concernced, this meter has some wonderful features that other meters lack:
--Small (very, very small) test sample (0.3 microliter compared to Bayer's 0.6 microliter)
--You can reapply blood if you didn't get enough for up to 60 seconds from the first sample time (you can't reapply with the Bayer meters)
= Fewer wasted test strips...Seriously, I think I may have wasted two since I've been using it.  With my Bayer meters, I would sometimes go through four or five in one testing because I couldn't get enough blood the first go-around.  And, as you know, that means less money, since each test strip costs $1+.

Now, it doesn't have the awesome features of the Bayer USB I had been using before, but another advantage it does have is accuracy--which is much, much more important to me than coolness.  The FDA requires the makers of blood glucose meters to have a +/- 20% of the laboratory reading 95% of the time...In other words, if the lab reading was 100, a passable BG meter could show a reading from 80 to 120.  I don't know about you, but that's a pretty big range, especially when you're in the higher numbers (for which that 20% means a lot more leeway--for a lab BG of 300, it could be 240 to 360; for 350, 270 to 420).  That difference may not seem like a lot, but sometimes it's the difference in self management and the emergency room.  In answer to this dilemma, Abbot raised their standards--for their meters, the accuracy is +/- 10%.  For that lab reading of 100, the Freestyle meter would show 90-110 instead of the 80-120 range of other meters.  For 300, 270-330; and for 350, 315-385.

Accuracy is important when you're trying to achieve tight control over your blood glucose numbers as well, simply because it give you a better idea of how you're doing and the confidence that the readings you're getting would more closely reflect lab results.

I realize I've gone off on a tangent, but an important one nonetheless...An accurate and easy to use meter makes dealing with your diabetes easier year-round, but especially when you're traveling over the holidays or on vacations!


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