Shelly's new motor-yacht
Shelly's new motor-yacht

Just two short bloglettes today for your enjoyment. Firstly, some of you may be vaguely aware that as well as running a top quality blog, we also have a forum at The Shoot Up forum quietly ticks along and to be harsh, but fair, not a great deal happens over there. Personally, I quite like it because I’ve configured the forum so flashing emoticons, pictures and inane signatures can’t be displayed – bliss!

Anyway, while there are infinitely better diabetes forums out there - is a good example – occasionally the soaraway Shoot Up forum has a few gems of goodness. A case in point as a long running thread at describing how we were diagnosed with diabetes and memories of that fateful, heart-sinking day when we discovered we were a member of pancreatically-challenged club. Anyway, it’s a good read if you ignore my stupid comments about spies and stuff on the first page.

Secondly, our chum Shelly at Circle D has blatantly asked us to plug her new eBook “Living with Diabetes 24 hours a Day – A Personal Journey” which is available here. As we’re hoping that Shelly will invite us on one the yachts she’ll inevitably buy with the profits, we’re more than happy to give her said plug.

Shelly also runs Circle D and organises diabetes-related socials down in sunny Kent and she is a font of diabetes knowledge and support – so check out her site and buy her book, so she can become the colossus of the diabetes world that she richly deserves to be! Rrraaaagh!

Shoot Up night out

An overly dramatic bit of filler imagery
An overly dramatic bit of filler imagery

“Gloom, despair, misery and despond”

If this describes 2011 for you so far then cheer yourself up by coming along to the latest soaraway Shoot Up night out on 5th February at Edinburgh’s world famous Au Bar on Shandwick Place from 7.30pm onwards. Not only will I be there, but I’ve also managed to secure an appearance by my esteemed co-writer Alison for one night only! Hurrah!

So if you’re in the neighbourhood (and even if you’re not, dagnabit!) come along and discuss our broken pancreases over a pint of wine or a sherry glass of beer. All more than welcome – diabetics, non-diabetics, partners, hangers-on, stalkers, etc.

All the gory details can be found over on Facebook at the link below, or if you’re not part of the cyber-social-networking-future you can drop me an email at instead.

It’s here too:

Review – Lifescan OneTouch UltraSmart

Not just smart - UltraSmart
Not just smart - UltraSmart

Some of my friends (and they are few and far between) are sometimes kind enough to say I’m slightly smart. I know a bit about physics (though it’s very limited) and I occasionally read some fancy books that were written over fifty years ago. You may think this all just false modesty and actually I’m wildly clever, but no – it’s not – it’s real modesty.

Anyway, it’s very kind thing of my friends to say such things and I’m very pleased to have reached the dizzy heights of “slightly smart” amongst my peers and loved ones.

So when I first laid my hands upon Lifescan’s OneTouch UltraSmart I was beside myself with anticipation. How good would something have to be if it was not only slightly smart (like me), not only smart, not only very smart but actually ultra smart? My mind boggled.

Could it do difficult things like hard sums, change your energy supplier or work out what you’ve done to upset your wife this time? I knew that since Banting’s discovery and isolation of insulin eighty years ago the field of diabetes research has come on in bounds and leaps; but could such a small meter promise so much?

No, not really. The OneTouch Ultra Smart is pretty much the same as any other blood glucose meter, except it offers a few more bits and pieces. Chief amongst these is the claim that it is proven to reduce your A1C (essentially your average blood glucose over three months). Having read too much of Ben Goldacre’s wonderfully insightful and somewhat cynical blog over at which includes hideous facts about dodgy scientific trials I immediately thought “cobblers”.

But I was slightly surprised and slightly delighted to see in the fine print down at the bottom of their website the details of just how they had performed their tests to come to this supposition. Lovely! Anyway, having read all the guff I came to the conclusion that it didn’t make a wild difference either way, with perhaps a gnat’s whisker in favour of the UltraSmart.

So anyway, how is it to use?

Not bad really, the test strips are Lifescan’s standard strips which are used over most of their range. So in summary they’re blue, they need to be coded with each new tub, they suck up your lifeblood very quickly and they process the results in five seconds. So far so wonderful.

The screen is easy to read and it comes with most of the usual meter features. So the main benefit of the UltraSmart over other meters has to be the plethora of graphs and statistics it can churn out for you at the press of a button. Most of time I didn’t use these graphs, but on occasions when my blood glucose went all out of goose they were very
handy in trying to track down what the problem might be. All this without have to hook it into the computer and use the obligatory management software that comes with most new meters.

On the flip side the massive brain that it needs to create the graphs does mean this is a slightly bigger and bulkier meter than most. But given you’re a diabetic and you lug a tonne of stuff everywhere you go this is hardly the end of the world. Even smart old Einstein could work that out.

Sample size – 3/5
1.0μL – small, but not small enough

Test time – 3/5
5 seconds; meh, okay

Test strip calibration – 1/5
Bah, they need to be calibrated

Test strip slurpiness – 4/5
Pretty good

Memory – 5/5
Above average 90 days of readings

Sexiness – 3/5
It looks a bit clunky compared to other meters, but on-screen graphs look cool

Beeping – 5/5
Can be turned off

4am test – 3/5
Fairly useful backlight is helpful

Grand total – 27/40

About our reviews

Comatose and rotting toes – the lighter side of insulin dependency