Review – Wavesense Jazz

The quite good Jazz
The quite good Jazz

I hate jazz and any right-thinking person who isn’t confined to an asylum is the same.

In actual fact, I used to quite like some types of jazz – a little bit of Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden or the explosive madness of Count Basie would be just lovely at the right time and in the right place. However all that changed one evening a few years ago.

I was spending some time over at the Islay Jazz Festival and so far everything had gone well. We’d listened to a various mix of bands in a miscellaneous collection of village halls and drafty sheds. Being famous for having eleven (at the time) whisky distilleries our Islay hosts prefixed each performance with a tot of good whisky. This made some of the less accomplished acts somewhat more bearable.

But all that changed with a performance in Bowmore’s famous round church. Sadly I’ve forgotten (or blanked out) the name of the duo in question, but it consisted of a Swedish twosome – one on double bass and one on saxophone – who played a specially composed composition called “Whales” or “Birdsong” or “Complete Boredom” for what seemed like four hours. There would be a trill of saxophone followed by a thrub of double bass, followed by a random cacophony of untold, unending misery. And the musicians (if you can call them that) looked so damned smug all the way through, like they knew it was impenetrable and clever (but unlistenable) and you just weren’t clever enough to get it.

The pews were rock hard and, being a church, we weren’t allowed our usual stiffener of whisky. After the second hour I thought I had died and had been placed in once of Dante’s rings of Hell specially created for those who had been particularly bad (leaving toast crumbs in the butter, etc.) And it was only by repeatedly and painfully punching myself on the leg and knocking my head on the pew in front that I was able to survive the ordeal.

So, as you can probably now imagine, it was with some trepidation that I received my new Wavesense Jazz blood glucose testing meter in the post.

The meter itself is small, compact and is pretty straightforward to use, having up, down and “do” buttons. It has quite a useful backlight (but nothing to light up the test strip itself – surely the Holy Grail of night-time meter usage) and a plethora of graphs and statistics about your glucose management.

The Wavesense Jazz also comes with alarms that can flash and buzz if you are hyper or hypo. Though I would have thought the readout displaying a result of 2.3 or 17.4 in big numbers would be have been enough notice for the average user, but the alarms might be useful for the moronic.

The meter allows you to tag results as being before breakfast, after breakfast and so on to allow you to track your blog glucose compared to mealtimes which is a mildly useful feature. However, from the meter itself you can’t adjust what time it thinks breakfast, lunch or dinner should be and to my tastes they were far too early. Dinner at 6pm? Pfft, I haven’t even begun to start my nightly Bacchanalian feasts of port and pheasant by then. I suspect these timings will be adjustable via the computer software that will come with the meter (once it has been approved) but even so it would be nice to adjust these things via the meter.

The Jazz also allowed me to try out Wavesense’s test strips for the first time. And by crikey I like ’em. Handily they can only slot into the meter one way, useful in low-light conditions (such as in an opium den or crack house) and they soak up the teeny-tiny amount of gory blood required in a jiffy. Processing is quick (though perhaps not as quick as the “1-2-3″ advertised) and the lancet firing device looks cool and works as well as any.

Of least use is the positive feedback mechanism which gives you a little smiley-face icon if your latest reading is within acceptable limits. As much use as a gelignite suppository, this icon will only be of practical help to drooling morons, but its cheery countenance when I get things right does help me to block out the nightmare of that hideous night in Bowmore.

Sample size – 3/5
0.5μL – fairly large but acceptable

Test time – 4/5
3 seconds – though oddly seems longer

Test strip calibration
– 5/5
Self-calibrating – yay!

Test strip slurpiness – 4/5
Nice ‘n’ slurpy

Memory – 5/5
1,865 results – a memory like an elephant

Sexiness – 4/5
Not bad, nice sexy screen

Beeping – 5/5
Can be turned off, thank heavens

4am test – 3/5
Nice bright backlight is helpful.

Grand total – 33/40

Read about our reviews here.


Diabetics need to control blood pressure

The BBC reports today that half of people with diabetes are failing to keep control of their blood pressure, risking “damaging” complications, figures suggest.The analysis of NHS data in England by Diabetes UK showed the number of people not hitting their target has been stuck at about 50% in recent years.

This dog doesn’t worry about high blood pressure – mainly because I’m a dog and don’t have to worry about these things. As for you diabetics, there’s only one word for you – “PANIC!”


Even more selfless diabetes travel research

Alison on glacier
Wearing multiple layers to hike on a glacier means you needn’t worry about where to hide your pump. Actually finding your pump amongst the layers is a completely different challenge.

As I continue to dedicate myself selflessly to the diabetes research agenda, I have just completed another research field trip. This time I investigated the impact of travel on diabetes in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska. Key learnings include:

• When you’re wearing thermal underwear, two layers of clothes, waterproofs and a life jacket while sitting in a kayak with a cover over you so you can’t access anything below your ribs, finding somewhere to keep your pump so you can actually reach it is a bit of a pain. The solution involves sticking it in your cleavage (which is also where you’re storing your binoculars to keep them to hand but out of the rain) and unzipping your life jacket when you need to access it. Brighter diabetics would remember to take longer pump tubing with them to avoid the need for contortionist type activity simply to bolus.

• Cameras can survive a glucogel/pocket explosion, but brighter diabetics would keep the two things in separate pockets in future.

• Altitude cures diabetes. When driving the Icefields Parkway at an altitude of around 6,500 ft, despite doing more driving than walking, I needed minimal insulin and maximum fruit pastilles. Thankfully the husband was driving or it would have taken us weeks if we’d have had to stop for every low.

• Pumps will always bring amusement to any dining situation. As I bolused while chatting with a lovely couple from New York, one of them said to me, with a straight face “Oh, are you charging that?”. I love the idea that I might have a power socket in my belly button through which I can charge all my electronic devices!

Drowning puppies in Lake Geneva

Bloggers in front of the Medtronic lair
Bloggers in front of the Medtronic lair

Readers of your soaraway Shoot Up will recall that m’colleague and I were invited this weekend (along with a bunch of other European bloggers) to Medtronic’s Swiss lair to discuss all things diabetes. Which was nice.

The general consensus of received opinion is that giant medical companies are pure evil – crushing patients beneath the heal of their cruel jack boots in an all-consuming passion for profit. Dark rumours also circulate that companies like Medtronic delight in causing unnecessary and pointless suffering to puppies by drowning them. Just for kicks.

I have to confess that the latter rumour was started and circulated exclusively by me; but, you know, no smoke without a fire. I’m sure I glanced a lorry load of tiny, mewling Labradors being carted in through the back door of their lair. When I asked about it, I was threatened by jump-suited minions, so I just kept schtum.

Anyway, Medtronic aren’t pure evil. They’re a business like any other. They’re not a charity who make medical devices just to get a warm glow; they do it to make money and there’s nothing wrong with that. Working with “expert patients” and “thought leaders”, and whatever they called us, is a Good Thing for both the company and us unwashed masses.

The way that I see it is that if Medtronic get useful feedback about, say, pumps from the sharp end they’ll make better products. If they make better products we get to use said better products, have a better life and they make more cash. We all win, don’t we?

Anyway, let’s get past all this opinionated guff! Let me tell you about the meeting itself.

As always, the informal chat over dinner was the best bit; both with our fellow bloggers and diabetics and with the Medtronic staff. They told us about their plans and latest products and we told them what we thought. All good wholesome stuff. We also had a brief chance to meet the big cheese of Medtronic diabetes – Julie Foster (Vice President Diabetes International) – who gave a charming and inspiring speech. Which was, of course, met with boarish heckling from two people who shall remain nameless (I apologised directly to Julie for Mike’s terrible and shocking behaviour).

The next day we had presentations in the Medtronic lair from Product Manager Julien Vandewalle, who told us about the latest in CGM developments, which was exciting for those who use CGM (Alison’s gone into more detail about this in her post). We then had a very interesting presentation by Hannah Gough (Clinical Study Manager) about the latest medical studies being carried out by Medtronic.

After sushi (yeah, I know, la-de-dah, eh?) Aurélie Duplais talked to us about blogging and the Internet after which we broke off into groups for a discussion on supporting the diabetes body and the diabetes mind. Which was all very interesting, controversial and, actually, reasonably well–informed.

Stopping only for a picture of a monstrous group hug (I mean, really!) we then jetted back to our respective homes.

So all-in-all a very worthwhile and informative weekend. I hope we represented your views at least moderately accurately. Thanks, again, for Medtronic for putting us up (and putting up with us) and thanks to my fellow bloggers, with whom I had some great conversations and debates – amongst them I felt like a complete dunce in terms of diabetes knowledge and opinion!

In fact, if you want some further, non-Shoot Up reading I’d check out my fellow bloggers here:

So at the end of the day we all won. Aside, of course, from those poor puppies.

Comatose and rotting toes – the lighter side of insulin dependency

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