One man diabetes testing unit

By | 7 April, 2009
Testing times

Testing times

Over the past few days I’ve been surfing (or should that be paddling) around the Intermaweb looking for good blogs about diabetes to add to the sidebar over on the right hand side there. This is so when you get bored of weak puns and my sometimes naked aggression on these pages you can go off and read some posts by some infinitely more talented writers.

A few things have struck me about the myriad blogs I’ve scanned through. Firstly lots of people start blogging about a subject, get bored and abandon their blogs forever and they remain stuck eternally like some sort of spooky, haunted ghost town with tumbleweed rolling emptily through the pages.

I sometimes wonder what happened to these bloggers. Did they just stop writing, or did something much more sinister (and interesting) happen? A freak yachting accident, cutting short a promising blogging career perhaps. Who knows? And perhaps more to the point who cares?

Unsurprisingly a lot of diabetes blogs are written by our American cousins and what leaps out at me is the vast cost of diabetes in America, especially if you have the misfortune of being uninsured.

Since 1947 the United Kingdom has had the rather wonderful National Health Service (NHS) which aimed (and still aims) to be free at the point of entry. This means that all my diabetes kit – the Lantus, the Humalog, the test strips, the meters and everything else – is all completely free of charge. (I know, pedants, that I pay for it indirectly through my tax contributions but bear with me here).

Although much maligned by vile rag the Daily Mail, I think the NHS is brilliant (yes, I know it has its faults (I refer
mainly to unhelpful receptionist dragons)) and I think we often forget just how lucky we are to have the old thing.

The quantity of free kit I get does mean I’m pretty free and easy with it – not worrying if I use a zillion test strips a day. Perhaps the best example of this in practice is being a one man diabetes testing unit.

My wife and I frequently meet up with our friends in a pub in the west end of Edinburgh. Of course, if you’re knocking back a few beers over the course of several hours one needs to test and inject. Not really being the shy and retiring type, I whip out my testing kit and shoot up at the pub table in front of everyone.

Perhaps surprisingly this never results in exclamations of horror, projectile vomiting and fainting from my companions, but instead a chorus of “Cool! Can I have a go?”

For reasons of sanity people don’t get to have a go with the insulin but I do very often end up going round the table checking everyone’s blood glucose – getting through a metric tonne of strips and lancets in the process. There’s often a degree of competition to see who gets the lowest reading (I don’t really know why they do this either).

Because of this free kit and my free use of it, I’ve probably managed to educate a whole load of people about diabetes and demystify the affliction over the years. I haven’t yet managed to actually diagnose an unknown Type Two yet, but it’ll happen sooner-or-later and I’ll let you all know here.

Watch this space and hurrah for the NHS!

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