While this tragic world of ours is filled every day with calamity, conflict and catastrophe there are perhaps a few rays of sunshine that poke through the heavy gloom, which give us something to live for and stop us from bashing our owns heads in with a handy paperweight.
My personal happiness list includes waking up next to my wife (ahhh!); roast chicken and the guitar solo from Iron Maiden’s Hallowed by thy Name. With these three things in place I’m sorted and life is good.
But now, having used Abbott’s Freestyle Lite blood glucose meter for the best part of a week, there is now another bright ray of sunlight in the gloomy slough of despond that is diabetes – as it is, in fact, a bloody good meter.
First impressions of the Freestyle are great – it’s absolutely tiny, sleek and looks pretty cool. If only it’d had been in black rather than utilitarian blue it would have scored full marks on the sexiness scale, but we can live with it.
The sample size is a tiny 0.3μL but this is slightly let down by the longish testing time of five seconds – if it had been 3 seconds I would have been ecstatic (well, perhaps not ecstatic exactly – it is only a meter after all and everything’s relative).
Speaking of the test strips, they’re a bit odd. Rather than sucking up your bloody gore through the bottom of the strip as with pretty much every other meter out there, you aim your finger at the side of the strip instead. Once you’ve worked this out (of course, I never read the manual and so it took me a while) the strips are just as good as any other with pretty good “slurpiness”. [Update June 2010 – this, and some other Abbott meters, now come with Abbott’s new strips which include their “ZipWik” technology which claims to suck up your blood even better than the old strips. This is a resonable claim because they do – they’re now probably the best and most slurpy strips on the market at the minute].
The only slight downside with the Freestyle’s strips are that you don’t actually get to see your blood being sucked in – it’s all hidden away under a black section of strip. I find seeing your life-blood being drawn in is useful feedback to ensure you’re actually doing things correctly.
However the strips do have a great, great feature which more than compensates for this minor gripe. As you know, with most strips and meters, if you don’t put enough blood on the strip the meter will churn away as usual and then display an error message asking you to repeat the test. Nothing is more infuriating – after you’ve struggled to get a tiny drop of blood out of stone-cold fingers – than the meter moodily rejecting your sacrificial blood offering. But with the Freestyle Lite, if the meter detects you haven’t put enough blood on it lets you know and gives you another 60 seconds to squeeze another drop out. This is intensely good – it saves a tonne of frustration and stops you wasting test strips, which I guess is a boon if you actually have to pay for them (God bless the NHS!)
The Freestyle Lite has all the usual meter accoutrements – averages over 7, 14 and 30 days; it can be plugged into a PC to produce fancy graphs and the irritating beep can thankfully be turned off.
But I’ve left the best for last – this is the first meter I’ve tested that actually passes the 4am hypo test because – wait for it – it has an internal LED that lights up the test strip! Halle-bloody-luiah! This simple addition allows you actually see where your blood is on your finger, instead of having to randomly stab the test strip around in the pitch dark. Once you’ve successfully sucked up enough blood the meter automatically turns off the strip light and turns on the meter backlight. Bloomin’ marvellous! Why this isn’t a feature on lots of other meters I don’t know, it’s just so handy.
So all in all Abbott’s Freestyle Lite is a very good, sexy, well thought out meter – so much so that once I’ve got my prescription sorted out it’s becoming my regular every-day meter; so this particular ray of sunshine is sticking around!
Sample size – 5/5
Test time – 3/5
Test strip calibration – 5/5
No coding required.
Test strip slurpiness – 5/5
[Update June 2010] Excellent, especially with Abbott’s new strips. But not seeing blood being sucked in is a little disconcerting
Memory – 3/5
400 results – enough to be going on with
Sexiness – 4/5
Petite and cool looking – though if it was black it would be cooler!
Beeping can be turned off
4am test – 5/5
With a lit up strip and automatic backlight it’s the acme of meters when faced with a 4am hypo.
Grand total: 35/40