Built in obsolescence

By | 28 January, 2010
So old you have to pee on them

So old you have to pee on them

Recently I suffered an unwelcome visit from a mild throat infection. I mention this not to get sympathy (because I know I’ll get Sweet FA from you lot) but because it really messed up my blood glucose levels.

Despite being hobbled by MDI, I tend to keep my blood glucose in the single figures (go me!) but with the introduction to my throat of a whole bunch of bacteria or virii (or whatever the plural of virus is) I just couldn’t maintain this happy medium. So I spent a good part of last week testing and injecting, testing and injecting. It got so bad that over a morning I had to shove in 14 units to cover off a small bowl of cereal and glass of orange juice. The Diabetic Gods were not smiling on me that day.

Anyway, with all this testing of my highly-sugary blood my faithful meter kept reminding to “CHECK KETONES”. Usually whenever my meter orders me to “CHECK KETONES” I ignore it. Firstly, I don’t take orders from no one, see; and secondly I’ve never really understood the point in checking for ketones.

If, say, my BG is particularly high I know this because my meter tells me so (and I feel crap, of course). I then duly correct the high by shoving in an appropriate amount of humalog. My BG then comes back down to normal and I get back to humdrum day-to-day stuff – like organising coups in backward African states and international jewel theft, that sort of thing.

If, however, my BG was high and I checked my ketones and I discovered I was indeed producing a low level of ketonic-goodness I would, uhm, do exactly what I was going to do anyway and shove in some humalog and wait for normality to return. Given I’m just doing the same thing, why bother testing for ketones? As an aside, it’s obvious though that if things go really out of goose and my BG is high for days on end, then perhaps ketones, DKA and all that stuff are much more important and work testing for.

Anyway, getting to the subject of this article, after being prompted by my meter 300-or-so times to “CHECK KETONES” I thought, just this once, I would treat myself and check them. It was clearly a quiet evening.

So I dug out my faithful Abbott Optium Xceed, found some ketone strips in the very back of diabetic supplies drawer and prepared to test. Imagine my crushing disappointment when the meter reported an error, prompting me to check the “use by” date on the strips. June 2007. Oops!

Given I was diagnosed at the end of 2005, this packet must have been at most two years old at their expiry date (I suspect they were younger than that as they were the new type of ketone strip that Abbott now do). I understand that strips and what-not will, in time, degrade and it’s probably best not to use them after that time; but a shelf life of only two years or so for something that must be pretty stable? Surely that’s a little suspect? (Please note, I haven’t actually done the slightest bit of research on this fact; it might be the case that test strips are more volatile and unstable than a dodgy nuclear warhead and that Big Pharma has struggled valiantly for years to tame test strip chemicals to last as incredibly long as two years. But I suspect not).

Anyway, in conclusion, this all meant I couldn’t test my ketones the other night. I could blame Big Pharma for evilly building obsolescence into its products; but, really, I blame myself for not checking the use by dates on my spare strips for the last two years. D’oh!

6 thoughts on “Built in obsolescence

  1. Mike

    I had to order in some ketone strips as the one’s we have available here in Spain are pathetic, that said I had my own day full of games after picking up a throat infection.

    Simply could not shift the ketones and unable to eat much or drink much as per the endocrinologist’s advice. Ended up at hospital hoping they could simply hook me up, get me sorted.

    Instead they admitted me straight through with heart problems, millions of tests later and 18 pints of blood taken, they said I was ok. Tachycardia..

    For the whole duration did they check my blood, eventually checked my urine late evening. Nor did they let me inject myself with insulin..

    An experience that left me upset and what could have been a sorry outcome. [/rantover]

  2. Angie

    I can’t remember if you can do it with the Xceed, but you can usually trick a meter into letting you use out of date strips by changing the date in the settings… 😉

    I will test for ketones if I’m above 14 and either I don’t know why, or I’m having trouble getting my numbers down. On DAFNE there are specific sick day rules to follow depending on if, and how many, ketones you are producing, that involve taking a percentage of your total daily dose every few hours. So, in my case, it’s different from what I would normally do just to treat high blood sugar. I’m not sure if I would bother testing if I didn’t have a protocol to follow though! 🙂

  3. Tim

    Oh, if anyone cares; since writing the article above I’ve asked my pharmacist to stock me up on ketone strips 😀

  4. Hairy Gnome

    I have to admit, I wouldn’t know a ketone if it jumped out and bit my leg! I thought you switched them on and off on mobile phones, depending on how much you wanted to annoy the people around you. The point about this little diatribe is, that if like @Mike I was in hospital and they told me I couldn’t inject my insulin, I would tell them to feck off!

    When I was in Lincoln Hospital having my new big ends fitted, I wouldn’t let ’em near me with an NHS disposable finger pricker, those bloody things are a cruel and unusual punishment and I maintained my own diabetes regime too! They didn’t argue much… 😀


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