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!