I recently had cause to look at my fingers. Not a high octane thrilling experience, I’m sure you’ll all agree. But I did notice the array of tiny dots caused by the last zillion, or so, blood tests that my poor, ravaged fingers have had to endure. While I can never take a break from diabetes, I thought that my mangled fingers could do with a rest and so I decided to give alternate site testing a go.
My first meter, along with the myriad that I’ve used since, came with the obligatory finger poker. Said finger poker came with an alternate clear bit to shove on the end for what the guidebook described as “alternate site testing”. “How thrilling”, I thought, as I chucked the apparently useless bit into the bin.
However, last week I dug through the rancid, rotting fish bones in the bottom of my bin and pulled out said clear finger poker bit and gave it a go. Incidentally I’m not really sure why finger pokers have a clear end bit for alternate site testing. Answers below if you have any idea.
Anyway, back to the article; with my poker ready to poke I started with my palm. The first thing I noticed, pretty quickly, was that it hurt. Quite a lot. Maybe my crusted fingertips are so covered in scar tissue that I can no longer feel anything through them – not even a sharpened piece of metal being thrust into them. (Bang goes a career in delicate eye surgery). But, whatever, it seemed more painful than the fingertips.
I also noticed that a bleeding palm is quite difficult to give a squeeze to get that little extra bit of blood out as you do with your fingertips. As a result I failed to fill up three test strips and my meter moodily displayed its nagging “You haven’t put enough blood on, eejit!” message (I have a very rude meter).
The palm being a failure, I then moved on to inflict some misery on my forearms. The fatal flaw with my arms is that they’re quite hairy. Not exactly the matted fur of a gorilla, but certainly enough hair to be going on with. Said hair just made things trickier but, bravely, I persisted.
Much like the palm, the arm isn’t very squeezable and so getting that all important extra drop of blood out was quite difficult. So I increased the depth gauge on the poker until I could swear I could hear the lancet scraping against bone every time I attacked myself.
Finally the mission was accomplished and I managed an alternate site reading. However, I then observed, with mild revulsion, how much your arms actually bleed after being stabbed with a full-depth lancet. After my five or six attempts I looked like I had enjoyed a jolly evening of self-harm but, hey, at least I had my reading.
So will I continue to alternate site test? Probably not. It generally seemed like a pain in the arse and wasn’t very successful. However, because of the post-test self-harming-look I might save the arm-tests for Hallowe’en parties.