Think back to the wonderful day you were diagnosed with Type One. Ah, what lovely memories. The smell of hospital detergent, the sinking feeling in your belly as you realised with a dread chill that your life would never be the same; the moderately caring but slightly detached consultant; wondering what the hell diabetes was and how long you had to live. Such happy days.
After the initial shock you would – hopefully – be given a crash-course to teach you how to stand in for your pancreas, now that the stupid bloody thing had decided to conk out on you.
Weighted down with leaflets about driving with diabetes, drinking with diabetes, eating with diabetes and booklets detailing the thrills and spills of peripheral neuropathy you would have probably be issued with one of these little beauties, the almost completely ubiquitous Optium Xceed.
The Optium Xceed is the AK47 assault rifle of the blood-glucose meter world. Simple to use, easily available, known all the world round and standard issue to the newly-diagnosed. While quite a lot of us gadget-obsessed geeks have moved on to something slightly more sophisticated, I bet pretty much all of us have one of these in a bottom-drawer somewhere if they’re not in actual active use.
The main reason for the Xceed still hanging around is that it’s one of the very few meters that can check for ketones. I’m probably a negligent diabetic but I never, ever, ever, ever check my ketones. I know I’m diabetic (obviously), I know sometimes my blood glucose goes high (obviously) and I know that, as sure as day follows breakfast, that I will sometimes produce ketones when I’m high. I don’t really need a meter to tell me something so strikingly obvious aside the occasional exceptional emergency.
Though saying that, I do own an Oregon weather station that tells me it’s raining outside (it does a lot of that in Scotland) when I could simply look out of the window. I didn’t need that meter to tell me that but I still have it. So maybe, the whole ketone measuring thing does have a place after all. Or maybe they’re just pandering to the lunatics who adhere to the late, lamentable Atkins’ diet; who calculate the diet isn’t working unless they’re producing ketones. Nutters.
Anyway, getting down to blood glucose measuring itself, the meter needs to be calibrated with each new set of test strips, which is a bit of pain. The test strips themselves come individually foil-wrapped, which I’m sure is great for something but the extra unwrapping just annoyingly adds another step to the tedium of testing. Also your bag also soon fills up with a tonne more crap compared to other meters.
The strips themselves are relatively slurpy, require quite a small sample of 0.3µL and tests take 5 seconds. All in all not world class, but acceptable. Just. Moving on down the specifications list, it has a 450-test memory and 7, 14 and 30 day averaging. You can also download your results to your computer, should you choose too.
So, if it wasn’t for the ketone measuring thing, this meter would be consigned to the bin. But because of the ketone-thing and the fact I once saw this model on an episode of BBC’s Casualty when they had some poor bloke falling into a diabetic coma, or something, on an episode – I nudged my wife excitedly, “I’ve got one of them!” So for that reason alone it deserves to remain in the drawer with some out of date test strips for emergency use.
So to summarise:
Sample size > 5/5
Test time > 2/5
Test strip calibration > 2/5
Yes, each batch needs calibrating
Test strip slurpiness > 2/5
Perhaps slightly waterproof compared to other strips
Memory > 2/5
Sexiness > 2/5
Too ubiquitous to be sexy – a victim of it’s own success
Beeping > 5/5
Yes, can be turned off
4am test > 3/5
Comes complete with backlight and is relatively straightforward to use
Grand total: 23/40