The ungrateful diabetic

By | 4 July, 2011
The common or garden diabetes researcher in their typical habitat

The common or garden diabetes researcher in their typical habitat

The pancreatically challenged have a virtual army of people right around the world looking at ways to improve our health, our lives and ultimately make sure that the thousands of pounds a year required to keep us alive goes into their pockets rather than their competitors.

In order to get their grubby little mitts on my hard earned taxes, these people are squirrelled away in meeting rooms and labs, brainstorming, researching and testing to create what they hope will be the next killer app when it comes to diabetes. They’ve done some marvellous work over the years which has really helped me to be a better pancreas but I fear I might be a little ungrateful sometimes for all their efforts.

There are many diabetes related things I’m not willing to apologise for but when I think of all the long hours and late nights that must have gone into developing some of the diabetes tech features that I blithely brush to one side, I do occasionally feel a little twinge of guilt. Here are a few of them…

Blood glucose meter makers. Bless your little cotton socks, you try so hard. You’re in a competitive marketplace where the slightest new gizmo might make you stand out from the crowd.  And I can see it now, that moment when a slightly sweaty geek in product development came to the big bosses and said, “I know what will change the world, we’ll make it so that people can download their meter results onto computer. Then they can analyse them to their heart’s content.“ And the big bosses said yes, great idea, go for it. And I would have said the same. Sadly, I just seem to find too many other things to do with my life and the layer of dust on the download cable just gets thicker by the day. Thank you for your excellent idea and all your hard work in making it happen, sadly, I just don’t really get round to using it. Sorry.

CGM creators. I know you claim I’ll get better accuracy if I use your predictive alarms to tell me I’m going to go hypo soon rather than waiting for the alarm to go off to tell me I’m about to hit the floor. But really, I can only cope with so many vibrations per day, and your predictive alarms send me over the edge. It seems I’m doomed not to get the best out of your tech. Sorry.

Lancet labourers. With my dubious “change the lancet on bank holidays” approach to life, I fear I’m not really taking advantage of your super smooth needles that have been filed down with a unicorn’s tail and coated with gnat’s eyelashes to ensure a silky smooth entry into my skin. Plus, I don’t think you’re ever going to get rich from me. Sorry.

Pump producers. That must have been a long session when you all sat down with coffee and donuts and tried to work out the crucial features for an insulin pump. You did a fabulous job, I like my pump a lot. But, I’m afraid your alarm functions will always remain on the virtual shelf. My pump squawks enough in one day, the thought of asking it to irritate me if I haven’t bolused by a certain time or done a blood test for several hours is frankly not an appetising one. It’d be like having my own diabetic wife sitting on my belt, nagging periodically throughout the day. Really, that’s not for me. Sorry.

Glucose tablet generators. I can imagine the meeting now. We’ve seen a gap in the market – diabetics at risk of falling over hypo need easy to carry, super fast acting hypo treatment that is unpleasant enough no one would be tempted to scoff it as a naughty treat. Solution – powdery, orange flavoured rectangles in handy pocket sized packs. Which pancreatically challenged type wouldn’t be delighted with this. I fear too much of a good thing as a child has left me with an aversion to what I know is a very sensible hypo treatment. I shun your specially designed, super effective product in favour of Fruit Pastilles. Sorry.

But don’t be disheartened all those people out there producing products for paralysed pancreases. I like your work. Don’t take it personally. My washing machine – which we know I understand more than my own diabetes – has 16 programmes on it but I only ever use 3. My mobile phone is so clever it can practically live a life of its own yet I only ask it to do the basics. And my microwave has numerous settings that are cast aside in favour of my preferred method of  “nuke it as quick as you can”. So, apologies for casually dismissing some of your best work, don’t take it personally.

Category: Kit & equipment Mildly amusing Tags:

About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

16 thoughts on “The ungrateful diabetic

  1. Tim

    Good Lord! You use more than one setting on your washing machine? Mine is permanently stuck at “40C cottons”!

  2. Alison Post author

    Of course, I have the 40C cottons, the 30min quick wash and the “I’ve got blood on the sheets again, boil them to within an inch of their lives” setting!

  3. Cecile

    @alison: Thanks for blabbing about manufacturers’ lancet-whetting methods…wonder if it’ll work for scissors too – “filed down with a unicorn’s tail and coated with gnat’s eyelashes” sounds so much more fey than cutting a saucer 😀

  4. Rohan

    I’m with you Tim, what other function does a washing machine need?!

    I’m all for magic hypo tablets myself, as it happens, they really are perfect for me. I even still like the flavours! Well, the Lemon and Orange flavours anyway, blackcurrant was a mistake…

    It’s thinking about this kinda thing which has led to me me slackening my rule on not donating to diabetes charities. also the fact I realise I have a remarkably ‘good’ time of it compared to some people, and it’s those people that will (hopefully) get the most out of new tech developments and the like.

    Three cheers for clever scientists, eh?! 🙂

  5. lizz

    Yep, I’ve washed everything on 30 degrees since I first got my own washing machine in 1981. And everything has always ended up clean, and nothing has faded and I’ve never had a colour run problem. Neither have I died from live bacteria lurking in my clothing. Heat has no reason to be there in my opinion. Alison, doesn’t heat ‘set’ blood? If my fingers leak (actually, ‘spurting’ is more likely when I’m warm at night!) I rinse that bit in cold first then wash as normal.

    I LOVE blackcurrant! I’m beginning to come round to glucose tablets again, having spurned them since childhood, as they are quicker and may not harm my teeth as much as they don’t stick around as long. Plus they aren’t full of gelatin… which I’m convinced could carry mad cow disease since it’s spun from bones. But I do have gelatin filled beans when desperate. So I’ve probably got it anyway.

    I do use ONE meter, so one lot of meter technology is always used by me. Plus one pump. And I also use the alarms as my memory is USELESS and when I start writing I would just write through lunch and everything.

    Agree about lancets though. Didn’t know you could change them, actually.

  6. Paul

    Since I got the new roche 6 in 1 lancet cartridge I’ve found I’ve changed them much more regularly … At least 6 times in fact….

    1. Cecile

      When newly acquainted with Multiclix, I managed to twirl through lancet 1-6 in a single hypo sitting – fortunately you can roll out its barrel, bind down the akimbo staves and reinsert it…since May last year, I’ve been banging along with lancet 1 (sorry for my unconsumptiveness, Roche, but I did promote your product to a diabetic rookie I encountered in a pharmacy)

  7. Alison Post author

    @furrypaul That’s amazing, almost like they designed it that way to encourage people to use more lancets and drive up their profits 😉

    @lizz I’d never thought about hot water setting the blood, I shall review my blood removal washing technique immediately!

  8. Annette A

    I used to change my lancets about once a day. Since changing to multiclix, after the initial ‘change every time I use it’ phase had worn off, rather than revert to click it round every day, hence change the drum every 6days or so, I actually only change the drum every fortnight or so. So Roche’s intention of making people use more lancets didnt work on me…Oh, and I wash everything on 30. Uses less energy so is cheaper and greener. And I use glucotabs rather than the ones you get in paper wrappers – because they come in refillable plastic tubes, so less waste, and they dont go hard at the bottom of your bag. And they’re cheaper once you’ve bought the first tube, because the refills work out less for the same amount of hypo treatment.

  9. Hairy Gnome

    I don’t know if the lancets in the Multiclix are a finer gauge than normal, but I have to say that it’s the most pain free finger-gouger I’ve ever had. Usage though is a different problem. I’ve tried to get into the habit of dialling a new lancet every time, but sometimes I forget and use the same lancet twice. On the other hand, I sometimes convince myself that I forgot to dial it last time, so I advance it before I test, so I’m sure some of the lancets go unused. The real question is; do I give a f**k? 😆

  10. lizz

    Oh, I think they are gentler too, Hairy. Or should that be Gnome?

    What I don’t ‘get’ is that sometimes you seem to only have to pull the lever once and the number changes, at other times it’s twice… I forget to anyway like all of you here. Clearly we are a very ‘green’ lot!!

    ANNETTE!!! I didn’t know you could get refills for the tubes! I’ve been buying tubes! no wonder we overspend out budget (which we have no idea of) each month!

  11. Annette A

    @lizz – you can get them directly from medishop (who are the importers) at or you can go to amazon and get them cheaper (in bulk) becasue you dont have to pay postage (they still come from medishop). You get large tubs of 50 – I got packs of 6 tubs for £15 last time I bought.

  12. Lesley from

    Thanks for a great article, Alison. You guys should be funded by the NHS for the quality psychological support you provide!

  13. Tim

    @lesley1966 – ah, thanks Lesley! I, too, think the NHS should at least be decent enough to fund the Shoot Up port fund!

  14. Josie Hough

    Hello guys…I have only just found your site and joined. What a refreshing change! Thank god for a sense of humour, and I have already copied some of your lines to use next time I have to visit my GP (ie excuse me for knowing a lot about type 1 diabetes but preserving use of my limbs and kidneys is very important to me!!!)

  15. Tim

    Hi Josie – welcome to the misery and unending despond that is Shoot Up! 😀


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