Archive for 2012

iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter Review

I love technology, don’t you? But sometimes technology defeats people. What if there’s a blood glucose meter that not only hooks into your iPhone, but is a complete no-brainer to use? The iBG*Star© Blood Glucose Meter is just such a seamless piece of technology and anyone, even the technology-challenged, could use it!

The iBG*Star© is about to be released in Australia (around September 2012). I know lots of people already who can’t wait for it to hit the market! I was lucky enough to obtain one for review, so I need to state that I was given one, but with absolutely no provisos on how I’d review it.

The iBG*Star© integrates with an iPhone App of the same name iBGStar. Completely free to download from the iTunes app store, and functions even without the meter if you want to enter your test results manually. It also has a section for notes and some pre-entered times – pre-meal, post meal, night etc. You can enter your carbs and insulin taken as well. The graphs, which include a Trend Chart, Logbook and statistics, are incredibly handy. It would most certainly suit anyone not on insulin as well.

With the iBG*Star© meter, it’s an even more perfect combination!

I unpacked mine today.

This is the back of the box the iBG*Star© box. It’s full of everything you’d need to be fully equipped for a blood glucose test anywhere! You can see on the box that mine is in mmol/L, the blood glucose measurement used everywhere except the USA. (I’m in Australia.)

The iBG*Star© Case

Here’s what’s inside…

It’s all there – the meter, finger pricker, lancets, control solution, strips and so on.

At first glance you’d wonder how a blood glucose meter could be so small. It’s seriously tiny! It’s about 5.5 cm across by 1.75cm deep (not counting the part that fits into the iPhone).

I unpacked mine while having a coffee at a local cafe. No instructions needed, although there are instructions included in the box. If you’ve ever done a blood glucose test, you won’t need the instructions! Could they have made it any easier?

It’s an ingenious design, super lightweight, and means there’s one less bulky thing to carry around in a regular diabetes kit. We all know how that works… you end up needing the one thing you’ve left at home! So you carry it all, everywhere.

iBG*Star© Meter

The iBG*Star© meter I received had already been fully charged up, so all I did was take out the meter, click it into where I’d normally put my iPhone charger, and away I went. Usually it would take a few hours to charge it before first use.

You don’t have to have the iBG*Star© meter connected to the iPhone to do a test and you don’t have to have the app open even if it’s connected. Once you do open the app, the iBG*Star app will update with any tests still waiting to sync on the meter.

I got out a strip, inserted it – it’s fairly easy to figure out which way they go – and I did a test. I tested with my trusty MultiClix, but will put a lancet in the iBG*Star© finger pricker later and see how it goes.

The screen, like all screens that are not backlit, is hard to read in the sun. Nearly all blood glucose meters, some insulin pumps, most mobile phones and anything with that kind of screen is notorious for being unreadable in the sun, even when they are backlit, so that’s not a criticism, just a fact of life. But no worries with the iBG*Star© – if you have the app open, the result comes up immediately. It’s in a large font and very readable! I could read it without my glasses (2.5s) and usually I can’t read a thing without them.

Now that I’m inside, it’s easy to read the meter, but I’m tending to look at the result on the app, which is dead simple to see, even for me, without glasses.

After you insert your test strip, the screen of the iBG*Star© meter shows you a moving strip and a teardrop. It’s ready for some blood! Incredibly fast too!

Here’s a short movie of a test I did…

There is an audible low-toned ding-dong when the test has finished. Nice!

To write a really long review about such and advanced yet incredibly user-friendly piece of technology is nearly impossible! There’s really nothing bad to say about it and no long explanations are needed about how to use it. It’s most definitely plug-and-play and I’m curious to know how many people will ask me what it is when I’m out there and needing to test. I had an appointment at my local GP this afternoon and I already had the lovely practice manager, the nurse/diabetes advisor and my doctor all looking at it and marvelling at the technology!

iBG*Star© Test Result immediately uploaded to the app on the iPhone. And yes, that’s my reading!

I haven’t yet done too many comparison blood tests, but the first one I did, came out exactly the same as my usual meter, which is reasonably accurate. People are reporting the same everywhere – that the iBG*Star© is one of the more accurate meters out there. Small and accurate? Huge bonus!

I’m reliably told that it’s better than the +/- 20% error most meters are allowed, and it’s more like 15%. That’s a big start in making meters more accurate. Yet, how could they improve accuracy so much in such a tiny device? We now know the technology is out there, so no excuses any more to produce inaccurate meters!

The iBG*Star© charges while connected to the iPhone, plus there’s a separate charger that will charge both your iPhone and the iBG*Star© if all are connected together. I’ve had mine connected for quite a few hours now, and I can only see a little bit of difference. Then again, I’ve been playing with it since I got it, taking screen photos, normal photos and movies.

I charge my iPhone every night – everyone knows what a drain some apps are on battery, so I’ll now switch to the iBG*Star© charger and charge both at the same time overnight. Apparently I don’t need to do that every night for the iBG*Star© because it stays charged for a couple of weeks, but if the iBG*Star© will stay connected to my iPhone, no reason not to charge it all at the same time.

iBG*Star© iPhone Case

There’s an iPhone case available (I’ll be getting mine next week) that fits around the iPhone and iBG*Star© while it’s attached to the iPhone. I see no need to ever disconnect it from the iPhone, considering I go nowhere without my mobile phone, and I test a lot. So much less to carry now too!

The photo on the left is copyright and is from the Sanofi’s Canada website. All other photos and the movie I’ve taken myself.

Thank you to Sanofi in Australia for giving me the opportunity to give the iBG*Star© a look over and to use it for this review. Believe me, if there was anything I didn’t like about it, I’d say so!

I have nothing bad to say about this new and gorgeous piece of technology! The strips are the same as used with its ‘sibling’ the BG*Star© glucose meter, and they are already on the NDSS (code 145).

The iBG*Star© meter is one I’ll definitely be using regularly.

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Update and Accu-Chek Aviva Expert Meter

More than a month has passed since my last post. It feels like a year because so much has happened – not necessarily all good or all bad. In a month, I could easily fill a book. I won’t bore you. Briefly, my house is up for sale. I have no idea whether I’ll buy or rent next (who knows how long my home will take to sell in this very strange market). I’ve picked up a couple of new work clients. I’m absolutely loving the glorious winter here (very jeans and t-shirt weather during the day and not all that cold at night so far). In the diabetes world, there’s some more interesting things to report.

After nearly two years without a proper diabetes team, other than an endo and a couple of random visits to a private CDE, I have found what I think will be an awesome diabetes team. I’ve been wanting to get an appointment with this particular CDE for ages, but the clinic was somewhere I didn’t particularly want to go. Then I heard the CDE was starting clinics at at a hospital much closer to me. Every so often I’d call or text him to see if I could get an appointment.

Finally, about 4 weeks ago, on short notice, I got in. I was there with bells on, and I wasn’t one bit disappointed. Not only does the CDE have T1 and wears a pump (there’s a whole world of understanding right there), there’s a dietician who didn’t bat an eyelid when I said “low carb” and my endo’s registrar, was hanging around and happy to talk. Woo hoo! I’m a happy camper!

With lots of stress lately, I had a bit of diabetes burnout. Inevitable. It happens to most T1s – to some more than others, and to some, more often than others. The surprising thing is that on an in-office A1C test (never had one of those before), I was hiding my head in shame, trying to guess the double-digits the machine would spit out. Imagine my surprise at a 6.6%! That was unexpected because I thought my control had gone out the window a bit. Apparently not.

Recently I got an Accu-Chek Aviva Expert blood glucose meter. My favourite to date has been the Accu-Chek Nano. The Aviva Expert is an amazing meter! It uses a bit of insulin pump technology to calculate bolus doses for corrections and carbs.

About time a meter like this came to Australia!

Not that I need all the bells and whistles because my pump does the bolus calculations, but being able to enter some info around a blood glucose reading is a huge bonus. There are a few choices like: pre-meal, after-meal, bedtime, exercise and so on. The colour screen is lovely too – easy on the eyes and backlit too!

Here’s a great YouTube video from Diabetes UK about this meter. They are available here but not from the usual sources. Ask your diabetes educator or endo about getting one.

Accu-Chek”> Aviva Expert blood glucose meter review

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Driving with Diabetes

I learned the hard way quite a while ago to take my “D-stuff” when I go out, even if it’s just to the shops 5 mins away.

I have an Uchi makeup bag with a couple of zippered compartments with exactly the right slots. In it I keep a blood glucose testing kit (an Accu-Chek Nano, my favourite meter), a syringe (I can get insulin from the reservoir in my pump if I have a problem, or get myself home), some jelly beans or glucose tablets and some migraine meds, just in case. On longer outings, or if I’m going to be stuck somewhere, into the bag goes some insulin, plus an infusion set, reservoir and some SkinPrep for a full pump site change in case it gets yanked out, there’s an occlusion or some other problem.

I always test before I drive. We have driving guidelines in Australia: “Above 5 (90) to drive.” Guidelines only, not law, but to be heeded nevertheless. We also have guidelines about not driving after a severe hypo that requires intervention by others. I’m used to testing before I drive. It’s a habit.

My handbag ends up heavy. I also carry my giant wallet, a notebook and fountain pen, a hand fan, tissues, lipstick, mobile phone, and sometimes a real book or my iPad with iBooks on it, and more. Sometimes it feels like I’m carrying bricks!

It also helps if I use my testing kit, while I’m out. Today I learned that one the hard way too.

I tested about 10 minutes before I went out. My BG was in range. I grabbed my keys and bag and drove to the local shops. I went to the greengrocer. Dropped in to the doctors surgery, got an appointment, waited only 10 minutes and was in with the doc for about 10 mins. Went to the pharmacy, maybe another 10 mins. Didn’t think I’d walked all that much. Not like taking the dog for a walk. All up, I’d been out around 40 minutes – maybe 55 minutes since I’d tested.

Drove home and tested because by that time, my pump was beeping at me to test – I have reminders set for an hour after I enter a BG reading and/or bolus. Works for me.

Quite a surprise when I saw my BG was 3.1 (56)!

I even tested again, just to make sure, and I had absolutely no idea how long I’d been like that! Certainly not when I left home, but clearly I drove home on that. Oops! I had a fleeting thought that 40 minutes out wasn’t going to make much difference. How wrong I was!

So now I’ve learned another thing the hard way – test on the way out AND on the way back if you’re going to be longer than 15 or 20 minutes. I drove home on a 3.1 and had no idea! I was in no danger and drove perfectly normally for the 5 minute drive home, but it’s still a really bad idea to drive when you’re low. I felt absolutely nothing until I started tearing open a packet of jelly beans and my hands were shaking slightly. I didn’t have my usual ‘eyes go funny’ thing, which I usually have when I hit 3.2 (58). No sign whatsoever!

Lesson learned.

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Animas Insulin Pump

I've had an Animas Insulin Pump since June 2009. I absolutely love my pump and I love the wonderful people at Animas (AMSL Australia).

If you are even remotely thinking of getting an insulin pump, please feel free to contact me and ask me why I love mine and what a huge difference it's made to my life.

There are also lots of posts here to give you similar information.