The Texture Of Things

Shrapnel: It’s a Good Thing

September 10th, 2008

When I was pregnant with the tot, I was diagnosed with Pregnancy Diabeetus. I had to go on a special diet and I had to check my blood sugar four times a day. I think I started this around 25 weeks and did it until she was born, so – what is that? 10 weeks?

Ten weeks of finger pokes. Seventy days of finger pokes. Two hundred eighty finger pokes. Roughly. Because who’s counting?

Courtesy of HG’s job, I had some supah-awesum health insurance, but it would not cover Diabeetus testing supplies. Figures. So, I went to my pharmacy counter, showed them the glucometer the dietitian had given me. In the little black case was the finger-poker-thing. (Sadists and those in the medical community call them “lancing devices”, I believe.) They looked it over and said, “Here is what you need,” and they pushed a box of test strips and a box of lancets across the counter at me.

I had no idea about the wide array of products available for finger poking, so I accepted the name brand lancets, paid the fortune that they cost, and went home to test my blood sugar.

Let me take this moment to clarify my state of mind at the time. I was bent on doing exactly what the dietitian told me to do for the sake of mah bay-bee. When she said, “Set the lancet depth at 5 or 6,” I did it. I set it at 5 and proceeded to suffer as the narrow lancets pounded deep into my flesh.

By the time the tot was born (mercifully early, if you ask my hands), my fingertips were freckled with small red dots and they felt like I had gotten them caught in a meat grinder. Both the left and right sides of all four fingers and one thumb on my left hand were abused to the point that at least once a day I tried to do the blood test left-handed in order to give my right hand fingers a taste of the torture. I developed some serious empathy for my husband’s grandmother, who tests her blood 4-6 times a day on her papery-skinned fingers. Oy, the poor woman.

Cue the passage of time and the change of insurance companies. For those of you not in the know, diabeetus testing supplies are expensive and are, at least in the States, quite a market. I mean, have you seen the 800 glucometer commercials that run daily on just about any television channel? Not to mention the radio ads and magazine ads and – oh my god the money the companies spend on advertising. Markup on test strips must be all right.

But! But this time, my joe-schmoe insurance covers testing supplies! Hooray!

And then the pharmacy filled the prescription with generic lancets.

Anyone who wants to say that generics and name brands are the same needs to take a look at these things. No picture I take of them does them any justice. The gauge on the name brand lancet is probably something like 1000 and the gauge on the generic is, like, 8. The night I used the first one, I yelled back at the “lancing device”. I told HG it felt like getting hit by shrapnel, AND I MEANT IT.

But there I was. I had paid for them. Well, I had paid the copay and I sure as heck wasn’t going to drop a single dime more on these miserable things because I am determined this diabeetus is a temporary condition, and I am nothing if not a cheapskate. (Do you hear me, pancreas? TEMPORARY.) So I had to figure out how to keep my fingers from turning into ground beef again, especially since I am also determined to get to full-term this time. The first logical step was to dial back the “lancing device.”

I dialed it back and back, and with some experimentation, I think I’ve found the perfect balance. The lancet pops forward juuuuuust enough that it feels like it’s actually bouncing off my skin, and about 98% of the time, it makes a hole that is, with a squeeze, big enough to produce enough blood for the test.

So successful am I that I often can’t tell or remember which finger I poked last.

And so the moral of the story is to not let cheap materials get you down. Cheap materials can help you find agency in a situation that is, for the most part, out of your control. They can teach you to think more critically about the instructions handed down to you by The Man. They can end up being more worth the money than those pesky name brand, high-fashion ones.


1 Comment »

  1. coffeypot says

    I have to (should) do that, too. But I do it about once a week because I love my bodily fluid (except pee) and hate to part with even the tiniest drop. At one point I even used a straight pin trying to save money, but the pain was greater and the hole larger and wwwaaaaayyyyy to much of my precious fluid came out.

    September 16th, 2008 | #

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