Over the past week, I’ve been living out various elements in the lifestyle of a person with diabetes. I plan to keep this up for the rest of the month. As a clinician, I interact with people with diabetes mostly in a limited way – the short 10 minute consult, a quick review of their lab results and status and prescription of medications. There’s a much larger (and perhaps more important) aspect to managing diabetes – lifestyle and psychosocial – that I want to better understand, and be in a position to improve.
So..I’ve been :
- Logging everything I eat on a daily basis (see later entry on how I do this)
- Checking my blood glucose using a glucometer, at least twice a day
- Using several fitness trackers to monitor my daily physical activity
And through this – remove negative habits (like having too much tonkatsu or fries) and develop positive habits so as to lead a healthier life.
Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels is an important habit for anyone with diabetes to cultivate. It gives you insight into how your eating behaviours and activity affect your sugar levels, and provides you with real-time feedback on how you’re doing at any given point in time. It’s an excellent educational tool.
I’ve been using the iHealth Align glucometer to do this, and I love it despite its major flaw.
Basically, it’s a coin-sized device that plugs into your smartphone (using the headphone jack). Using the companion iGluco app, you can take a direct measurement of your blood glucose using your phone. Unlike the larger iHealth glucometer where you need to pair your devices using bluetooth – this one is plug-and-play and ready to go.
Insert a test strip (50 strips for $12.50, quite a steal compared to other brands), obtain a fingerprick blood sample, and the reading appears on the phone. The iGluco app automatically logs and charts your results for you to review later, which is cool. Thankfully, my test results have been pretty flat and boring.
I’m quite a fan of its design (apple-esque) and size, which makes it easy to carry in the pocket. It comes with 4 different colour sleeves, which is a nice touch. I keep a few lancets and swabs in the bottle (not the best thing to do, but it saves on carrying too many objects). One thing – the lancing device that comes with the glucometer hurts like a bitch. I use my favourite yellow Safeticets instead (minimal pain, easy disposal).
Unfortunately, it’s not without its cons :
- You need to scan the QR code every time you open a new bottle of test strips. This is antiquated and a hassle – I don’t know of any other glucometer that requires you to do this.
- You need to have you phone with you whenever you need to check your blood glucose
- Several people have mentioned that they had issues where the device wasn’t detected after plugging into the headphone jack. I didn’t have any issues with this.
- FDA-approved and available in US, but need to import into Singapore
- The real kicker though is that the device runs on batteries. And the batteries don’t last long – my first battery died after a week. I hope it’s because they provided lousy batteries – I’m going to try with a new set of branded ones (Panasonic) next week. Also, you’d imagine there could be a way for the device to run on your smartphone’s battery instead.
Personally, I think the convenience, cost and design makes up for its flaws. I find it mind-blowing that glucometers are relatively simple devices (technically), yet no one has been able to come up with a cheap, reliable and connected glucometer.