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by Thomas Ley
One of the most frequently asked questions by diabetics who are losing vision is how to get a drop of blood onto the test strip accurately and consistently. The answer, of course, depends on which blood glucose meter you use. Blind persons face the task of figuring out how to accomplish a new task without using vision all the time. Nearly all day-to-day tasks can be done without vision. The key to figuring out how is to approach the problem with the absolute belief that it can be done. Then just start trying. Be creative. Ask others for their thoughts, and don’t be afraid of trying something that doesn’t work. Be patient, persistent, and in the end, you will almost always figure out a way. This, in short, is the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind.
With the introduction of a new talking blood glucose meter, the Prodigy Voice, as well as its predecessor, the Prodigy AutoCode, blind diabetics will need to master the technique of getting their blood sample onto the Prodigy Voice or AutoCode test strips. The two meters are much smaller than prior talking meters, and the test strips have the testing area on the tip of the strip rather than on the side. After extensive testing with the Prodigy AutoCode and the new Prodigy Voice meters—the two meters are virtually identical physically, so any technique that works for one meter will work for the other. These tips may help:
These meters are small and light. Because they are so easy to move around, you can experiment with many different approaches to determine which works best for you. Get comfortable holding the meter in one hand while testing. The meter can be moved toward your finger just as easily as your finger can be moved to the test strip.
The end of the test strip is about a third of an inch across, but the blood is only applied to a small, narrow notch in the center of the end of the strip. The notch is cut out of the test strip on the top side, so the easiest way to make sure your blood gets on the strip correctly is to apply it on the top. Applying the blood from the bottom side of the strip will prevent enough blood from entering. These meters are small and will often be used while holding the meter in one hand and moving it to the finger on the other hand. If you do this, be sure to angle the strip as it touches your finger so that the blood sample touches the notch on the top of the strip.
When testing, it helps to set the meter on a table or counter on its side, rather than flat or face up. In this position, the test strip will be sticking out of one end, and the face of the meter with the buttons will be facing toward you. The idea here is that you get the blood sample to the strip in three steps. (I’ll walk you through the steps in detail below.) First, you bring your finger to the meter so that your finger is touching the bottom corner of the strip. Next, maneuver the strip so the corner is at the sample site—that is, the corner of the strip is touching the blood drop. Finally, pick up the meter and rotate it so that your blood sample touches the notch in the end of the strip.
Here’s a step-by-step example:
• Prepare a blood sample on one of the fingers of your left hand. The meter should be held or placed on its side on the table to the right of your left hand, with the strip sticking out the left side of the meter.
• While keeping your fingertip facing up to keep the blood drop from sliding to the side, move the meter or your finger so that the bottom left corner of the strip touches the fingertip. (See Figure 1.)
• Once your finger is touching the bottom corner of the strip, try to move the corner of the strip to the sample site, where your blood drop is located. Try to touch the corner right next to where the pain still lingers. If the corner does not touch the correct spot when first contacting the finger, gently reposition the meter so the corner of the strip touches the correct area.
• Now, pick up the meter and move it in a counter-clockwise direction, making sure the strip and your finger stay in contact, as if your fingertip is the center of a clock and the strip is the hand of the clock moving from the three o’clock to the twelve o’clock position. Stop when the strip is pointing straight down. The notch on the end of the strip should now be touching the blood sample. (See Figure 2.) When elevated, you can lean the top side of the strip somewhat toward your finger to get a larger test sample.
• When the meter indicates the test has started, move the strip away from your finger.
This example was for a test on the left hand, but the same basic procedure works for a sample on the right hand by changing “left” to “right” and “right” to “left” in every instance above. Just make sure the meter is on its side, with the face and buttons facing you, and the strip pointing toward the test sample finger.
As with all new skills, practicing is the key to feeling comfortable and performing this new skill with confidence and ease. I suggest using the control solution when practicing. Place a small sample on a finger tip as a test sample. Practice until, with relative ease, you can get a result thatfalls within the target range for the control solution three tests in a row. It may take a vial of strips or more, and more than a bottle of the control solution, but it is worth it. It can be helpful to have someone with sight watch you practicing to provide feedback or to answer any questions you have.
I hope with these tips you will find using the Prodigy Voice as easy as I have.