Yesterday I received an email newsletter from a diabetes product company stating “Changing the lancet every time you take a blood sample is important”, with a summary of the hygienic reasons behind why this is the case.
Now I’m not disputing the science behind this, as that is well beyond my jurisdiction, but as a person living with type 1, this email annoyed me.
I’m happy to concede that I certainly do not change my lancet as much as I perhaps “should”. The email from the product company included a quick poll, with the option of “How many times do you use a single lancet?” Let’s just say I chose “more than 10 times”. But at the same time I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met a person with diabetes that changes their lancet every damn time.
Let’s do some quick maths.
I check my blood sugar about 10-12 times a day. Sometimes more. I like to know where my BGL is at. Knowledge is power and all that jazz.
If I was to change a lancet every time I did one of these checks, that is:
10 – 12 lancets a day.
70 – 84 lancets a week.
280 – 336 lancets a month.
3,640 – 4,368 lancets a year.
Hm. Yeah. No.
Not only is this a lot of lancets, it’s damn expensive.
It’s simply not practical or realistic to expect people with diabetes to use thousands and thousands and thousands of lancets a year. In fact, I think setting such a lofty standard shows a lack of understanding of the day-to-day experience with diabetes, and the practicalities of incorporating blood sugar checks into already busy lives amongst counting carbs, exercise, health professional appointments, treating hypos, correcting highs and everything else.
So what’s the answer? Like most things, I think it requires a balance.
A bit of realism and empathy from product companies would help. There is a lot involved in managing diabetes and to be honest, the issue of re-using a lancet is not on my radar, at least until my fingers start to hurt. Keeping a lancet for a period of time might not be ideal as per scientific guidelines, but it doesn’t make anyone a “bad diabetic” and it’s important to avoid this perception in language. We need to make BGL checks as easy as possible, to encourage regular checks. That said, I need to realise my fingertips are not made of steel, and do the small, albeit tedious task of changing a lancet more regularly.
Note: I haven’t mentioned the product company because I don’t think that’s the issue. I use the companies lancing device and have used many of their meters in the past. The issue is more about the understanding the embeds to be continually developed between people with diabetes and the product companies that for the most part, do a good job in supporting us.