I had reviewed/blogged about the InsuLinx made by Abbott and in the forums here over the years – but at the time – I didn’t really know how to use it to its fullest (e.g. downloading the Auto-Assist software on your PC since in order to use it 100% you have to connect up via your PC). So in actual fact – it wasn’t really a true review – and as some of you know – I go in head first (dumb, dumb, dumb) – and HATE READING MANUALS!!! My beef at the time was that I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the insulin increments to .5. Luckily a Dmate of mine here in Montreal who saw my Tweet last year – had told me the “how to use it properly”. At that point I tucked it away as I was planning on going back onto George Michael (GM) – and went back to my little FreeStyle Lite meter.
Roll forward to December 2013, as I was deciding to take my regular holiday pump break for a month or two or three. I thought I’d give the InsuLinx a go once again since it has some nifty features that I actually sort of trashed in my forum post above (ouch – can’t take those words back can I?).
Anyway, I "tweeted" about not hearing from Abbott due to a small complaint I have about the visual aspect of viewing the screen in low lighting – even with the battery gobbling backlight feature on. I heard from fellow Canadian [email protected]_twosix who has had diabetes almost 30 years. She takes multiple injections like myself – though she tests more than I do (which is good) – more insight into your overall control (don’t follow my example as an old D-fart girls and boys).
At that point we started corresponding both on/off Twitter (sometimes that 140 character count just doesn’t quite do it for some topics). She told me she had written a lengthy email to Abbott giving them the pros/cons of their InsuLinx. We share similar beefs – and hopefully the fantastic email she sent to them about her 6 month test (much longer than my 1 month) plus what she’d like to see improved will be rewarded to users like myself if they take heed. So come on Abbott respond to Kendra!!! Or else she’ll take up my other suggestions to get noticed as the squeaky wheel in the fight for diabetes gadgets that work to their fullest!
Comparing the results from GM with the InsuLinx (I have to give it a name eventually don’t I – I mean it’s my BFF?) made me pretty happy – this time. After using them side by side for a week prior to my unhooking from GM – the results are pretty comparable - I hadn't been on GM when I'd done my review in the forums last year. This made a world of difference in comparing the two side by side. Of course, the suggestions you receive from the meter are dependant on correct programming (best done with medical assistance if you’re new to diabetes). If you are happy with doing it on your own, like Kendra and myself have done - then great! You just need the code to access the area meant for professionals (e.g. your endo/GP/CDE). Originally an RN was supposed to teach me how to use it when I picked it up from the pharmacy - but when she saw I was on a pump - and knew some of the lingo associated with the programming - she gave me the code (sometimes I think I should have been not so "I know everything" and had her show me through the steps <lol>).
The amount of insulin required for carbs intake – or correcting a high blood sugar reading were pretty right on because of the matching programs in both of the meter and pump. It’s like having an insulin pump – without the expense – or being hooked up via tubes, etc. The only thing is that you can only calculate your insulin dose in .5 increments (whereas with a pump you can do smaller increments). So far it’s not caused any problems with my going low– that sometimes for someone who is insulin sensitive like myself - can make a big difference.
The few things I find abit annoying about the meter though is the " time out " feature of 15 minutes after you’ve done a blood test (while you sit in the corner after being naughty - wait - I meant to say .. figure out what to cook for dinner - regressing back to childhood - I was an evil child). If you don’t – then you have to retest if you are wanting to use the calculator to figure out how much to inject. I hate having to use more test strips or finger prick than I have to. It’s not happened that often – but when it does - I just get out my calculator or figure it in my sponge brain. By doing this manual calculation though – I may forget in my haste to take into account the IOB (Insulin On Board) .
The only thing is with the " time out " – if I do go back to the meter within the 15 minute time frame – the logging of the insulin I take is based on the time I originally took the BG reading in the beginning. No biggie for me – but for some people – that could be annoying – and not a true reflection of the time factor of their insulin coverage. Again, for myself, this isn’t a major issue (you should see me with my 3X a day Levemir regime – I don’t exactly take it at 0600 / 1400 (had to think just now – did I take it?? Yes I did) / 2200. Now in my purrfect world – it would be great if I could log my basal (slow insulin) into the meter as well – so I wouldn’t forget if I took it or not J So, I just log it into my pretty log book I pick from the Dollar Store.
You can do a weekly review of how you’re meeting your target directly on the itty bitty screen (did I mention I’m an old fart D with aging eyeballs that needs more light, yadda, yadda, yadda). I have yet to give this a whirl – as I’d not set it up until earlier last week – so I’ll get to see how I’m doing in a few days.
One thing I know that Kendra had written to Abbott about was entering in your carbs. It starts off a 15 grams – but for someone who might be eating a meal of say 80 grams – then it’s a bit slow for inputting (or for myself - that 5 ml of raw sugar in my coffee that equals 7 grams). I had told Kendra that GM has a food data base that you can set up yourself – or download – which many pumpers use. I personally never used that feature of GM – as I don’t mind entering the numbers in – it keeps my old D fart brain active. Whether Abbott could put this into the InsuLinx would be an interesting feature – to quicken the time of input.
So yes, it is a little bit larger than the FreeStyle Lite I’ve used for years (Lolita) – but still requires a teeny tiny droplet of blood – that if it’s not enough on the first suck – you can still “fill ‘er up” with more of our vampire juice.
In a nutshell, if you’re Canadian or live in the countries that has the features that Abbot offers in this meter then great - you have it made and it’s well worth giving a try. Unfortunately, Americans don’t have the exact same thing sad to say, which makes me scratch my head as to “why”?