Monday, May 7, 2012

PSA of Errors

Hi everyone. I’d like to draw your attention to a condition that affects almost 100% of diabetics.  Most of them don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late, so it’s important to raise awareness.  The condition is not treatable, and once it happens, there’s no going back: you just have to live with it and start again.

Error Five sneaks up when you least expect it. Causes are varied and often unforeseeable, including: not enough blood, strip drop, and premature application.

Symptoms include: sweating, shaking, blind rage, swearing and, in severe cases (such as when it coincides with Last Test Strip syndrome) projectile launching of the meter in question.

Please join me in fighting this evil scourge, friends. Error Five has held us in its thrall for far too long. Burn it down, gentlemen. Burn it down, and salt the earth.


Sorry for going all S4 Buffy on you guys, but sometimes you just have to. Error Five, for the uninitiated, is the error many of our blood glucose meters give us when something goes wrong. Either the strip refuses to “take” and doesn’t register the blood, or there’s not enough in the first two seconds, or you jumped the gun and tried to test immediately, leaving your “message” before the beep instead of after.

I liken the feeling of the loss of a test strip to when you lose a dollar to the vending machine; the dollar value lost is about equivalent, particularly without insurance. Sure, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying enough to potentially ruin your day or send you over the edge if the rest of your day hasn’t been particularly good. Maybe you really wanted that candy bar, or that test result. Maybe, in either case, you’re low. It’s a message that the mechanical gods are winning. At least on a vending machine there’s somewhere you can call or write to potentially get there money back. With strips, not so much. If you’re restricted in the amount of strips you can get, it might even mean one fewer test you’re able to do. It’s kind of ironic that a (Canadian) perfect test number and this irritating error number are the same; sometimes I’m tempted to look at an Error Five, just declare my BG is 5, and celebrate.

It’s just a reminder of how the deck is stacked, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  At least, with a vending machine, success means that you score a bag of chips or candy or gum that you have already paid for. With Error Five, not only is “success” already unpleasant enough (making yourself bleed, a possibly bad number), but “failure” means you have to do it again; one more poke, one more dollar.

Error Five is a mild condition, when compared to all the conditions and complications associated with diabetes. It’s just a condition I wish none of us had to deal with.


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