Since my diagnosis more than fifteen years ago, I have used OneTouch meters exclusively. The reason why is simple: that’s what Kaiser supplies.
So, I was excited to discover that the lab uses a Roche Accu-Chek Aviva meter for measuring the blood glucose of mice. Sweet! I thought. My first-ever chance to compare!
My initial thoughts were simple– the strips are bigger, and it’s weird that the meter still uses coded strips, since OneTouch did away with that a while ago. My first and second uses went without incident; the Accu-Chek meter seemed boringly comparable to the OneTouch I have.
The third instance of use, however, proved unfortunate. Before I get to the details here, let me give you the setup– how exactly does measuring the blood glucose of a mouse work? My procedure goes something like:
- Gather tools– meter, strips, incision device, something to write with.
- Go outside and downstairs to the vivarium.
- Suit up– disposable gown, hair net, shoe covers.
- Enter mouse room and find mice.
- Remove mouse from cage by tail.
- Insert strip into meter.
- Snip mouse tail.
- Squeeze a drop of blood out of mouse tail. Try not to lose the drop as mouse sniffs and forages about.
- Hold strip to tail.
- Wait, wait, wait. Confirm blood amount was sufficient.
- Put mouse into separate cage.
- Record blood glucose value.
Here’s the problem: On instance three of measuring the blood glucose of my twelve mice, step 10 didn’t work. No blood glucose value appeared; instead, I got an “Err 1.” Darn. Try again with that mouse. Err 1. Hmm, I think. Skip to step 11, and put mouse in separate cage. Repeat steps 5 – 10 with another mouse. Err 1. Hogwash. Try again? Err 1.
So, much to my irritation, I return mice to appropriate cage, pack up meter, exit mouse room, disrobe, go back outside and back upstairs, and consult with my colleague. She doesn’t know what that error is, but the meter had worked for her a few days prior.
I consult the user manual– Error 1 means, “Your blood sugar may be extremely low, or the test strip may be damaged or not properly inserted.” Bull-oney. So I grab my own meter, and prick my finger. I measure myself using the Aviva. Err 1.
Bite me, Accu-Chek, I think. I grab a new box of test strips, and switch out the little coding dongle. Test myself again. 138. Well, at least it works.
So I take 0.1 units of insulin, pack up the meter, go outside and downstairs, suit up, enter the mouse room, and successfully measure the blood sugar of my mice, grumbling that what was supposed to take twenty minutes now has taken an hour. And fussing around with mice is not easy; I’d prefer not to have my tools complicate the matter!
Now, to be clear: this was a minor, minor inconvenience, all considered. And this is one anecdote that is entirely unfit, scientifically speaking. But, still– I have never, ever had a whole tube of OneTouch test strips just go bad. And for the three times I have used a Accu-Chek meter, to have one of those be a flop does not leave a good first impression.
Accu-Chek was happy to mail me a replacement tube of test strips, but the representative couldn’t really advise as to how to prevent this problem in the future. She said sometimes the strips were damaged in transit (although strips from the same bottle had worked for my colleague), or were compromised by moisture (seems unlikely, given that the strips were used in relatively controlled contexts).
So, I have to ask– who uses Accu-Chek meters? Do they work? Is this just a fluke? Or should I expect a high failure rate? Reason leads me to believe that the meter would not succeed and sell if it failed one in three times, but one in twenty is not unimaginable. How from the mean is my experience?