Performing the test

You get blood for testing glucose, which usually requires no more than a drop, by sticking your child's finger with a sharp device called a lancet. Most meters come with a spring-loaded holder that permits you to penetrate the skin quickly and usually without much pain.

The SoftClix lancet and the BD Genie lancet are both in the low-pain category. Let your child try out many different lancets and select the one that causes him the least pain.

Here are some standard rules for using the lancet:

^ The finger being pricked should be clean, but wiping it with alcohol isn't necessary.

^ Use the side of the finger, where there's less sensation. ^ Change fingers every time.

^ Never use your child's lancet on someone else or use someone else's lancet on your child.

Ready to test? Put the strip into the appropriate opening in the meter unless you're using a meter that holds the strips and ejects them. Inserting the strip usually turns on the meter and prepares it for a test. Place a drop of blood from the lancet on a specific part of a test strip. The result will appear on the meter screen in 5 to 40 seconds, depending upon the meter. Also, depending upon the strip, you may have 30 seconds to add more blood if you didn't have enough; you can twist a rubber band at the base of the finger if you're having trouble getting enough blood for the strip.

Test strips left loose in a tube of strips rapidly become worthless if exposed to air; just two hours of exposure is enough to ruin them. That's why I like the test strips in a drum, like AccuChek Compact Plus strips (see the later section "Surveying standard blood glucose meters"), that are protected within the drum until they're used.

I tell you how to use glucose test results to manage diabetes in the section "Using a typical data management system" later in this chapter.

In order to interpret your child's glucose reading, you need to know whether his meter gives a reading for whole blood or for plasma. The whole blood glucose is 11 percent less than the plasma glucose. Charts that tell you what his blood glucose should be use plasma glucose levels. Most meters give a plasma reading, but you should check the instruction booklet to be sure.

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