What Were These Researchers Thinking?

March 24th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

So I should really start out by saying that I don’t intend to bash medical research or studies or what have you.  I think a lot of what they learn and we put into practice is important.

This one, however, just makes me kind of laugh.  It’s one of those “who do they think we are?!” laughs, more than anything.  Sure, it’s good information to have… but did it really require a full-on study?  That one is hard to believe. 

They wanted to resolve an apparently age-old question about blood sugar checks: whether or not you need to wash your hands before you check, and whether you need to wipe away the first drop and use the second drop of blood instead.

(Let me also put it out there that the colder my hands get through the winter the more likely I am to poke myself 3 times before any finger bleeds at all, much less a full drop or for heaven’s sake two drops.)

The way they did the study also makes me smile: they set up blood checks in several ways: (1) without washing hands, drop 1 and drop 2; (2) after exposing the hands to fruit, drop 1 and drop 2; (3) after washing the fruit exposed hands (love that phrase, too), drop 1 and drop 2; and (4) checking while “applying external pressure” to the finger, drop 1 and drop 2.

(Also note please that I usually won’t bleed unless I press my finger.  I consider this a very useful thing.)

Glad I wasn’t part of the study.  I feel I check plenty, thank you.  I hope they at least got paid for the 8 extra checks that day!!

Fancy this: they found the most difference between drops 1 and 2 were in the fruit exposed hands that had not been washed.  Makes sense, as you are essentially cleaning the fruit with the first drop and have more blood (and less fruit) in the second drop since the fruit was washed away.

They concluded (surprise surprise!) that we should wash our hands with soap and water and dry them before we check.  And then if we do that we can use the first drop.  But if we can’t wash our hands we’re supposed to use the second drop.  They also say that external pressure can lead to unreliable readings.

Alright.  Time for a reality check, researchers!  Get outside of your lab/office/clinic and go shopping at the mall at Christmas, or go for a hike on a spring afternoon.  Go to the movies and get some popcorn.  Sit in a classroom and take a spelling test.  Go to a piano or painting lesson.  Play a pick-up game of basketball.  Get caught in the rain or snow.

Then, randomly, realize you want to check your blood sugar to check what’s going on.

Repeat this every day, multiple times a day, and see how often you actually go wash your hands with soap and water, dry them, and then check.  See how quickly your calluses form and you need to press on your finger to get enough blood for a strip… and then double that requirement.

Yeah.  It’s harder than it sounds, isn’t it? 

As for me, no big surprise here, I plan to keep on checking the way I’ve always checked.  (I’ll bet you feel the same.)  But the study does make me smile.  It’s kind of quaint how all the scientists are trying to keep diabetes in a lab or clinic.

I’ll be outside, busy living, if you need me.

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