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Insulinx – Light of My Life!

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Rejoice, for the day has finally arrived! I got my hands on the new Freestyle Insulinx – the first ever touch screen meter with an inbuilt bolus calculator! I must highlight that I did not receive it from Abbott and neither have I been bribed with any incentives to write this review for them. Starting on Insulinx has been on my to-do list for a while and after a lot of waiting around, my educator received the referral she needed and voila, on our way we went!

Insulinx has an inbuilt bolus calculator, which calculates the amount of insulin you need per carbohydrate intake and includes a correction factor based on your BGL.

Insulinx has an inbuilt bolus calculator, which calculates the amount of insulin you need per carbohydrate intake and includes a correction factor based on your BGL.

My educator did suggest the Aviva Expert for its colour screen and ability to set different rates for weekends, sick days etc. But after having a play with both the Aviva Expert and Insulinx, I decided on the latter for how slim and light it is.

The Meter

The Logbook. The Insulinx has a simple navigation system represented by icons and accessible by touch screen.

The Logbook. The Insulinx has a simple navigation system represented by icons and accessible by touch screen.

Sadly, the touch screen is touch and go (I know, my puns are terrible). Sometimes it’s responsive, other times you’re wondering how hard you have to hit the button for it to work. One of my favourite things is that you are able to customise the home screen with a picture of your choice. Choose from preset ones or upload your own! I tried uploading pictures from my computer, but it proved too difficult for my liking, so I chose one prepared earlier. Being a bolus calculator, it’s crucial that a healthcare professional helps you set the meter up. Cue my lovely educator, who helped me through the process of figuring out my insulin to carb ratio and adjust rates for different times of the day.

As with most modern meters, you have the option of tagging each reading as pre-meal, post-meal or other time. On top of that, a feature I use a lot, particularly at the gym, is to add customised notes with your readings.

To compensate for the lack of colour screen, Insulinx has the most amazing back light system I have only encountered briefly with one other meter (the Verio IQ). Once the meter is on, hold the button down to turn the backlight on. Sometimes this is tricky in the dark, if you’re not sure if the meter is even turned on or not. But once the backlight is on, the magic happens when you stick a test strip in the port – it lights up!  The need to stumble around in the dark, crashing and tripping over booby traps on the floor to find the light switch is over. I am grateful to be able to test and treat my hypo without getting out from my warm and snuggly bed. Major Win. The only warning I would give at this point is the morning after confusion between your phone and your meter. True story, from experience.

The port light isn't some redundant, wimpy light. It's bright enough to see if your finger prick has been a success and where to drop the blood onto the strip.

The port light is bright enough to see if your finger prick has been a success and where to drop the blood onto the strip.

Another handy thing about the Insulinx is the alarm. You can set various alarms for anything you want. I set mine for Lantus Time. The good thing about setting an alarm for Lantus Time on my meter is the option to log my dose straight away. After logging, it will show up on the reports that I print out for my doctor and it’s so much easier to have all your data in one place.  However, if you decide to mute those damned beeps during testing, the alarm won’t go off. I guess I will either have to put up with the loud beeping, which seems to only get louder in a quiet class, or turn the sound off completely and go back to using my phone alarm.

The Software

First thing I am excited about here is its compatibility with both Windows AND Mac! I have used meters in the past where there are either no software for Macs available or you have to pay an extra amount to use them. With Insulinx, it’s all free and easy to install and the actual software is straightforward to use. (If I can work it, anyone can!) From the computer, it’s easy to customise those extra notes to can use to tag your readings with. They have a set list prepared but I’ve changed mine to before, during and after exercise because that’s the pattern I’m most interested in at the moment.

Once hooked up to the computer, you have various options of seeing your data, makes it easy to understand where you're at with your diabetes management.

Once hooked up to the computer, you have various options of seeing your data, makes it easy to understand where you’re at with your diabetes management.

The Strips

Subsidised by the NDSS, Insulinx uses Freestyle Lite test strips, which you can buy in a box of 100, in two containers of 50 – fairly stock standard. After being so accustomed to putting a drop of blood at the end, it took a while to get used to using the little black dots on either side. The only thing that frustrates me is starting a new container of strips. My fingers are too fat to pick out a single strip. I usually have to tip them all out, just to get one, and I have pretty small fingers!

The unique shape of the strip makes it fairly obvious and easy to know which way it goes into the port, even in the dark. I am also loving the butterfly on the strip!

The unique shape of the strip makes it fairly obvious and easy to know which way it goes into the port, even in the dark. I am also loving the butterfly on the strip!

Summary

I’ve been using the Insulinx for over three weeks now and I love it. Although it took me a while to get used to everything and has really encouraged me to get my carb counting skills up. I feel that this is the perfect progression onto using the pump or if you don’t like the idea of being hooked up 24-7, this is a great alternative to pumping.

Pros

  • Large screen – easy to read
  • Backlight and light up test port (1000000 points!)
  • Customisable welcome screen
  • Inbuilt bolus calculator
  • Adding notes to BGLs
  • Alarm setting
  • Software compatible with both Windows and Mac
  • Various options of viewing reports
  • Strips are NDSS subsidised
  • Shape of strip means you know which way it goes in, even in the dark
  • General ease of use and navigation

Cons

  • Pretty much impossible to use your own photo as the welcome screen
  • Needing to preset additional notes on the computer
  • Turning off sound means no alarms
  • The tiny containers the strip come in
  • The fact that I always mistake it for my phone…

Recall For Product Correction (16th April) – Freestyle Insulinx

Abbott Diabetes Care has recently just released a recall for product correction for the Insulinx. It seems that at extremely high blood glucose readings of 56.8mmol/L (wow!), the meter will display and store a reading of 2.3mmol/L (oops!). Even though the chances of that even happening are slim and I’m sure you will most likely be able to feel it if your BGLs are at 56.8mmol/L, Abbott Diabetes Care has released a software update for the Insulinx to address this issue. Step by step instructions on how to upgrade the software and an official statement from Abbott Diabetes Care can be found here.

Also an important note is that this problem is only in the Freestyle Insulinx and no other Abbott Diabetes Care products are affected by this issue.

Posted by

Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

4 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Hi there…. good article. The benefits of a bolus calculator are huge for almost everyone on a multiple daily injection therapy. I feel that the InsuLinx doesn’t offer enough. It doesn’t allow you to make adjustments for exercise and recent hypoglycaemia apart from a manual change after the recommendation. How the algorithms work when factoring in ‘active insulin’ can give quite different bolus suggestions if you are eating within or after 2 hours of your last dose. All meters, apps and pumps use the ‘active insulin’ in a slightly different way and IMO the InsuLinx doesn’t offer the best solution. Rapid Calc for iPhones is the best that I have tried to date.

    Reply

    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for swinging by and for the comment. I don’t think I relied very much on the bolus calculator, particularly after I completed my OzDAFNE carb counting course. I think it’s aimed to be a simple bolus calculator, which is great for that. I’ve gone back to using the Verio IQ because the unpredictability of the touch screen drove me insane and I can’t get past the colour screen of the Verio IQ. I have been meaning to check out Rapid Calc as I’ve heard so much about! Thanks for reminding me.

      Cheers,
      Ashley

      Reply

      • The Verio IQ is a nice looking meter. I not tried it yet. The Insulinx screen, whilst a touch screen, is awful. RapidCalc is extremely easy to use. As with all calculators it requires the set up to be correct. I believe its one tool that the Matar diabetes centre suggest to try after DAFNE. Isn’t it funny that features such as a colour screen are possibly more important to a user than something like the calculator? 🙂

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