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When to change one’s lancet is a common question among diabetics around the world. The authorities, those diabetic nurses, educators, and various ‘-ologist’ nomenclature all suggest we change our lancets every use, and if you cheat, change them at least daily. Stories exist of radicals in the wild: those nonconformists who dare fate my extending the dates, by pushing the limits of their luck, of diabetics changing their lancets *ghast* weekly.

I will say weekly is wrong. We are at risk of infection. We are at risk of catching one of those invisible little varmints that live in our blood and if left to live without restraint will overrun our internal defenses like a Donald Trump protest. We will become inflamed, turn red, and succumb to nasty foreign fevers and maladies. Extending the life of lancets increases the chances of these devastating complications.

The trouble is, such infections just do not occur. I belong to many diabetes forums and groups. I pay attention to threads. I know many diabetics and have hundreds of virtual friends. I talk about such things with my doctors. I pester my endocrinologists with such questions. My extended anecdotal evidence suggests this hypothesis is true.

Our bodies defend well against such infection, but I think there is more. I suspect we become more attuned to defense with the introduction of foreign bodies. With extended abuse of our fingers through lanceting, by introducing infection after infection, our immune systems learn to repel these amphibious assaults. Lancet tips are also not exactly a penthouse suite for infectious freeloaders. These are sharp tips made of stainless steel. They are typically also shielded by covers. I have never seen lingering blood or suppurated scum on a tip.

There are dangers, though. There are dangers in sharing lancet devices. Never, never, never share a lancet with another person. Hepatitis B and ‘other’ infections are cautioned about by the CDC.  I don’t know how quantifiable the risk is, but I never have shared a lancet and neither should you. Some body fluids we share; blood is not one of them.

needlereuse1Lancets can also become dull. Let your lancet go a year, you might as well use thumbtacks. At least according to the images. I question how true these are; I question the significance of the need for perfect sharpness. Most diabetics will recommend to find your own changing frequencies based on pain. If it hurts more on the second try, then change them each use. If your fingers are chronically sore, then increase the frequency. Our fingers callous, like a guitar player’s. An experienced guitar player with calloused fingers can play all day and all night. A new player’s fingers would bleed long before that. Constant use increases your physical defenses and you can extend your changing times longer and longer. The bottom line on comfort is to experiment with depth settings and changing frequency to find your own comfort zone.

I am writing this post because we just changed our clocks. This is too infrequent for me. I prefer to change on the equinox. Those extra two weeks that have been added on are torture. Not really. I have used lancets over a year before. I have also changed after a month. It’s not something I worry about. It’s not something that has ever caused me trouble. “Oh, that was painful,” might trigger an unscheduled change. But to be safe, I try to change on the equinox, the 21st of March and the 21st of September. I have a week to get ready.

John

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