Due to the nature of the product I am reviewing, I thought I'd better give a bit of basic information about glucose monitors, and the reason they are needed...
Glucose monitors are used by diabetics to check their 'blood sugars'; it is really important to do this as they can get quite ill if their readings are too high, or too low.
If a diabetic has low blood sugar they can feel hot, shaky, and dizzy, among other things. This is usually caused by having too much insulin, or not enough food. Most people feel like this if they haven't eaten for a very long time, although on a much (much!) smaller scale.
If this happens, they need something sugary (not chocolate) to bring them back to a normal level.
If they have high blood sugar they can also feel hot and shaky, they will probably also be very thirsty. This is usually caused by too much food and/or not enough insulin.
The best way to treat this is by having extra insulin; exercising will also help as it 'uses up' the extra blood sugar.
Back to the product...
My son has been using the Accu-Chek Mobile monitor for around a month now; it is a replacement for the Accu-Chek 'Aviva' monitor. The Mobile monitor is widely available and can be bought from many places, although if you are diabetic you can usually get one free of charge from the manufacturer (Roche) or through your diabetes specialist.
My son's diabetic nurse sent us three of these monitors; he now uses one at home, another at his dad's house, and will use the other one at school when he returns after the holidays.
The main attraction of the 'Mobile' is that it doesn't use test strips; it also uses cartridges instead of individual needles, thus making it a very clean, quick, and easy option.
To give an idea of just how quick it is to use the Mobile, I'll take you step-by-step through using both the Mobile, and a basic monitor.
To use a basic monitor you have to:
Turn the monitor on
take a strip out of the pack and push into the monitor
Take the lid off the lancing device (finger pricker)
Insert the needle
Twist the cap off the lancet (needle)
Put the lid back on the finger pricker.
You are then ready to test.
To use the Mobile you have to:
Flick up the cover.
Push the end of the finger pricker.
Yes, that really is it!
The Accu-chek Mobile is of a long, slim design. It looks pretty much like many of the other monitors on the market apart from being slightly larger; it also has a small sliding cover on the base where you would usually find the hole where the test strips are inserted. The slide cover has small plastic ridges over it for ease of use.
Sliding the cover up will turn the monitor on ready for use; it will also bring up a new 'test strip'. The strips come in cassette form, just like the old music cassette tapes, although a lot smaller. The strips are on a continuous clear plastic tape, with a white 'test section' every inch or so; every time you flip up the cover, the monitor will wind the tape a little to get to a new strip. It will also tell you exactly how many 'strips' are left every time you turn it on.
After flipping the cover, the monitor takes around three seconds to get 'test ready', which is a lot quicker than our previous monitor; you can also use that three seconds to use the finger pricker. After applying the blood, it takes another two or so seconds to get the result.
I find the whole process a lot quicker and easier than with our previous monitor and, if you are quick, the whole process can be done in as little as 6 seconds!
The Fast-Clix finger pricker that comes with it also helps speed things up a little.
It uses cartridges instead of individual needles, each cartridge contains six needles. The cartridge is a small plastic circular tube with holes in the top. You simply take the lid off the finger pricker, push a cartridge in, and replace the lid. This means that once you have put a cartridge in, the only thing you need to do each time is click a button to load a needle.
To use the finger pricker, you simply push the button on the top of the finger pricker down to load the needle (you will know when this has happened as the button will stay depressed), you then position it on the finger and press again to use. The button will then return to its original position.
There is a display on the side of the finger pricker that will show how many needles are left, to move onto the next needle you simply slide the small grey button next to it; it will then click back and display the new number of needles.
I have found that the Fast-Clix finger pricker is very similar to Accu-Chek's Multiclix version, it is just a little harder to handle. The Multiclix finger pricker similarly loads needles by pushing the top down, however to use the needle you pressed a little button on the side of the finger pricker rather than pushing the top down again.
I, and especially my son, found this a lot easier to do as the button was placed where you would put your hand anyway, where as with the Fast-Clix, you have to hold it differently and use your thumb to press the button. It is also quite a stiff button so you need to use a lot of pressure, which is something my son struggles with.
I've noticed that he doesn't always have enough strength in his thumbs to hold the finger pricker at the required angle and push at the same time, so the finger pricker sometimes slides down his hand when he tried to press the button.
I think that this may be an issue for older diabetics as well, especially those with joint and grip issues.
If this is an issue, you could always use you old finger pricker with the Mobile monitor; I am however reluctant to go back to our old finger pricker as the Fast-Clix is designed to go attach to the Mobile, you slide it up the side of the monitor and it clicks firmly into place.
This is quite a handy feature and adults who use the Mobile monitor can use the finger pricker without detaching it.
They have designed it so that the end of the finger pricker is aligned with the strip opening, meaning that you could simply flick up the cover, prick your finger then move your finger about an inch to the left to test.
I imagine that this is quite useful, and makes the whole process even easier, however this is not an option for my son as the monitor is just too bulky to do this easily; I think that it may also prove a little difficult for people with small hands as even I find it a little difficult.
The Mobile also comes with many little features that are designed to make monitoring yourself a little easier; for example, you can set alarms to remind yourself to test. I have never used this feature as we use the monitor at set times every day anyway.
You can also flag each reading, marking it as 'before' or 'after' food. This seems like a good idea, although again, we have never used this as we always test before food.
You can adjust the volume which is something that is really helpful to us, as I regularly have to check my son's sugars when he is asleep I want to be able to do it as quietly as possible. It still beeps, but it is so quiet that I don't worry as much about disturbing him.
To be honest, I don't really have to worry that much about disturbing him; if he will sleep through being stabbed in the finger with a needle then I think he'll sleep through a couple of beeps from a monitor!
You then have all the usual things such as 7, 14, and 30 day reading averages; I really like this feature and often check to get an idea of how well controlled my son is.
It is also great at quickly showing any signs that control is dropping; As my son is quite newly diagnosed (less than a year) his body is still producing insulin, every now and again his insulin levels will start to drop again and he will need a higher dose.
As his daily readings can vary for many reasons anyway, I find that this feature helps me notice these progressive changes a little quicker than I may do otherwise.
The Mobile will store up to 500 readings, along with their dates and times; this sounds great, but I can't imagine anyone really needing to know their last 500 readings! Maybe the last 50 or so if you have lost your monitoring diary, but that's about it.
Saying this, I do look at past meter readings. I have a bit of a bad habit of not writing my son's readings down straight away; I tend to go back and write them all up together at the end of the day. I probably shouldn't but I don't think it really matters.
It is at this time that I get a little annoyed with the Mobile; with my last monitor all I had to do was press the left arrow button and it would flick through all previous readings.
With the Mobile, you have to push and hold the power button, the monitor will then turn on and display how many strips are left before going onto the main menu, this takes around 4 seconds. You then have to scroll down and select 'Memory', you then scroll down and select 'All results', you can then look through the past readings.
I find all of this a little pointless as Accu-Chek could have easily made this work with the press of a button as they did with their Aviva monitor; the Mobile has the same 'left' and 'right' buttons as the Aviva, and they are not used for anything else when the meter is idle.
I was quite excited to get the Mobile monitoring system as it seemed like it would make things a lot easier; as my son uses the monitor 6+ times a day, anything that will make it quicker and easier would be a great help. I also liked the fact that it uses two standard AAA batteries, which are a lot easier to get hold of then the usual little round ones they use.
Saying this, there are so many little issues with it that I don't particularly enjoy using it.
I do love the fact that it doesn't use strips; this makes it a great monitor to use 'on the go' as you don't have anything to dispose of when testing. It is also really handy that the finger pricker attaches to the monitor as I don't spend hours searching for it in one of my huge bags when we're out for the day.
However, I don't like that the button on the finger pricker is so stiff and difficult to use, or the fact that it takes so long to check past readings.
Overall, I think that the Accu-Chek Mobile monitoring system is quite a good system; it is modern and makes use of all advances in monitoring technology. It is however flawed by a few minor issues, they are all easily rectified though and if Accu-Chek ironed out these issues then the Mobile would be one of the best monitoring systems on the market.
I would recommend The Accu-Chek mobile monitoring system, it does make things a little quicker and easier; not so much for us, but an adult would be able to fully utilise the features of the system.