Ok, so that didn’t take long. Since Pelikan’s office is one exit down from where we live, I decided I’d make a visit and take a look at the Albatross…er, Pelikan in person. I don’t write online reviews (epinions, amazon, etc) primarily because I’ve read dozens and they are invariably unhelpful, if not entirely misleading. But I’ll try my best to give an objective opinion here–with the caveat that I only spent 30 minutes with a Pelikan rep today, tried about 6-8 pokes on myself, and watched my Gigi’s reaction for a half-day’s worth of pokes at home. At home–yep, bought it.
Let’s start with Size. It is big and bulky. I’m not sure I can explain what the difference is between these two adjectives, but I know either one alone would not do this thing justice. In relative terms, it is HUGE. Obviously bigger than the mechanical lancet devices, but also bigger than an iPod, bigger than my cell phone, and bigger than small seabird. In fairness, the design was intended to be an integrated glucose monitor and electronic lancet device, but at some point I gather Pelikan decided they better just release the device as a lancet since integrating the glucose monitor was taking awhile–so the profile is definitely based on an integrated unit, which is forthcoming (but I have no idea when). Adding to the bulk, but ultimately in a good way, is a customized rubber case to keep it protected ($14.95). I wasn’t going to get one until I saw it came in Pink–enough said.
Comfort: Ok, probably should have started here–since it really is the only reason someone would buy this. But first a preamble. I’m not Type I, my daughter is (28 mos. old, dx’d about 5 weeks ago). Folks who have been poking their fingers for a long time (or poking others’ fingers) will have different views here, and from what I’ve been reading, no two fingers are created equally–so pain thresholds, calluses, anxiety and other factors are sure to lead to different views on “comfort.” But here is what I know: Over the last month, I’ve pricked my own fingers with the 33 gauge UltraSoft about 30 times; and with the Multiclix about 20 times. The Pelikan is more comfortable and noticeably less “painful”. For some, I’m sure, fingerpricks - even from the average mechanical “thumbtack” - are virtually painless and using them 8-10 times a day causes no anxiety. Indeed, even with my dishpan hands, I would probably be fine using a Multiclix in lieu of shelling out $200 for another brick in my bag (though I would certainly appreciate the Pelikan as a gift). But for my baby, there was definitely enough of a difference that I didn’t think twice about bringing this home. It’s not just the physical sensation of the prick that is more comfortable, but the action of the lancet is smooth and quiet, like a whisper instead of that nerve-racking click/snap.
The Gigi Test: Gigi really has taken her pokes well, but if she had a choice, she wouldn’t have any. At night, sound asleep when I reach for her hand, she will sometimes pull it away and protect it with her body before I even touch her–that hurts a dad’s heart. Depth control is a bit of a crap shoot even with the Multiclix, so even though most pricks don’t really hurt, about 20% will elicit an “ouie!” The settings on the Pelikan are much more sensitive, electronically controlled, and more consistent. Finally, I don’t know enough about the long-term effects of constant fingerpricking, but I definitely notice smaller marks following the pricks that disappear faster. If that translates into better piano fingers, I’m happy. Most importantly, at the last poke I showed Gigi “baby pokey” (the Multiclix) and the Great Pink Pelikan and asked her which she wanted to use–the response was an emphatic, “the Pink One”.
Price: Expensive. The device is probably not covered by insurance, but I’ll try to push it through–get a prescription, note from Dr. explaining that a more comfortable lancet when coupled with 10 pricks a day for a toddler will improve compliance and ultimately better control yadda yadda–so we’ll see. I’m more hopeful about the lancets, which cost about the same as others and share the same formulary code (or something like that). The lancets come in a 50 lancet wheel (all 33 gauge)–single use only, no repeats, no exception. While definitely a perceptible, and I would say “significant” improvement in comfort, I can’t say the $200 would be justified in every case (and perhaps not even the majority of cases)–but for young children or those with sensitive fingers, it becomes a closer call. In my case, I’m sure there was a fair amount of brand-new-parent-of-Type-1-toddler-will-do-anything that played into the decision. In this regard, the clincher for me came with the realization that last year my wife bought me a $300 GPS SkyCaddie golf device that is about the same size and shape as the Pelikan. Now when my buddies tell me that I missed the green by a mile, I can correct them and say, “no, I was just 52 yds. short and 34 yds. right.”
So, if I can justify this extravagance, then I can certainly justify the Great Pink Pelikan for my Gigi.