Who remembers the old test strips and methods?

I've had diabetes for 26 years, A lot has changed since then.
I stared on Regular insulin and NPH.
Does anyone else remember those test strips that you had to time with a watch, and wipe the blood off after a min, and then you only got a range in the end of say 80-140 or 150-200 . HA !
Makes the CGM seem like spot on perfect ! It is hard to believe any of us survived those days.
My first finger stick meter weighed 2 lbs and I felt lucky to have it !

I wonder if anyone else out there remembers even before that.
Humulin R just came out as I was diagnosed so I never used animal insulin.

I went to the Minimed museum after I had my pump training and those early pumps were laughable !

How did anyone dose insulin before home testing? Surely there is 1 or 2 people who survived to tell.

I was dx'ed in 1984 and remember the blotters! I never used animal insulin either. I think that before testing, the doc would guesstimate a dosage and prescribe a fixed amount of food based on, what I presume would be height/ weight/ age data and you'd eat to the insulin, and make adjustments if you were passing out all the time?

Blotters!! OMG, along with the old blue (accucheck, right?) meter that weighed about the same as a brick. And they required so much blood. Ugh. Yes, back then, our insulin was dosed based on weight. And then you ate, exercised, and lived around that dosage (especially the NPH peaks).

You are talking about "Chemstrips". They were on the market from like... 1981 until like 1999 or so.

Just before the chemstrips, for home bg testing, there were some strips sold by Ames that were fuzzy and the blood had to be washed off under running water not just wiped off. Those were a PITA. Chemstrips were so much better.

The first finger-sticker they gave me circa 1982 was the "Autolet". The pic below I pulled off the web and isn't exactly like what I had in 1982 but is very very close:

Of course before then for urine we had "Testape" and "Diastix" and the tablets in test tubes that got hot. Oohhh... I cannot remember the name of those. All of those were urine tests that would not indicate anything until bg got above 180.

When I was first diagnosed, to get a bg test, I had to go to the local doc's office, his nurse would draw the blood, then send it to the local hospital lab, and in the next day or two they would call my parents back with the number.

When I was first diagnosed, they taught me how to boil glass syringes for re-use, and they even gave me my own U-40 glass syringe, although I never actually did use the glass (I went straight to plastic upon discharge from the hospital).

A very big part of diabetic education I remember from back then was the difference between U-40 and U-100. They drilled that into me very deep. I still get bothered when I see a modern insulin vial that doesn't have an orange top.

I was on animal insulins all the way up through the late 90's. Just never switched until I had to.

The more progressive docs, before bg testing, used urine testing as a very rough substitute. I have a workbook from the late 70's or early 80's, based all around 2 times a day R+N with dose adjustment based on urine tests. It really was pretty empowering, compared to having the doc do all the dose adjustments. All that said, I had some really super lopsided doses back then, and when I switched (... late 80's?) to a MDI scheme with shots 4x a day, rather than twice a day, it was such a huge leap forward.

I had a meter for the chemstrips but it was the size of a shoebox and I never ever used it. OK, maybe once a month. I just read them visually for the longest time.

And your milky way comment reminds me of a memory that I had nearly suppressed:

The "classic ADA approved hypo cure" in the 70's and 80's was extra table sugar mixed into orange juice.

Oh, god, I hated that. Even today 30+ years later the thought of orange juice with sugar mixed into it just makes me gag. I remember at the local hospital them trying to force me to drink that on at least a couple of occasions because they didn't know if I was hypo or not and didn't want to take any chances (before home or even portable bg testing). Gah!!! I'd almost suppressed those memories...!!!

I was diagnosed in 1958; so, I remember u-40 and u-80 insulin. I used urine sugar detected using Clinitest tablets (these are the ones that for me turned a yellow orange – 4+ – or blue – negative that meant a blood sugar of less than 180 mg/dl for the previous few hours). I used 5 drops of urine and ten drops of water in a test tube, added the tablet and watched it boil and develop a color. Unfortunately I am red-green color weak so most of the time I had difficulty reading the level of sugar. I also tried tes-tape but the colors were even more difficult.

We used to test urine sugar in the '50s and 60's. The only time blood glucose testing was done was for a dr. visit. You would have a test tube and eye dropper. Put five drops of urine in the test tube, 10 drops of water in, and then drop in a "Clinitest" test tablet. The solution would boil for a few seconds and change color. The scale was from "negative" to one plus, two plus, three plus and finally four plus. Negative was a blue color, and four plus was a dark orange color. One to three plus' were lighter shades of orange. It is a miracle we've survived this long!

Thank you! "Clinitest" I had forgotten the brand name. I remember carrying those to junior high school and a glass test tube that got broken way too often. Not that I was all that enthusiastic about bg testing when they switched me to it, I remember being horrified that in addition to urine testing I would have to do bg testing, it seemed like the biggest burden in the world. And here today I'd feel naked if I walked out of the house without a bg meter in my pocket.

I know my local hospital was behind the times but even today I find it curious they gave me a glass U-40 syringe when I was discharged. I came along later than you and I never used the glass syringe or U-40 insulin at home, just in the hospital.

That looks like a torture device!

The alternative to the Autolet in 1982, were little sterile-packaged sheet metal pointy things you could open up and use the sheet metal to poke your own finger with. Compared to them the Autolet seemed like a pretty neat idea :-)

They gave me two autolets in 1982... I had one of them until the mid-90's. The individual lancet form factor is still one of the commonly used ones today (just in a different mechanical poker.) A decade for a finger poker mechanism is pretty good. Today I destroy the finger pokers left and right, usually after a couple months of abuse, but sometimes I've busted them up the same day I get them. Back in the 90's B-D used to sell this really flimsy finger poker, I could go through several of those a month!

Believe it or not, in the United States, they still teach EMS providers that orange juice mixed with table sugar is an option for patients if they test low and are conscious, or if you are unable to test their blood glucose but suspect it might be low i.e. altered mental status- I have used it before, but only because I hate taking patients with mild hypoglycemia to the ED, which I would have to do if I started an IV to give dextrose. We don't carry oral glucose on ambulances where I am from.

you had me at 2 pound meter! too funny!

I was diagnosed in January '82, and was shot up with pork insulin at that time. Had I been dx'ed just one short week later, I could have been a part of a trial of new human insulin that started that next week, but because I had had pork insulin in me, I was x'ed from the test. Too bad -- I would have had all my insulin, syringes, test strips, etc. covered for me for five years. Ah well...


more blasts from the past can be viewed at the Diabetes Photo Museum Group

Hi all, I'm new here. Glad to have joined the TuD community.

I have an autolet horror story. I was diagnosed in the mid-80's and during my first night in the hospital they woke me up every hour to test my BG. Sadly, the nurse assigned to my room that evening had never seen an autolet before. She figured that you were supposed to place your finger ON the platform rather than under it. This meant that the lancet entered a part of the finger tip with lots of nerve endings and it got jammed in and had to be manually pulled out...all while I was screaming bloody murder. I was horrified to think that this was what I would have to do for the rest of my life!

Nice Marie !!

I was diagnosed in 1974. I used beef and pork insulin (Lente and Toronto) for over 20 years. I didn't even have a glucose meter those early years, just the ketones tester with the test tubes and big pill you dropped in your urine. My first meter had a 45-second countdown. Half the time it would tell me Not Enough Blood, and i'd have to start all over again!


The one thing I miss is with my first glucometer we would cut the strips in half and the machine would still read. 1/2 price strips!