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Diabetes control and its tech

You might or might not know it, but I’m diabetic. Type 2, if you want to say it that way; it’s probably a tricky combination between my pancreatitis, some genetic predisposition, and my old bad habit of drinking at least one two litres bottle of Coca Cola (not Diet!) back before I got hospitalized.

I have been able to maintain a decent lifestyle and keep my blood sugars under control for a few years, but in the late part of last year things changed and I was totally messed up. After three months in Dublin, it was time to get back on track, and I went to visit the doctor a couple of weeks ago. And turns out that there is a slight hurdle with my glucometer (the device that gives blood sugar readings): in Italy, the glucometers give readings in mg/dl, while here in Ireland and in the UK they use the “more proper” mmo/L.

While there are plenty of apps that do the conversion on the fly between the two measures (the conversion ratio is well known), the doctor logically wanted me to have a glucometer for the right measure right away. So I called in LifeScan, which is the company that manufactures the OneTouch Ultra 2 I’ve been using, to see if I could reconfigure the glucometer…. they instead decided to just send me a new one free of charge, no question asked. Great.

To be honest, the doctor sent me to pick up a free one straight at the pharmacy. But it’s a different brand, which means that my reserve of test strips would be useless with it. And it turns out, that glucometer also has a lower cutoff point (where it just tells you that your blood sugar is too high) than the OneTouch Ultra 2.

Together with the glucometer, I asked for, and they sent me, the USB cable — they have a software for Windows that lets you download the historic results from the device. The cable is actually a USB-to-serial (PL2303 chip) with the serial port being stuck into a phone minijack… I’m not sure if this configuration is compatible with Osmo devices¹, but it’s the same idea.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a proper open source project that downloads that data. You can find a few utilities written by somebody who had a need, but there is space for improvement. In particular, there is space for improvement by, like a colleague suggested today, making a minijack-to-Bluetooth adapter instead of going through USB, so that you can send the data to a smartphone, or to a computer without dealing with wires.

So if somebody else has this kind of problems, and just needs someone to give a hand to get it rolling, just let me know — I’m afraid I won’t have time for any new personal projects for quite a while, and I’d rather get back on track with Gentoo at this point that start working on a new thing altogether, but helping out is something I can do.

¹ Update (2018-01-07): It isn’t, it’s inverted.

Comments 4
  1. I didn’t know (or forgot) you were diabetic. May I suggest http://www.marksdailyapple…. I’ve seen people recover from diabetes with that diet.And I know how it must sound, I hate when people suggest me those things 😉

  2. I recommend the Accu-Chek Mobile meter for diabetic geeks. Plug in micro USB and it outputs data in HTML (JSON). It shows up on the system as a generic MAS device. Works in Linux and any operating system with a browser.It is much easier to manage than all the weird proprietary sync software/formats the other glucose meters use.Type 1. 🙂

  3. Alternatively, it seems to work much the same as the Freeestyle Lite: You write a command over serial, and get a full log back as tab-delimited text. There is a PDF manual here:…I’ve got some trivial code for the Freestyle at… , though I see the OneTouch format (and dump command) are slightly different: The most obvious thing is that it does a “N lines follow”-header instead of sending a terminating “END” line. It shouldn’t be too hard to work with, anyway.

  4. Thanks Daniel for the reference! Interestingly it seems like it was possible to change the settings from mg/dl to mmol/l by using the serial commands, even if OneTouch’s own software does not let you change it anyway.I’ll see if I can implement support for it on top of your already-present code, it would definitely be more interesting for me to have data available in CSV rather than in OneTouch’s own software, even if that is interestingly sophisticated because it tries to guess the before/during/after breakfast/lunch/dinner by time, which might or might not be always very correct, but it could be interesting to implement on an open source app.

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