Strip tease – by Olly Double


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Here’s a conspiracy theory to chill the hearts of people whose lives are touched by Type 1 diabetes. What if blood glucose testing strips are an alien race of tiny cyborgs that hide in the paraphernalia of diabetic people with a view to colonising earth?

Think about it. Don’t you find they get all over the house? You’ve only just hoovered the carpet, and you look down and there’s one slap-bang in the middle of the floor, staring up at you. You get in the shower and realise that one has climbed in with you, stuck to your foot. You clean out your bag and three of them are hiding down one of the seams.

Maybe they’re deliberately getting out and about, exploring our world, trying to find our weaknesses so they can work out their invasion plan? Or maybe the reason we find so many of them around the house is that they’ve started to breed and multiply?

Of course, that’s just nonsense. BG test strips are a part of a marvellous, miraculous technology that has massively improved the lives of people with diabetes by allowing them to check and control blood sugars in a way that would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago. Regular testing helps to lower HbA1C levels, which in turn helps to avoid those long term complications that I have to stop myself from thinking about in order to get to sleep at night.

Given that, it seems churlish to resent the fact that the strips get everywhere, but even if you don’t find it annoying, it’s certainly amazing how far and wide they manage to spread themselves. Both of our boys have Type 1 diabetes, which doubles the problem, but even so I’m really impressed by how much of our house has been colonised by strips.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to do half an hour of stand-up comedy about diabetes, and I decided to do a survey on the Children With Diabetes (CWD) mailing list as a way of generating some material for it. One of the questions I asked was: ‘Where’s the weirdest place you’ve found a blood glucose testing strip?’ Here are some of the amazing answers I got:

‘In the hamster’s food bowl’

‘Down the loo’

‘At Tesco’s car park’

‘In our homemade compost’

‘In Grandma’s hair’

‘Every floor of every room in the house’

‘In brother’s nappy’

‘Stuck to the cat’

I particularly like this one because it’s so specific:

‘Tooting Lido’.

Last year I had to do a similar stand-up act in Orlando, Florida and decided I needed to get a local angle so I asked the same question to the American CWD list, with similarly mind-boggling results, including:

‘As a bookmark in my daughter’s book’

‘Dog poop while bagging it up on a walk’

‘In my panties. I guess I thought I was putting it in my pocket, but I guess that I guessed wrong!’

I love the poetry and poignancy of this one:

‘In the ground after the winter’s snow has melted away…still there, completely unchanged.’

And for my money, this is the most bizarre of the lot:

‘In a sandwich’.

All of this has made me curious to know where else the ubiquitous test strips have turned up. So if you’ve found test strips in unlikely places, please let me know via the comments box below. I’d really appreciate it if you could, not least because I’ve got more diabetes-related stand-up gigs coming up and I could do with the material…

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I actually found one in the waste bin the other day! Pretty unusual place to find one! I dont know about weird, but certainly not common. I think Sasha uses them to lay a trail around the house so she can find her way back to the fridge in the dark.

Once whilst getting my annual bloods I looked down to notice something stuck in my scarf… test strip! Convenient timing you could say :)

under the bonnet of my new car!! we had owned it less than 24 hours and the kids hadnt been anywhere near it!! must of dropped out of my pocket when i had checked the oil and water lol

I kept finding them around the house with a corner cut out of them. they weren’t used strips, brand new out of the container. I asked who kept doing that!? I finally got an answer when I heard my dad open my test strips, take one out then took out the scissors and snipped off the corner then he used it as a toothpick. He is now diabetic, type 2. I told him it’s funny how things come about, maybe he caught it from my strips. LOL

My partner has found them under his desk at work – miles away! They stick to shoes very well we assume!

Found one in my vegetable tray in the fridge(highly unusual as the teenager in question has an aversion to veg)
My partner also has type 1 and I found one of his strips in my passport holder when I got to Barbados. It got a sneaky all inclusive trip to the Caribbean!

In the rental car…a car my t1d daughter nor any of her supplies had ever gotten into…. But sure enough as I was getting my work stuff out, 2,000 miles away from home… There it was….