Self-testing anniversary - 10 years

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Protimenow

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Joined
Aug 10, 2010
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Location
California
I've been testing and recording results of self tests for so long that I didn't realize that I've hit a landmark -- in April, I hit the 10 year mark as a self-tester.

I learned about meters for testing INR in 2005 or 2006. A sales rep from Protime demonstrated a meter at a doctor's office where my wife worked. I couldn't afford it at the time. Every few years, I'd check for one on sale. In April 2009, I finally got one at a price that I was able to afford (granny's old meter). I had a doctor friend buy the strips (this was a Protime meter, and used what they called 'cuvettes' for me).

This was a big, somewhat clunky unit, and it took a few tries to figure out how to get a good drop and run an accurate test. The cuvettes required constant refrigeration, and were shipped in ice packs to keep them from getting warm.

After a few years, I was able to get the newer model - Protime 3. This didn't require a lid, was somewhat more attractive, but used the same cuvettes as the original model.

I started a spreadsheet when I first got the meter, and have records (with one slight gap) going back ten years.

Over the years, I've also used the Coaguchek S, the InRatio and InRatio 2, the Coaguchek XS, and now the Coag-Sense and Coag-Sense PT2.

During the decade, there have been some events of interest:

The InRatio was much easier to use than the Protime meters, and the strips didn't require refrigeration. Blind trust in this meter resulted in a TIA - the meter said my INR was 2.6, the hospital said 1.7.

I left the hospital wanting to find the most accurate meter - one that I could trust my life to.

At one time, I was testing with the Coaguchek S and XS, Protime 3, and InRatio. When I was able to get a Coag-Sense meter, I added that into the mix. Monthly, I'd get a blood draw, and use that as something of a standard to which the meter results were compared.

I won't belabor the point about my results (I have a meter of choice, and have written about it here many times).

I've noticed that some labs don't give accurate INR results. If I hadn't also been testing with my meters, wrong medical decisions may have occurred.

A few years ago, a clinic told me that my INR was 7.1. I knew that this wasn't so. I didn't change my dosage or take Vitamin K - if I had, my INR would have plunged near 1.0.

TWO DAYS AGO, I had my INR taken at a doctor's office. They reported an INR of 5.1. They called me to report it.

This didn't match the 3.2 that my Coag-Sense PT2 meter gave me two days earlier. I tested yesterday, when I was told about the 5.1, because I had my doubts. My Coag-Sense gave me a 2.8, the Coag-Sense PT2 said 3.0. I had blood draws at two different locations - one gave a result of 3.5, the other was 3.6.

I'm feeling a lot more comfortable now.

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So - a few things:

You can't always trust the labs. They've failed me a few times. If I didn't have my own meter(s), and a healthy dose of skepticism about lab results, plus a willingness to get a few blood draws to compare lab to lab to lab, I may have accepted the erroneous result.

For me, the convenience of testing at home is great. I can't imagine going to a lab or doctor's office, or an anticoagulation clinic when I can do the test at home. (For most self-testers, it probably makes sense to get a blood draw monthly, just for peace of mind.)

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I know that others have been self-testing for longer than I have.

I'd like to know how long you've been testing, which meters you use (or have used), and thoughts about self-testing.
 

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