I used to kid my kids about what I wanted as presents for my birthday: "Something small, black, electronic, and expensive."
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Type II Adult-onset diabetes. No surprise: it is in my family; I am in my 50s; I sit all day for a living; and I have stomach fat. I am keeping it under control with diet, exercise, and the loss of 20 pounds (so far). "Under control" means keeping blood sugar under 7.0 before meals, and under 10.0 after.
(Diabetes results when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin. Cells require insulin to absorb sugar carried by the blood; sugar is the fuel cells use to operate. When diagnosed, Type II diabetics have a pancreas producing only 50% of the insulin required; production by the pancreas continues to decline with age. When diet and exercise are no longer sufficient, then it's on to medication, and then finally insulin injections. In contrast, Type I diabetics have a pancreas that is being attacked by anti-bodies, debilitating it.)
Thus, measuring blood sugar is the measure only of a symptom. We guess at the insulin level by measuring the amount of sugar (technically, glucose) in the blood. By stress exercising, we encourage the sugar to enter the cells; by controlling what we eat and when, we help the pancreas neither over- nor under-produce insulin.
(Indeed, in Germany, diabetics are said to "have sugar.")
Blood Glucose Monitors
A Type II diabetic like me typically measures his blood glucose twice a day, before and after a meal -- on a sliding scale (breakfast one day, lunch the next, etc).
We measure it with blood glucose monitors. We puncture our skin with a needle (ouch!), draw a drop of blood, and apply it to the end of a test strip. The strip uses capillary action to draw the blood sample inside the monitor, which analyzes the sugar content in about 5 seconds.
The best part is that these monitors are "something small, black, electronic, and expensive!" The technology inside, and the industrial design outside -- they are remarkable, due to the competition between suppliers.
Even better, we get the monitors free just by buying 100 strips. By charging $1 a strip (I use about 700 a year), the manufacturers quickly get back the money they lose on the free monitor, which might have a retail value of $70 to $150.
My most recent monitor acquisition, however, is a design failure. This company designed the monitor to work with a drum that holds 16 test strips. Tiny motors rotate the drum, and then partially push out a new test strip. (Markings on the drum report to the monitor its position.) After testing the blood, the motor ejects the used strip.
Except that this exceptional idea is a fail. The drum and its support motors make the monitor much larger than its competitors, and the larger size makes is hard to hold. In any case, it solves no problem: manually inserting and removing test strips is trivial -- and faster than waiting for the tiny motors to do their thing.