Gentle Pelikan: My Finger Health Challenge Results

OK, so the month of April is coming to a close and it’s time for a close inspection of my so-oft-tested fingertips. If you’ll recall, I began evaluating the ground-breaking new Pelikan Sun electronic lancing device on April 1 and promised to make a month of it.

Let’s start where all good reviews should begin, by explaining the methodology: in this case, utterly unscientific. I simply vowed to use the Pelikan only on my right hand for a month, while continuing to use my regular spring-loaded lancet on the left. Of course there was no exact 1:1 ratio on the number of times I tested each hand, but I can tell you that I preferred to use the Pelikan when I was at home, while mostly using the older model while I was out and about, so that hopefully leveled the playing field somewhat.

Usability/ Experience

So what did it feel like? Did I run into problems? Was it convenient to use, or a pain in the @#$% (notThe_pelikan_2 finger)?

For me, this product gets a 9 out of 10 on the “feel good” scale. I’ve never enjoyed (or least disliked) taking my glucose readings than I did having a gadget that keeps you from feeling anything at all. In fact, all I noticed was a quick “brushing” sensation on my fingertip.

Just as with so many other new-fangled diabetes gadgets these days, I did run into some technical difficulties. The first unit I had (which comes in nice, minimal packaging, btw) continually gave me error messages, causing me to waste almost a whole cartridge of lancet needles. But the company was super-responsive and replaced that first “lemon” with a fully functional unit right away.Howto_pelikan

The Pelikan couldn’t be easier to use (unlike the MultiClix, for example, which I sometimes found difficult to advance). It only has three buttons, and two of them are just the up-and-down arrows to adjust lancing depth. I found that I did have to increase the depth a bit over time to get it right — if you don’t draw blood, you’ve wasted a notch on your cartridge (once it’s advanced, there’s no going back).

I’m up to 1.3 on the depth scale, yet my fingers are happy. I’m not posting hand photos again because those little black dots have faded on BOTH hands, probably due to more careful lancing on the sides of fingers, rather than on the “pads.” But the fingers on my right hand (Pelikan hand) do feel softer and less calloused, no doubt.

The Pelikan is sometimes inconvenient to carry, because of its size, but it’s kind of addictive: the more you use it, the more you want to (see below).

Usefulness/ Efficacy

So did the Pelikan perform it’s medical function well? Well enough to warrant the inconvenience and the cost?

I found that I was excited about using it, and still am after a month of obligatory use. In fact, I feel very disappointed anytime I’m in a place where I don’t have access to it, and have to use my old “thumbtack” lancet instead. So I test more often, and with more enthusiasm — which I firmly believe is good for my diabetes care (despite recent headlines).

Yes, it still gives me an occasional error message, but what product doesn’t? There were only a few times when my hands got so cold that I had to do a repeat stick, thereby wasting some notches on the $7.50 cartridge ($15 for a set of two, containing 50 lancets each).

I guess what I’m saying is: this thing works well and is totally worth the money if you 1) really hate the sensation of traditional lancing, or 2) are caring for a child with diabetes. I can’t imagine any kid who wouldn’t be jumping for joy over a switch to the Pelikan.

Yes, $200 upfront plus supplies is quite an investment, but think for a moment about how easily that money might be frittered away on something entirely non-essential. I find that it’s true what they say: people tend to spend money on what they want, not what they need.

In the final analysis, here’s how I really feel: I’m excited that my Pelikan Challenge Month is over, because now I am finally free to use it on both hands.


6 Responses

  1. Dave
    Dave April 29, 2008 at 6:59 am | | Reply

    Wow-Here I am asking when you are going to write about the Pelikan and it appears before me.
    Well from reading your article I am really going to try get one. I am over having fingers that look like pepper. Testing 6-9 times a day creates some wear an tear as you know.
    Did you find that different fingers required more or less depth from the device? Thanks for posting this article.


  2. chris
    chris April 29, 2008 at 8:00 am | | Reply

    I’ve been testing on my palms for two years now. Not just painless…but i barely even feel anything. I never had much luck using my arms, and even still that was slightly uncomfortable.

    I think some people say palm testing is not as reliable, but I’ve done back to back testing (while my BG was dropping or rising quickly) with finger sticks and there has never been a difference.

    The problem with palm testing is that it does not “clean up” as well. Fingers can simply be licked. With the palm, the blood runs a bit so I end up with blood smears. sure, i could only test when there is a sink nearby or I have a tissue to wipe off with…but that just isnt feasible when you test 15x a day.

    I do constantly remind myself in social situations to test on my LEFT hand since I’ll probably be shaking hands. I’ve had a couple awkward encounters when meeting someone after i tested on my right hand and had to use my left hand to shake-hands.

  3. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell April 29, 2008 at 8:44 am | | Reply


    I’m curious. Which lancet were you using on the other hand?

    Was it a BD one with the 33 gauge needle or something else?

  4. Florian
    Florian April 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm | | Reply

    As I have said many times before the finger damage that appears from frequent testing comes from (1)dull lancets that have been used too many times (the dull lancet tears through the tissue instead of making a clean cut puncture) and (2)the force of the spring loaded lancet devices that slam against the skin and the incorrect depth of penetration setting by the user (there should be some kind of adjustment for the spring in adddition to more care in adjusting the depth of penetration by the user.

    I use the BD 33 ga Ultrafine lancets which I think are the best and I use it without a spring loaded lancet device. I just gently tap the side of the finger against the needle to get the microliter of blood for the One Touch test strip. I use each lancet 2 to 3 times and then take a new one. It works for me and it would be very difficult for anyone to tell by looking at my fingers that I test 10 times a day.

  5. Beth
    Beth April 29, 2008 at 4:53 pm | | Reply

    We’ve found that even with the ERR message, if we wait a second and try again (or even a third time) without advancing we usually succeed. It’s saved us quite a bit.

  6. Ron
    Ron April 30, 2008 at 6:14 pm | | Reply

    When I saw your original posting, I ordered the Pelikan as well. The device, as you indicate, is expensive. But for me, the reduced wear and tear on my finger tips has been well worth it. In less than a month, the black blood marks and the callouses on my finger tips have entirely disappeared, and normal finger tip sensation has returned. So, all in all, a great product.

Leave a Reply