Clinitest Tablets

OMG!  Clinitest Tablets!  Who remembers these, raise your hands?!  Writer/Author Kelly Rawlings flashed me wa-aa-ay back to my past, to my childhood, when I had  to use this product to test the glucose amount in my urine.  Yuck! That was all we diabetics had back in the day!

By prescription, these highly poisonous tablets were in a dark-colored glass bottle.  Heck, if my memory serves me right, there could have been twenty-five tablets in any particular bottle.   I would handle these things every day, at least four times a day, for glucose testing in order to regulate my daily insulin injection amounts.  Such a tablet was the size of a modern day daily supplement; either dark blue or dark gray in color, they had white speckles on them.  The overpowering, nasty smell alone caused me to hate them, caused me to hate that testing procedure!  More often than not, my mother had to yell at me to get it done, especially since she was the ‘insulin drawer.’  After reading Ms. Rawlings’ twitter, that old smell, from thirty-five years ago, came wafting to my olfactory memory membranes once again.  Yuck. 

To further enlighten your senses, let me share an excerpt from my book, page 15:

 “Returning to the topic of my initial care when first diagnosed [with diabetes] in 1959, I had to continue to use a “potty seat.”  In fact, I continued to have to use a variety of potty seats until I was 15 years old.  Who knew?  This was the easiest way to collect urine for absolute and necessary testing for glucose four times a day.  However, due to school hours, it was done twice a day.

“Using what is known as a “Clinitest kit” that was stored in the bathroom medicine cabinet, it smelled funny – horribly bad – and distinctive.   

“Five drops of urine with ten drops of water in a glass tube [vial]; drop in a [Clinitest] tablet and watch it fizz, fizz, fizz as it turned colors: colors from bright blue, timid green, bright yellow or burning orange were displayed. Either of these colors indicated the level of glucose – sugar – in my bloodstream albeit through my urine. Yellow and orange gave the impression that the glucose level was high; whereas, green and blue were good, implying that the glucose level was low. The process was scary to see as a child and I certainly never ever wanted to touch one, afraid it would burn me.

“Yes, quite odd, albeit historic, compared to the machination processes of today. In my mind, yellow and orange signified “bad” colors. This meant I did something wrong. Maybe I ate too much. Or maybe I ate something I wasn’t supposed to eat. Those colors told me something was wrong with my body, my diabetes. Did I have an infection? Was my body giving me a signal for something? Fear. Fear introduced itself to me before I even knew what fear was. ”

“Ironically, … the colors yellow and orange are my favorite colors to this day.  This type of testing, … would continue for many years to come.”

I realize now that yellow and orange are my favorite colors because I refuse to give in to negativity.  It just as simple as that.  Thank you, Ms. Rawlings, for reminding me.

A. K. Buckroth, “My Diabetic Soul – An Autobiography,” 2010,


Clinitest Tablets — 3 Comments

  1. Sister was diabetic. I used to experiment with the Clinitest and was always relieved to score bright blue. You did a great job bringing that all back. One question: what kind of test did you take back then to detect low blood sugar?

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