I’m Type 1 Diabetic and one of the hardest parts of being diabetic is pricking your finger umpteen times a day, and trying to predict your blood glucose levels over the next few hours. It’s difficult, but there may be hope on the horizon. I’ve been using the Freestyle Libre for the past two weeks.
The Libre is an ‘active blood glucose monitoring’ system. What does that mean? It monitors your blood glucose levels actively throughout the day, taking over 14,000 readings per day. I’m supposed to check my blood at least three times a day, but the reality is some days I do, some days I don’t. The Freestyle Libre is designed to give you much more information about your blood glucose levels than just pricking your finger a few times a day. By doing this, it makes it much easier to understand and manage your diabetes.
The system comprises a reader and a small sensor which you wear on your arm. The sensor has a very small flexible ‘fibre’ that is inserted into the skin when the sensor is applied. To be honest, I didn’t feel a thing when the sensor was put on. The tough part was when it came off!! Let’s just say it is very sticky!
The sensor is waterproof so you can shower, swim or have a bath while wearing it. The sensor lasts for two weeks, and I hardly noticed it was on; you have to scan the reader over the sensor to download results, so you can’t just forget about it. If you’ve got an Android phone, you can use your phone to scan the reader and download the data. There isn’t an app for the iPhone due to Apple not letting developers have access to the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology built into the iPhone. However, iOS11 is due out in the second half of 2017, and Apple has opened NFC to developers, so potentially an app could be on the horizon.
The reader and sensor cost £58 each from the Libre website. Although if you open an account and say that you have diabetes, you get the VAT taken of bringing it down to just under £50. I managed to get a free sensor and reader from Freestyle by agreeing to share the data gathered with them at the end of the two weeks. Freestyle are trying to collect as much data as possible to improve the product and to prove to the NHS that it is helpful in managing diabetes.
I enjoyed using the Freestyle Libre and feel like I understand how my diabetes affects me, much more than I did before. I’ve not bought a new sensor yet because £50 for two weeks use is a little steep for me. I will buy again in future, but I’ll be selective and just make the purchase when I feel I need help controlling my diabetes. I can understand why the technology costs so much though, it really is a smart piece of kit.
You can download the data from the reader to your computer. Libre offers free software for your Mac or PC that create graphs from the data. I’ve included some of the graphs that the Libre software produces. They give you an excellent insight into how your blood glucose levels can be throughout the day and overnight. To be honest now after 2 weeks of wearing it I’m feeling a bit lost.