As soon as I heard about the FreeStyle Libre back in September I knew that I needed one and had to get one, so began the long and even longer wait for Abbott to release it. I watched on twitter as people began to get their hands on the Freestyle Libre. I read blogs and reviews online to check that it was a sensible investment, after all it would be sacrificing elsewhere. I rang my DSN to see if she could lend me one – they had only seen them the day before. Finally people began to tweet that they were able to make their orders on the Freestyle Libre website http://www.freestylelibre.co.uk but there were delays due to site traffic. Like a true enthusiast I set my alarm for early in the morning to use the website when most other people would be in bed and placed my first order. The first of many orders…
The Libre is an amazing piece of technology – there is no denying that. I have reduced my finger pricks from 15 per day ( I lead a very busy lifestyle) to 2 per day (checking the sensor is in range). A simple swipe on my arm can inform my the direction of my blood sugar, it is simple to use in the gym, when out and about and most of all has reduced the size of my hand bag now I only need to carry one item instead of the previous meter, sticks and finger pricker. This has been particularly useful in bar toilets where previously I would have hesitated to test. The graphs the Libre creates using data from the previous 8 hours have helped me understand how certain foods affect my blood sugar. Rice crispies do not react well with me…
The Libre will also allow you to download data which then allows you to look at your sugars in more detail. I have found the data on the reader enough, but for those more data minded it will produce lots of lovely charts.
The Libre works with a sensor attached on your arm. It is painless to insert, in my opinion less pain than both finger pricking and inserting insulin pump infusion sites. Once the sensor is ready a quick swipe with the reader will start your 60 minute countdown ready to use it.
I have found that the sensor becomes more accurate after 36 hours, I have tried delaying the start time of the sensor to improve accuracy, but this did not make a difference. The sensor does seem to take time to settle down, yet after 36 hours the majority of sensors have been accurate with accuracy improving towards day 14 when the sensor ends. However not all sensors seem to be as accurate, which is both irritating when you know how well a previous sensor has worked and time consuming when cross checking sensor readings with finger pricks.
Having said that all hope is not lost due to an unreliable sensor. The Abbott Freestyle Libre helpline have been very helpful in sending out new sensors to replace faulty ones as long as you can tell them the differences between the sensor and finger pricks, have done a self check on the meter and some times they have suggested it should have test strips to do a finger prick with the Libre meter, but due to my prescribing I can’t get test strips for it.
Another positive I have found from the Libre is the ability to check my blood ketones. This was particularly useful recently while in hospital where I was feeling particularly awful due to ketones. Using the FreeStyle Optium B Ketone test strips with the FreeStyle Libre was brilliant.
The nurses thought the Libre was brilliant for checking my blood sugars without disturbing me, particularly in the night or when I was feeling very unwell. Consultants were able to see what my sugars were doing and had been doing between their visits. The quick scan and adjustments I was able to make helped me in controlling my diabetes while in hospital where usually I would have struggled. Fingers crossed that experiences like this will help promote the Libre for NHS funding.
Additionally the Libre provides and option for health care professionals to work with patients to use it to recommend insulin doses. I haven’t used this feature but after a bit of googling managed to unlock my Libre.
As I use an insulin pump adding rapid, long acting insulin and carbs hasn’t really been a feature of the Libre that I have used or find useful, but the option is there for those who understand it a bit more than me.
I do love my freestyle Libre, yet the inaccuracies of some sensors drive me insane. The website is not always user friendly and only allows you to order 2 sensors at a time 14 days after your last order: even if Abbott created the last order to send out a replacement sensor. The Libre is costly, especially when you have the first 36 hours waiting for a sensor to settle down. Furthermore I have recently had an issue with my order being left outside, unsigned for, in my garden, in the rain which after 40 minutes of complaining is being replaced but it was a hard battle.
Abbott claimed as the sensors are water resistant and had been in plastic packaging they would have been fine – everything was soaked, however I couldn’t face the frustration of two faulty sensors.
All in all I am hooked on the FreeStyle Libre despite the teething problems. It provides me with the data I need, allows me tighter control and I am able to check my blood sugar in the night with ease. I have taken my Libre mountain biking and found out about the effects of adrenalin on my blood sugar. I have been able to test when previously very cold hands would mean that I couldn’t get any blood. My Libre comes to the gym with me without needing to carry test strips and other assorted paraphernalia providing me with an indication of the direction of my blood sugar . I am hooked, but I wish it was accurate all of the time!