I recently blogged about the costs of the Freestyle Libre here. After adding up the numbers I resigned my poor self to the fact I couldn’t afford one and I didn’t have any expectations this would change in the near future. However, last week I went to speak to a clinician and left his office with an unexpected gift. A pharmaceutical rep had recently dropped off a number of Freestyle Libres and I was lucky enough to get one. So I thought I’d write a blog post about my first 48 hours.
Unwrapping my new toy
I didn’t really know what to expect but it was really simple to set up. I charged the little reader thing and then inserted the sensor into my arm. It works similar to inserting the set for the pump. If you haven’t used a pump, it’s hard to describe but basically, it’s not difficult and it’s not sore.
Waiting one hour
Once I was all set up, I was ready to go but didn’t realise I had to wait a whole hour to test my sugar levels. It was only an hour though and then I was able to test. It is ridiculously simple. I pushed a button on the receiver (the only button) and then placed it near the sensor on my arm and a number pops up on the screen and it makes a sound. I’m the kind of person who always has my phone on silent, and my pump is on vibrate only, so I quickly turned all the sounds off and I was happy to go.
Lots of checking my sugar levels
So I’m only two days into the Libre experience and I’ve been checking my sugar levels a lot. I just counted over 40 times today. In my defence, I’m working on my PhD in the office and I think it’s a form of procrastination. Also, I think I’m still trying to learn to figure out what the arrows mean. Each time I check my sugar levels, an arrow appears to tell me if they are going up, level, or down. This information can be used to prevent hypos but I’m still getting to grips with it.
I’ve been meaning to check my overnight basal rates for a few weeks now and the Libre is perfect. I just go to bed as normal and check the trend in the morning. After the first morning, I was able to see an increase in my sugar levels at about 4am (see graph above) without having to wake up to check my sugar levels. I’ve also noticed a drop around 2pm which could be my basal rate again which I’ll be keeping an eye on. Over the next two weeks I’ll be able to set more specific basal rates overnight and during the day.
After meal spikes
The other cool thing I’ve noticed is after meal spikes. I had a croissant with a bit of jam for breakfast this morning and my sugar levels went up to 19.2, I couldn’t believe it! I’m hardly motivated enough to check my sugar levels before meals, never mind after meals so I never really observed post meal spikes. However, its fascinating to see these spikes and its really making me consider making changes to what I eat to.
So far I love it, I won’t keep testing 40 times per day but I will still test a lot more than I am with my blood glucose monitor. It will definitely improve my control helping me get my basal rate more accurate and identifying foods which cause big spikes. Just looking at all the information on the graph is amazing! On the other hand, the cost is still a big barrier for me. At just under £50 every two weeks, I won’t be able to wear one very often. It doesn’t sound like much but it adds up to about £100 per month and almost £1,200 per year. I’m thinking one every 6-8 weeks will be affordable. However, let’s hope there is some agreement with Abbott and the NHS which makes it available on prescription.