The Freestyle Libre is pretty cool. Once I got used to it (here I talk about my first 48 hours), I was trying to make the most of my two weeks with a continuous glucose monitor. I was fasting every second day to test my basal rate, and I was able to see spikes in certain foods (croissant and jam caused a big spike) that I never noticed before. All this information was great! I was making plans to take my bolus injections earlier before meal times, and avoid certain foods when BANG (or maybe scratch is a better word), my arm brushed off the door frame and my sensor fell off.
My two-week experiment was sadly over in a week but I learned a lot. The graph above has so much information, it is difficult to know exactly what to act on. As you can see from the pictures above, the graph gives a nice overview of my trends throughout the day but I can also get average blood glucose readings for each hour of the day. Despite all this information, the main advantage of the libre for me was the effort involved in testing my sugar levels.
I don’t mind pricking my fingers to test my sugar levels. It’s annoying and sometimes sore but it’s OK. I have a blood glucose monitor in my bag and test before most meals. However, when I’m going for a coffee and get a little snack or when I’m having a quick lunch and forget my bag, I just go without. And this is where the libre was great, it is just far more convenient. I just scan my arm and I know what my blood glucose levels are. The effort involved is almost zero. I’m almost certain if everyone had a libre, there would be no problem with getting people to test four times per day.
However, there is a downside too. The libre made me become a little obsessive about my blood glucose levels. I wanted my blood glucose levels to always be in range all the time. From a HbA1c perspective, this is great. However, from a quality of life perspective, I’m not sure if the libre would increase or decrease my quality of life. If I started planning my meals in detail and avoiding foods, I’d become restricted and my diabetes would start to control me.
I felt sad when my sensor fell off but after a day or two, I felt a little liberated. I didn’t care as much about my spikes anymore. I was able to just concentrate on carbohydrate counting and trying to have my blood sugar levels within range before meals, instead of every minute of the day.
I think I need to have a clear goal in mind next time I use a sensor. Something like to test my basal rate, or to monitor my exercise more closely. If I just stick on a sensor without having a clear goal, I will obsess about things that don’t necessarily need to be obsessed about. I still think the libre is great but I’m definitely not prepared to spend £50 every two weeks on a sensor. Maybe one every two or three months. I’ve also been told Abbott are good at replacing sensors which fail so maybe I will receive a replacement, we’ll see. My advice, based on only one week of using it, is to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve before using the libre, otherwise it may sometimes become all consuming.