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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Mike's experience of using a flash glucose monitor

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How would you describe the flash glucose monitor to someone who hasn’t used it? 

If they were a person living with diabetes I'd say it was part way between a CGM and fingerstick BG monitor. If they weren't I'd say is was a magic gizmo that helped me see what my blood glucose levels were doing whenever I wanted to.

What was your reason for using it?

To get more information about the ups and downs of my blood glucose, to see what is happening overnight and to adjust my insulin and background doses.

How regularly do you use it? On average how often do you scan the sensor? 

When I'm wearing a sensor I scan around 20-30 times a day (the data from Abbott show that 15 scans a day is the average). In order to keep the cost down, I tend to wear one during times of food-uncertainty, for example during holiday or over Christmas, and I also use them as a kind of 'reset' to my meal, background and correction doses. Then leave it a few weeks or a month until things had drifted again before using another. I wish I could wear them all the time.

How has using the monitor affected your ability to manage your diabetes?

It is hard to underestimate it. If I could afford to wear full time I absolutely would. During the 14 days of wear my BG levels always improve. At the end of a sensor I have less variation, fewer highs and fewer lows. Where I wear sensors one after another the improvements continue. When I am not wearing them I gradually see a worsening of BG outcomes with more variation, and especially more hypos, until I wear another.

How has using the the monitor affected your lifestyle?

Wearing a sensor gives me more confidence in managing my diabetes. It frees me up to do more exercise and take part in physical activities without needing to run my BGs in double figures 'just in case'. Scanning is so quick and easy that you can do it while walking along, or mid-conversation and people hardly notice. A Libre makes it easier to eat out and socialise, or to cook homemade food at home from fresh ingredients where working out the carb count is harder, because you can watch what happens after the meal and react accordingly.

How have you found interpreting the data, that the device gathers, to manage your diabetes?

The reader has some very handy overview analysis screens where you can quickly identify patterns of low blood glucose, or times of the day where your levels are higher on average. When you download to the computer the reports are really helpful in making sense of all the information, with a handy 'traffic light' system that gives suggestions of ways you could improve things.

Have you had any training on how to interpret the data?

Not formally, but I've got a lot of help by comparing notes with other users and by reading articles from healthcare professionals online.

Does your healthcare professional help support your use of the technology?

Yes. Very much.

How has using the technology improved your clinical diabetes outcomes?

It has allowed me to keep my HbA1c in the target range set by my clinic but to achieve that with far less glucose variation. Rather than lots of highs and lows balancing each other out, my levels when I'm wearing sensors are much more even. For example I am able to act far earlier to avoid impending low blood glucose because I can see the direction my BG is headed. So rather than waiting until I am already low and my symptoms have kicked-in, I can make smaller adjustments well ahead of time and avoid the low entirely. Not always, but every one I avoid feels like a little victory.

What do you feel the main advantages and disadvantages to using the technology are?

I can check whenever I want, as many times as I want and I can see not only what my glucose level is, but which direction it is heading and how quickly. And I can see what has happened overnight each and every morning.

How do you fund the technology? Is the technology funded on the NHS? If so how?

I self fund.

What would be your message to the Government about why they should ensure access on the NHS to the technology?

Wearing a Libre significantly improves my blood glucose outcomes whenever I am wearing it. Helps me avoid potentially problematic hypoglycaemia. It shows me so much detail that conventional BG fingersticks never could. Importantly it also makes a huge difference to how I feel about living with type 1 diabetes. Wearing a sensor also allows me to significantly reduce the number of test strips I use every day, so providing Libre involves cost saving as well as expenditure.

What would be your message to someone about why they should support campaigning to make the technology accessible to everyone who could benefit from using it?

No one asks for a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. It cannot be prevented and cannot be cured. 80 per cent of the budget on treating people with diabetes is spent on complications, most of which could be avoided by improved blood glucose management. Freestyle Libre helps people to improve ther blood glucose management.

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