Erin, 46, from Twickenham, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. She has been self-funding flash glucose monitoring for a year.
I remember the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 at the GP vividly. As a teenager, I was in denial and this continued into my twenties. Later I became more aware of my diabetes, although this led to constant blood testing and almost became an obsession.
I was doing finger pricks up to 15 times a day before I started using the Freestyle Libre. Finger pricking was not only inconvenient and painful for me, but must have cost the NHS a fortune. I used to get a lot of dramatic blood glucose swings and would spend all my time chasing my levels. My glucose levels would be high, so I'd inject to correct but I'd often over-estimate the amount I needed. This would cause a crashing hypo which meant I would have to take in some glucose. The pattern repeated itself and seemed to sum up my life. It was very draining and upsetting.
Now I use my Libre every single day, and it has vastly improved my quality of life. Flash allows me to control my levels so much better. My hypos have cut down drastically, and so have the awful swings from high to low. I also take a lot less insulin now. My HbA1C went down from 54 mmol/mol to 43 mmol/mol in just 6 months.
"I finally feel I can live without fear of diabetes in general."
Diet and exercise
I follow a lower carb diet because it helps me control my diabetes. For me, I was going high from eating too many carbs, then overcorrecting with too much insulin. I'd then start going low and have to eat more to correct it. Focusing on and changing my diet has been something that has worked for me.
I also used to be an avid gym goer. I now do a lot of walking which is my main form of exercise. The Libre has helped me so much there. My blood glucose levels react differently depending on if I’m walking very fast, or at a slower pace. Even the weather can affect it as walking in the heat tends to lower my glucose levels even more.
"Because of my Libre, I can see the direction my glucose levels are heading in and react accordingly in advance, saving me from many unnecessary hypos."
Pricking your finger and seeing the result is one thing but it's just a snapshot in time. It didn't help me because I didn't know if my glucose level was rising, staying level or dropping. Before I had my monitor, I would go to bed and do a finger prick test which would tell me my glucose level was at 4.0 mmol/l. I probably would have taken some glucose in case my levels were dropping. However, if they were rising, I'd have high blood glucose levels all night - not good.
These days, if my level is 4.0 mmol/l before bed and I can see it is steady and I go to sleep happy in the knowledge that I'm safe. It is also a huge bonus to be able to see what your levels did overnight when you wake up. Personally having that 8 hour history is invaluable. I can spot trends and adjust my basal insulin doses accordingly. I no longer have the vast amount of hypos that I used to have, and I can't begin to express how that helps me feel!
Diabetes UK and me
When I was first diagnosed, I didn't know about the help and support that Diabetes UK offered until Google search came around. However, I am starting to use the website more and more these days. There is a wealth of information available online which is a great help. I can never take in too much information about diabetes. I’m always researching my condition and now the website now plays a big part in that.
I wish the NHS would look at the benefits the Libre gives people with diabetes. Not only to our bodies but also to our mental health, and how that will benefit both them and us in the long term. Now that I’ve been using flash for just over a year, if I were to lose my monitor, it would have such a negative impact. I’m not sure how I’d cope. It's empowering, and without my Libre, I would feel insecure about my diabetes once more. I never want to feel that way again!
"To me, this new way of managing my diabetes is completely invaluable and is the most important tool (next to insulin of course)."