Adrian has been using a Flash Glucose Monitor for more than two years. And it’s completely changed the way he manages his type 1 diabetes.
I have lived with type 1 diabetes since I was diagnosed 19 years ago. In the early days I suffered night-time hypos which sometimes caused alarming seizures. At the time, I used to test my blood glucose using a finger-prick meter, two to four times a day. I always checked at bedtime and 1:30am (because of the problem of those night time hypos) but apart from that only when I had reason to suspect lows or highs.
Testing 20 times a day is easier and more effective
When I came across reports of the FreeStyleLibre in 2015, I could see immediately this offered a real leap forward in helping me better understand my blood glucose levels – and not only the current blood glucose figure but also whether it was rising or falling.
This little piece of tech has significantly changed how I manage my diabetes. I now test multiple times a day – typically up to 20 – yet it is far easier and more discreet than finger-prick testing. And I’m able to keep far closer to target levels not only by reacting to the current blood glucose reading, but more importantly to the trend arrow.
Managing my day with Flash technology
I now inject my bolus dose far more in advance of eating. I had been told by my specialist nurse at diagnosis to “wait until the food was in front of me” but in fact I can often safely take it well before, and with the Flash monitor you can keep on checking, so there is no danger of falling too low.
A consequence of the above is that in general terms, I “sail much closer to the wind”, rather than erring on the side of higher blood glucose, which is what I used to do, especially when busy and preoccupied. I also do correction doses of bolus insulin between meals far more often.
If I find a level is high and not falling some time after eating, I can much more confidently take a few extra units, again knowing that frequent and easy follow-up monitoring virtually eliminates hypo risk. I have also learned much more about the effects of different foods and activity on blood glucose levels
I keep the FreeStyleLibre scanner very handy – in a holder attached to my belt – and if in doubt, I test. I do so first thing, before meals, after meals, before and after doing any physical activity, before bed and during the night.
My favourite Flash features
- The trend arrow and the ability to see the past eight hours. This gives me a clear view of what sort of a day/night it’s been. This is self-evidently better than an isolated “snapshot”, which is all a finger prick test can provide. With the FreeStyleLibre it is so much easier to test and to be fully aware of blood glucose levels.
- How discreet the device is. There are lots of situations where one would be self-conscious and aware of the possibility of causing alarm or offence with a finger prick test, like on a crowded train. It’s very easy to test with the FreeStyleLibre in a way that nobody even knows what you’re doing. I can also keep a better eye on blood glucose levels during meetings, conferences etc.
The good news is my average glucose reading is now between 7 and 8 mm/L, and has fallen significantly. My most recent HbA1c reading was 5.9, having been over 8 a few years ago.
There are no significant disadvantages in my experience.The only downside other than the cost is that the skin on the site of the sensor, which has to be replaced every two weeks, can become irritated and requires careful care as it recovers.
Now that Flash monitors are available on the NHS, could they help you?
Let us know how you get on with talking to your healthcare professional?We know there is still work to do to ensure that this life-changing device is available to everyone who needs it. We are continuing the campaign to make this happen. If you haven’t already, join us now.