With the life of my FreeStyle Libre sensor coming to an end in a few days, I thought I’d better write some observations while they are fresh in my mind.
I first put my Libre sensor on during Diabetes Exchange in Sydney (disclosures are at the bottom of this post). We were advised that the best place to wear the sensor was on the underside of the upper arm. In similar fashion to an insulin pump infusion site, the sensor came packaged in what looked like an insertion device. It simply “clicked” into place on the arm.
I’m the kind of person who easily gets annoyed by things. I fiddle with my watch, my medic alert bracelet presses too hard on my skin, and I am always picking at scabs. So I was pleasantly surprised that I have hardly noticed the Libre sensor. So far, the sensor has held nicely on my arm. I had one bath where the sensor was submerged in water for some of the time. I’ve had showers and changed my clothes every day, where the sensor is inevitably subject to some bumps and friction. The sensor is starting to look a little grubby around the edges, though, as it heads towards the end of its life.
Being Winter, my sensor often sits under warm clothes and I notice it less. It is likely exposed to lesser impact and outdoor activity compared to the warmer months of the year. I’m also not sure how comfortable I’d feel wearing this $95 sensor to the beach under some rough waves.
Some of the other bloggers raised the issue of the Libre not having alarms to alert them of high and low blood glucose readings, which is a very valid point. I am not particularly concerned by this. Just as with finger pricks, I check often enough to be able to catch any impending highs or lows. I’m all for something simple, and that minimises the diabetes junk that I have to carry around with me. The Libre fits the bill nicely. As with anything, more features will mean an even higher price tag.
A great deal of my Libre use has been checking my glucose levels after meals. This has given me an insight into where my levels are heading after I eat, and in evaluating the need to readjust settings and ratios on my new insulin pump. We were told that data may be less accurate than a finger prick when glucose levels are rapidly changing, so please bear this in mind around my observations.
My Libre reader has typically run around 1-2 mmol higher than the reading on my meter. I have also noticed a more significant difference where my Libre presents a reading greater than 15mmol. I have found greater accuracy where my levels are in single digits, and where there is no active meal bolus in my system.
That being said, the Libre has been super convenient to have while I’m transitioning to the insulin pump. It’s been a huge relief on my fingers at a time where I would likely be using test strips like water. Every morning, I plug it into the computer and upload the data to Diasend. It gives me access to detailed graphs that have tracked the movement of my levels through the night, which is extremely helpful in making decisions around my overnight basal insulin rate.
I walked around without my meter and test strips while I was in Sydney quite comfortably, too. The reader was quite easy to carry around, and fitted nicely into a t-shirt or jeans pocket. It was a really convenient tool to evaluate my blood sugar levels after some big Sydney meals, and a reliable indicator of glucose trends. I would definitely consider buying a sensor next time I plan on travelling.
After a week and a half with my sensor, I am also feeling extremely challenged not to micromanage data. It’s extremely challenging to look at those annoying trend arrows after meals and not respond to them. It’s for the same reason that I’m not particularly interested in using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (not to mention the price!). I will definitely miss the convenience and the detail of my Libre data when my sensor shuts down on Thursday, but I am also very much looking forward to a break.
You can find out more about the upcoming Australian launch of the FreeStyle Libre at freestylelibre.com.au.
Disclosure: Abbott paid for my travel and accommodation expenses to and from Sydney. I received a FreeStyle Libre reader and 2 sensors free of charge. There was no expectation that I would blog about the Libre. All opinions expressed here remain my own.