As I’m sure you’ve probably seen on my social media channels, I recently got my hands on an Abbott Freestyle Libre. A really cool piece of diabetes technology. Basically, it’s a circular sensor that attaches to the arm and reads your blood glucose levels. It’s not the prettiest of devices as it stands out about an inch from the body itself but it helps avoid the daily annoyance of finger pricking to draw blood to test blood glucose levels.
What makes it so great?
While my current glucose monitor isn’t the worst, the Freestyle Libre eliminates the hassle of the daily finger pricking routine. On average I check my levels 6-7 times a day, meaning that each time I have to prick my finger with a needle to get a reading. At least once a day there’s an issue with this; either I don’d draw enough blood and I have to prick a different finger or I apply the blood incorrectly on the machine. So it can be frustrating, and can be quite time consuming.
Now, with literally a tap of a button I can get a reading in 2 seconds flat. It’s that simple. Of course, there will be times when I need to use the finger-pricking method, but for day-to-day use, the Freestyle Libre is as handy as it gets.
How it works
A circular sensor attaches to the back of the arm (this is the only recommended place, but I have seen people wearing it elsewhere). It’s a self insertion and with the packaging comes instructions on how to do so. It’s really quick, easy and painless. A reader is also needed, this is what logs all the readings and it scans the sensor itself.
Once the sensor is inserted, scan it using the reader and within 60 minutes, it’s up and running and you can start scanning to test your blood sugar levels.
Pros and Cons
I’ve only had it a couple of days but previous to that I had been reading up on it, and there are definitely some pros and cons.
- Trend Graph – roughly every minute or so, the sensor sends a signal to the receiver which then tracks and creates a graph of your daily blood sugar readings. Really useful to see trends in your blood sugar readings; when your blood sugars peak and when they dip.
- Insertion & Size – the insertion of the sensor is super easy and painless. I have to admit when I saw the needle I got nervous, but I literally didn’t feel a thing. Also, the size of the sensor is really handy and quite low-key.
- Waterproof – the sensor itself is waterproof which is almost a necessity.
- Cost – this is a big issue. While I’m covered (for now) under the Long Term Illness (LTI) scheme, many people are not. Currently it’s only covered for people with diabetes under the age of 21 years in Ireland. For those thinking about getting or who have a Libre over the age of 21, it’s expensive. The sensors are €60 each and have to be changed every 14 days. Then there’s a reader that’s needed which is €100. It all adds up.
- ‘Warmup’ Period – new sensors have a little bit of a warm up period where results can be a little inaccurate.
As I said, I’ve only had it a couple of days so I’m sure as I figure it out more, there’ll be more pros and cons. For the moment, however, I’m really thrilled about it, and I’m excited to see how this can help me maintain good control of my diabetes.