My Abbott FreeStyle Libre Experience!

This is not new news!  Abbott’s flash glucose monitoring system, FreeStyle Libre was released to the Australian public last week.  You can find out further details and order your very own right here   if you haven’t already!  If you dig a little bit deeper online you will find blogs reviewing the product from across the globe.  It is a new technology for Australians but people in the UK and Europe have had access for quite some time now and there is a lot of consumer experience to learn from.

I was part of a pre-launch event and trial sponsored by Abbott Diabetes Care and managed by Weber Shandwick.  I was given the product two weeks prior to the official market launch to assist with the associated media activity.  My experience was used in radio and print media to help people better understand what the real life application of the product is.  (Please note I wasn’t paid for my comment, nor was I obligated to report about the product.  Participating in the radio interview, the newspaper article and writing this blog was entirely my decision.  I am expressing personal views and not those of Abbott Diabetes Care.)

Here is the article that appeared in the Geelong Advertiser on Saturday 4 June, 2016.

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The advantages for me were the incredibly easy insertion and start up procedure, and the discretion.  Scanning my arm with a smart-phone like device is so much easier to get away with in public than performing a finger prick to check my glucose levels!  In the absence of any other monitoring tools, using the FreeStyle Libre meant that I didn’t have to perform between 10 and 12 blood glucose checks per day to achieve the diabetes management goals I had set for myself.  The system was accurate after the first 24 hours post-insertion and I grew to rely on the readings in the same way I previously relied on blood glucose results.  I have very few glycemic excursions in my average day and I believe this helps to achieve such great accuracy.  The added benefit was the graph on the screen depicting what was happening between scans.  Having the graphs and trend arrows helped me to make better diabetes management decisions.  The sensor that was inserted in the underside of my arm was very comfortable to wear, and in fact I was unaware of it most of the time.

I have decided not to continue using the FreeStyle Libre system because of my individual needs.

I have impaired hypo awareness; almost 100% of the time overnight and between 75% and 80% of the time during the day.  I am not afraid I am going to die of hypoglycemia.  What I am afraid of is endangering myself and others when I may not be aware of how incoherent and unable to function I am due to low blood glucose levels.  Driving is one example.  Looking after my children is another.  I shudder to think about it too much.  So I need a system that will help me to identify the times when I need to prevent or treat hypoglycemia.  Using Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, (CGMS) does this and I have come to rely on it.  Having that data and alerts with me all the time, (integrated with the insulin pump) eases my worry in ways I struggle to put words to.

I also find that using an insulin pump requires a little bit of help to manage at times.  During the media launch week I had an infusion site occlusion overnight.  Instead of being alerted by alarms indicating a rapidly rising glucose level, I woke up hours later with a high blood glucose level, mild ketones and nausea.  It took me nearly six hours to get my glucose level back on track and feel better.  Again, it simply illustrated to me that the FreeStyle Libre doesn’t quite meet my needs.

This is a great tool for people who are looking for an alternative to blood glucose monitoring.  It is important to understand what your personal needs are and what the product offers.  I can’t emphasize that enough; this experience has crystallized that for me even after living with type 1 diabetes for nearly 30 years.

And the say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; well I beg to differ!

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