Freestyle Libre and the Flash Glucose revolution

Freestyle Libre

Freestyle Libre is a life changer. It doesn’t fix our diabetes but it makes battling it a lot easier.

Non diabetic – ” why would you spend your own money on that when NHS give you test strips 

My standard reply – ” you wouldn’t drive a car without a speedo, even if you can guess how fast you are going by putting your head out the window 

To me this is the same thing, why guess what your body is up to, when you can see it on a screen.

This has been on the market for coming up to 2 years now and it really is a game changer for diabetics all over Europe.

The technology has been all around social media for well over 18 months now, but in the past couple months Abbott’s have reached out to more people. I even spotted an advert on commercial TV a couple months ago. In my view this is a good thing, the more people use technology to manage their condition, the better the outcome will be for them long-term.

If you want to see the official site for this great product the link is below

How does it work

The Libre doesn’t actually measure glucose in your blood, not in the way your meter and strips do anyway.

It is a slightly different system at play here. This is a sensor you insert through your skin and wear continually for 2 weeks. This sensor is actually measuring the glucose content in your interstitial fluid, and then through a clever algorithm it puts out a reading of your blood glucose on the reader. Now that all sounds very technical, and I guess it is, but the upshot for us is a great little product.

The sensor gets a reading every 5 minutes. When you scan (flash) the sensor with the reader/phone it picks up those readings and shows you them in a nice graphical format.

You can scan through upto 40mm of clothing, so no need to worry there.

The reader also shows us which direction our readings are heading, upwards, downwards or running level. Really habdy if you are debating if you need a correction dose.

What does this all look like then

When you buy the starter kit you will get

Libre
Freestyle Libre Starter Kit

1 x reader

2 x sensors

charging cable

User manual

Quick start guide

Within ten minutes of looking at this lot you will have it inserted and be up and running. Please check my page about inserting the Libre for more details.

The reader

Libre
The Freestyle Reader

This is a tidy little bit of kit. It has a reasonable colour touchscreen display, not quite up to amoled standards but does the job. It is the same size as most blood-sugar meters on the market, in fact it is a blood and ketone meter too. It doesn’t have any official accessories, but you are an inventive lot. Have a look around the DOC and you will see many examples of how to ”pimp your Libre”

The sensors

Libre
Libre Sensor

They are the size of a £2 coin and come in a handy applicator for painless insertion.

Within the sensor is where the magic happens. They are fundamentally a small electrical circuit attached to a sensor and a battery. The technical term for this is ”the magic disc of glucose”

Where can I wear it

The only place the Libre is approved for use, at the moment anyway, is the back area of the arms. Do be warned though, when you walk into a door frame they are susceptible to be knocked off. You may think you never walk into things, guarantee when you have this on, you will!!

Does it hurt

Don’t be a wimp!! If you have been pricking your fingers up to 10 times a day then this will be childsplay. Joking aside the insertion really is a painless operation.

Is it easy to put on and set up

I am a typical man, never read the instructions!! In this case however, having just spent best part of £140 on this, I did. If you read the instructions and follow them its a doddle to get up and going.

Do check out my blog post on this for a more detailed description.

Is it accurate

If you have ever compared blood readings on 2 different meters then you will no what a minefield this question is. I have tested the same drop of blood on 2 different meters and had a difference in reading of more than 4 mmol/l.

One important thing to remember is the readings on the Libre lag between 5 and 10 minutes behind blood-sugar readings. This isn’t down to the Libre, this is just a biological fact.

Now I have been a user for over a year now and over 90% of my sensors have been accurate, you will know pretty quickly if you have a dud. Do not fret if your readings are over 15% different from your blood sugar reading Abbott’s will replace any faulty sensors. Customer service is great from Abbott’s.

Pros

  • Water resistenat
  • Great for basal testing
  • Gives an inisght into what is happening to BS overnight
  • Show how quick, or not, your bolus insulin acts
  • Shows how long bolus is active for
  • Highlights if you have issue with basal insulin running out
  • You can test anytime, anywhere
  • Painless when inserting sensor
  • Gives a clear indication which foods spike your BS and how quickly
  • Has an app for Android smartphones, eliminating the need for the £50 reader costs
  • Uploads data to Diasend site
  • Has a built in blood sugar meter if you wish to check
  • Also has a blood ketone test function
  • Shows which direction your levels are heading
  • Perfect for spotting trends
  • Easy to set up
  • It is discreet, no big bulky sensor, this is the size of a £2 coin
  • Enables us to have complete insight to what our bodies are doing at all times of the day
  • Motivates me to eat better, nobody wants to ruin a graph of good readings
  • Logs up to 90 days of data
  • Has professional options so can act as a bolus calculator etc
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • Not recognised by the DVLA for driving
  • If you dont scan for more than 8 hours you lose some data
  • It is very addictive
  • You still need to prick your fingers before driving and before taking insulin
  • Only approved for use on back of arms
  • Some sensors can have accuracy issues
  • Cant be calibrated
  • Some people have problems with reactions to adhesive
  • Some people find adhesive not strong enough

Thanks for reading

Well that has turned into one of my longest posts yet, and I could have written much much more. If you have got to reading this then I thank you very much for your efforts.

Take care and flash it everywhere

Type1Bri

3 thoughts on “Freestyle Libre and the Flash Glucose revolution

  • Elaine Barclay

    Got mine yesterday loving it.

  • Jon Wingfield

    One MAJOR thing left out of the “Cons” list is …
    – does NOT give Low or High Alarms, like the Dexcom does since it is true CGM
    – so not suitable for those with hypo vulnerability or unawareness
    – it was the one main reason that I bought a Dexcom about a year ago
    – although Dexcom ‘appears’ more expensive, if you can get each sensor to stay working for ~ 4 weeks, then it is similar yearly cost as Libre … ~£1,300.

  • Thanks for the feedback Jon. Very valid point about the alarms

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