Free to Dream (Freestyle Libre review)

Hey, stop what you’re doing for a minute, will you? I just need you to do something for me. It will take about 2 minutes – if you’re lucky – then you can carry on with your work/play/nap/dancing (delete as appropriate).

Hey, can you stop again please? Sorry, I just need you to do that thing again, won’t take too long. I know, I know, you’re dancing/singing/talking to your friends/marking coursework. Sorry, but it’s got to be done.

Hey, sorry to interrupt AGAIN, but can you just… yes, again, yep I know you’re busy, I know it’s important, you’re having fun, but you really, really have to stop what you’re doing and pay me some attention right now.

Imagine you’re diabetic, and this is pretty much how your day goes, with the endless need to check on your blood sugar levels. Add in a mother on your case and you’re doing a pretty incredible job to stay focused on anything at all. Now imagine if all those interruptions took no time at all, a bit like looking at a watch. Something we all do, numerous times a day.

You’re wearing a Libre sensor.

A blood glucose reading whenever you want, without finger pricks - here's our Freestyle Libre review #freetodream

The Libre sensor is about the size of a £2 coin.

A few weeks ago, Abbott Freestyle Libre invited some young people with diabetes to a very special sleepover, at the London Planetarium. Fun and games were had, friends were made, and sleeping bags were laid out for a night under the stars.

All the kids were wearing a Libre sensor, a tiny filament placed under their skin, continuously reading the glucose levels in their blood. On any other night, parents would be waking them to prick their fingers for a drop of blood to keep them safe, but tonight was different. The kids slept soundly, while the parents simply scanned their arms for a reading whenever they needed to check. The children were quite literally free to dream.

This week we were given a Freestyle Libre to try, and review. We bought one when they first became available, before they were licensed for paediatric use, as they are now. So Maddie convinced me to wear a sensor myself, to find out how it felt to be her. I’ll admit to being nervous before my first insertion (tip – don’t look at the needle before you fire the mechanism into your arm!). But it looks worse than it is. I felt a quick scratch, much like the hamster would give me if I try to pick him up and scupper his chances of escape, and it was in. It catches on my bra strap occasionally, but I’m told you learn to compensate for that. And otherwise I totally forget it’s there. Until someone wants to scan my bloods.

We’ve used it on and off with Maddie, and found it incredibly useful. Every time we scan, as well as a number for that moment, we get a graph of what her pesky blood has been up to over the previous eight hours. That kind of information is the holy grail of eyes-wide-open diabetes management – imagine a hundred blood sugar readings, where before you only had 5 or 6.

But for the kids, you know what the best thing is? Much less stuff getting in the way of living life. She wanted to learn to skate. Half an hour of exercise every day, an hour after breakfast insulin, in the cold takes a lot of tweaking and adjusting. And a lot of testing. It gets irritating. It gets in the way.

This week it’s been a breeze. As she skated back and forth across the rink, learning pivots and ‘hockey stops,’ I waved her reader over her arm. As she learned to skate backwards (I still can’t fathom that!) I detected drops before they happened, handing her a Jelly Baby or a square of chocolate at appropriate moments. As she came off the ice she was breathless with exhilaration, not low blood sugar. As we drove home we talked excitedly about her new skills, not what to do about her insulin.

She is free to dream.

Sport is just one of the things that is much easier with a Freestyle Libre (review)

The Freestyle Libre is available online and has just been approved for paediatric use. A starter pack costs £159.95. Sensors last two weeks and cost £57.95 each. 

Disclosure: we were given a Freestyle Libre starter pack for the purposes of this review. All opinion is our own.

Freestyle Libre - a review of the Libre flash glucose monitor. Diabetes management without finger pricks.

11 thoughts on “Free to Dream (Freestyle Libre review)”

  1. It’s great that you’ve found something that can give Maddie (and you!) a bit of freedom and peace of mind.
    It strikes me though that having a chronic problem like diabetes is very expensive! It’s such a shame that a lot of families just wouldn’t afford £58 every two weeks for this extra freedom 🙁

    Reply
    • No you’re right, and that’s such a shame. Although the alternative similar systems cost even more. It’s not something the NHS is big on funding at the moment, so yes, sadly sufferers have to pay for the benefit of sleep and some peace of mind, as well as the information that allows us to make better health decisions. That said, it’s all new technology, and I’m hopeful that the NHS will see the benefits and start to fund more people to use such equipment. I suspect it’s the same with any chronic illness – it hits you in the pocket as much as it does in the body. Very sad.

      Reply
  2. How lovely that this has allowed you both extra reassurance and more time off without constantly having to worry about Maddie’s blood sugar levels. I guess it’s going to be too expensive to be approved for NHS use though and that is a real shame.

    Reply
    • Well I think the benefits in terms of outcomes will probably prove themselves over time Izzie, and the NHS may well see the pros of funding something like this. I hope so anyway!

      Reply
  3. I am always amazed by the advances in technology that help life. I just wish they could advance in medicine to help find a cure in the first place. But until then I am glad this allows your super girl some freedom.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the article! I’ve just started using this myself and love it! Just wondered where you get the case for the libre meter as I’m paranoid about damaging mine (they are expensive to replace!) but can’t see anywhere online that offers them.

    Reply
    • Yes so was I. Abbott really need to start making them. Ours are actually from our Aviva Expert meter – we had some spares. They’re not a perfect fit, but they’re good enough, for now

      Reply
  5. Helen, i have been using this for over a year now and find it amazing. Basically i work just to fund these! being in my early 20’s i dont always find the time to prick my finger so its really quick and easy to have one!! i dont care about the looks or comments i get from wearing this device! can i ask a question, where did you get the cases for them?

    Thanks
    Lauren

    Reply
    • Hi Lauren, it’s a game changer isn’t it? Those cases are actually from our Expert meter from Aviva. They’re not a perfect fit, but they feel better than having nothing when we occasionally drop the reader. I’ve fed back to Abbott that some kind of case would be useful. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
      • Yes, plus the colours would make it more attractive. Have you heard of the omnipod. It’s an insulin pump that requires no tubes or wires. Exactly like the libre sensor only slightly bigger to hold insulin inside for 3 days at a time. It delivers the insulin through Bluetooth. I think the device is so intelligent and smart that it’s the next best thing. However the cost to fund this off the nhs is £300 for the device itself then £250 a month for the pods. Deffo worth a trail of it

        Lauren

        Reply

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