Abbott Freestyle Libre - Off to a Quick Start!

Today feels like Christmas, the anticipation and excitement of getting an Abbott Freestyle Libre has been building up ever since I first heard about them. It seemed like something out of a sci-fi film when I found out that there was going to be a device available for people with diabetes, that no longer needed blood or finger pricking for glucose level testing*. But today the wait is over and my Abbott Freestyle Libre device has arrived! I think that whether you're into technology or not, this device could be of interest to you. So if you're new to the world of diabetes technology let me share my initial thoughts on the device. (First of all I should begin with a disclaimer that Abbott have not paid me to test their new monitor, but they did gift the device and sensors to me. All thoughts and experiences are my own however).

Before my initial start-up meeting, I did a bit of research on the device and soon learnt that the idea of the Abbott Freestyle Libre is really very innovative. They aim appears to be to take away the annoyance of multiple daily finger prick blood tests, by having created a device that works in two parts. The first is a scanner connected to the skin that transmits glucose level information and the second is a device that reads the information and shows the results. So in theory to get a glucose level result, you just scan the device over the sensor and the result comes up on the reader's screen. To put the device's concept into diabetes context; I tested my blood sugars through the finger pricking method 10 times yesterday. Although my total amount of blood tests over a week is 49 which equates to an average of 7 blood tests/ day and my average blood glucose level is 10.5 mmol. Over the last month I have done 212 finger prick tests with an average result of 10.7 mmol. That's over 2500 tests a year and over 33,000 finger prick tests in the 13 years I've had diabetes, equating to a lot of blood testing strips and some pretty sore fingers! So if the insertion of one sensor can do away with some of this inconvenience, I can't wait to try it.

Today I met with Nick, one of the Abbott reps to have some training and get set up with my Abbott Libre device. He told me the basics of how the device and scanner work and helped me attach my very first sensor. In the initial meeting I learnt that the device can scan for glucose level results from the sensor worn in the top of the arm. The sensor can record an 8 hour trend without scanning, so for example if you left your reader at home (not that you would want to be without glucose level testing for that amount of time) you could scan within the 8 hours and see what your blood sugar results have been doing whilst you were out. The reader device has a slot located at the front, similar to conventional blood sugar devices that also allows you to put in blood glucose testing strips and ketone testing strips. This is handy because Abbott did say that a blood test needs to be done in the case of highs and hypos, not just to rely on the sensor. Also the blood and ketone testing strips that the device is able to use in addition to the scanner, are already available on the NHS. (However, the scanner and sensors are currently not).

Nick helped me apply my first sensor that when set up would measure my glucose levels. It has a filament opposed to a needle, that goes into the skin at 90 degrees. First you have to wipe the area clean with an alcohol wipe, that comes one with each sensor in the box. Then you open the applicator capsule which comes in two parts, it's really easy to fit the parts together and it's just a swift pushing mechanism to apply the sensor patch. I secured the sensor's sticky area to the site between my bicep and shoulder part of my arm and waited for my reader device to count down 60 minutes until it would be ready to use. It's recommended to attach the device at this specific site as to reduce the risk of knocking the sensor. The application process was completely painless and I would even go so far as to say it hurts less than a finger prick test in my opinion, which doesn't really hurt at all.

And that was the set up process completed, really easy and simple to do. At the moment I have a months worth of sensors (one sensor lasts 14 days) and so I'll be keeping a diary of how I'm getting on living/ training/ sleeping with the Abbott Freestyle Libre, so don't forget to follow my progress on here, on Twitter and Instagram! If you'd like to find out more information about the device for yourself, click here.

This is the device on the right and the arm sensor on the left












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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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