Abbott Freestyle Libre CGM: 2 week trial session
Wearing the Libre sensor definitely changed my relationship with my blood sugars. I became much more engaged, and had a much fuller picture of my ups and downs. The almost 24 hour monitoring gave me new insights into the patterns of the ups and downs, and I think I had a reduction in standard deviation. Seeing graphically how quickly you are rising or falling is very useful for calibrating your responses.
At first I tended to over-correct, leading to too many mild Hypos, then I started cutting down on insulin. Which then led to some elevation. There is a learning curve to this more dynamic control, or what Stephen Ponder M.D. calls “Sugar Surfing”
The increase in engagement had both good and bad elements. I was much more aware, but perhaps became at times overly involved. As always the question becomes: do I want to be a person with diabetes, or does diabetes define me? This is a tricky balance.
Now that I am not wearing the sensor, I do not miss the physical sensation of having the sensor on my arm. It itched a bit and was slightly irritating. This might have just been psychosomatic, but it was my perception.
The installed software is easy to use, but has noticeable shortcomings and even a major bug. It would not record my Lantus insulin shots, and if I recorded the Fast Acting insulin, and did not navigate back to the top menu after data entry, it would not record that entry either. This brings up the big problem with having a closed platform, with only one software option.
I don’t know if they have designed an easy way to update the software on the device. Perhaps one can download a firmware update. I hope they didn’t ship 100,000 units with buggy software. Regulatory hurdles aside, would be great to have the sensor read by a smartphone(reliably of course), and then let the community create our own software. Sigh.
The device at times did have sensor malfunctions. Usually when I was running, and only lasted 10 minutes before I was able to get a reading. One time had a malfunction in the middle of the night and couldn’t test for a while. In all occasions system fixed itself. On the whole I would rate the device as being reasonably reliable in the first 2 weeks.
- Self-calibration seemed to work fine. The first day readings were a bit inaccurate, but after that worked well.
- Was great to so easily be following my trends. Swiping was lo-pro and felt socially acceptable in almost any situation. This was especially useful when I was on the move.
- Meter software was easy and quick to use.
- Desktop software added many features, such as graphs and analysis.
- Abbott claims you can swim and go to the sauna with the sensor on. Didn’t try it, but showered without problem. The sensor is pretty hard to open, seems well sealed.
- Wearing an invasive sensor is a bit annoying. Not terrible, not painful, just a bit of a nuisance.
- No automated warning signal for hypos. The Libre uses near field tech, which is to say meter must come within a few centimeters of the sensor to get a reading. This is a trade-off, which might push some people to other systems such as the Dexcom 4 which has this valuable feature.
- Doesn’t always work. In two weeks this happened 2x when I was out running, and once at night. In addition, had one night, I think around 3 hours, where there was no data recorded. All in all pretty good, but not perfect.
- Meter software had some bugs, and doesn’t allow data to be changed after it had been entered. I heard this device took six years to develop, and the software makes me believe it, ie. it looks like it was designed pre-iPhone.
- Lack of wireless integration with smart phone. Put a BT chip in meter, and let us wirelessly integrate data with a smartphone app.
All in all I think the Libre system is worth trying, and I will buy more sensors. Not really looking forward to wearing the thing or inserting it, but maybe I am just a bit of a chicken.
It is very convenient to swipe a measurement anytime you have to make a diabetes decision, i.e. how much to eat, how to adjust dosage, what to eat, exercise, etc.
Significantly increased my engagement and attention to BG levels and trends, this sometimes led to over correction, but hopefully I would do this better with experience.
In my opinion CGM is the future for insulin dependent diabetics, strips just leave too many blind spots. The Abbott Freestyle Libre is not a perfect system, but its relative affordability, and ease of use make it a good step in the right direction.