It’s official! The Freestyle Libre is now available to purchase in Australia from their website: www.freestylelibre.com.au. Already I’ve seen a mass of comments from the Australian diabetes community. So far, it’s been mostly a mixture of ‘omfg this is so awesome, I need this in my life’ to ‘wtf, why is it so expensive and why is it not subsidised by the NDSS’.
I was fortunate enough to trial Libre for the past couple of weeks, which was kindly provided by Abbott Diabetes Care at the DX2Sydney event a few weeks ago. While they paid for my attendance there (and for the reader and two Libre sensors), they certainly haven’t paid for me to write about it.
But I really want to write about it. Because this is the most exciting piece of new technology to reach our shores since CGMs! So what do I like about Libre, what do I think can be improved and things to take note of it?
What I love:
- The data – Seeing BG trends helps me make a decision around how to manage my diabetes around food and activity. Reviewing daily patterns directly from the reader has been really useful in seeing what changes I need to make to my overall management.
- The convenience – Especially with overnight tests. Sure the screen is ridiculously bright in the dark. But at least there is no need for the fumble to find my meter, test strips and pricker.
- The lack of blood trail – You know that awkward moment when you notice you’ve smeared blood everywhere because your finger prick wouldn’t stop bleeding? Yeah, there’s none of that because there’s no finger pricking! I also wrote more about this here.
- The reader – Because it doubles up as a normal BG meter, which can also test blood ketones! It is an all in one meter.
What can improve:
- The first 24 hours – From my first sensor, I found the first 24 hours to have the most variability in BG readings between the Libre and my meter. I felt robbed of 1 day from its 14 day lifespan! With my second sensor, I heeded some wise words from experienced users and left it on for at least 12 hours before starting it, which seems to have helped.
- The cost – For many, this is a very prohibitive factor. Especially at AU$95 per sensor, and only having a 14 day life before it automatically shuts off (unlike Dexcom, Libre will not let you restart the sensor *sadface*). There have been a lot of talk around getting NDSS to subsidise the sensors, which would be amazing.
What to note:
- The alerts – Libre does not alert you if you are going high or low as the sensor stores the data until you scan it. This is one of the main differences between CGM and the Flash Glucose Monitoring system and has its own pros and cons.
- The adhesive – With Dexcom, I complained about the terrible adhesive. But with Libre, I had the opposite problem! It stuck so well, I had difficulty removing it and all the excess adhesive on my skin. I ended using a bit of eye make up remover to try and get it off. There’s also this guide with tips for dealing with the adhesive for Libre.
- The insertion – It. Is. Painless! Firstly, thank you to Abbott Diabetes Care for actually including an alcohol wipe in the box! But really, I was so worried about the pain that comes with the insertion and my friends and I were genuinely surprised with the absolute lack of pain!
In summary, Libre got us Aussies all like…