Blood testing for people with diabetes

3 readings

I was rather concerned to hear today that there are more than 3.3 million people with diabetes in the UK – an increase of nearly 60% in the last decade. There’s a clear link between Type 2 diabetes and bad diet, and it worries me that many youngsters have unhealthy diets which could lead to them getting this disease.

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 35 years. The perfect balanced diet for me – plenty of fruit and vegetables, but low in fat and avoiding highly refined carbohydrates (and especially sugar), is a good one for everyone to follow. I am very well aware of the consequences of not having a good diet – diabetes can cause blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and result in gangrene and amputations.

I’m writing this post to tell you about what I consider to be the one of the biggest things I’ve discovered to help people with diabetes in 35 years – the Freestyle Libre glucose monitor. Now I know exactly what is happening to my blood sugars 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The system involves me applying a sensor to the back of my arm:

Freestyle Libre Sensor

You wouldn’t normally see it, as even a short sleeved shirt will hide it. To check my glucose levels I merely hold the reader over where the sensor is.

Scanning glucose levels using Freestyle Libre monitor

In a second it shows the current glucose reading, the latest 8 hours of glucose data and a trend arrow showing if glucose levels are going up, down or changing slowly. The trend arrows are particularly useful – a reading of 4.1 and going up is within the normal range,  but a reading of 4.1 and going down could mean I’m about to go into a coma (if I don’t take any action).

I can see trends:

Daily graph of glucose levels from Freestyle Libre sensor

and already I’m changing my diet to improve my control.

If this sounds like a commercial, I can assure you I’ve received no money from the manufacturers. I think it’s an exceptionally well designed product, it’s very easy to use and there’s good support from the manufacturers (see the videos here).  My biggest complaint about this product is the cost (it costs me nearly £4 a day). I’m hoping the price will come down, as more people use it, and also that the NHS might provide some help – as I believe it’s helping me to avoid all those undesirable complications….