I first started using the Freestyle Libre when they were released in the UK, back in 2014. To begin with I funded it myself, and at £50 a sensor it wasn’t the cheapest of products so I usually took a week off between sensors to keep it affordable. These days I have it fully funded by the NHS which is amazing. Taking the financial strain off of maintaining good blood sugars is fantastic, and the Libre is a truly integral part of my diabetes management.
In the 6 months that I have been funded I have had very few breaks. The feeling of being “attached” doesn’t bother me, as my insulin pump is connected 24/7 regardless, however the overwhelm that can come with data overload does.
Diabetes Technology Is Amazing
The ability to simply hold your phone up to your arm and then read you blood glucose level on the screen is incredible. When I was first diagnosed the technology seemed quite unreachable, with CGM’s reserved for those that were really struggling and unaffordable to the majority of the rest of us.
However, continuous glucose monitoring doesn’t just show the in range numbers. It would be wonderful if it was a stream of perfect blood sugars, or even just showed peaks that soon dropped back in to range. But that’s just not how it works. When you are fighting a stubborn high it can be really disheartening to see a persistent out of range number, highlighting that you’re not meeting your targets. I’ve been concerned in the past the the Libre would be affecting my blood glucose control due to the obsessive nature it can bring out, and a recent forced break has brought that to the forefront of my mind.
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Why a forced Libre Break?
Here in Aberdeen the approval for Libre funding comes from my consultant at the diabetes clinic, but the actual prescriptions come from my GP. Due to some form of miscommunication the Libre was removed from my repeat prescription and I have had a week without it. At first it felt really…… weird. I am so accustomed to the ability to just swipe and see what is going on that felt a bit naked without it.
It took me around 48 hours to relax. I got back in to the groove for pricking my finger before meals, before driving and before bed. I struggled with not checking my blood sugars in the middle of the night, but forced myself to leave it alone unless I felt like I was low or high. One or the other of the boys has me up a couple of times a night (minimum) and I am in the habit of quickly checking with the Libre and correcting or adjusting my insulin as required. The problem with that is that the extra activity wakes my up more. The blue light from my phone, fiddling with my pump for what is often only a minor tweak, it makes me wide awake and then I find it harder to get back to sleep. When I’m not scanning through the night then I’m sleeping better – despite the kids waking me.
Of course it is frustrating that I had a problem getting a hold of the Libre for 7 days. I got a two month supply today and put it straight on my arm – no point in dragging the break out for longer than necessary! But I do think that a break is good.
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Libre Breaks Are Good For Your Mental Health
It is so easy to get caught up in diabetes management. To forget that there is more to life than chasing numbers. With social media you can easily tap in to the diabetes community and see images of everyones blood sugars. Of course we want to boast when we’re proud of the good numbers so we share them, and when things are going rubbish we tend to keep quiet. Get our heads down and deal with the problem.
We all know that comparison is the thief of joy. But just because we know that it doesn’t stop us doing it. When you are only seeing good numbers being shared by everyone else, staring down at your own graph of a persistent high followed by a hypo because you got annoyed and went in too heaving with a bolus, it can make you feel a bit rubbish!
Shouldn’t We Just Be Thankful?
Libre funding still seems to be a bit of a NHS lottery. I am really lucky that I have never been refused any of the technology I have requested (I have never actually asked for a CGM as I know I don’t meet criteria). My consultants are fantastic and embrace technology, and they trust me with my engineering and analytical background to use them fully and appropriately.
However I know lots of people through the diabetes community online who would love to be given funding for the Libre. It’s then easy for those of us who are funded to feel guilty for taking a break, and feel obligated to wear it at all times and maximise it’s use. Feel like we should always feel thankful for having access to the Libre, never feel like it’s ok to take a break.
The thing is, none of us asked to have type 1 diabetes. We didn’t ask to be constantly watching our blood sugars, counting carbs and calculating doses. We shouldn’t feel like we have to do something just because someone else can’t. Life is hard enough without adding extra guilt in to the mix.
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How Often Should I Take A Libre Break?
Everyone is different. For me, I think I will start taking a break every 2 or 3 months. I last had a break back in May when we were on our summer holiday, and I think I was ready for this one now. For some people they may want a break every month, every 6 weeks or every 6 months. As with all things related to diabetes, there is no one size fits all solution and you’ve just got to do what works for you!
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