|An arty shot, if you will.|
I would like to point out here that I do not fault the company, or their product in the slightest, in fact it's quite the opposite. I truly believe the Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitor is a game-changer for many people with Diabetes. As always, my mutterings here on Diabetesgeek are purely my experience alone, you may feel different and that's awesome too.
Months 1-1.8 (Yes I did just do that)
I was swept off my feet and very much enchanted with my new found freedom when I first got my hands on my Libre. You can read a poem I wrote about how I felt about Libs, a friendly nickname I gave to my handset, we were a great pair for a while. On our first day I learnt the importance of pre-blousing.. I now shout about this to all of my new diabuddies! It was something I was always told to do as a kiddiwink but never did, I learnt very quickly with the Freestyle Libre that spikes are hard to ignore (understatement of the century on my part).
You'll have noticed by now that I am writing in past tense, of which I feel bad.. I still love this technology. I just wish my brain wasn't wired into overdrive. I jumped into using the Libre with little idea of how it would affect my mental health, which ended up turning into a big black hole. I hope some of you planning on buying the Freestyle Libre system take my experience on board. I learnt the hard way, and I write in hopes others don't have to.
By the end of my second month using the Libre continuously* I began running into a few problems, which I blogged about (linked at the top of this piece.) In short, I was seeing data I didn't like and I wasn't sure how to cope with it, so I did as any other would, I carried on using the Libre and in turn was overwhelmed with data. I was putting in all the effort and not seeing the results I wanted or deserved. This cycle carried on for months which led me to my longest Burnout period to date- a hellish 3 months, from September right through to December. In that time my mental health turned to shit, my blood glucose levels were fluctuating more than I had ever known and I felt awful. At no point did I completely stop testing my bloods or stop taking insulin, thankfully I've not done that since I was about 8.
I didn't help myself either, which is important to point out here, I lost contact with my diabetic team for several reasons, I hope to blog about it one day. I wanted no input from health care professionals.. I was frustrated, in every sense of the word.
Frustrated this expensive technology seemed nothing but a horrible experience, frustrated that I couldn't handle this by myself, frustrated that I had to reach out for help and frustrated with, what felt like, lack of solutions.
A huge lesson I have learnt retrospectively is this, if you are going to invest in this tech, please please please work in partnership with your HCPs. For your safety, to preserve any blood glucose control you think you have and to keep everyone in the loop, use all the resources you have. Whilst in my 3 months of burnout I fell into some pretty bad habits, most of which I don't feel comfortable enough to talk about on here yet, which could have seriously damaged my health, so please, just keep yourself safe.
*we shall speak more about this later.
I began to take breaks between sensors, almost giving myself some kind of messed-up respite from what was supposed to be this grand piece of technology. I found returning to finger-pricks made me feel more free than the Libre did, which is the opposite of what you expect when you first research the tech. Finger-pricking broke me from this cycle of what felt like never ending misery and shitty data. Shitty data I didn't know how to handle. It went from finger prick snapshots which were never awful, to 24 hour graphs of my blood glucose, I saw every missed unit of insulin, every messed-up correction dose and every over-treated hypo. It drove me to the point of insanity. I literally felt like I was on the verge of a mental meltdown, which looking back on it now, was exactly where I was at in my 3 month period of burnout. I'm not sure if my blood glucose levels are genuinely better when finger-pricking, or if I just don't test when I know I've only just eaten and my bloods are bound to be higher than I'd like. Whichever it is, either is better than the crap I was seeing on my daily graphs, sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Moreover, *I felt bad each day I didn't wear a Libre sensor, because my parents were forking out such a lot of money for it, I almost felt obliged to wear them. Listen to your body, you know it better than anyone else ever will.
Luckily, in December I had the opportunity to complete a 'carb counting education course' through my hospital, another topic I plan to blog about in the near future, so many topics, so little time! On said course, HCPs advised I seriously re-considered using the Freestyle Libre because of the unhealthy habits I'd adopted. I think that was the point where I realised my eating habits had become, to put it politely, screwed. I learnt so much invaluable information whilst on the course but mainly that a lot of others get overwhelmed by the data that us T1's are so immersed in, especially when you're not sure what to do with the information you've collated. So I took the advice given, and since I have stuck to finger-pricking alone and have never felt better.
That is not to say I won't ever use the Libre again, I hope be in a place mentally, where I can make the most of this fabulous technology. I didn't use it under the best of circumstances, given I was not in contact with my HCPs which I do not recommend (another understatement). I had issues with my target range, that's another topic for another day as well as trying to change my diet to avoid spikes, all of which I could have resolved if I was in contact with my team at the hospital. Communication is key, especially when it comes to your everyday health.
I still have two sensors to use, but I will be scanning with one eye shut. I still feel so blessed that my parents are in a position to fund this technology for me. When used correctly, and in partnership with your health care professionals, the Freestyle Libre is a game-changer for most. This attitude I still very much believe in.
To summarise, my Top Tips are as follows..
- I mentioned it earlier, but I'm going to say it again. If you are going to invest in this technology, please please please work in partnership with your HCPs. They can help you, and if they are not familiar with the Freestyle Libre software, teach them or find someone that can.
|A note from me, to you. - A|
- Take breaks between sensors. If just for a couple of days, let your brain rest from the constant stream of data. Returning to finger-pricks is not all as bad or as hard work as it seems.
- You're doing great.
If you read to the end of this post then have my many congratulations because I've quite literally written an essay, but as always, even if this just helps one person and they find they can relate, then my time spent brain-farting on a keyboard was completely worth it. Thank you for reading!