It finally arrived, my Abbott Freestyle Libre. After tweeting about it since it was announced at EASD 2014 and I admit, hassling @abbottnews about it for weeks.
I was more than slightly frustrated by the hype that Abbott had created, then it seemed that they were unable to deliver the goods. Following on from that, they quietly started selling the Freestyle Libre, without notifying all the people they had encouraged to sign up for alerts. Putting all of this aside, I was still extremely keen to get my hands on one.
Studiously following other early adopters, as I’ve heard us called on Twitter, the Freestyle Libre experience seems to have been absolutely polarised. It’s either been fantastic, or extremely disappointing in equal measure for people. Lets not forget that this is an expensive piece of kit. Ok, it’s not quite the cost of Continuous Glucose Monitors from the likes of Medtronic and Dexcom, but it’s still close to £140 for a starter pack if you are in the UK. With this in mind, I think it’s fairly reasonable for people who’ve not had the expected performance from their sensor and reader to be a bit disgruntled and have a rant on Twitter.
I have a feeling that Abbott were somewhat taken aback by the initial demand for this product, but it may just have been a clever marketing ploy to whip us all into a frenzy after EASD2014 and keep us hanging by a thread until we were foaming at the mouth with frustration.
My 3 little yellow boxes arrived today, bang on time, as per the text message I got from the courier company. Hat’s off to Abbott for using a reliable courier who knows how to keep customers informed. Customer Service positive #1.
I had been looking forward to this moment for ages and couldn’t wait to start. Within 20 minutes of the parcel being delivered I had applied the sensor, as instructed to the back of my upper left arm. This was incredibly straightforward. Surprisingly, I had a little bit of discomfort, which I wasn’t expecting at all. Having read lots of blogs, and looked at the promotional videos from Abbott several times. Everyone was in agreement with Abbott that insertion was pretty close to a pain free process. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t exactly painful, just a bit uncomfortable. I wasn’t too bothered by this. I’ve had far more painful set changes and injections in my 30 years of being Type 1.
I started the sensor which simply needed me to turn on the reader and swipe it over the sensor. The countdown began:
After 15 minutes or so, the sensor was still a little uncomfortable. I never thought too much about this, but put my hand to it to find that it was covered in blood. This explains the discomfort. I’d obviously nicked a little vessel when I put the sensor in. I can’t deny that I was a little bit freaked out by this. I’ll refrain from reposting the gory picture that I put on Twitter and on the Freestyle users page on Facebook again. I was imagining, like a set for my pump, that once it was bleeding, the sensor would become unusable. Bear in mind these babies are close to £40 a pop. Ater I had calmed myself down I called Abbott Customer Services. My call was answered quickly and the rep I got was very helpful. After asking me a few questions about how uncomfortable the sensor was and how much blood there was, he advised me to remove the sensor and told me that he would send a replacement to me. Customer Service positive #2
I had to pick The Boy up from school, so decided to leave the sensor in place meantime. After an hour it started working. Variance as been between 0.2mmol/L and 4.2mmol/L. I’ve done fingersticks using the Libre and my Contour Next Link. The higher variance has always been with the Contour meter. I’m pleased with these figures. Abbott advises that a significant variance is to be expected in the first 24 hours. Notably, the largest variance was after a large, high carb dinner with a post prandial high of 14.2mmol/L on the Contour. The discomfort has gone too. I’ve decided to leave the sensor in for the time being. I was advised by @Colonelblighty that sometimes with CGM, the bleeders worked best and @drivendiabetic that no one had associated bad sensor performance with bleeding on insertion.
So far, I’m pleasantly surprised by how well it appears to be working. My main aim for using the Freestyle Libre, is to look at profiling, so even with some variance, I’ll still be able to see periods where my blood glucose is rising or falling and will hopefully make it easier for me to fine tune my pump. Oh, and I’m already loving the graphs.
Fingers crossed it continues.