Why I bought my son a Freestyle Libre

The Freestyle Libre blood sugar monitoring system has been out for about a year now. It consists of a sensor that you put in your upper arm and a reader, a bit like a mobile phone, that tells you the blood sugar, whether the trend is rising or falling, and what your blood sugar pattern has been like over the last eight hours.

I haven’t met anyone who has tried it who didn’t prefer it to finger pricks. About the only situation that it is no good for is driving. You need to have proof of your blood sugar on a regular meter should your ability to drive while under the influence of injected insulin comes under scrutiny.

The NHS is a big organisation and no doubt funding for this will vary from area to area, but in Scotland at least, there is no prospect of my son getting one on the NHS.

The main people who will be able to get the device are pregnant women and those women who are planning a pregnancy. Since these women ideally have to get their Hbaic down to 6% or under to ensure a healthy baby, then you can see why they have the greatest need. You are looking at two patients in one and complications that can affect a child lifelong.

The other groups that are eligible are those with very frequent admissions for diabetic ketoacidosis or severe hypoglycaemia. By this is meant three times in a single year. Both these complications of diabetes can result in sudden death or brain damage and often in young people.

Those people whose HbA1cs are over 8.5% or who test their blood sugars more than six times a day will also be considered. Since most people attending hospital diabetic clinics will have blood sugars over this threshold it is a big group.  Perhaps diabetic athletes will also be considered.

The group that won’t be given the device and sensors on the NHS are the ones who are already making great efforts to reduce complications by eating low carb diets, exercising consistently and monitoring frequently.  Using the Freestyle libre should help this group adjust their insulin and food more finely, in particular avoiding hypos, since their blood sugars are wiggling around normal much of the time anyway.  As they are already at much lower risk for complications they are saving the NHS a great deal of money just by being so committed to their task, yet something that would make the job easier is denied them because they are not “bad enough”.

So, I’ve just bought my son one. So far he is thrilled with it. The sensors are £45 (VAT exempt) a fortnight and the initial outlay is £137 (VAT exempt) including two sensors.

There are two great advantages as far as I’m concerned. Peace of mind. And Christmas and Birthday presents for the foreseeable future are sorted.

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual reality has changed my attitude to computer games

virtual-reality-

I was never into computer games. My sons certainly are and since X box first made an appearance they have drove numerous vehicles, shot armies of opponents, and have died a thousand times.
This year, Steven brought his new super powerful computer, the headset and hand controls to match, back home for ten days over the winter holidays so that the rest of us could marvel at the worlds you can explore from your living room or bedroom.
I am now hooked.
Although I am as clumsy as a two year old with the hand controls there are plenty of games where you can get involved without needing to use your hands much. So far I’ve been on roller coasters, flown various aircraft around futuristic towns badly, and entered Mexican fiestas. I’ve been killed a great many times over the last week but have also dished it out. When it comes to dexterity and the ability to figure out what button or fingers I should be pressing I’m even less good. I’ve broken nearly all my toys, set fire to my office, and fallen off a few mountains. I now understand why two year olds should never handle small animals no matter how well intentioned they may be. I’m a two year old again.
I can see why kids don’t come out their bedrooms for days now.
As if this wasn’t enough to blow my mind, Steven gave me an Amazon Echo dot for Christmas. Surprisingly it was easy to programme since we have home wi fi set up already. Very soon we were asking Alexa all sorts of questions. She comes in handy for playing music, telling stories, telling you the news and weather and setting timers and alarms. This backfired a bit. I had told Alexa to get me up at 8am. I was already up getting my breakfast by this time. She woke up my husband on the dot, but for some reason he couldn’t remember her name to get her to shut up! He had to open his tablet and find the amazon site to get her name. Of course, he could have come down stairs and asked me….same issue as the directions!
So how will this help the people with diabetes who read our posts? A little bit perhaps. There are apps that can tell you the nutrient content of various foods including the carb count per 100g. There are some exercise apps. There are meditation and relaxation apps. Have you found out any apps for Alexa that you have found helpful?

 

BMJ: Continuous glucose monitoring in pregnant women halves adverse birth effects

Freestyle libre

Adapted from the BMJ article by Susan Mayor 23 Sept 17

A study has shown beneficial effects in type one pregnant patients. One in two babies born to such women have complications such as prematurity, stillbirth, congenital anomalies, and being too big. These are due to high blood sugar levels in the womb and there has been no reduction in these in the last 40 years.
Denise Feig, the author of the study, based at the University of Toronto, says, “Keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range during pregnancy for women with type one diabetes is crucial to reduce risks for the mother and child. As insulin sensitivity varies through the pregnancy adjusting insulin accurately is complex. Since our results have come through we think that continuous blood sugar monitoring should be available to all type one women.”
In the international study 325 women who were planning a pregnancy or pregnant took part. Two thirds were randomised to get the monitors and the rest had standard treatment. Large newborns were halved and so was neonatal intensive care admissions and hypoglycaemia. Women had a small but significant reduction in HbA1c. They had more time in the normal blood sugar range and hypoglycaemia was not increased.
The extra cost of the monitors could be offset to some extent by the reduced cost of medical care after the birth.