Earlier in the week, I wrote up my thoughts on the Freestyle Libre 14 Day system and also promised perspectives from a colleague who is using the system who has type 2 diabetes. Today is that day! Thanks to Barry Campbell for visiting SixUntilMe today, and I’m grateful for his generosity with his words and in sharing his graphs!
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Hi, my name’s Barry, and I’ll be your guest blogger today. I’ve been a diagnosed type 2 diabetic for about 15 years.
I’ve known Kerri for about that long; I even worked for her briefly, blogging at another diabetes site to pick up a little extra money for test strips, writing a column about being a newly diagnosed diabetic. After seeing me rave about a new technology purchase on social media, she asked if I’d write a guest post over here, and I was only too happy to accept.
I recently was prescribed a Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor (CGM), with 14-day sensors. I was stunned to find that my insurance actually covered it for type 2 diabetics, with a modest co-pay. I was able to get a sensor placed properly on my upper arm two weeks ago, and the data has not stopped flowing since.
In a very short time, I have come to think of the sensor device, in combination with the LibreLink scanner software on my iPhone, as a Friendly Robot Vampire who politely tests my blood glucose every minute or so and offers information and opinions.
And if you don’t think I’m over-the-moon happy with my Friendly Robot Vampire, just ask my Facebook friends. By the end of the first week, I had them placing “bets” about when various meals would peak my blood glucose, how high, and at what time.
Together, in 14 days (one sensor period) of lovingly photographed culinary and medical oversharing, we discovered that:
- I usually hit peak blood glucose concentration more like 3 hours after eating than 2. (And all those years of sticking my fingers two hours after mealtime!)
- Higher-carb meals (>45 grams per serving) make big spikes (high readings) and, worse, seem to cause early morning crashes if I have the carbs for supper. (New rule: nothing like that after lunch!)
- The same amount of carbs on a plate with fish and veggies make smaller smoother spikes with much more graceful decay curves.
- My BG was dipping down below 60 in the early morning hours, a couple of nights. (It was usually coming back up towards daybreak, but a couple of the dips were a bit low. Interestingly, fasting AM finger-stick testing would have showed me a normal fasting BG both days!)
Now, here’s the thing. I’ve been a type 2 diabetic since 2004. I “knew” all the stuff about how my body worked already, and back when I was actually doing finger-stick testing in nonemergency situations, I had some data to support it.
I stopped all the routine finger-stick testing long ago. My A1Cs have been in the 7-7.5 range for a couple of years now. If asked by a medical professional why I do not routinely test my blood sugar, I point out that I come in every 90 days for an HbA1C, show them my lab results and ask them quietly what finger-stick testing is going to do for me at this point, other than give me sore fingers and no new information about how my body works. They generally move on at that point.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gone from only testing my blood sugar if I’m feeling dizzy or getting an A1C done at a ninety-day checkup, to testing it every 15 minutes automagically with a CGM.
And I am now discovering the manifold joys of a food diary and medication log, WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE GOOD DATA TO CORRELATE WITH IT, and having a marvelous set of laboratory equipment to run tests on a population of 1, yours truly. (Oh, and the lab equipment volunteers super-useful information. Looks like I need to spread the carbs and calories around better after noon!)
NOW I’ve got an answer to “what is testing going to do for me now?”
CHANGE MY LIFE FOR THE BETTER.
Thanks, Friendly Robot Vampire!
My new target is an A1C below 6.5, which corresponds to a 90-day average BG in the 130s. I have been a diabetic for 15 years, and have never once managed to get below 7 (my last three A1Cs: 7.3, 7.1, 7.2). Right now my average is a little below that!
And it’s early going yet, but think we are cracking the early-morning low problem, adjusting the insulin dose in consultation with my physician, and eating a modest bedtime snack with some protein and complex carbs. (Lightly salted peanuts and whole milk seem to work fine – some carbs, some fat, some protein.)
I think I told you before that, when I met Kerri, I was writing a column for her.
Well, I was so freaked out about being a diabetic that I wrote it under a pseudonym because I didn’t want future employers to know.
I am so relaxed about being a diabetic, 15 years later, that many of the folks placing social media bets on the over/under and peak time for my BG are colleagues and customers.
All kinds of progress happening here.