This article has just been published in the Diabetes UK magazine, Balance.
I suspect I am the same as any other diabetic. I struggle to keep my blood sugars under control. After 13 years I know what I am supposed to eat and drink but I have all the self discipline of a dog faced with a bowl of food. I try my best. I really do. And sometimes I even succeed. I’m an all or nothing kinda guy. From time to time I stop all intake of a particular food. I have a very sweet tooth, yet I have sometimes gone for two years without eating any sweets or chocolate. But then I lapse and I’m back to my old habits.
One thing that has helped me retain some semblance of control is Freestyle Libre. I always hated pricking my finger to test my blood sugars. It wasn’t the slight pain from the prick of the needle particularly. It was more that I didn’t do it as regularly as I should, and often I did it at the wrong times. Or if I knew I had just eaten something bad, I didn’t do it because I kind of knew what the reading would be.
For those who don’t know, Freestyle Libre consists of an arm patch which is stapled onto your arm in an ingenious way, which doesn’t hurt. The patch stays on for two weeks and is water resistant. You are supplied with a monitor which you hold over the patch and you get an instant reading of your blood sugar levels. It also stores it, so you can see the trend over a week, month or three month period. Ideally you do the scan eight times a day.
In 2019 it was announced that Freestyle Libre would be made available on prescription to Type 1 diabetics, although the provision appears to be subject to a bit of postcode lottery. And there’s me thinking we had a NATIONAL health service. If only. Given that the patches cost nearly £50 each, and it means spending £25 a week, this was an absolute Godsend for many. However, we type 2s have to keep forking out. I’m lucky that I’m in a position to do that, but how many people on an average income can afford £100 a month?
The technology has also developed so that you can now use your smartphone to scan the patch as well. I recently converted to doing that, and it has meant I now remember to scan far more of than I used to. I’ve started playing a game with myself where I guess what the reading will be. I reckon I’m within 1 point about 80% of the time.
I’ve gradually brought down my average readings. Funnily enough, during lockdown I’ve managed to control my bloods far better than I had done previously. My lowest average weekly reading was down to 7.8 at one stage. Three years ago, I suspect it would have been close to double that.
The trouble is, I went back to work at the beginning of March and, well, shall we say, it’s no longer 7.8… But I shall redouble my efforts.