FLASH! Ah-ahhh! (Freestyle Libre Glucose Monitoring System)

If your sugars are high, take insulin. If your sugars are loow, take sugar. This is how diabetes works right? If only it was that simple …

In my teens, I went from a diabetic with excellent glucose control to a completely out of control mess literally over night. My sugar levels went through the roof and no amount of insulin would help. I was constantly in hospital with something called ketoacidosis and it’s not pretty. You dehydrate. You break out severely. You vomit violently. You lose weight as these little ketone critters begin to eat away at your body fat. Your blood turns into acid and starts to poison you. If not treated, it is fatal. The doctors saw me on a regular basis due to this and each time they increased my insulin. It was a vicious cycle of increasing it, being hospitalised, reviewing doses and increasing it further. Unfortunately. this went on for years causing me to have to repeat a year at university and be in constant battles with HR to keep my job. It is the reason behind all of the complications I now have to face, including my sight loss.

Finally Continuous Glucose Monitoring became available to mystery participants like myself who were baffling doctors. This was around the clock testing using a small device that was inserted into your stomach. It recorded my levels every minute until it was removed a few days later. A report is then generated which provides a more accurate account of what the %#&! is going on. My results showed that my high sugars were in fact a rebound from a dangerously low sugar level that occurred in the night. So, the more insulin they gave me, the more ill I became. Based solely on this device, my insulin was dropped immediately and the issue went away. Just like that. After years of messing about that almost cost me my life, the nightmare was over. I’m now however, paying the price because the damage was already done.

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This is why I’m strongly supporting the #fightforflash campaign by Diabetes UK. This November marks a year since the NHS announced that the Freestyle Libre, a device they nicknamed FLASH, could be available on prescription across the UK.

I trialled the device myself last year and it was amazing. Firstly, I could test my blood by swiping the monitor over what looks like a bottle top on my arm. I could do this whenever and wherever I wanted. None of this stabbing myself throughout the day into already bruised fingers. I could also be more proactive with my diabetes as the device not only gave you your reading but predicted whether your sugars were increasing, running constant or falling. I could prevent attacks before they happened based on this. I could analyse my night time levels and amend accordingly. I could test on the go whilst shopping or walking to meetings in a mere second. My partner could easily test me if I was asleep without waking me for peace of mind. But here’s the kick in the teeth; the flash patch lasted two weeks and at £50.00 a time. Diabetes care was way out of my price range but I even contemplated selling a kidney to have this in my life.

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The campaign has meant that a percentage of the UK now have the device on prescription. It is still unavailable to many though. including me. Whether you have these on prescription is based on a Postcode lottery. In the long term, based on my own experiences, thus device would reduce diabetes related complications and save the NHS money and time. I don’t want others to end up like me.

If you want to help #fightforflash, you can. Simply sign the online petition using the following link:

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/campaigning/flash-glucose-monitoring

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