My First Time Wearing the FreeStyle Libre
Liz Cambron was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2014. Over the years since her diagnosis, Liz, a Ph.D. candidate for cellular biology, became a Beachbody Coach to help others with diabetes live healthy lifestyles. While diabetes helped her heal her relationship with food and overall health, she didn’t have a full picture of what impacted her glucose management. That changed when Liz started wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), specifically the FreeStyle Libre 14 day System in late 2019. In our interview with Liz below, read why she answered “one thousand times yes” when asked if the FreeStyle Libre improved her life.
When did you get the Freestyle Libre and what challenges did you face when getting one?
I got the Freestyle Libre a few months ago, around November/December. The only challenge at first was the cost. Even with insurance, my monthly cost for sensors was $75. After the new year, I had to switch insurance providers because I moved states. The new insurance wouldn’t cover it unless I was giving myself injections 3 times daily, which I wasn’t. I only had two injections a day: once in the morning and once at night. I wanted to just pay out of pocket for my sensors, but the insurance company wouldn’t allow that either without provider approval. After going back and forth with my provider and pharmacy, they finally allowed me to pay without insurance. Thankfully I use a Sam’s Club pharmacy, so with a club membership discount, I still only paid $75 a month.
Did your doctor give you the idea of going on a CGM or did you pitch the idea yourself?
Neither! It was actually my brothers that convinced me to try it. They both had the sensor and found it way easier for their diabetes management. They both normally struggled with checking their sugars frequently, or at all. Scanning the sensor is so easy to use, I can even use their LibreLink app on my iPhone to scan readings. I spoke to my endocrinologist at first about it and he didn’t think I needed it since my diabetes wasn’t “that bad”. Once I moved and got a different endocrinologist, she was super supportive about using a CGM to fine-tune my treatments.
What were your expectations prior to get the CGM and what surprised you once you started wearing it and what expectations were met?
My expectations were pretty low. I had heard that they fell off easily, and with any new technology, there are bugs to work out. Once I started wearing it, of course the first few ones fell off in the shower and from just forgetting I had it. I learned very quickly how to take my sports bras off and not pull the sensors off! Thankfully, customer service was really helpful and sent me replacement sensors for the ones that fell off. After investigating and asking other people who use CGM, I found some patches on Amazon that go over the sensor. Putting those on to cover my sensor has made the world of a difference. I haven’t had a single one fall off! After my first appointment with my endo to go over my CGM results, I absolutely fell in love with my Libre. The graphs and data that it provides was not only beautiful to my scientific eye, but it was really helpful for my provider and me to go through and find where I need more work on in my diabetes management routine. The CGM provides so much more information than my traditional blood glucose monitor ever did.
When was the first time you noticed the links between your glucose and stress, food, exercise, and sleep? What did you learn?
After going over my first results from my CGM, I realized that I wasn’t using it to my full advantage. I started writing down everything I ate and when I worked out, so next time we could see what types of foods caused spikes, what meal times needed to change, and whether workouts were more effective in the morning or night. I learned that my blood sugars were getting really low at night but they wouldn’t wake me up. That could have been really dangerous if I didn’t have the CGM to show that, so we adjusted my medications accordingly. I learned to really monitor myself, which I wasn’t doing before.
What behavioral or mood changes have you noticed since starting FreeStyle Libre? Is your quality of life better?
One thousand times yes! Since using the Libre, I realized how large the effects of my choices had on my health. Sure eating a few cookies sounded harmless, but when you see the large spike, it really gives you a reality check. I’ve also learned what symptoms mean. Before having the convenient use of a CGM, I assumed any symptoms I had were because of other conditions. When I would get really nauseous and feel weak, I thought it was because of low blood pressure, which I also suffer from. However, when I would check my sugars they would be “normal” around 130. Well, after having high sugar levels around 240, 130 felt really low for my body since high was my norm. I learned to listen to my body and how to respond to it. By understanding how my choices impact my health, I have learned to make better choices and that has made my quality of life so much better. I’m not sluggish, tired, cranky, or anxious as much.
How often do you prick your fingers now? Do you only prick it when you see the blood drop symbol on the sensor?
I don’t prick my finger as often anymore, but I do occasionally when my CGM says my sugars are low. It’s known that CGM readings can be slightly off, so I always double-check it with a finger prick.
Has your blood glucose improved since wearing the FreeStyle Libre?
Yes! Being able to fine-tune my medications, food, and exercise has made a huge impact on my blood glucose levels. My fasting glucose readings are averaging less than 100, when normally I would be 140-160. I’m not spiking as often throughout the day either. Being able to visually see my target range is almost like a game for me to get my readings in the “target zone”.
What are some of your favorite features of the FreeStyle Libre?
My favorite feature definitely has to be the fact that it is rechargeable. One issue I always struggled with was the battery dying in my blood glucose monitor. I never had the right battery on hand so I wouldn’t be able to check my sugars until I had a chance to go buy another battery. Being able to just plug in my CGM monitor is so much easier, cost-effective, and less wasteful in my opinion.
This content was sponsored by Abbott, the makers of FreeStyle Libre 2, — a Founding Partner of Beyond Type 2.