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What the Commercials Don't Tell You About the FreeStyle Libre for Diabetics

Margaret Minnicks is health conscienced and has learned a lot about her own health that she wants to share with others.

What are commercials not telling you about FreeStyle Libre?

What are commercials not telling you about FreeStyle Libre?

The FreeStyle Libre: What Commercials Don't Say

Commercials for the FreeStyle Libre for diabetics come on the television all the time. However, the video clips give you only a bird's eye view of what the FreeStyle Libre sensor is all about. While the commercials have enough information to get you interested in the product, there is much more about the system that is not shown in the short clips.

I became interested and had to work with my doctor, pharmacy, health insurance company, makers of the product, and companies that sell the system. Getting it might be easy for some people, but it took me three months of trial and error to get mine. I had given up on getting one when, out of the blue, a company that had reviewed my paperwork called me and asked if I still wanted one. Within a week, a package containing the entire kit was delivered to me.

It was not that I needed one, but it was something I wanted. I could have continued to prick my finger, but I wanted to be able to get my blood glucose numbers more often.

Below is information from research I did on my own that is not in the commercials.

Freestyle Libre is not free.

Freestyle Libre is not free.

The Name FreeStyle

Don't let the word "Free" in "FreeStyle" lead you to believe the product is free because the system is quite costly. When I received my package, there was a $1,016.76 invoice for a three-month supply, even though my insurance covered every penny of it.

My kit included the following items:

  • a digital reader
  • 7 boxes of sensors (1 for every 14 days)
  • a sensor applicator
  • an adapter
  • a charger
  • a UBC with lots of things to read and videos to view
  • a thick manual with instructions

It took almost an entire day to read all the instructions and watch the videos. Doing so was very helpful.

The digital reader

The digital reader

The Digital Reader

Some viewers admit they thought what they saw people scanning the sensor on their arms was a smartphone. It is actually a digital reader that contains a wealth of information. When people scan their sensor, the first number they see is the number that is trending. Some people put their readers away without taking advantage of other valuable information. There is always a review history showing the following important factors.

  • The big number is the trending number that shows high, low, or level.
  • There is a logbook that shows all the numbers from every time you have scanned
  • You will see a daily graph that illustrates your average glucose.
  • You will see a chart that lets you know the time of the changes.
  • You are able to see your daily patterns.
  • The number of times your glucose has been normal is shown.
  • There is a little pencil at the top for you to click on it to take notes about your food issues. (See it in the photo above).
  • The digital reader gives you suggestions if you blood glucose level is too high or too low.

You can also set your alarm for the reader to beep if your blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl. A couple of nights after I began using my FreeStyle Libre, the alarm went off because my blood sugar had dropped to 65 mg/dl. Another time, it beeped because it was above 240 mg/dl. I ate a spoonful of peanut butter and scanned my sensor ten minutes later, and my blood glucose was back within range. Your alarm will beep when you are in the same room with it. You can lower the volume or put the reader on vibrate in case you are out and about.

You must keep your digital reader charged up like you do your other products. One thing I can say for sure is that the FreeStyle Libre keeps you abreast at all times of what is trending with your diabetes.

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You can check your glucose level multiple times during the day. However, it is recommended that you should scan the sensor in your arm at least once every 8 hours. The reader shows how many times you have scanned. You can merely wave the monitor in front of your sensor, and it works even through your clothes.

The sensor

The sensor

The Sensor

Please trust me and know that the needle in the sensor does not hurt when it is placed under your skin. Actually, pricking the finger hurts a little, but inserting the sensor does not hurt at all. The needle is in the sensor, and the sensor is inserted into a plunger-like apparatus that you push quickly into your arm. When you release the plunger, the sensor is taped to your arm.

The sensor is a bit bigger than two quarters stacked on top of each other. The television commercials do not show that the sensor is raised a bit on the arm instead of lying flat. It has enough tape around it to keep it in place for the entire 14 days, even when swimming or taking a shower. A special tape is designed for people who think the sensor will fall off. Most people don't use it.

The needle stays under the skin for 14 days. The reader will let you know how many days you have left; after 14 days, the digital reader will work only on a new sensor.

Don't Throw Away Your Finger Pricking Supplies

I am glad I did not get rid of my blood glucose monitor and test strips because I still use them but not nearly as often. I use them to compare the readings. To my surprise, the two readings have never matched. (I'll explain later why they are not meant to match).

The reader has a slot where you can use test strips. However, the ones I have on hand don't fit. If someone wants to test their blood by using the reader, they will have to purchase test strips that are more expensive because they are designed especially for the reader.

Why the FreeStyle Libre Numbers and Finger Pricking Numbers Don't Match

There is a very good reason why the FreeStyle Libre reading and the finger pricking reading will not match.

When you prick your finger, you are using an actual drop of blood. A reading from the FreeStyle sensor is not from a drop of blood. The sensor doesn't measure glucose in the blood. Instead, the glucose readings come from a thin layer of interstitial fluid that surrounds the cells of the tissues below the skin.

Glucose moves from the blood vessels and capillaries before moving into the interstitial fluid. That means that the readings from the FreeStyle Libre sensor can be from 10 to 15 minutes behind the readings of a finger stick reading. That's why the two readings won't be the same.

The blood from your finger is actually blood that measures the amount of glucose in your blood at that exact moment. The FreeStyle sensor measures a trend that is level, upward or downward. There is value in both methods.

Please watch the video below; it is shorter than three minutes. You will see the illustration showing why the FreeStyle Libre sensor reading and your finger pricking glucose reading will almost never be the same.

After Three Months

An A1C is the average percentage of blood glucose levels over the past three months. A high percentage shows how high your blood glucose has been over the 90 days. Most doctors say anything below 7.0 percent is acceptable, even though a normal A1C level is around 5.7 or below.

There are ways to determine your projected A1C within the three-month period. The FreeStyle Libre gives you a daily and weekly average, and there are charts online to show you how the numbers can be converted into a projected A1C.

I say "projected A1C" because the only actual A1C comes when your doctor draws an ample supply of blood from your arm and sends it to a lab.

The Bottom Line

If you are wondering if you would be a good candidate for the FreeStyle Libre, know that it is the ideal way to track your patterns and trends over time. When you prick your finger, you are only getting the blood glucose reading at the exact moment of the prick. The reading could change by the time you put your supplies away. That could give the diabetic a false sense of security by thinking he is on the right track when his blood glucose is actually spiking when he is not pricking his finger.

I hope some of the information provided is helpful for you in deciding whether you want a FreeStyle Libre or not. I recommend it to any diabetic who wants to know what's trending at all times. I am glad I finally received my FreeStyle Libre. I love it.


What's in Your FreeStyle Libre Kit

Difference Between Glucose & Interstitial Glucose

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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