This page provides full information about how I use tech to manage my Type 1 Diabetes. It's quite a long page, so I've provided a table of contents below. Feel free to jump to a particular section of interest, or to read through in its entirety.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes

In October 2020 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As is usually the way, this came as a bolt out of the blue. I had been struggling with my eye sight for a couple of weeks, and, at my wife’s insistence, I booked in for an eye test. The optician suggested I might have diabetes and suggested I see a doctor. My wife took me to hospital where I had a barrage of tests. And yes, I had diabetes. Just like that.

I was presented with a bag of kit which included a blood glucose meter, test strips, a pen of Levemir insulin and a pen of Novorapid insulin. I was told that I should check my blood glucose levels regularly, but particularly before a meal, by pricking my finger and using the blood glucose meter.

The Freestyle Libre

On hearing of my diagnosis, a friend, whose husband also has Type 1 Diabetes, told me that I should try to get myself a Freestyle Libre, since it would be life changing. She invited me round to her house to meet her husband, who introduced me to the Freestyle Libre system. He told me that the Libre comprises a sensor that is worn on the arm which is then read either by a stand-alone reader or an app on a mobile phone. The Libre continuously logs blood glucose levels. The reader, or app, then gives a complete history of blood glucose levels enabling much tighter levels-something that all diabetics want. When connected to the LibreLink web app the system provides a huge amount of detail which is massively helpful for anyone who wants to monitor and manage their levels.

My friend’s husband said that using a standard blood glucose monitor was like driving along the motorway in the dark, and only turning your headlights on once every so often; you know what is happening when the lights are on, but the rest of the time you’re driving blind. Using the Freestyle Libre system, meanwhile, is like driving with high power headlights on continuously; you can see every detail the whole time.

I was sold. I spoke to my Diabetes Nurse about being prescribed the Freestyle Libre, but was told that there was a waiting list, plus a number of conditions to be met. One of these was the completion of an online “Libre Academy,” which I immediately undertook, completing the whole programme in one evening.

Meanwhile, I began privately funding my own Freestyle Libre, at a cost of around £50 for a two week kit. Not cheap, but money very well spent.

Actually, it didn’t take very long for me to be prescribed the Libre-just a matter of weeks.

The Libre proved to be hugely beneficial. I was able to establish my blood glucose levels whenever I wanted, without pricking my finger. I was also able to monitor trends - was my blood glucose going up or down? Did I need to do anything to take action? Ultimately it enabled me to have much tighter control of my levels than would have been possible without the Libre.

The Freestyle Libre 2

Not long after being prescribed the Libre, my prescription was changed to the Libre 2 - the new and updated model. This promised greater accuracy and shorter lag times - although I’m not convinced of this myself. For me the most significant upgrade was the inclusion of Bluetooth. Abbott, the makers of the Libre system, advertised that this addition meant that the sensor could send high or low glucose alarms to the phone or to the reader. For me, this massively undersells the inclusion of Bluetooth. But to see the real benefits, I had to move away from the “official” system…

XDrip4iO5

Soon after being switched to the Libre 2 I became aware of the iPhone app XDrip4iO5. I cannot understate the significance of this discovery. XDrip4iO5 transforms the Libre 2 from a FGM (Flash Glucose Monitor - readings can be taken using NFC on the Libre Reader or a phone) to a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor - glucose measurements are fed in near real time to an app on the phone). With XDrip4iO5, glucose levels can be monitored just with a simple glance of the phone.

Since XDrip4iO5 is an entirely unofficial app, it is not available in the App Store, but instead through a limited release through TestFlight, Apple’s mechanism for distributing apps to beta testers. To use XDrip4iO5 it is necessary to register as a beta tester, download the TestFlight app, then download XDrip4iO5 through TestFlight.

The people behind XDrip4iO5 had made several betas available to enable more people to access the app. Unfortunately this contravened Apple’s policies, which meant that all bar one release was pulled from TestFlight. Once this happened, unless you happened to be on the one remaining beta, the only way to access the beta was to register to be an Apple Developer at a cost of £79 a year, and to build your own version of the App.

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