Tuesday, July 28, 2020

My Honest Product Review on Abbott FreeStyle Libre System




Diabetes mellitus is a common and debilitating disease that affects a variety of organs which eventually will have complications if not managed properly.

Diabetes is often asymptomatic. I actually had no idea I had it for years until one late afternoon sometime in 2015 while I was being driven home by my ex-boyfriend, I noticed my eyes were bleeding. The thing was, nobody would even know that my eyes were bleeding (apart from myself) because it’s at the back of my eyes and only I would see it.  I was so scared I thought I’m going to be blind right then and there. What has triggered the bleeding was that I didn’t notice I’ve had four glasses of iced tea that day because the event I went to was held outdoors and I had no choice but to have iced tea because I don’t drink alcohol, and potable water wasn’t available. The event was held in a posh hotel’s penthouse, just beside the swimming pool. So you can imagine how humid it must be on a summer day. I was probably too thirsty that I ended up drinking more iced tea than I should have. 
After a thorough eye checkup, I was advised to immediately see an endocrinologist find out if I have diabetes. Then immediately after that, I was scheduled to undergo a pan-retinal laser procedure because my retina specialist found out I have proliferative diabetic retinopathy. I could vividly recall, the first time I heard from my endocrinologist that I have type 2 diabetes after suffering from ruptured eye veins—it felt like a life sentence. I knew this health condition will be having complications if not properly managed. I have also read an article that said diabetic patients will have shorter lives as compared to those who do not have them. I am also aware that my food choices had to change as well as that of my lifestyle should I want to live longer and also to prevent further damage to my possible complications.

My endocrinologist said I may have had diabetes for around 10 years before I was diagnosed because according to him it takes that long for one to develop retinopathy. Since I don’t go to regular checkups, I had no idea I have it. So if you’re reading this blog entry, please, please have yourself check.

Diabetes can have serious health implications that affect life expectancy. The impact depends on various factors, such as how soon a person receives a diagnosis and treatment, and how well they and their healthcare team manage the said condition. Other influential factors include the severity and progression of symptoms, any complications, and how the body responds to treatment.

Moving forward, just like I said early on, the minute I was told I had diabetes, it felt like I had been given a life sentence. I knew life would never be the same again for me. I was only 35 years old when I was diagnosed but my complications were that of someone in her 60’s. I also used to do food blogging which probably made my diabetes even worse. My doctors assured me that the effects of early intervention and diagnosis as well as total lifestyle changes along with medications and other supporting tools can make my life feels normal as possible.  

It’s been 5 years since my diagnosis. And believe me, living with type 2 diabetes isn’t a walk in the park. I had to take maintenance medications like Metformin and Glimepiride. I also take Chromium Picolinate, Magnesium and Lutein as food supplements. For my eyes, I also have maintenance eye drops called Timolol Maleate to prevent glaucoma. And I had to get used to all those painful finger pricking every single day routine using my self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) and buy such expensive lancets. Of course, I also had to learn to limit my sugar intake. I also had to change the way I used to eat, my diet, and all that stuff. 

For years, I was an emotional eater and I never really knew it would eventually take its toll on my health. If only I could turn back time, I would’ve chosen a healthier lifestyle. And my doctors assured me that diabetes nowadays is more manageable. With the latest innovation and medication, there’s nothing to fear. I can still live my life as normal as possible. The key is basically being aware of your health-being, proper medication and regular checkups can do so much to manage diabetes as a whole. With early diagnosis and effective management, people can expect to live as long as those without diabetes and to have a good quality of life.

The Abbott FreeStyle Libre System

I recently stumbled upon an innovative product called FreeStyle Libre by Abbott Laboratories. The first time I came across this product was when I saw it on the arm of my officemate at the hotel I was working at. It was something that piqued my interest since I am also a type 2 diabetic like him.


Purple Plum Fairy had just discovered the wonders of technology with this life-changing diabetic tool called FreeStyle Libre System--a technology made specifically for diabetes management

What is FreeStyle Libre? 


The FreeStyle Libre is the newest product from Abbott Laboratories with the vision to help Filipinos with diabetes to live life to the fullest. It is a glucose monitoring system and the first product of its kind in the glucose monitoring category system in the Philippines. The ones who made this device actually designed it to liberate people with diabetes from the many hassles of glucose monitoring, such as routine finger pricking. 

Purple Plum Fairy carefully reads how to use her new FreeStyle Libre System

I’m someone who’s open to try new things especially if I knew it would greatly benefit me. I had to admit, I’m sick and tired of pricking my fingers every single day. So when I learned about this cool product where I won’t need to prick my fingers anymore plus understanding the health benefits I’d be gaining should I give Freestyle Libre a try, I gave it a go! I felt it’s a good product to try given the fact that it comes from Abbott, a trusted company that has gained Filipino consumer support for years.

Freestyle Libre is bringing to the world of diabetes management a new concept in terms of continuous glucose monitoring technology and blood glucose testing. It may be a bit pricey, but when you think about it, it’s so worth it. It is still more affordable in comparison to other systems available on the market. Considering you don’t have to change lancets each time you scan your sensor.

FreeStyle Libre Glucose Monitoring System Guide


Life with a chronic condition means managing your health condition along with maintaining a normal life. Over the years, I have learned to “live beyond” my diabetes diagnosis. But regular blood sugar testing is a necessity. It provides useful information for proper diabetes management. When one keeps track of his blood glucose (sugar)—you can easily identify if blood sugar is trending up or down or stable. It is very important because it’s the key to keeping diabetes under control. 

The results we get from glucose testing can help our physicians make appropriate adjustments to our medication, diet and or level of physical activity. I recently tried FreeStyle Libre and one of the many things I liked about this product is that it allows me to obtain accurate necessary information, quickly and easily. Yes, you’re reading it right—no pricking of fingers. Plus, it reads not just my glucose level at the moment but also my sugar readings in the past 8 hours.

How does it work? 

You’re probably asking, is the Freestyle Libre system more convenient to use? The answer is YES. Imagine that instead of pricking your finger, you simply scan a sensor. Yeah, I know it sounds too good to be true. But there are heaps of benefits and convenience for diabetic patients. For one, it reduces the number of blood glucose checks within the day. It also provides a graph to show you the trends of your blood sugar readings, not just for the moment but for the past 8 hours. How’s that? The sensor is also water-resistant, so I can take a bath and shower while having it. Take note though, that water-resistant isn’t synonymous to being waterproof.  It’s not waterproof. Being water-resistant means it can be used for up to one meter (three feet) for around 30 minutes. Sounds cool right? Because it really is! No stir, but I am absolutely so fascinated with it!

Abbott FreeStyle Libre System with the sensor and monitor reader
To be honest, the first few days I’ve put on my small round sensor on my arm, when it shows up on my sleeves, I noticed that I’d get a few stares from other people. They were probably wondering what the heck was on my upper arm. Someone even mentioned it looked like the anti-shoplifting tag that’s being attached to clothes at apparel stores. But I don’t really mind getting all the stares. In fact, if they’d be willing to engage in small talks and allow me to explain what my sensor was all about, then I’d gladly give them some of my time. I want to spread this piece of good news to my fellow diabetics so that more people would be aware of this product from Abbott.


Purple Plum Fairy thanks Abbott for coming up with a convenient product so she can bid painful finger pricking goodbye
You don’t need to suffer long enough from all those pricking stuff. The FreeStyle Libre sensor comes with an applicator so it is easy to be placed on your arm. It’s like putting on a round sticker on your arm for two weeks. To be honest, at first, I was a bit scared too before I put in the sensor unto my arm. I thought I’d feel some pain just as I would each time I’d prick a finger. But I was surprised I didn’t feel anything at all. The sensor can be scanned using the handset to send data of your blood sugar levels onto the system’s handset device.

FreeStyle Libre System is so convenient to use. 

I was also somewhat skeptical at first if the sensor will really stay on my upper arm despite all the movements that I make. I was afraid it might not be sticky enough. However, I was proven wrong upon using them. The sensors are really, really sticky on its own. It actually takes some effort on my part to have them removed after 14 days from using it.

When compared to my former glucose meter device, where I usually end up with error results at times when I tried placing the lancet on the reader for the simple reason that I hadn’t collected enough blood samples. I noticed that using FreeStyle Libre is definitely more convenient. I need not prick my finger again and again just to get the right results. With FreeStyle Libre, once you have the sensor, you just take the handheld reader and place it near the sensor. In a nanosecond, you will hear the beep sound and the device begins to read your real-time sugar data in an hour’s time.

The difference with other CGM (continuous glucose meter) is that Freestyle Libre doesn’t send continuous data to your device. The sensor must be scanned in order to obtain blood sugar information. The scanning process only takes about 3 seconds to complete and can work through layer of clothes. 


 No Calibration

Users don’t have to add in blood sugar levels to the device to calibrate it. Once the sensor is worn for an hour, the data and the trends can be seen as well once it is scanned. 

FreeStyle Libre System Monitor/Reader


No Prescription Required

The FreeStyle Libre does not require a prescription unless you’d be using a PWD or Senior Citizen’s discount. Discounts can only be availed at selected Mercury Drug outlets nationwide and cannot be availed by purchasing online. 

Safe to Use Even for Kids

FreeStyle Libre System can be used by kids ages 4 and up with adult supervision.

Yes, FreeStyle Libre System is safe to use even for kids ages 4 years old and up with the provision of an adult. It is the adult who is responsible for managing or assisting the child to manage the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System and also for interpreting or assisting the child to interpret FreeStyle Libre readings.

Downsides:


Availability

It can be only be purchased online (like Lazada and Shopee) and also at selected Mercury Drug outlets.


No Alarms or Alerts

To be fair, in my opinion, I guess the only downside for the FreeStyle Libre would be the fact that it does not have an alarm or alerts to remind someone to check his or her glucose. I really think it would help if it does have an alarm so that the user would be able to check from time to time. Sometimes, I get busy myself that I forget that the device does not send continuous data to the handheld reader.  And for someone like me who gets to be forgetful at times, I had to be reminded to scan my sensor. I don’t know, it could just be me, or maybe I’m just a bit used from my old device. For those who don’t like a lot of alarms or alerts but still want to see data on their blood sugar trends, this might be the perfect system for you. 

It's not for super sensitive skin

FreeStyle Libre sensor has an adhesive that may not be okay for those with highly sensitive skin

Some individuals may be sensitive to the adhesive that keeps the Sensor attached to the skin. If you notice significant skin irritation around or under your Sensor, remove the Sensor and stop using the FreeStyle Libre System. Consult your dermatologist or any healthcare professional before continuing to use the FreeStyle Libre System. 

In a nutshell

In the two weeks I had used the FreeStyle Libre System, I’d say that it has been very useful for me. It has the ability to scan my blood sugar even if I am in a fast-paced environment (remember, I’m working in a hotel) is something that reduces my stress and helps me feel normal just like any other person. It also helps that it gathers patterns and pertinent information from my glucose levels to see how my body and blood sugar are adjusting from time to time based on the changes in the weather, altitude, foods etc. Seeing my data on useful graphs, I can quickly make some changes and adjustments to get my blood sugars back to their normal routine. My HBA1c also has significantly lowered because of FreeStyle Libre based on my blood test results from High-Precision Diagnostic Clinic and I honestly hope it can do the same for everyone who tries to use it. 


The FreeStyle Libre System may not be for everyone as it has both its benefits and drawbacks. But it's worth giving it a try. It's very convenient, it is discreet and easy to use, not to mention accurate. If you are on insulin pens, pumps, or just want a nice and useful aid to help you in managing your blood sugar, you might want to give it a try. I really think this is a wonderful start, although a bit on the upscale when it comes to its SRP, still its benefits outweigh its price. It gives so much more information that you won’t even have to guess if you’re hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic or your glucose is stable. 

I hope that in my own little way I have provided you some information you need about using the FreeStyle Libre Sensor system. I would appreciate if you can leave a comment below, or message me and I’d be glad to help.  FreeStyle Libre is available in the Philippines across multiple Mercury Drugstore outlets and can also be purchased at Abbott’s official online store on www.lazada.com.ph/abbott-official-online-store-by-great-deals/

For product inquiries, you may call their customer service care at 87028577 or at adc-cs.ph@abbott.com

Mercury Drug Outlets Branches where FreeStyle Libre System is available  AREA:
MDC GLORIETTA MAKATI
MDC SAN JUAN CITY GREENHILLS ORTIGAS AVENUE SAN JUAN
MDC Q PLAZA IMELDA AVENUE RIZAL
MDC QUEZON CITY BROADWAY E. RODRIGUEZ QUEZON CITY
MDC SHOPPESVILLE SAN JUAN
MDC EDSA SHANGRILA PLAZA MANDALUYONG
MDC ROCKWELL CENTER MAKATI
MDC QUEZON CITY TRINOMA MALL LEVEL M1 QUEZON CITY
MDC TAGUIG CITY BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY 32ND ST TAGUIG
MDC SCOUT BORROMEO QUEZON CITY
MDC KATIPUNAN LOYOLA QUEZON CITY
MDC PASIG SAN JOAQUIN PASIG
MDC GREENHILLS WILSON SAN JUAN
MDC ALABANG TOWN CTR MADRIGAL MUNTINLUPA
MDC ROBINSONS GALLERIA MANDALUYONG
MDC QUEZON CITY FAIRVIEW DAHLIA QUEZON CITY
MDC SOUTH SUPERMARKET ALABANG MUNTINLUPA
MDC EVER GOTESCO COMMONWEALTH QUEZON CITY
MDC MKTI FORBES SAN ANTONIO MAKATI
MDC NOVA LAGRO QUIRINO HWAY QUEZON CITY
MDC PASIG FRONTERA VERDE PASIG
MDC TAYTAY MANILA EAST ROAD RIZAL
MDC LAGUNA BINAN CITY SOUTHWOODS ECOCENTRUM LAGUNA
MDC MANILA STA. MESA (P. Sanchez) MANILA
MDC PASIG CITY ESTANCIA MALL CAPITOL COMMONS PASIG
MDC STA. MARIA POBLACION BULACAN
MDC PARANAQUE BETTER LIVING PARANAQUE
MDC QUEZON CITY FAIRVIEW TERRACES QUEZON CITY
MDC PASIG MERALCO PASIG
MDC PEOPLE SUPPORT CENTER MKTI MAKATI
MDC LANDMARK MAKATI
MDC BOCAUE MCARTHUR HIGHWAY BULACAN
MDC MARIKINA SHOE AVENUE MARIKINA
MDC MANILA SAMPALOC LACSON MANILA
MDC BATANGAS LIPA CITY BIG BEN COMPLEX BATANGAS
MDC V.LUNA EAST AVENUE QUEZON CITY
MDC IMUS NUEVO AVENUE CAVITE
MDC GUAGUA-PLAZA BURGOS PAMPANGA


Note: My review of FreeStyle Libre is based on personal experience and may differ from usage experiences of other individuals. I also have a contractual arrangement with Abbott to write about my experience with FreeStyle Libre. For more information on the product and advice if the technology is right for you, please consult your doctor.   

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