I don’t think I’ve ever said this but I have writers envy. I know…I know…it’s probably nuts to say this but after spending two days with Australia’s top diabetes bloggers and advocates at the Dx2sydney2018 event hosted by Abbot, it’s hard not to feel awestruck in their presence.
My jaw dropped when Renza Scibilia from Diabetogenic casually mentioned that she knows exactly how long it takes her to write a blog and that it’s all of 7 minutes. When I pointed out how incredible that was because I swear each piece of writing is breathtakingly brilliant and meaningful and something I believe every person with diabetes should read, she insists that because she doesn’t review what she writes or even check it for grammar that surely it’s not.
Each person at the Dx2 event has a strong voice in the diabetes space here in Australia. I read what they write voraciously and they are no less passionate in person. Behind every blog is a person with a message and a mission. I feel grateful to be amongst them even though I do feel like the odd one out. As one of our presenters put it, I’m the yoga lady.
This was my second Dx2event. The last one was in Melbourne and full disclosure: Abbot paid for my accommodation, travel, and food with no expectation that I would write about the event or my experiences. The opinions shared here are my own.
The main purpose of the event is to share conversations about diabetes, diabetes tech, and advocacy. We were also there to trial the freestyle librelink an app which works on both Android and iPhone. You use your phone to scan instead of the reader. I’ll talk more about the app and my experience in a sec.
When Renza asked us to share one thing that we’d received from attending it was hard to know what to say. Having just returned from the US and meeting so many bloggers and advocates who are all doing such great work I couldn’t help reflecting on how different our role as bloggers are here in Australia. We are not fighting for the same things all though we are living with the same condition. Here our medical supplies and insulin is subsidized. We have organizations that lobby for us at the federal level and we also have state organizations that advocate and spread awareness.
The Online Diabetes Community is still relatively new. We are a small band of warriors who aren’t afraid to speak to tech companies and let them know what they could do better. We are willing to go off-label and experiment to have better control and we don’t shy away from expressing frustration and our vulnerability.
And at the same time, we are dealing with health care providers who are slow to adopt technology and organizations that have outdated systems. Everyone is doing their best to upgrade the dinosaur but as Greg Johnson the CEO of Diabetes Australia shared, the main issue is that we don’t have interoperability, the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information. Put simply, when the devices can’t speak to each other it’s a pain in the bum!
That’s why upgrades like the freestyle librelink are exciting and useful.
As Renza put it in her blog, “ I am all about making diabetes easier. I frequently say that I lament the days when I could run out the door with my phone, keys and wallet and nothing more. Diabetes doesn’t really allow us to do that, thanks to all the paraphernalia we need to carry with is. While we still will need to carry lots of kit, by doubling up our mobile phone as a sensor scanner, we are able to take one thing less with us in our (oversized) diabetes kit bag.”
Yep, making life with diabetes easier is my goal too. It’s why I mentioned the possibility of a pump trial in my previous blog and why I diligently stick to a twice daily yoga practice to keep up my insulin sensitivity. Handy apps and diabetes tech definitely helps too.
As most of you know I am a HUGE fan of the freestyle libre. Definitely, love the Australian version with the one-hour startup and 14-day lifespan. When I first heard about the librelink I was super keen to try it. Now that I have I am totally on board and here’s why;
- I love the idea of being able to scan directly from my phone
- There’s more info on the app than on the reader like a home screen which has the last reading you took, your glucose graph and estimated Hba1c
- You can scroll back over the data in the graph to see what your readings were
- It has the same great features as the reader with better color combos.
- It has a text sound feature kind of like Siri where you can audibly hear your glucose readings if you’re driving or its night time
Even though I love the app there were also a few hiccups during the 24-hour trial.
- It only runs on an iPhone 7 or higher or an android phone. I don’t have an iPhone 7( I’m still happy with my 5s) so not sure I’d want to purchase a cheap android as then I’d still be stuck with an extra device in my bag.
- On the iPhone you have to make sure the app is open and you have to push a “ check glucose” button. You can’t just wave the phone over the reader with the phone on screensaver. This is not ideal for overnight so you would still need to use the reader.
- The phone has to be placed in a certain spot to scan the sensor. Even a few millimeters out and it misses it. Which means sometimes you’re doing a lot of waving around with your phone which could look anything but discreet.
- I kept getting an error message telling me the sensor was already linked to a different device. I usually had to wait a few seconds for it to pass but it wasn’t an instant reading.
You can definitely use the reader and the phone at the same time as long as you scan the sensor with the reader first and then scan the phone within the 60 minute start-up period. I like this option because it means you can use the phone when out and about and the reader at night for the convenience of an instant scan.
The phone like the reader doesn’t have alarms, something blogger Matt Bendall ardently argued for during the event. So even with the librelink app, it’s still a flash glucose monitoring system. Something we discussed too was the subject of data overwhelm and how the freestyle libre offers an alternative to that. Having never used a Dexcom or Medtronic myself I can’t comment or compare. Personally, I like the scan option which means I test when I want to. I definitely get an adrenaline rush when I see a trending arrow that goes straight down or up so I couldn’t imagine how much panic would ensue if I had alarms. But that’s me. I tend to overreact to everything and why I do yoga!
So what do I think? I’m giving it the Two Thumbs UP. The app is launching June 5th here in Australia and I’ll be linking up as soon as I upgrade my phone. Now I have an incentive.
I am so grateful that Abbot hosts these Dx2events, not just because we get to try out new gadgets but because I get to spend two days learning more about what it means to live with diabetes. There is nothing more precious than peer support, friendship and being able to laugh about things that no one else would understand.
As someone shared on the last day it’s these sorts of events that fill up our cups. Right now mines’s full to overflowing.
If you’d like to check out my brilliant blogger buddies here in Australia click the links below