THE FUTURE: WHERE YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE
Eventually, we tend to take it all for granted.
When's the last time you truly marveled at flying around the world, nonstop? Or gawked, slack jawed, at HD video in the palm of your hand ... when your device wasn’t serving its original purpose as your phone? Or appreciated the easy ability to shop-click-ship from nearly any store in the world to your doorstep?
The modern accouterments of our life and times would beggar the belief of our grandparents. You can do all that? Yeah, you can.
That's particularly true for people living with diabetes in 32 countries across Europe, Asia, Australia and Brazil. Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system is in many ways the device they’ve always hoped for.
(FreeStyle Libre system is pending Food and Drug Administration approval and is not available for sale in the United States)
Designed to forget routine finger pricks1.
Designed to forget log books.
Designed to change how you think about diabetes monitoring.
Attach the factory-calibrated sensor to the back of your upper arm and for up to two weeks, you're only ever a moment away from knowing the state of your glucose, as many times as you like. Need a check? Swipe your reader over your arm. Check it again? Swipe. Again? Swipe. In no more time than it took you to read this paragraph.
Your glucose number, the direction it is heading and your eight-hour history: all right there at your finger tips.
"Diabetes is something you can live with but you can never get away from," said Jeff Halpern, a senior director within Abbott’s diabetes care global strategic marketing team among the group that brought FreeStyle Libre system to market. "When one person in the family has diabetes, the entire family has diabetes."
Halpern, himself diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, estimates he pricks his fingers so many times a day that it’s has added up to more than 50,000 times since he was diagnosed 20 years ago.
A natural reluctance for the pain and hassle of glucose monitoring takes hold. Our FreeStyle Libre system is designed to eliminate that.
Thorsten Feige is a runner. The 48-year-old is also a real estate consultant. And a married father of four living in Berlin.
He started long-distance running in 1985, competing in marathons and — when 26.2 miles just isn't enough — ultramarathons, more than 30 in all.
Feige runs five days a week, usually six to seven miles (10-12 kilometers) in the morning, sometimes longer in the afternoon. He gets his shoes on and goes.
If only it had always been as simple as that.
"It wasn't comfortable for me. ... In the early '90s, you needed finger pricking every five kilometers (three miles) to get stable blood-sugar level," Feige said. "You'd bring your complete equipment with you for blood sugar measurement, ketone measurement.
"It's not so easy."
In every way, the interruption to check his blood was an aggravation.
"It's absolutely stop-and-go running. It's not easy to take your run from start to finish. You only are in a stop-and-go mode. And that's very challenging," he said.
Feige ran the Berlin marathon in September with his new FreeStyle Libre system. Best of all: No stop-and-go.
"Just a few minutes before you get to the next water point or some point where you can grab up some sweets, it's easy to check and then you can calculate, 'Oh, I need a small banana or a piece of apple.'
"It's really easy to use. It's the smart way," Feige said.
Over the course of a marathon, stopping for just a minute or so every three miles can cost Feige seven to eight minutes, not to mention having to repeatedly pick up his pace again, over and over.
While that might not seem like much time through a race that takes hours, Feige's FreeStyle Libre system could make a difference in him setting a qualifying time for his next goal: Boston, one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.
"I don't have a mindset that, 'Oh, you're limited to this or this or this.' Running can open your view ... and that's important," he said.
Ute Schaarschmidt, 35, knows what Feige is talking about.
She trained throughout the year to run the Berlin marathon. She regularly fought low blood sugar levels following long training days.
"I had to test a lot," she said.
Our FreeStyle Libre system gave her the ability to check her levels as often as she needed, freeing her to focus on having a great race.
Feige knows the feeling.
"It's more than mindset. It's really a great change for a Type I diabetes person."
The stuff of science fiction has become very real, very usable scientific fact.
Welcome to the future. It's where you've always wanted to live.
Disclaimer: The views expressed should not be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice. Individual symptoms, situations and circumstances may vary.
1 A finger prick test using a blood glucose meter is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels or if hypoglycaemia or impending hypoglycaemia is reported by the system or when symptoms do not match the system readings.