The FreeStyle Libre, a device for monitoring blood sugar, is a pleasure to use.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by FreeStyle Libre.
In the years after I was diagnosed at 24 with Type 1 diabetes, I would sometimes cry when I stopped to study my hands. Back then, the skin of my fingertips was pockmarked by tiny craters, traces of the blood tests I performed seven or more times a day. Though they would heal in time, others would immediately take their place. Merely knowing they were there was dispiriting, a reminder that my disease would always leave its mark on my body in one way or another.
Successfully managing Type 1 diabetes requires almost relentless biomedical self-surveillance . You learn to count carbs, measure insulin doses, and track your glucose levels. Its the last of those thats the most frustrating for many who live with the disease, as the process has traditionally involved pricking your finger with a lancing device and then checking the capillary blood that springs forth. Typically, the process isnt that painful, but it can be messy, and the disposable single-use test strips it requires are often expensive, sometimes costing more than $1 each without insurance. (That may not sound like much, but it adds up if youre using them the recommended 48 times a day.) Perhaps more importantly, the information it reveals is limited, showing you where you stand in the moment but telling you nothing about whether your levels are rising, falling, or holding steady. That can be frustrating when you need it most, since it makes it hard to detect potentially dangerous rapid changes.
More recently, continuous glucose monitors (or CGMs) have begun t Continue reading