Ryan Rock shows off a new glucose monitoring device called the Freestyle Libre. He has only had it for a week, but says he now has a much better understanding of his blood sugar levels and how to control them. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria man says new device helps him better control his diabetes

Ryan Rock thrilled with ease of use, but FreeStyle Libre not for everyone, pharmacist warns

As Ryan Rock inspects the grounds at his job at a hotel in downtown Victoria, he pulls a small device out of his pocket. He holds it up against a small round patch stuck to the back of his arm until it beeps, then looks at the screen and smiles. His blood sugar levels are looking good.

Rock is using a blood glucose monitoring device called the FreeStyle Libre, which became available in Canada in September 2017, but only became covered by most insurance companies in the past couple months. The device allows Rock to test his blood sugar levels using a scanner and a patch, which can stay on for two weeks at a time. The meter works differently than traditional blood strips because it tests the glucose levels of a person’s interstitial fluid and doesn’t require blood to be drawn.

As a result, Rock, who was diagnosed with diabetes 18 years ago, has been able to test his glucose levels 10 times more than before.

“Normally I wouldn’t check my blood sugars that often, because it’s really inconvenient to poke your finger and let it bleed,” he says. “But the scanner has a function that tells you how many times per day you scan, and yesterday I checked 47 times!”

Ryan Rock shows off a new glucose monitoring device called the Freestyle Libre. He has only had it for a week, but says he now has a much better understanding of his blood sugar levels and how to control them. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Using the strips, Rock would check his levels three or four times per day. Since he started using the Freestyle Libre a week ago, he’s made some significant realizations about his glucose levels.

“I figured out I was taking too much insulin at night,” he says. “It shows a graph, so I’ve already adjusted that and I feel much better because I can sleep through the night.”

While he was figuring this out, his wife was able to scan him while he was sleeping and notice his levels were low.

“She woke me up and I took a sugar pill and it was much better,” Rock says.

The traditional blood strips cost $1 each, so testing himself four times per day would see him spend upwards of $120 per month. The FreeStyle Libre meter costs $50, and the biweekly patch is $90. Rock was hesitant at first about the expense, but after his doctor prompted him to check his medical benefits, Rock found out that his insurance provider, Great West Life, had been covering it for just over a month.

The FreeStyle Libre website indicates that most major Canadian health insurance providers are now also covering it.

A side-by-side comparison of Ryan Rock’s blood sugar levels over two days. He wants to stay in the target zone, indicated by the blue line. The image on the left shows a typical day of rising and dropping blood sugars, while the one on the right shows steady blood sugar levels from noon until 6:00 p.m. Having the new meter helps him monitor and control his levels. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

But the Freestyle Libre isn’t for everyone, cautions Shelbourne Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy owner Carolyn Scarf.

“It shouldn’t be used if you need immediate results regarding your highs and lows,” she said. “It tests a different fluid, so the lows will show up later and that could put you in a dangerous position.”

She said it would be ideal for experienced diabetics who want to have a better grasp of the link between activity, food and blood sugar levels, or for people uncomfortable poking themselves with needles.

At this point, the Freestyle Libre is not available at local pharmacies, but can be purchased at myfreestyle.ca. The company’s manufacturer, Abbott Diabetes Care, was unable to confirm a time that the meters would be more widely available.

Nonetheless, Rock is happy about the convenience and precision of his new purchase.

“Now, I can check 100 times per day if I want,” he says, adding with a laugh, “though, right now I think I’m probably over-testing because it’s so cool.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

DiabetesMedicine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP arrives just in time thanks to tip

Officers remind of resources after mental health call Monday morning

Man arrested after speeding to Victoria court date for driving offence

West Shore RCMP remind drivers to be mindful of construction zones

Victoria police seek suspects in series of bear spray attacks

Police responded to several calls Saturday evening

Lamborghini driver slapped with nearly $1,000 in fines while speeding in Central Saanich

Vehicle impounded by Central Saanich police, 11 points issued

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out of stand on Norcross Road

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Most Read