I think Type 1 Diabetes is a bit like driving a car. You have lessons to teach you how to drive and the rules of the road. You learn that it’s really important that you be a good driver. If you’re not, bad things can happen. You know that you shouldn’t drive too fast, or run out of fuel during your journey. After you pass your test, you’re on the road driving the car on your own. You go for your annual MOT, perhaps a semi annual service to check if your car is OK but that’s basically it.
It’s my responsibility to be a good “driver” of my body with diabetes. I know my healthcare team can’t do this for me – much like the people who check over my car can’t make me a better driver – they check me over a couple of times a year and answer my questions but day to day it’s down to me.
I’m into my third week of using a Freestyle Libre and I’ve realised something. For the 11 years I’ve had Type 1, I’ve been trying to drive without a dashboard in the car telling me if I’m low on fuel or driving too fast. I only knew if I checked at specific points during the journey. Sometimes I checked a lot, sometimes hardly ever, but I got to where I needed to get to whether it was good for the car or not, and whether or not I kept within the speed limit.
Now that I’ve got a Libre I’ve got a functioning dashboard that gives me information while I’m “driving” throughout the day and night, and I can see that I’m already starting to do better. (The obvious irony here is that when I’m literally driving, I can’t use the Libre and have to resort to BG finger prick testing to comply with DVLA rules). Although it’s early days I’m feeling encouraged by this and feeling hopeful that my next HbA1c will show another improvement.
It’s also opened the door to more nuanced management of my blood sugars. I’ve been reading Sugar Surfing (August’s #gbdocbookclub pick) and I’m really taking advantage of having the dashboard available to glance at and make tweaks – speeding up, slowing down, looking at the road ahead. Seeing what happens throughout the day and night to my blood sugars has given me so much to work with, I almost can’t believe I was struggling through before with the limited information I was getting from standard BG testing a handful of times a day. No wonder I was disillusioned that I never quite seemed to be able to get everything under control, I was driving without a dashboard!