CGMS – could this be the answer?

The moment I found out we were having Baby No. 2 I knew I needed a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in my life, well at least for the delivery and the month following. In my mind getting my hands on a CGM meant we could predict when a hypo was coming and reduce the likelihood of things going wrong during the delivery and the need to have an emergency caesarean under general anesthetic again. Okay my thinking may be a little illogical, but organising a CGM was something I could control.

A CGM would track my blood glucose patterns and could alarm when they went outside a certain range. For example I could tell the CGM to alarm when it detected my blood sugars were 4.3 mmol/L or below and decide how to respond. I may eat to raise my blood sugars, apply a temporary insulin reduction for a set period of time or choose to do nothing, knowing that the insulin I had on-board would mean my blood sugars would be unlikely to drop further.

This technology really is life changing, lifesaving! It’s frustrating that it’s not funded in New Zealand, making it unattainable for many diabetics.

I poured over my options and crunched the numbers. The sensor worth $950 would need to be replaced every six months and a four pack of sensors worth $530 would last four weeks. Yikes! That would mean a CGM would cost close to $9,000 a year. But hold up, I only needed it for two months so I could get this down to $2,000. Then it dawned on me, where was I going to find $2,000? Who was I kidding? I’ve just gone on maternity leave and money would be tight.

I loved the idea of using a CGM to manage my diabetes, but I loved the idea of being able to pay my mortgage and buy groceries too.

A fellow type 1 diabetic suggested a Freestyle Libre. It’s slightly different to a CGM but is a third of the price and would certainly make testing and monitoring my blood sugars easier.
Driven by the price I looked into this further. The Freestyle libre is a ‘Flash Glucose Monitoring System’ (FGM). Sounds fancy!

So what’s so great about it? (For more information about the Freestyle Libre go to

    • Convenient – A small sensor, which lasts around two weeks automatically and continuously stores glucose readings day and night.
    • Discreet – Glucose readings with a painless one second scan, even through clothing. This would reduce, even eliminate the need to test my blood sugars with finger pricks. Hallelujah! (Check out their website for a list of when a blood glucose monitor is still required.)
    • Easy – Swim, shower or exercise. The freestyle Libre system is designed to be water-resistant and worn while bathing, showering, swimming and exercising.
    • User-friendly – With every scan you get your current glucose reading, the last eight hours of glucose data and an arrow showing the direction your glucose is heading. This would definitely help us identify hypos during the delivery of Baby No. 2.

The Freestyle Libre sounded perfect. There was just one major hurdle – it’s not available in NZ. It is available in Australia for residents only. I was born in Adelaide, Australia surely that’s close enough.

I jumped online and ordered a reader and five sensors for $610 NZD to be delivered to my sister-in-law’s address in Australia. Once the ‘package’ arrived she would send it to me in New Zealand. Easy as that. We might actually get away with this.

I spoke too soon… I received a letter from New Zealand customs. My package was being held ransom and would not be released until I paid GST on it, a further $165. This wasn’t fair, it shouldn’t be this hard! That night there were tears as I wondered if I was an idiot trying to play with the ‘big boys’ and their whizz-bang technology. Perhaps I should admit it was beyond my reach and settle for the only funded blood glucose metre available in New Zealand and leave my diabetes management during the delivery of Baby No. 2 to the experts. We all know how well that went last time. (Check out my previous blog here.)

After a good night’s sleep I paid the extra money. A small amount to pay in the scheme of things considering how far we’d come and the benefits I would receive over the next two months. The freestyle Libre arrived and I haven’t looked back. I love it! I swipe the reader over the sensor in my arm, see my blood sugar results, the direction they’re heading and what’s been happening behind the scenes for the past eight hours instantly. It’s so easy even little Miss 5 can test my blood sugars. However we’ve had to explain she can’t be the ‘ultimate prankster’ when she reads the results out (a stage she’s currently going through).

Many expectant mothers organise their houses and tidy up loose ends during the nesting stage of pregnancy. As a type 1 diabetic mama, I import glucose monitoring systems and count down the days until they are available and funded in Aotearoa.

One more thing crossed off the list. Almost ready to have a baby!