Claire Forrest has lived with type 1 diabetes since her teens.
This has meant, for more than 35 years, frequent daily finger-prick tests to assess her blood sugar level.
Now, new technology, the performance of which is being assessed through an ongoing clinical trial, could offer more effective round-the-clock monitoring for people with diabetes.
The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System uses a device worn on the arm, about the size of a £2 coin, to read blood sugar levels using a smart phone or e-reader. This stops people with diabetes having to do the finger-prick tests, which some people with the condition do up to 25 times a day.
People with diabetes have to monitor their blood sugar levels due to the risk of hypoglycaemic attack when blood sugar is low. Hypoglycaemia can cause clumsiness, difficulty with speech, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures and even death.
When Claire heard about a study which used the new flash monitors running at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, she jumped at the chance to be involved.
“The idea of a clinical trial researching a new technology into the monitoring of this condition for me personally presented as a great opportunity as well as the right thing to do for future generations,” she said.
“The study involved two sensors for the left and right upper arm and two matching scanners. I spent a morning going through the consent process and signed up for the two-week trial period, after having the attention of two specialist diabetes research nurses who showed great interest in my diabetic journey, without hesitation.”
Claire, a research coordinator based in Leeds, soon started to enjoy having an alternative to the painful and sometimes inconvenient finger-prick test.
“The monitoring was very discreet and I could do this at work, socialising, and quickly during the night if required,” she explained.
Should anything go wrong with the technology, however, help was never far away.
She said: “The earlier support I received from the research nurses continued once the sensors had been implanted, with continued access to support from the team via email and telephone contact in case any problems arose.”
Claire has very positive memories of the trial and a strong message about what it could potentially do for some people living with diabetes in the future.
“It gave me renewed hope for all those suffering with diabetes,” she explained. “It felt like a great step in the right direction for better and stricter monitoring, hence better outcomes for those patients in the future. After over 30 years of blood testing via a finger prick, something new was on the horizon. I felt very privileged to be part of this trial.”