App helps diabetic Timaru teen avoid annoying pricks
The burden of living with type 1 diabetes has been eased for a Timaru teen.
Marcus Sorenson can eliminate the most intrusive part of having the disease – the skin pricks at least seven times a day - with an app that has transformed his life.
“He didn't like pricking his finger in front of his peers,’’ his mum, Nicola, said.
“This is more discreet than pricking his finger in front of people, and he can do it more often,.’’
The system enables Marcus to monitor his glucose level by hovering a smartphone over a small sensor on the back of his arm.
“Basically he has a tiny wee needle in his arm so when he tests his blood sugar he swipes his phone across the device. The readings come through to my phone as well.
“Diabetes, to me, is like throwing a dart at a dartboard some days, you don't know how it's going to be.’’
Nicola said using the FreeStyle Libre had been a turning point for her 15-year-old son since he started high school.
”I think they're life-changing for diabetics.”
Marcus has lived with the condition since a week before his first birthday, but with support of family he has coped with extremely well, Nicola said.
“Now he doesn’t know any different, but at the time it was a real shock.
“He was really unwell, he had five GP visits in the course of seven days.
“We took him to hospital and when the doctor walked in, he immediately could smell the ketones on Marcus, and immediately said: ‘I’m 99 per cent sure this baby is type 1 diabetic’.”
The smartphone app collects the reading, and automatically uploads it to a cloud-based platform, which healthcare professionals can securely access to review their patients’ glucose data.
Marcus is dependent on an insulin pump, but still lives a normal life and plays basketball, goes hunting, motor biking and water skiing.
“It has hasn’t stopped me from doing not one thing,” he said.
“I also eat normally.”
Nicola said when Marcus was younger his finger had to be pricked at least seven times a day, until he was prescribed the insulin pump four years ago which has a vial of insulin.
“We got to know of the FreeStyle Libre about four years ago. He replaces it every two weeks.
Nicola said during lockdown the monitoring technology allowed his nurse at Timaru Hospital to stay connected, and assess Marcus’ glucose levels.
The downside of the app is the cost of $50 a week, she said.
“The only thing is it is not funded. If it was Government funded it would be a lot better, but it’s a good investment.
“I think it should be available to everybody who is pricking their finger. It would save the health system millions of dollars in the long run.”
Marcus lives a better quality of life with the monitoring, which keeps him healthier, he said.
“It prevents the risk of diabetic complications, and monitor the trends of his readings.”