Less Stress, More Peace: Using a CGM with Diabetes


*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Beyond Type 1 sat down with Lexie Peterson, known as @thedivabetic on Instagram, to talk about her journey with Freestyle Libre products, how she finds peace of mind while managing type 1 diabetes and her advice for first-time continuous glucose monitor (CGM) users.

Listen to the interview here or read it below:

BT1: Hi, Lexie! Thank you for joining us today to discuss your journey using a Freestyle Libre CGM. Can you introduce yourself to our audience?

Lexie: My name is Lexie Peterson, also known as @thedivabetic on social media. I’m a type 1 diabetic. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for almost 15 years now—I’m happy to be here!

When and how did your journey with Freestyle Libre start?

I actually was one of the users of the [original] Freestyle! I’ve used it a long time, but on and off at times based on my insurance coverage. But I actually wasn’t introduced to it by my doctor. I think the first time I saw it might’ve been a social media ad. I had a different CGM that my insurance would no longer cover, and then I found the Freestyle Libre and it was so much more affordable and it was just as accurate! 

People were saying it was even more accurate than the others—so I knew I needed to give it a try! 

We heard that you recently switched from the Freestyle Libre 2 to the new Libre 3. What benefits have you experienced so far with the upgrade?

The number one benefit is that you don’t have to scan anymore like you did with the Libre 14-Day model to see your glucose reading. In the past, when you’d be driving, you’d have to try and get to the app and whatever! Now you just literally pull your phone out, and it’s right there. Or, you know, if you’re high or low—you still get those alerts, but you don’t have to scan to see the number. Whereas in the past, you used to have to scan to see what the actual number is.

It’s also much smaller. It’s really cute!

It’s the size of a penny! Did you notice any improvements in your diabetes management, like your blood sugar levels, as you upgraded from product to product over the years?

Not that I know right off the bat. I guess the biggest thing, of course, is—with the Libre 14-Day sensor there wasn’t alerts. Then with the Freestyle Libre 2, you had the alerts. Then, of course, you can be a little bit more proactive. With the Libre 3, not having to scan anymore and just have your blood sugars on your phone screen all the time means you can be even more proactive. 

How does using the FSL affect your life with diabetes overall?

The number one thing is peace of mind. I cannot stress that enough! Anybody with diabetes, even type 2, needs a CGM. It’s almost as important as insulin because checking your blood sugar the old-school way, with the glucometer, only tells you what your blood sugar was doing in that very moment.

But having a CGM and the Freestyle Libre with these optional alerts, you can see the bigger picture. You can be proactive, and the peace of mind comes in because I don’t have to be afraid to go to sleep. I know that I’m gonna get woken up by the alerts if I need to treat a high or low. I’ve lost a friend to low blood sugar in her sleep. And you know, I’ve lived with anxiety, and I still kind of have anxiety over low blood sugars.

I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Anxiety about lows is definitely common for anyone with diabetes.

Yes, the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I’m gonna be alerted is unmatched. I would pay millions of dollars for the feeling that you get having the Freestyle Libre 3—the cute one!

There is a whole diabetes community of people using the Freestyle Libre. In this community, there are other people that can relate to what you’re going through and they understand, especially if they have taken the journey from the first Libre 14-Day model all the way to the Libre 3. I mean, it’s like we’ve grown together—you know?

With that all in mind, we know that affordability and accessibility are important factors to consider when filling any diabetes medications or supplies. So, I wonder, how affordable are FSL products to you, and where do you pick up your supplies?

Whenever my insurance stopped covering my previous CGM back in college—and college kids don’t have money—I couldn’t afford that anymore! My A1C had gotten so much better just because I had a CGM, so when I got off of it for the time that I did, I was like: ‘Oh my gosh! What’s going to happen?’

Whenever I saw the ad for the original Freestyle Libre, I saw how affordable it was. As a college kid, I was able to afford it. I did have a job and an internship, but I could afford it—you know? For that peace of mind that you have with the CGM, especially with the Freestyle Libre, it’s worth whatever. If I would’ve had to get three jobs in college, I probably would have, but I didn’t have to because it was affordable to me.

I’ve filled the prescription for it in all types of different ways. I used to pick it up at Walgreens, then I would get it mail-ordered from a third-party supplier. Now, I currently get it mailed to my home. But that’s the thing, I like that that’s not the only option. If something happens, like an emergency, I can go to the pharmacy and say ‘Hey! I need another CGM.’ 

There are many places where you can pick up the Libre, and I think I’ve tried every single way. Another thing I like is that if anything ever goes wrong with your sensor, you can contact Freestyle Libre customer support, and they will help troubleshoot—or send you a replacement sensor in some cases. They’ll really take care of you!

What’s your favorite part about using FSL products?

Probably that peace of mind…I could go to sleep and not worry. Also during physical activity. In the past I would be like, ‘Okay, what do I need in order to exercise right now?’ With a glucose meter, you can’t really know what you need to do because you don’t know what direction your blood sugar is headed. With the Libre 3, I can anticipate what’s going to happen based on my starting blood sugar, insulin on-board, if I need extra carbs, etc.

I can live. I don’t have to constantly worry about what’s going on.

Your online presence is as @thedivabetic. Can you tell us about your Instagram account? What does connecting with other people with diabetes online mean to you?

It means the world to me, honestly, because when I was a kid, I went to a diabetes camp. And it was so cool to be around all of these other kids who understood what you were going through. And then whenever you turn 18, you’re an adult, and it’s like…there’s nothing like that anymore! The sense of community isn’t the same in real life as a diabetic adult. I’ve found that online—I’ve rediscovered it online.

I have people that I chat with regularly—we check on each other. If we did one of those tests where you hold up somebody’s profile picture, I can probably tell you their account name and if they have kids or a dog.

I stumbled upon the diabetes community by accident—I was just trying to share my diabetes with people in college because I realized after my friend passed away that nobody really knew I had diabetes. The easiest way for me to tell people about it is on Instagram because that’s what everybody in college was using! Then I started connecting with other diabetic accounts, and I was like, ‘What?! People are out here posting about diabetes? Awesome!’

Connections are so important, especially because diabetes is a tough disease to manage. When you’re in the middle of a challenging moment with diabetes, what is your coping strategy?

If it’s something that I am really, really struggling with and don’t know how to manage, then I talk to my doctor or people in the diabetes community. Self-care days are really important! Whatever self-care looks like for you. It’s really important because diabetes is on our minds all day. Even with the CGM. Your brain is constantly going. Whenever you have those times when you can relax in other ways while still managing your blood sugar, I think that really, really helps.

What advice do you give others with diabetes to stay positive or inspired while managing this disease?

Remember that with diabetes, there’s no destination. Even if you reach your target A1C, you haven’t made it. You haven’t arrived at that destination permanently. As your body changes and grows, your diabetes does the same thing. So you might hit your target A1C and then fluctuate. Give yourself grace and don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re all on the journey together, and it’s all about growing and learning and understanding what your body and what you need.

My second tip is to make sure you’re connecting with people because it makes a world of difference to have people in your corner—people who truly understand what you’re going through. Being positive is great, but sometimes it sucks…sometimes you just need to be real about it! This is life.

And like I said earlier—I think a CGM is almost as important as insulin. If you do not have a CGM, I highly recommend getting one. 

For someone who’s nervous about getting a CGM for the first time, what is your advice to them?

Most people I know that are nervous are like: ‘I don’t want something stuck to me all the time,’ or they’re scared it will hurt. But you can barely feel it. You get used to it. If you can prick your finger, you can definitely handle wearing a CGM. You forget it’s there. Sometimes I’ll hit it on a door—and thank God the adhesive is great and it doesn’t come off because I really do forget it’s on there!

I can totally understand that it can be uncomfortable for people to see your medical devices as well, but then it comes down to the fact that your health is more important. And if people are staring at my CGM, that gives me an opportunity to go up and talk to them. I can introduce them to type 1 diabetes, spread awareness and clear up some of the myths that are out there.

Editor’s note: In the conversation, the host mentions she thinks the size of the Freestyle Libre 3 may be the same as one penny, but the FSL3 is the size of two stacked pennies.

This article is supported by Abbott, makers of the Freestyle Libre 3 and an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication. Beyond Type 1 maintains full editorial control.

WRITTEN BY Julia Flaherty, POSTED 10/07/22, UPDATED 10/07/22

Julia Flaherty is a published children’s book author, writer, editor, award-winning digital marketer, content creator, and diabetes advocate. Find Julia’s first book, “Rosie Becomes a Warrior.” Julia finds therapy in building connections within the diabetes community. Being able to contribute to its progress brings her joy. She loves connecting with the diabetes communities, being creative, and storytelling. You will find Julia hiking, traveling, working on her next book, or diving into a new art project in her free time. Connect with Julia on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.