Thursday, May 17, 2012

Diabolical Diabetes

This morning I woke up and headed straight to the doctor for the three-hour glucose tolerance challenge because I failed the one-hour glucose one point. I figured that I would pass the three-hour test with flying colours since I had failed the one-hour test by one point. Before I went I jotted down the acceptable numbers so that I would know before being told whether I passed the test or not. I can be impatient like that sometimes.

I got in and they pricked my finger to get my fasting levels. Anything less than 95 mg/dl is acceptable. Mine was 72 mg/dl. I thought that was pretty good. And then they gave me the glucose drink, which I guzzled down. I thought that was pretty gross. 100 grams of dextrose? That's like how much sugar is in a liter of Coke. Who drinks that much sugar...ever? Not me.

An hour later they pricked my finger again. Anything less than 180 mg/dl is acceptable. Mine was 225 mg/dl. No good. But you only really fail if two of your numbers are high so I still had time to catch up.

Another hour passed and they pricked my finger again. Anything less than 155 mg/dl is acceptable. Mine was 185 mg/dl. I started to feel a little sad.

I never found out what my last reading was because a different nurse took it and instead of chatting to me and leaving the machine sitting in front of me she walked off into the hallway with the machine. I'm going to assume that it wasn't anything near the acceptable level of 140 mg/dl.

My doctor came in a few minutes later to tell me that I failed the test epically and it appears I have gestational diabetes, as I already knew he would tell me.

He thinks we can control it with diet and exercise. He recommended cutting carbs without cutting calories. And then he recommended going for a walk everyday. I just nodded obediently while I choked back tears, too emotional to explain to him that I already exercise and watch what I eat and I'm not exactly sure what to change or how.

And then the nurse came in to show me how to use a glucose monitor that she didn't know how to use and she poked me a billion times and I was feeling so emotional that I almost screamed at her to "just hand me the flippin' manual already!"

Instead I said, "I think you're putting the stick in backwards."

She was. There is a picture on the box...just saying.

Eventually she was satisfied that I knew how to use it and I left the office feeling like a miserable human pin cushion. Karen and the girls picked me up and took me home.

What did I do next?

Oh, right—I bawled my eyes out while wondering what in the world to eat while munching on almonds because I had been fasting, aside from the glucose drink, for 13 hours at this point and was ready to eat anything and everything.

When I stopped crying long enough to manage to make lunch, I did. And then I read the manual for the glucose monitor and it only took me two minutes to figure out how, though I wasn't exactly happy when I read that they included a little bottle of glucose solution with the kit so that you could practice using the monitor without stabbing yourself.

Instruction manuals are your friend.

Someone should tell that nurse that because she didn't even get the manual out of the box. She just fumbled through it. And stabbed me a million times until we figured out how to get the blasted thing to work.

I practiced using the glucose solution because I wasn't about to stab (or "lance" as the manual would say) myself one more time today. It was a painless way to practice.

I only have to measure my glucose levels twice a day for a week—once after "fasting" (ie. when I wake up in the morning) and again two hours after eating a meal (any meal of the day)—so I figure I can start tomorrow since they already have my glucose levels for today, don't they? My fingertips tell you that they do.

After the week is up I get to meet with my doctor again and discuss the results. Hopefully without crying.

Reading about diabetes is so depressing. According to Wikipedia, 40–60% of all gestational diabetes cases occur in women with no obvious risk factors (smoking, being overweight, and so forth). And because I have gestational diabetes I am at more of a risk for developing Type II diabetes (though the risk seems to be highest (at 50% of patients developing Type II diabetes within 5 years after having gestational diabetes) if insulin is required to treat the diabetes and at this point we're hoping it's not and it probably won't be because the last time I drank a liter of pop in one sitting I don't usually deal with that amount of sugar).

The only risk factor I am guilty of is having a family history of diabetes. Stupid genetics.

(Don't tell my kids I said stupid, okay?)

My grandpa—tall, thin, active lifestyle—had diabetes. His only living sister currently has diabetes, too. Their mother had diabetes. All of them: tall, thin, physically active people.

My mom had gestational diabetes with my younger brother (and sister) and one of my early memories of her is watching her sit at the kitchen table with her big glucose monitor and watching her prick her finger and draw the blood out.

Now I get my own "lancing device" so that I can prick my fingers while my girls watch (so that twenty years or so down the road they can prick their own fingers and think, "Ah, I remember when my mother did this.").

When Andrew came home from work he took me to get more pokey-things and test strips from the pharmacy. While we were out we stopped to do some retail therapy, as Andrew calls it. I'm not usually one to seek out retail therapy but as Andrew put it, "If you can't find anything to eat you should at least be able to find something to wear."

So now I have a couple of pairs of shorts that fit nicely.

We also picked up some special food just for me, like whole grain pasta, because cutting out all carbs will be just about impossible and whole grains are better than not, from what I've read. They're more filling, too, so you have to eat less to be full longer. While I consider my diet fairly healthy (I've made dessert three times since falling pregnant since sweets just aren't my thing) whole grain pasta isn't something we normally buy.

After dinner and talking with my mom I think I'm finished crying about my lot in life. It's kind of something that I expected to happen eventually and I know that I really don't have it all that badly at all. I have a pregnant cousin right now, for example, who has to go into the doctor every day and gets two ultrasounds a week because her complications are a lot more complicated than the run-of-the-mill gestational diabetes that I have to suffer through. 


  1. Ugg. Maybe I don't want to get pregnant again. And, if I do, I will say "No thank you" to that nasty drink.

    1. Better diagnosed and treated than undiagnosed and not treated, in my opinion. There are certain tests I decline (like, I declined amniocentesis for Rachel when they found abnormal cysts on her brain) because the outcome of the test wouldn't change a thing about what I'm doing. With this, though, it's fairly easily treatable so I suppose I'm grateful for the nasty drink if it means I'll have a healthier baby and better delivery.

  2. What a bummer! I am so sorry!!! Hopefully you can control it fairly easily and it goes away after Benjamin arrives. Hang in there!

  3. You're so much tougher than I am. I'm glad it's something that can be helped though. I can't imagine 100 years ago suffering from something you don't know how to fix because you don't know what it is. That was a messy sentence. Sorry. Anyway, hang in there.

  4. So sorry to read about your problems, Nancy. I totally agree with you. "Better diagnosed and treated". Everything will be just fine in a few months. So great that you chose to take the test.

  5. Nancy, I had gestational diabetes with 8 of my 9 pregnancies. I controlled it with diet and exercise. One thing I recommend is eating several small meals a day to keep your glucose levels steady rather than the rise/fall of normal eating. I had to do those horrid glucose challenge tests too. The most gaggy stuff ever invented, if you want my opinion!! And since I have lousy veins, getting the blood drawn every hour resulted in huge bruises. I looked like someone took a bat to me after I was done. Glad that those days are behind me! Even after all those gestational diabetic pregnancies, I am free and clear.

  6. So sorry to hear, Nancy. No fun at all. I think the bawling must be related to pregnancy--I have my episodes, too. But wait, I have them even when I'm not pregnant. I think they are just magnified and lengthened when I am! I know in my heart and mind that I am really just fine and things will be okay, but just the same, I'm gonna cry!

  7. Thanks everybody. :)

    I'm sure the bawling was pregnancy related, too. Sometimes it just can't be helped.

    And I'm happy to hear you've survived GD eight times, Daphne—it's actually not as bad as I blood sugar levels haven't been high at all when I've been testing at home.