Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Diabetes

It has taken me over a year to finally discuss this topic. 

I debated posting something but then figured that someone might benefit from reading it at some point, as I tried to find similar posts when I was in need to them, only to find there weren't many.

Yes, diabetes. 

It is no secret that I (like many people) have a sweet tooth, and I've had my fair share of meals and treats with my friends and my husband that probably warrant a welcome sign for blood sugar issues.  However, I never really worried about it because,

a) I've generally been pretty active and am of a normal weight
b) I know of nobody in my family with blood sugar issues, and
c) I attend health screenings like a good corporate worker and had great results each time.

So about a year ago, I was gaping at the screen when I saw my gestational diabetes screening come back wayyyyy off the charts.  This is that test that all the "healthy living bloggers" whine about where you have to drink some sweet drink at the end of the second trimester, but I came into it just knowing I'd pass and move along, no big deal.  But I'm glad I wasn't being a know-it-all and tried to ditch it. 

I got a call from my doctor the following business day, who was pretty much like, "Yeahhhhh... it is pointless to do a longer test."  My first reaction was, unsurprisingly, "WHY me?!"  Unlike many pregnant people, I actually ate a lot better than normal because I had a very nauseous first trimester and never quite got my usual cravings after that.  I was also still pretty active at that point.  So I kept trying to rationalize as I was sitting in a class where they played cheezy videos of pregnant women measuring out tortillas, rice, and pasta in little cups.

This brings me to one of my first hurdles in all of this, which was getting over the stigma of diabetes.  Most folks I knew who were diabetics were Type 2 and overweight, and while I know the gestational kind is different, I couldn't help but notice there was only one other woman that was my size in the class, and the rest, well, appeared to be overweight.  Out in the world, I tried to keep quiet about my diagnosis, but inevitably there was that awkward moment when someone would push food on the pregnant lady and finally I'd have to explain that it wouldn't be a good idea.  When they'd find out, I'd get comments like, "Maybe you ate a lot of carbs in your first trimester," or "Oh, but you're always so healthy" as if something I did caused this scary condition.

Maybe "scary" is a strong word to use, but when you're a first-time mom-to-be armed with Google, everything is scary.  My "research" told me that while I was in good company, only around 8-10% of pregnant women get this.  I should also add that only 10% of pregnancies end up with your water breaking before labor, so I guess I just hit some weird bulls-eyes. 

A throwback! I think this was about 4-5 weeks pre-baby.

Anyway, as I started following the food plan and testing my blood sugar four (yes, four, some days more) times a day, I started seeing that something did indeed happen when I "messed up."  My blood sugar would spike on completely random stuff like beans, but I could eat Chicago style pizza with no problems.  I ended up eating a lot of protein, and I often ate the same breakfast, lunch and dinner in controlled portions.  For a pregnant person, let me tell you, that sucked, especially when "pumpkin" season came, and I couldn't really have anything.  I also had to walk after meals when I could, which was rough sometimes, but I was lucky that I never needed to go on insulin because my doctors were okay with my logs. 

Things I ate a lot of: nuts, nut butters, meat, cheese, Greek yogurt (only ones with a certain carb/protein ratio), low-carb bread (I could only have 1 slice, at breakfast), controlled portions of rice at dinner, vegetables, Nature Valley Protein Bars, full-fat ice cream or Cool Whip in controlled portions and paired with cheese, basically anything had to be paired with protein
 
Things I avoided: desserts (duh) besides small bites, most Asian food (sad!), juice or any sweetened beverage (I also avoided artificial sweeteners, but that was my choice), beans (including hummus), corn, breads/wraps, fruit for the most part (and I really could have used more prunes...), potatoes over a certain portion, oatmeal, cereal, basically anything that was a normal part of my diet beforehand


When Baby Tuesday was born, his blood sugar was perfect!  He was heavier than other babies born in my family, but I think that had more to do with all the fluid I received during my long hospital stay, since by the time we left, he was barely 7 lb.  They never bothered testing me after I was first admitted, they fed me all sorts of carb-y goodness in the hospital, and I ate 75% of an entire cake in the days that followed (mostly during the night when I was up nursing a lot).  A couple of months later, I passed all the follow-up tests and more recently, passed my corporate wellness screening with no problem. 

I will need to do parts of the tests again once a year, so the story isn't over.  In fact, I was told that my risk of eventually becoming diabetic is something like 50% greater than the general population.  That... is scary.  Thus, I've been trying to avoid overdoing it on the sugar (working on it! -- tough when you're sleepless, though!) and staying active.  I'm not sure how this will all play into whether I cut meat out of my diet again, whether I will run long distances again, or even whether I will ever swallow a running gel again.  So more to come, for sure.

If you are in this same boat and found this post on Google or something, here's my advice to you:

  • don't freak out
  • it's the overall numbers that matter, not one meal or even a couple
  • don't feel bad if you need medication; having too-high blood sugar is way worse
  • target blood sugar guidelines are so varied between practices, so it seems like not a lot is known about this condition
  • all those needle stick marks did eventually disappear from my fingers (use the sides to test) -- also, the first few tests suck, but then you get used to it
  • Babycenter, for all the weirdos on there, was a good portal of information
  • people will say a lot of dumb things, but as far as I was able to research, this is caused by a poor interaction between the pancreas and the placenta blocking stuff, so in other words, not your fault at all
  • if you're a first-time mom-to-be, consider this the first of many things that will be out of your control in your motherhood journey -- a co-worker who had to do lovenox injections during her pregnancy shared this with me when I confided in her, and it really helped me cope

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post! I'm so glad baby Tuesday was perfectly healthy and normal sized :) yes, GD is really weird. What's weirder is that it can show up for one pregnancy and not for another. It can happen to people who are otherwise totally healthy. And one of the worst things about it is the long-term increased risk of becoming diabetic.

    The good news is that diabetes, while chronic, seems like it should be really, really straightforward to manage. Test, tweak diet, keep a food log, avoid the foods that make your blood sugar go crazy. And these days, it's so common that doctors are all familiar with it. (Sadly!)

    Anyway, you're definitely not alone, I have a couple of friends who had GD too. One had a big baby and a c-sections; the other had IUGR and was induced early...

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    1. Thanks, Grace. I was told that I'm good to go for now, but that long-term risk thing is definitely looming over my head! I know it won't be the end of the world if it happens someday, hopefully much, much later on in life when I won't enjoy chewing pie with my dentures. Of course, the kicker would be if I decided to have another child.

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  2. Really Nice and Interesting Post. I was Looking for this Kind of Information and Enjoyed Reading this One. Keep Posting. Thanks for Sharing...Managing Diabetes

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