Tuesday, January 7, 2014

GD Diaries Part 11: Another Progress Update + More Learned Tips

This post is part of a series on Gestational Diabetes. The posts were written in August - October, but are just now being published. While I was too upset and conflicted about this situation when I was first dealing with it, I want to share my experiences with other moms that may go through something similar. Check back for another installment every Tuesday! You can catch up here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

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Another 2-week check up for the books. This one was slightly less aggravating than the last, because I had the same med students so they didn't re-grill me on my entire 29 year life history. Although, I really wish I never mentioned having asthma as a kid, because I seriously haven't had a problem with it or even owned an inhaler in over a decade, and they still ask me about it every, single, time. What part of "I outgrew it" don't you understand?! It's not just the med students, though. The PA + Doctor both ask me about separately. Come on guys, talk to each other!

At any rate. This trip was slightly quicker, and they looked at my second testing chart numbers to see how I was doing. They were all impressed. There were 28 total readings on it - 4 of them were in the low 100's (like 102, 104 for example) and allll the rest were in the 70's + 80's. In case you don't know what that means, it means I'm testing far better than most healthy, non-diabetic people. People with GD usually come up with numbers around 120 + 130. We all (as in my husband, my mom, and myself) figured this means - hey, maybe I don't actually have it - especially since I've found crafty ways to sneak in a dessert once or twice a week and I always recover flawlessly. But they are cautious, and I understand why, but they didn't even admit to anything of the sort. The doctor said, "Well we can't ask for better numbers than this!"...but that's it.

I don't know what I expected. Maybe my hopes were too high. I was kind of wishing and praying that they'd say alright, you're doing fine, you can test once a day and/or you don't have to keep driving all the way downtown every 2 weeks so we can look at a piece of paper and see that you're clearly doing fine, but neither of which happened. They just gave me a new piece of paper and said, "Keep doing what you're doing, see you in two weeks". Sighhhhh.

The good news is, my next check-in should be the last before baby. I assume they will either come see me in the hospital after that, or send me with some sort of instructions, or speak with my OB about my case or something. But I really just wish I could have my life back. I feel like my every-day living is so complicated.

The good news is, I haven't gotten any worse. I have learned the diet pretty well, and it's not quite as terrible as I once thought it was. I've also kept my weight way down, and I still have 10 pounds I could gain before going over my biggest pregnancy weight (which is something I really never want to do!), and I only have 5 weeks left to gain them in so I'm now confident I will stay within that range. I've also discovered some details that factor into the quality of my health. I've been doing this diet for almost 2 months now, and it's surprising to learn that some non-food things are pretty crucial to my numbers.

The biggest things that influence my numbers outside of food are: temperature, stress + caffeine.

They don't tell you about those things, either. You just kind of see patterns emerge and notice changes in yourself and you realize, "hey, this is definitely making things different". It's so interesting to me, too, because I figure these are factors in health when you don't have GD, or aren't pregnant, too. Just...every-day, no complications life. It's something that I've figured out as kind of a set of life hacks or something. Here's how they effect me.

Temperature
Heat is bad. Very very bad. I mean, ask any Mom that's been pregnant for any amount of a Summer. Total suck fest. While it's more than a pregnancy thing for me, because I'm just naturally attracted to like 60-75 degrees no matter what, it makes the biggest difference now. I know there's got to be some relationship between heat and anemia, because I've experienced it through three pregnancies now. It makes me feel like there's someone sitting on my chest when it's hot out - like I can't breathe, and there's a weight on my shoulders I can't remove. I've almost passed out or gotten sick from hot showers, or even pulling hot laundry out of the dryer. So being anemic does not help things. Being active helps lower blood sugar numbers, and I'm nearly a living blob when it's hot out. So when it's cooler, I'm getting up and doing things, and I can see the difference each time I test. It's huge. I also wonder if my body is spending extra energy on getting warm on the very chilly mornings, and it just naturally lowers my numbers as a result. It's all speculation, of course, but there's definitely something happening.

Stress
I have actually been pretty good with stress lately, but really warm days seems to just instantly create it. It's partially because everything I do is just so darn hard for me on hot days, and I get overwhelmed by all the things I want to do and can't. I end up feeling overwhelmed and useless, more high-strung, and less able to relax. When I'm really stressed, I absentmindedly chew on my bottom lip, and when I finally notice what I'm doing I realize that I need to chill out. So I try lying down and breathing deep while I think about positive happy things. When I feel more chill, I pull myself up and try to get something done just to get some momentum flowing. Then my sense of accomplishment, even if it's a small one, helps melt the stress away and everything feels a bit less daunting and overwhelming. When I figure out how to relax, my numbers usually turn out lower.

Caffeine
I do my best to not overdo it with the caffeine during pregnancy, especially in the 1st + 3rd trimesters. It can induce contractions and increase the risk of miscarriage. So I usually reach for decaf (it still has caffeine in it, just lower amounts), or tea (which typically has less than coffee). Once in a while I'll go for the real thing, but only in small amounts. Any amount of it in my system seems to keep my numbers lower all day. And if I have two servings (say, decaf in the morning, and a glass of iced tea with lunch), my numbers are usually fabulous. It's well-known that caffeine increases the capabilities of all of your organs when you have it in reasonable doses, so I can only assume this is why. I have noticed that when I skip it, everything tests slightly higher.

One of the biggest factors for me in this most recent 2 week stretch is that they let me test only twice a day. Having a little more freedom and not needing to constantly think about snacking and testing every 2 hours on the dot was HUGE for me. I was less on edge, less anxious, less tense. So if you're in the same situation I am, and your numbers have been good, I would definitely suggest asking for this. It made a world of difference! It also helps that Fall is creeping in. I'm just generally happier in Fall (it's my favorite!) and the temperatures not only suit me, they are more compatible with my anemia. So it's all kind of working in my favor at the moment. And being only 5 weeks away from my due date is big, too. The end is in sight!

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