Tuesday, November 19, 2013

GD Diaries Part 5: Seeing the Specialist

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

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I finally had my appointment with the specialist yesterday, and boy - was it a flurry of emotions.

I was a nervous wreck leading up to it. The day before the appointment, I was a total mess. I was stressed, angry, anxious, exhausted, and moody. I felt horrible (did you know that stress hinders your ability to process sugar?!), and I was letting myself wallow. I was exhausted, and I let myself be lazy. I tried to enjoy myself when my mom came over for dinner that night, but even that couldn't get my impending appointment off my mind.

As we sat in the waiting room, I told Matt that I had what I call "nervous bladder syndrome". It's basically a case of "I might pee my pants if I'm not careful" instead of butterflies in my stomach. I don't know why, but my emotions chose to be wired to my bladder for the big moments! I've only had it a few times in my life. My wedding day, the day Luke was born, the day Henry was born, the day Luke started preschool, and now....the day of my appointment. He couldn't believe that I was that nervous, but I was.

I was thankful that I had such a friendly NP for my appointment. She was very personable, sweet, and understanding. She was willing to joke with me while I awkwardly laughed at my belly keeping me from getting all the way onto the scale. She commiserated with me about stretched muscles and being exhausted. And she was kind and gentle through the whole experience. She gave me a diet to follow, and it was outlined in a way that made things a lot easier to keep up with. She even gave me a huge packet of every food imaginable, and how much of each I should eat to fill a serving. I knew immediately that it would make my meal and snack planning so much easier! I even asked her if I could have a piece of cake for my birthday (the thought of not having any was seriously making me sad!), and she even took a minute to explain some cake options with me. And if you're wondering - yes, I can have some!

When she was finished going over the diet with me, she taught me how to use the glucometer she was giving me. She offered to do the first test for me so I could really see how it was done, and my nerves kicked back in. I was so anxious about her commenting on whatever my result would be at that moment. I'd been totally in the dark about my blood sugar for weeks, of course, so I really didn't know what we'd find. So she tested my blood sugar, and it was 96. She said, "hmm, did you eat breakfast this morning?" and I said yep. She looked kind of surprised, and then said that fasting sugar (as in, before you eat in the morning) is supposed to be 100 or below, and then 2hr post-meal sugar is supposed to be at 120 or below. I was clearly well below both limits, and I had eaten just about 2 hours prior. She wrote my number down on a chart, and this is where I began feeling skeptical. Matt and I both thought this whole thing was kind of shady. I mean, I didn't doubt that I've had some glucose sensitivity this time, but full blown GD? It just didn't seem right. Why did it take them a week to call me with my results? Why weren't they were more concerned with getting me into the specialist sooner? They also drew my blood for the 1 hour test a few minutes shy of 1 full hour, and I was sick that day - and I'd learned from my Google research that viruses can temporarily inhibit your ability to process glucose. And considering how stressed out I was at this appointment, wouldn't my levels be even lower if I hadn't been?

The doctor came in just after the NP finished with me, and I noticed that he kept staring at the number on the chart. He never commented on it - but I had a feeling he was skeptical, too. He asked me a few questions - mostly about family history of diabetes (nope), if I weighed a lot more at the start of this pregnancy (nope), and checked me for swelling (nope). He said that he had no reason to believe that this was anything more than GD based on my history and situation (as in, nothing more serious or permanent). He instructed me to test 4 times a day for 2 weeks, and then come back to be evaluated.

When we left, Matt asked me if I felt any better. But all I had to offer him is that I didn't feel any worse. I was already kind of exhausted by weeks of monitoring every bite I took in, and now I had to be even more diligent about it and then plan blood draws four times a day. Watching the clock is not one of my strong points. Even when I have a nursing newborn, I nurse on demand (it's just the system that has worked best for both me & my babies - I'd do differently if they required it, of course). I knew that there'd be at least 10 weeks of living like this, after already working so hard at it on my own. And I just couldn't get over having to do all of this. My previous pregnancies were hard, but this one was officially topping the charts.

That afternoon, when I was gearing up to test my own blood sugar for the first time, I was extremely nervous. Doing it for the first time was just so terrifying to me, despite feeling like I was confident in knowing how to do it. I crossed my fingers that my blood sugar would be nice and low, and counted down the minutes until it was time. I took all the necessary steps, dropped my blood on the testing strip.....and there it was. 120. Aka, the limit for blood sugar levels 2 hours after a meal. I was devastated.

Which is when it occurred to me that every single time I test my blood, 4 times a day, 7 days a week, is a chance to experience failure. Because that's what it felt like in that moment.

I couldn't figure out why I would have been at the limit, because I thought I'd eaten appropriately. I was supposed to call if my levels went above it, so I was thankful that I hadn't, but now I was even questioning my theory that I'm not as diabetic as they think I am. That was the one thing I was counting on - proving them wrong, making them stop calling me "a diabetic". But here I was, barely passing the test. I went back over what I ate leading up to this test, and I realized that I had too much. I ate a whole apple instead of a half. And while my diet told me I could have 2 slices of bread, they were only supposed to total 30 carbs - mine totaled 40. Those two things right there explained it - and remember my nerves before I tested? They were off the charts. I was practically shaking before I did my blood draw. Haven't I learned by now that stress messes with your numbers?

So after dinner, I was hopeful. I did my blood draw 2 hours later, and it was 100. Much better!

I was so anxious to see my fasting sugar this morning (because it sounds like that's the level that means the most) that I barely slept last night! I kept having dreams about it, waking up and picturing it happening. But I wasn't stressed when I woke up. I guess my night of processing it calmed me down, or figured it out in a way I couldn't consciously. So when I took my blood sugar reading, I was thrilled to see it was an 84!  And then 2 hours after breakfast, it was an 88!

I've definitely learned, overnight, that stress needs to be displaced, and carbs need to be carefully counted. Because when I get those things in check - I have the levels of someone without GD. Which again, makes me wonder if I actually have it. Maybe an intolerance or sensitivity? Yeah, I wouldn't doubt it. But I guess we'll see what they say in a couple weeks when they see all my numbers!

One nice thing about this appointment was that I did get some answers to my questions. The doctor told me that the most likely cause of it happening this time vs the previous times is my age. Based on everything else he knew about me, he said he would put money on this being why. Which does make me feel better, because age is unavoidable, and it makes a lot of sense. He also said that once the baby is born, I'll only have to test my fasting blood sugar (vs 4 times a day), and that GD should clear up within a few days to a couple weeks. So it won't linger long after the baby gets here. Thank goodness for that! That was a worry I had from the get go.

And also? Since I started on this diet - even just my self-created diet, I've lost a pound. That sounds a whole lot better than gaining 10 pounds in a month like I did at the start of my pregnancy! So maybe, just maybe, the pay off at the end of this will be less baby weight to lose? I would gladly accept that! :)

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