Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My experience with Gestational Diabetes

One of the motivating factors in my weight loss is diabetes. Namely, I want to avoid getting it at all costs. Both of my pregnancies I developed Gestational Diabetes. For those of you who have been pregnant lately, that's the test you take where you drink some sugary substance and they take your blood one hour later. If you fail that one, you have to drink a sweeter substance and get your blood drawn one, two and three hours later. There's nothing more fun than hanging out in the doctor's office (and the uncomfortable chairs) for three hours. It's especially nice that you have to fast for the three hour test, so you're quite hungry the whole time. For my second pregnancy, I was still in the first trimester when I took the one-hour glucose test and still in the nauseous phase of pregnancy. When I failed that one, I refused to take the three-hour one and just began monitoring my blood sugars instead.
To monitor your blood sugars, you need to get a monitor, which is a small computer-like device. Four times a day (when you wake up, and after your meals) you get to poke a hole in your skin, extract some blood, and feed it into the monitor. Depending on your numbers, you need to adjust what you eat or take medication to help your numbers.
One big difference between gestational diabetes and type 2 is that there are a number of medications that help regulate your blood sugar, but since you are pregnant, they don't let you take any of them (which is the case for most medications, except of course Tylenol). So early on, I began a regime which started with one shot of insulin a day and evolved into four. No matter how perfectly I ate, my numbers were off. My body simply wouldn't follow the rules.
Even with the shots, I still had to continually check my numbers and adjust accordingly. One of the misconceptions of diabetes is that you can't eat carbs. The opposite is actually true: you need to eat carbs, just not too many or too little. There is a middle ground of a perfect number, so you can help keep your glucose levels regular. It's a delicate balancing act, since a number of things can affect your glucose levels. Exercise, stress and the types of carbs you eat all have a factor. The one time I went too low involved a school trip with LOTS of walking. I didn't take that into account and didn't have enough carbs for breakfast. All of a sudden, outside Ford's Theater in Washington DC, I became very shaky and didn't feel right. I ate some peanut M & Ms and soon felt better.
After all this work, I ended up with two beautiful babies and was able to walk away from my glucose monitor and insulin shots. I'm left with a much higher risk at developing Type 2 Diabetes. That is what drives me to exercise and eat better. I finally managed to kick my Mountain Dew habit of 15 years. I now allow myself to have one Mountain Dew a month, rather than one or two (or more) a day. After living with diabetes, I know what it's like and I know that I never want to deal with it again. I even have days where I try to run a little longer on the treadmill. I found that imagining that I was being chased by an insulin shot is excellent motivation.

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