Two posts in one week? I totally got this blog thing down.
I thought I'd pop in and talk a bit about my experience with the glucose tolerance test. If you haven't been pregnant before, this is a test that almost all pregnant women get somewhere between 24-29 weeks, with the goal of diagnosing gestational diabetes. Based on my (unreliable) research, gestational diabetes can happen to any pregnant woman, healthy or not. There are certain risk factors of course, but sometimes it's just how your body adapts to pregnancy and as with most things in involving pregnancy, child birth, children, life...you only have so much control. I say that because I read so many blogs and forum posts of women beating themselves up for being diagnosed and apparently there's a lot of mom guilt attached to it when there shouldn't be (easier said that done?). Obviously, I'm no doctor, so you can take these thoughts with a grain of salt.
But anyway. I want to share my story because my experience was a bit scary to me and I spent most of my time in the lab waiting room searching on my phone to find others who had the same side effects that I did. I am happy to contribute to those other stories out there that helped reassure me.
At my 24 weeks doctor's appointment, I was given a one page instruction sheet on the when/how/where of the test. It was very helpful as it answered all my of my questions. I checked my calendar and due to our recent travel, I decided to wait until this week. I had my 28 week check up yesterday, so I called and asked if I could combine the two and they said sure and go to the lab at 8am (which is just down the hall from my doctor's office). Convenient! Also, I read (and I don't know if this true...) that it can sometimes take GD a while to show up (usually at 28 weeks), so taking the test later in the window means more accurate results. Couldn't hurt to wait, right?
The instructions said to eat and exercise normally, but to keep your carb intake to less than 150 grams per day for the three days before the test. I didn't find that to be too hard. In fact, I made room for lemon chiffon cake, pizza, pretzels, and a good amount of fruit. I was to fast 10 hours before the test. My last meal was two large slices of homemade frittata (eggs, sausage, spinach, shredded potatoes, and cheese) with a side salad around 8:30pm the night before.
I wanted to add that I feel like so many other offices do the 1-hour glucose screening first. My practice has chosen to do the 2-hour glucose tolerance test instead of the 1-hour. According to my fact sheet, the 2-hour test is more reliable than the 1-hour, which produces more false positives and more women having to go in for the 3-hour test only to end up passing it.
So the plan was:
- 8am - Fasting blood draw + drink 75 grams of glucola (the 1-hour is 50 grams and the 3-hour is a whopping 100 grams!)
- 9am - 1st blood draw
- 9:15am - Doctor's appointment
- 10am - 2nd blood draw
That didn't happen. I got there at 8am, as instructed, but they were already backed up, so I wasn't able to get the first blood draw until 8:45am. Ever the Type-A person, it stressed me out a bit and I didn't want to be late for my appointment or my next blood draws. Grrr.
It turned out to be okay though. I went back for my fasting blood draw at 8:45 and was handed the the glucola. I had a lemon-lime flavor that reminded me of a non-carbonated 7-Up. The first few sips actually where pretty good, but it was so so sweet that I got full quickly and when my 5 minutes were almost up, the lab tech had to urge me to chug, "Pretend you are back in college!".
I headed to my doctor's appointment and by the time I sat down in the waiting room, my heart was beating out of my chest. I started to feel the effects of the sugar immediately. I was full of energy and had a hard time focusing. I told the nurse that I was feeling pretty strange. I was also a bit nervous due to these side effects and that was reflected in my blood pressure, which was higher than normal at 122/78. She said not to worry, I was still in a healthy range and I'd feel better soon. I saw one of my OBs and he checked out the babe, who was looking great, measuring right on track, and kicking up a storm. Gosh I love when they break out the doppler! He talked to me about pre-registering for the hospital (umm, already?!) and how to start counting kicks. I was in and out pretty quickly.
I returned to the lab and that's when things started to get hairy. I had cold chills. Then I was hot. My hands couldn't stop shaking. I started to feel faint and light-headed. I was nauseous. Then I (TMI) had a horrible stomachache. These symptoms came and went and I Google'd up a storm trying to figure out if this was a normal reaction.
I went back for the next blood draw at 9:45 and as she prepared the needle, I started to see black and my hearing became muffled. I told her I was about to faint and needed to lay down. She immediately reclined my chair back and let me rest there with my feet above my head for a while. That seemed to help. She did the blood draw and instructed me to go sit near the front of the waiting room so she could keep an eye on me. She offered to get me a room to lay down in, but I didn't want to be fussed over, so I declined. I'm stubborn. During the next hour, she kept checking in and I was doing my best not to faint, assuring her I was fine. Liar. I continued to shake, get chills, get hot flashes, and have stomach issues. I was big old mess. I sipped some ice water I had with me, took deep breaths and stared at the clock. She said as the sugar wore off, I'd feel better and the second hour is easier than the first. But it was still terrible and I was so scared of passing out and what that might do to the baby.
Finally, I got my last blood draw and could leave. I should have packed a snack to eat immediately (DEFINITELY DO THAT), but I had forgotten, so I headed to my office and grabbed a Kind bar as soon as I got in. Thankfully, I was feeling better by that time and spent a few minutes at my desk drinking water and eating. When I got home later, I napped for a bit on the sofa, completely exhausted.
But anyway, I thought FOR SURE that this was not good and I would "fail" the test (terrible way of putting it). Honestly, the thought of having to do the 3-hour test was sounding downright terrifying, though I'd happily do it if it meant getting a correct diagnosis and thus right treatment for me and the baby.
Luckily, my results came back fine and all my levels were normal.
I do not have gestational diabetes.
Drama queen syndrome? Perhaps, but at least no diabetes for me. This isn't to say that if you had the reaction I did that you won't have GD either (I have no way of knowing that), but it was true for me and some other stories I read. There are probably 100 different scenarios with no clear patterns. Our bodies all handle that large amount of sugar differently and the only way to know for sure is to get you results. That being said, don't freak out if this happens to you, apparently it's normal and I wished I had known that going into it. It made for a very long morning.
If we are blessed with another pregnancy in the future, I'd do the following differently:
- Not take the test on the same day as an appointment. It was too stressful.
- Bring Brandon with me. I would have felt better having him there to keep an eye on me and drive me in case I needed it.
- BRING FOOD! I wish I could have scarfed something down immediately afterwards.
- Go as soon as the lab opens at 7:30am to shorten the fasting time as much as possible.
- Okay, not essential, but bring a cell phone charger. My phone almost died with all that searching :)
My final thoughts on the matter is that my biggest priority and concerns are obviously about the baby. Sure, this test was NO FUN for me, but I'd do it 1000 more times if needed so she can receive the best care for her. If anything, this showed me how I need to remember to eat at regular intervals, watch my sugar intake since obviously my body is NOT a fan, and continue to exercise and be as healthy as I can. With wiggle room of course.
As far as everything else goes, I received acupuncture today to alleviate some of the carpal tunnel pain (it has been increasing dramatically). It could be in my head, but I think it's already working. The true test will be tomorrow morning when I wake up.
We can add my acupuncturist as someone else who likes my name pick over Brandon's. Poor guy. Everyone loves his name, but prefers mine over his. Though the debate continues on.
Got my first middle-of-the-night leg cramp, which my apps have been warning me about. I screamed. I am now eating a banana every day.
Otherwise, life is good. If this test was the worst thing to come out of this pregnancy, than I should be nothing but grateful. 11 weeks to go!