Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Pregnant Glucose Tolerance Test

This morning I got up ridiculously early to get my glucose tolerance test done. This is a test taken between 24 and 28 weeks in pregnancy to diagnose gestational diabetes, and as far as I can tell, every preggo lady gets it (well, some incarnation of it anyway).

The test itself involves fasting for at least 8 hours, then getting blood drawn (usually accompanied by a second vial at this point to do a complete blood count). Once this first vial is taken, you get to drink this cold orange flavored drink which tastes something between orange Pedialyte and flat orange soda. You have to drink it really quickly (within 5 minutes). Then when you finish downing the drink, you have to let them know. They note the time, and then in an hour they draw your blood again. At 2 hours they take a third vial.

At the end of this 2 hour ordeal you know whether or not you have gestational diabetes. Well, the test results get sent to your doctor's (or midwife's) office within 2 days. So technically, you don't find out immediately, but still - you know the same week whether or not you'll be sticking yourself regularly for the remainder of your 9 months.

Now, if you're sensitive to glucose, after you drink that sugary orange gross, you'll probably have some kind of reaction. A lot of people get some nausea and most people have a serious crash. Some people feel sick for the entire day after their test.

Needless to say, I was prepared for this. I was already worried about being hungry which is usually a disaster for me, so I wasn't sure how my body would handle the sugar. I know I've experienced sugar crashes before (eating something really sugary on a nearly empty stomach and then awhile later getting sleepy). That said, I couldn't remember a time I'd done this with a completely empty stomach. This was why I decided to do the test on a day off. I wanted Christian to drive me, but he would have needed to take some time off of work and now that the shop is in its busy season, that didn't really seem feasible. So I rallied my spirits and drove myself, preparing for the worst with a bottle of water, some beef jerky, and almonds to eat after the test.

Well, all my concern was for naught.

I didn't get nauseous. I didn't even feel faint when they took the blood (I hate getting my blood taken, so to go get it done by myself and not even get a little queasy was nothing short of miraculous). I didn't start to feel sleepy until about 15 minutes after my second blood draw. At the second blood draw, the tech asked me if I was feeling sleepy or sick, and when I said not yet, she smiled and told me that was a good sign. Apparently that indicates my body is producing enough insulin - which makes sense. People who are more sensitive to sugar and have a harder time balancing its effects would likely have more symptoms. But I didn't.

Then again, I didn't think I would really have any problems. Even though some of my extended family have diabetes, no one to my knowledge has had gestational diabetes. Plus I myself have never been much for sugar. I would choose meat, cheese, and vegetables over cake, candy, and cookies every time. I love savory food. If I could eat only dessert or dinner for the rest of my life (without any negative consequences) I would choose dinner.

Seriously. I would eat dinner for dessert after dinner. I get a little sad when my meat is gone from my plate (even before pregnancy - not joking).

Okay, yes I do like sugar sometimes. I'm not some weird Stepford wife, but I would be fine if I never had anything frosted ever again. It makes sense that my body hasn't had to work to keep my blood sugar in balance (thus creating insulin resistance) because I haven't ever overwhelmed it - not really.

Besides the fact that I am not a sugar fiend, I am a protein fiend (see above reference to getting sad about finishing my meat). Protein actually helps your body keep your blood sugar in check. I'm not arguing that everyone should overload on protein - that would be a bad idea too, BUT it's worth eating enough protein to balance out whatever else you're eating.

Last night, for example, my late night snack was almonds. I ate almonds for 2 reasons. First because my midwife told me they help with heartburn and I didn't want to eat anything later to deal with that (yay for heartburn prevention!). Secondly, almonds have protein in them and I didn't want to eat something sweet and screw up my numbers before my test. Did eating almonds instead of icecream help with my test this morning? Well, I'm not sure (I do still have to wait for confirmation that I won't be pricking my finger daily). Still I know it didn't hurt it.

Now I just need to wait. Hopefully by Friday I'll find out that I'm perfectly healthy with good sugar levels and good iron levels (Remember that fourth vial that was taken? Checking for anemia!). In the mean time, I'll try not to worry about it and enjoy my balanced dinners just like I always do.

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