Let’s just begin by putting this out there…I am a wuss! A major wuss. In 2010, I had to get my blood drawn as a normal part of a doctors appointment. This girl (me) made a separate appointment to come back with her husband so that he could hold her hand. Not only did he hold my hand, but I also almost passed out. I had brought a plum and a Capri Sun just in case and I actually needed them! Embarrassing!
Through that blood work, I found out that I have hypothyroidism and later found out that I have Hashimoto’s disease. There are two major problems with this. My thyroid is slow and mostly causes me to be tired and have really cold hands and feet. The second problem is that my body thinks that my thyroid is a foreign object, that it doesn’t belong. Because of this, my body wants to attack my thyroid if I don’t monitor my blood work. All of this background to say, this involves blood work every six weeks if my thyroid levels are not balanced. This puts me at higher risk of having gestational diabetes when I have babies. Which, I didn’t know.
My 28-week appointment rolls around. I drink the nasty, sugary drink, get my blood drawn, and leave thinking that I’m going to be just fine. Gestational diabetes isn’t that common anyways and what is the likelihood that I would actually get it? I got a phone call saying that I failed the one-hour glucose test and had to take the three-hour one. I convinced myself that I for sure don’t have it and that I will pass this next one with flying colors!
The three-hour test is no joke! First, they tell a PREGNANT woman that she cannot eat for a long period of time! Then, I have to drink an even more sugary drink and get my blood drawn four times in a three hour period. Let me remind you that I still HATE needles at this time. Long story short, I had a vein collapse, almost passed out, and snuck a piece of a pita chip (don’t tell!). Not only did I not pass with flying colors, I failed pretty miserably. When I got the phone call, I cried. How could it be true that I now have to prick my finger four times a day and eat healthily?! I was sent to a dietician to get the low down on how to prick my finger and what I needed to do to keep my sugars down. Never in my whole life had I ever had to count my carbs before. I was also too afraid and nervous to practice pricking my finger in front of the dietician. Luckily with baby #1 I was able to control my sugars with the diet and the diabetes went away after I gave birth.
The dreaded 28-week appointment can’t be avoided. This time I knew that the chances of getting gestational diabetes went up, but I still had hopes that I would be the exception to the rule. I won’t drag you along too long with baby #2, but I failed again. I begged and pleaded for my doctor to just let me monitor my sugars by pricking my finger four times a day instead of making me take that horrible three-hour glucose test. She agreed that would be fine. I don’t think I really understood that not only did my chances of getting gestational diabetes go up with another baby, but it also gets worse as the pregnancy progresses and the baby gets bigger. At 36 weeks, I could no longer control my sugars with a diet and started taking Glyburide before dinner so that I wouldn’t be so hungry!! After delivery, my diabetes went away.
You would think that I would learn from the last two pregnancies and I would just concede to thinking that I was definitely going to get gestational diabetes. I asked my doctor what the chances were that I would pass the test and she laughed. I didn’t take that as a good sign. Not only did I fail the one-hour test this time, but I failed it WAY worse than either of my other pregnancies. We just called me diabetic this time again, without taking the three-hour test. This time, my sugars looked a lot different than they should. Why were my sugars high in the morning without even eating anything? That makes absolutely no sense. After monitoring my sugars for a week, this time I was put on insulin. I did all my research before I met with the doctor and came to find out that there is not a pill form of insulin. The only way is through an injection. Yes, that means needles. Yes, that means that I would be giving myself shots. WHAT?!?!
I went to pick up my insulin from Walmart and they didn’t offer for the pharmacist to tell me how to do any of this. My doctor quickly explained to me how to inject the insulin, but it is so different when you have all of the supplies in front of you. I walked around the store for a couple minutes and quickly realized that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I have never given myself a shot before and also have never put medicine in a syringe through a needle. I knew that too much insulin could be really bad if I measured incorrectly. I was so embarrassed, but quickly realized I needed to get over myself and go ask the pharmacy for help. Who likes to admit that they don’t know what they are doing? Not me! Of course, I am perfect, know how to do everything, and I have EVERYTHING together (lies). The pharmacist was so sweet and with great detail explained everything I needed to do. When she said the whole needle needed to be inserted into me, I got a little lightheaded and sweaty. I was NOT going to pass out at Walmart. I was able to get out to my car and I just started sobbing. I am such a wuss! Why can’t I handle this? Guess what! After the first time giving myself a shot, I realized that it isn’t that big of a deal. It doesn’t really hurt and I can actually eat!
Since then, it has been a whirlwind. I’m over the needle thing, but not over how I can eat one thing today and tomorrow it will send my sugars soaring. It’s frustrating that each week my sugars get worse and there is nothing I can do to prevent that from happening. There is nothing that I did to cause any of this. At my last appointment, we added another injection of insulin before dinner to bring those sugars down. It will continue to be harder to control until I deliver. Two injections and four finger pricks a day right now. I’m so thankful that at the end of this process, I get a beautiful baby girl.
I remember watching my grandpa living with diabetes. The only time I ever passed out was when I was six when I watched him prick his finger to check his sugars. I never understood why he always had pineapple juice on hand. Now, I carry around apple juice in case my sugars get too low. I have major respect for those of you who deal with this every day for forever. It is not easy and it’s so frustrating between the food limitations and all of the needles. What I am going through is not even that bad and there are people that have it so much worse than me. Mad props to you guys. I will never fully understand the everyday, lifelong struggle of diabetes.