Thursday, September 05, 2013

Glucose hell

I believe that a post about the gestational diabetes glucose screening is obligatory for any pregnant blogger. So here is mine - written on 18 June 2013, when I was 25ish weeks along.

I have only the vaguest memories of the gestational diabetes glucose screenings from my previous pregnancies. I think with both Miriam (in Damascus) and Magdalena (in Tucson), it was some variation on the same old "drink this really sweet drink and we'll take your blood/urine in an hour" theme.

Here in Sharjah, though, they break out the big guns right away. Instead of the standard glucose screening, with further testing for those who don't pass, they go straight to the tolerance test for everyone. You have to fast for 12 hours beforehand, and you have to drink more sweet stuff, and it's more concentrated, and you have your blood/urine taken three times over two hours instead of just one time over one hour. This would be nausea-inducing enough without being pregnant. When you're pregnant, it's downright icky.

By the way, I'm not exactly sure why they skip right to the more intensive test, though I do know that there is a gestational diabetes awareness campaign going on in Sharjah. My guess is that it's a problem, but that some women are not getting tested for it or do not understand the implications of being diagnosed with it.

I had the test this morning and it pretty much shot my whole day. The fasting was hard (my nausea tends to get worse if I don't eat), and the drink was just awful. The room temperature, syrupy Mirinda-flavored glucose solution tasted good for about the first three sips. The other three cupfuls were increasingly disgusting. I still feel woozy and ill, almost as if I, oh I don't know, drank an entire liter of flat pop in five minutes on a completely empty stomach and then sat there for two hours being poked with a needle. Weird.

I can complain about it with a bad attitude because I passed, thank goodness. Of course I'm grateful that doctors here care enough about the health of pregnant women to make sure they get the treatment they need if they have gestational diabetes. I just wish someone out there would care enough to find a different way to test for it.


Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I feel your pain. I was marginal with my first pregnancy, and since I am boring enough to have stayed in Oregon, I had the same doctor for all of my pregnancies. That meant that I actually did the test 3 times when I was pregnant with the twins, (always on the high side of normal) before someone remembered that you always are higher with twins, and (at least at the time) the world has vet to figure out what counts as too high for "multiple pregnancies." So, we did blood sugar tests each office visit, and I made sure not to have a lot sugar before going in.

I'm glad that you passed, and that you won't have to go through more testing. My only question is; was it more frustrating than the same amount of time spent thinking of baby names?

Crys said...

Glucose testing is the worst! When I was in the hospital on bed rest with Aylin they had to test me three days in a row. The first day someone used the wrong tube to draw the blood. The second day they forgot to send it down and by the time they found the tube it had been to long. The third day they got it right. Finally!!! I was pretty upset about it because that "soda" is so disgusting!!!! The only thing worse I've ever had to drink is the contrast for an MRI when my appendix burst. It is like drinking lemon flavored chalk and you have to drink two huge glasses of it in a certain time period. I was sitting in the corner of the office sweating, crying, and gagging it down and I kid you not, twenty people walked in, took one look at me and crowded on to the opposite side of the office ;-)

Sarah Familia said...

My midwives gave clients the option of eating a certain number of jelly beans or pancakes with syrup at IHOP instead of the yucky drink. It still didn't ameliorate the travesty of requiring a pregnant woman to fast, but at least it was more palatable.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

That test is so yucky. Turns out I had gestational diabetes w/ you and I think w/ Teresa. I felt so much better after they put me on a strict diet to control it.

My worst experience w/ that test was after I had Blair. His was a long labor and back then you were told that in no way should you eat a particle of food during labor. So by the time I had him I was weak and feeling floaty. And because he was born in the evening, the hospital kitchen was "closed," so after delivery all they could give me was a cup of 7UP, which made me feel even worse.

So 5 a.m. the next morning a nurse shows up to do a GTT, because the doc thought I might be diabetic. I drank the syrup, and keep in mind by this time I had not eaten in 36 hours (and what I had eaten 36 hours before was thrown up early in labor), and the test was a 7-hour thing then. So once an hour a nurse took blood and I had to get up and pee in a cup. By noon I was a worthless piece of flesh, devastated, and to say upset would be putting it mildly. I'm lucky they didn't transfer me to the psych ward.

Well I was not diabetic, and finally got some lunch, and golly, the doc came in and apologized profusely about putting me through that ordeal, but it had to be done. That GTT is one of my most traumatic memories. I know it's insignificant as life goes, but at the time it was dreadfully torturous.

Liz Johnson said...

I've heard that this test is falling out of favor in the US - unless you have a family history of diabetes (or a history of gestational diabetes), many OBs/midwives aren't requiring it anymore. It's more like the 16wk blood screening - you can opt in if you want, but it's no longer recommended for everybody. Apparently it's not super accurate and tinkling in a cup at your appts is a better indicator of whether you're leaning towards GD (at which point they can do the screen if they think it's warranted).


Kitty Crazy! said...

Oh my goodness, Bridget and Suzanne! I'm so sorry you both had to go through that! I hope you start feeling better really quickly, Bridget. I'm so thankful you don't have GD, though. My niece Michelle had it and it was pretty hard to deal with. -Janice

kaylee said...

My midwives had a glucose monitor I borrowed for a few days. I checked my blood sugar levels when I woke up and after a meal for 2 days. I think regular diabetes is diagnosed this way, not with the glucose tolerance test. I'd much rather poke myself a few times than hang around a Drs office for an hour or three.

The thing I don't get about the glucose tolerance test is that if you *are* diabetic you shouldn't be drinking the sugary drink in the first place.

Myrna said...

I remember, when I was expecting baby #3, I went for my (non-fasting) glucose test #1 at the same time as a pregnant friend. Only she ate candy and drank pop and basically pigged out on sugar BEFORE her test, and then drank all that glucose and still PASSED the test. Whereas I, a person who doesn't even like very many types of candy, and never drink pop, and have been careful with sugar for most of my life--I ate my usual nutritious food and then drank the awful, gross, sugary glop and still FAILED. And then went on to fail test #2 spectacularly as well. Having gestational diabetes was even less fun that failing the glucose tests.

So, with baby #4, since I had always failed glucose tolerance test #1 in the past, my doctor and I agreed to put me on a strict diabetic diet and exercise program as soon as we knew I was pregnant. Then, when it came time to test for glucose tolerance, we jumped straight to test #2, which I grant you is horrible, but not as horrible as having to do BOTH tests. And I barely passed, so I did not have to poke my finger and test my blood and go to all the required specialist appointments like I had to with baby #3. Which was a great relief!

Jen said...

With #3, I was sitting in the midwife's office with a belly full of that awful drink, waiting for my blood draw, and feeling completely nauseated. (My midwife sends you home with the drink after your previous appointment so you can drink it at home and come in an hour later.)

The receptionist answered the phone soon after I arrived and I heard her say, "Oh, well just eat three pieces of whole wheat bread and drink an 8oz soda."

She must have seen the look on my face, because she said, "Oh, another patient can't find her drink, so I just gave her an alternative so she could keep her appointment.

Question: Why can't we ALL do that? Why can't I eat 3 pieces of bread and drink a soda? GOOD GRIEF!

Cait said...

Tis true. I have never done it.


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