December 20, 2006

The sugar and the damage done

It must have been something I ate.

When I failed the first glucose tolerance test last week, I went straight to denial. Maybe I went too late in the day. Maybe it was that cookie I had with lunch. Maybe I hadn't been drinking enough water.

I wasn't ready to be diabetic.

My doctor also extended the benefit of the doubt. She told me not to worry until we had seen the results from the follow up test.

So I woke up Monday, well before the crack of dawn, and dragged my hungry self to Labcorp. In exchange for a sugary beverage claiming some relationship to tropical fruits and access to the world's most disappointing magazine library, I gave up four hours of my morning and as many blood samples.

Despite nearly passing out during the third blood draw and deciding that the Today Show may have killed some of my brain cells, I left in good spirits.

The test was over.

It was supposed to be the final blood test of my pregnancy. I did a little dance in the parking lot.

I hate needles.

I hate blood tests.

I get woozy at the very thought of blood.

I am getting woozy just thinking about the topic right now.

My parents were both doctors. I did not inherit their skills.

I have literally fainted in doctors' offices. Eyes rolled back in head, smelling salts, the whole deal.

I didn't faint this morning, but I did have to stop the car. A friendly representative from my doctor's office called me on my cell phone.

"Your test results came back high, so I faxed a referral to our diabetes education center."

"What should I do?"

"They'll schedule you for a Gestational Diabetes training, where they'll answer all of your questions."

I wondered what a Gestational Diabetes training would be like. I wondered if their trainers were anything like me. Instead of teaching people how to calculate payroll taxes, they taught people how to calculate carbohydrate exchanges and draw their own blood.

"Oh my god, do I have to draw my own blood?"

"You'll probably need to check your blood sugar four times a day. They'll tell you all about it at the class."

I scheduled the class for January 2nd.

I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

I couldn't handle the thought of waiting two weeks for all of my questions to be answered. I called the education center and asked for short-term advice.

It's time to eat healthier foods.

It's time to say goodbye to sweets.

It's time to stop using the treadmill as overflow storage space.

If I can control my blood sugar with diet and exercise, I may not need to inject myself with insulin.



Even though my doctor assured me that gestational diabetes is hormonal, and has nothing to do with my behavior, I still feel responsible.

My weight put me at risk.

My weight is due to a lifelong pattern of behaviors and beliefs.

Since I was a child, I watched my mother tie her self-worth to her weight. I watched her struggle with liquid diets and sink into depression every time she gained a pound. I told myself I would never let that happen to me.

I never wanted my value as a human being to derive from a number on a scale.

I never wanted to interpret beauty based on a size-restrictive paradigm.

I never wanted to sweeten cookies with applesauce or turn down an offer of cheesecake.

And so, my weight crept up. And up.

I rationalized it by remembering how healthy I was. My blood pressure and cholesterol were perfect. I had nearly 200 hours of unused sick time at work.

Up until now, I've thanked God each day for a healthy pregnancy. Everything from Rasbaby's heart rate to my slow and steady weight gain has been perfect.

Yet here I am.


I'm trying to find a silver lining.

Maybe this is the wakeup call I finally needed.

Despite all my rationalizing, I've known for a long time that my diet was out of control. I've known that I needed to lose weight.

The diabetic diet really isn't that scary. It's just a slightly modified version of the food pyramid that everyone "should" be following. Maybe I'll finally learn eating habits worth role modeling for my child.

The scariest part is what will happen if I ignore my condition.

An oversized baby. An emergency C-section. A jaundiced Rasbaby in the neonatal ICU.

I won't let that happen.

I will do whatever it takes to ensure a healthy Rasbaby.

Even if it means writing down every snack I eat.

Even if it means giving up sweets five days before Christmas.

Even if it means dealing with needles every day.

I'm starting to understand what it means to love a child. It's a scary kind of love that makes my own desires seem trivial in comparison.

It's also an exciting feeling, and it's invigorating to know that my life and my health are finally turning a corner in the right direction. All it took was a Rasbaby. And that's something I wouldn't trade for all the Christmas cookies in the world.

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