The dreaded glucose test

Full disclosure:  I thought pregnant women were whiny babies when they talked about the glucose test.  Then I got pregnant and found myself crying at work when I found out I had to take the three-hour one.  So…life is funny that way.

For those that are unfamiliar with the glucose test, let me enlighten you.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can occur during a woman’s pregnancy as a result of the wacky hormones that the placenta puts off.  Despite popular beliefs about diabetes, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent gestational diabetes.  Some women have it during some of their pregnancies and not during others.  Some women can be the epitome of good health and still get it.  This is why all women are encouraged to do a one-hour glucose test around 26-28 weeks.  (Or whenever your doctor recommends, because I have also learned that every doctor seems to offer different advice.  It eventually makes you feel like we are all just making this stuff up and winging it.  There is some comfort in that.)

This is how the test goes down:  you show up at your doctor’s office and they offer you a sugary beverage.  My doctor had orange or fruit punch for the flavors. I am still struggling with red foods/beverages after I threw up pizza on New Years Day so I went for the orange flavor.  I was handed something that look liked Tang on crack.  And maybe it was because it had 50 grams of sugar in it.  You essentially guzzle the drink like a frat star named Chad (no offense if your name is Chad) and then they start the clock.  A hour later, they draw some blood and you wait for the lab to tell you if you passed or failed…as if this is a pre-calculus exam that you can study and prepare for.

I didn’t think the drink tasted that bad.  It was definitely sweet, but I got it down fairly quickly before settling into the lobby with trashy magazines.  About 30 minutes into the waiting period, I started burping neon.  That is the best way I can describe it.  That radioactive orange color seemed to be making it’s way back up with every burp.  Then, my stomach started to feel rotten.  Nothing bad enough that I threw up (which is a big no-no during this test…although some women report that they barf in private and never tell the doctor…which should give you an indication of how desperate a pregnant gal can get in these situations).  An hour passed by, they drew my blood, and then I went to work.

For me, this was a big mistake.  I was a useless lump.  The rotten feeling in my stomach spread to my whole body.  This was before I experienced the most epic sugar crash known in Virginia.  I could barely keep my eyes open and blasted the AC during my commute home to make sure I didn’t fall asleep behind the wheel.  But I made it home in one piece and then I enjoyed the comfort of my snuggle pups and couch.  Except I didn’t, because I had diarrhea for most of the evening.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of the glucose test.

So when I got the call that said I failed and needed to come back in for the three hour test, I was really sad.  And mad.  But mostly sad.  For the three hour test, they take your blood, you drink 100 grams of sugar, and then they take your blood again every hour for three hours.  You are trapped in the doctor’s office the entire time.  And you have to fast before the test and cannot eat during.  My doctor even stated that I shouldn’t drink water unless “absolutely necessary” and to only have small sips   The odds of feeling like shit (no polite way to put it) are pretty good.  And best of luck to the nurse that has to stick me FOUR times when I am dehydrated.  May the patience of a thousand monks be with us both.

Oh, and I only failed the test by 2 whatever-the-unit-of-measurement-is-for-this thing. For perspective, the normal range is 70-140 (this range seems to also differ by doctor) and I clocked in at 142.  The nurse was cheery as she said “You will probably pass the three hour test with flying colors!!  Most women fail the first one and pass the next one!!”  For the practical mom who already has issues with feeling like some of this process is unnecessary, that didn’t make me feel better.  Why are we subjecting women to a test that is known to produce crap results?  With all of the advancements of modern medicine, we can’t do better with diagnosing gestational diabetes?

Here is the other part of this equation that keeps creeping into my mind.  I ended up requesting the entire day off for this test.  I have another appointment that I scheduled for the same day, but I would have taken the whole day off anyway because of how awful I felt after the one hour test.  Even if I wanted to go to work afterward, I would still end up missing 3-4 hours of work – which, for most people, is half the work day.  So, the casual recommendation that you come chill with your doctor for several hours is something that is genuinely difficult for many women.  And bless the mom that is trying to save up her vacation time so that some of her maternity leave is actually paid for.  I see you.

The next glucose test is on the 29th.  Send me anything but sweet thoughts.  (Get it?)

Picture is of an AWESOME prenatal yoga workshop that I attended at Organic Roots in Suffolk, VA.  I got to talk about my yoni with other pregnant women…what could be better!  They are offering another prenatal workshop on February 23!!


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