Thursday, November 14, 2013

'Happy' World Diabetes Day (Thanks For the Memories)

So today is World Diabetes Day and although most of us will simply chalk it up as one of other 'World Days' that doesn't apply to us, it would be remiss of me not to reflect on that relatively short three month period when the disease ruled my life in the form of Gestational Diabetes (a type of diabetes brought on by, and during pregnancy). Man - that was hard! This probably sounds overly dramatic (and possibly flippant to those who suffer the disease permanently - sorry if so) but it was like being dealt a prison sentence where your entire life is suddenly ruled by needles, low GI food, blood sugar levels and a nagging fear that if you don't follow a certain set of instructions to the letter, your baby could be facing its own life-threatening issues.

No pressure.

Let's face it - one of the joys of pregnancy is the ability and granted permission to eat horse-sized quantities and a range of foods that you would normally avoid, all in the name of 'eating for two'. (I can hear the medical professionals harking that weight gain during pregnancy is actually counter-productive) but damn! Those homemade chocolate thick shakes in the afternoon were FINE!!! So to have that freedom to eat ripped from you suddenly is incredibly annoying to say the least. More seriously though, given how suddenly the diagnosis is often made, the feeling of powerlessness and lack of knowledge to navigate through it successfully is pretty immense. I remember not having a clue what to eat for the first three days so I almost starved myself in fear of a high blood sugar reading. I also remember the first time I had to prick my finger  - I sat poised on that little trigger for about half an hour before I had the courage to press the button, allowing that needle to stab and draw blood within milliseconds. By the end of the three month period though, I was doing it so quickly, I could do it in the line at the department store and you would never have known. I was like a blood testing, sugar reading ninja but it's one skill I hope to never need again.

To add to the pressure, the medical professionals gave me a three strike policy on blood sugar levels over 7.0. If after a meal my BSL was over 7.0 more than three times during my three month prison sentence, then it was off to insulin injecting classes without negotiation (yes, insulin needles into a stretched pregnant stomach four times a day - what a blast). Thankfully, it never came to that for me - I was one of the lucky ones but man, did I work hard to keep those readings down. For three months I didn't eat out, I never had takeaway, and I ate basically the same four or five nutritious meals because I knew they were 'safe'. In addition, (and here's my secret weapon to avoiding the dreaded insulin needles) I hired a treadmill and after eating every meal I walked for ten minutes. This exercise helped my BSL levels to drop after food so by the time I'd eaten, walked and two hours had passed, my BSL readings was virtually normal. Go me. (If you're in the throws of dealing with GD and have no idea on how to control your levels, hit the treadmill. It works).

Looking back, those three months of pregnancy were some of the most challenging of my life and for anyone who lives with diabetes on a daily basis (Hi Dad, thanks for the genes!) I applaud you and pledge to offer whatever fundraising support I can manage to eradicate this seemingly-increasing epidemic.  Similarly, if you're currently going through GD, for you at least there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there, get on that treadmill and once that baby is safely out and your levels are proven to be normal again, have some cake. It'll be the best you've ever eaten.


  1. I didn't know yesterday was World Diabetes Day! What a fitting day to have my appointment with the Diabetes Educator and Dietician to talk about my new GD diagnosis. Thanks for the great post :)

    1. All the best with managing your GD, Kaz! I'm sure you're a pro second time around but if feel free to drop me a line if you ever need someone to bounce off. And hire yourself a treadmill - it was my insulin-avoiding secret weapon! xx

  2. Wow, what an ordeal, Sophie! Sounds like such a tough thing to go through, especially at a time when our bodies are screaming for food. To have to be so careful AND to have to do the finger pricks would be awful. You did a great job getting through it well and healthy. Great job, too for acknowledging World Diabetes Day. Katie (mumabytes) xx

  3. I find it particularly interesting how many mums to be are being diagnosed with GD. Thanks for sharing your story