So yeah. Mad. I got mad at three things.
1. Mad at myself.
I know that every body and every pregnancy is different. I know plenty of fit, healthy women who were diagnosed with GD because that's just what happened. But I also knew it was HIGHLY likely that my I CAN EAT EVERYTHING I WANT BECAUSE I'M PREGNANT attitude and menu planning was my problem. Cake really isn't a food group.
When I started to think about it, all of the "it's worse the second time" hormonal things I was talking about earlier? ALL of them can be attributed to too much sugar. Weird mood and body fluctuations? Crazy energy surges and crashes? Wacked-out sleep and dream patterns, beyond "normal" pregnancy wacked-out-ed-ness? Sugar, sugar, sugar.
2. Mad at the diagnosis.
As I have repeatedly stated, I am not a medical professional AND every body is different. But precisely because every body is different, I think that calling it "gestational diabetes" is alarmist and terrifying and not quite true across the board.
Some people can't attribute GD to diet alone or at all. Some women -- say, those with a genetic predisposition to diabetes -- can change their diet and exercise routine completely and still need medication.
However. If I have no history of this, no predisposition to it in any way, AND my blood sugar levels go back to "normal" two days after I stop shoveling high-fructose corn syrup into my mouth, then I feel like my "case" of this "condition" is maybe not as dire as one would think given what it's called. You know?
3. Mad at the treatment.
OMFG. The moment the nurse told me I would be contacted by a "center" who "does counseling" for "diabetics" I knew I was in for it. There is a state-run program (UGH!) and I would be enrolled and, the nurse said, they will help me understand how to monitor my blood sugar (great!) and -- the words I never, ever, ever want to hear ever --
adjust my diet
to keep my blood sugar in check.
Can you hear me rolling my eyes?
Yes, of course I'd GO to the session. I'm not totally negligent and irresponsible.
I am, however, a nutritionist's worst nightmare. I am smart and well educated and extremely knowledgeable about food, diet, and nutrition. KNOWING what I should do has never been my problem. DOING it? Well, right.
I tried to put on my best face, my best sense of humor, my best attitude and attend my one-on-one session as bravely as possible. I decided before I arrived that I would just be honest with my counselor. I would tell her that I understand my diagnosis, I am certain I know how it happened AND I am certain I can get it and keep it under control. I would not be rude or snarky or sarcastic, I would be open and tell her that I'm feeling stupid and silly. I hoped for the best.
The best did not happen.
The counseling program is, as I mentioned, state-run. Which means, if you think about it, the educational materials they provide have to be accessible to everyone. NOT UNLIKE THE DMV HANDBOOK. No big words. Friendly, cartoon drawings. Easy-to-fill-in charts. Ridiculous, condescending program title intended to make you feel happy about what you're doing.
This is an actual illustration on the materials I was given. I think the woman is smiling because she doesn't actually have gestational diabetes, unlike me, THE CARB WHORE.
Don't you love that they tell you what "gestational" means?
Don't you love that they tell you what "gestational" means?
Sure, I understand why the program is designed this way. You understand why the program is designed this way. But still, I wanted to believe that I would not feel scolded or condescended to. I wanted to believe that my counselor would treat me like a knowledgeable human and perhaps customize my session.
I tried. I tried to break the ice by being exceedingly pleasant and chipper. I was honest from the get-go, telling her that weight management, nutrition, and all that goes with it is something I am very familiar with. I told her this session would be hard for me because I know better.
Deaf. Ears. No acknowledgment whatsoever.
She went through her spiel. She walked me through how to use the blood sugar monitoring kit.
I made the mistake of suggesting that there might be an app that keeps track of my results, and she replied as though I had asked to taste her shoe. No, I can't use an app, I need to use a pen and The Book because that's the only way I can show her and my doctor my readings at all future appointments. Oh, good.
We took a sample right there. My level was perfectly within the range she gave me (81 for those of you keeping score), a mere day-and-a-half after I was told of my diagnosis and started regulating my diet all by myself.
She asked me all the background questions, and I was happy to answer -- as though I was proving my own point. No, there is zero history of diabetes in my family. No, I did not have GD with my first pregnancy. No, my levels were not abnormal earlier in this pregnancy. No, I have not gained an excessive amount of weight this pregnancy. Etcetera.
A few years ago, my online bank account got broken into. I had about $6,000 stolen from me and transferred to an unlinked account in the Middle East. I didn't know it had happened right away, and I learned about it when the bank notified me. I spoke to a private investigator for the bank, and he assured me they'd have it taken care of. However! The only way to get my money back was to call their fraud department separately and go through their standard process.
Unfortunately -- and somewhat hysterically, actually -- their standard process involved asking me 900 questions about why I "suspected" I'd had my account broken into.
Have you recently given your PIN to anyone? No.
Have you recently used your ATM card in a public place where someone may have seen you? No.
Have you lost your debit or ATM card recently? No.
Why do you suspect that your account has been broken into? BECAUSE YOU CALLED ME TO TELL ME MY ACCOUNT WAS BROKEN INTO.
That's exactly what my counseling session felt like. We were trying to figure out why my numbers were high, except I knew why and stated why. We were trying to figure out how to get my numbers back under control, except they already were.
STILL. I was as fine and as chipper about the opening spiel and blood-sugar monitoring part and the background questions as humanly possible. But when she got out The Book, I balked. It was gonna get ugly.
Here is where you will keep track of everything you eat, she said.
For some reason, I was unprepared for this. "Guidelines," yes. "Writing down everything I eat," no. The book had a cartoon drawing of happy babies on the front and everything. Like maybe I should color them in with magic markers.
But suddenly and dramatically and I was on a diet. A full-scale, share-every-move-you-make, medically required DIET. I went from feeling foolish to feeling punished. I almost burst into tears, but fought to keep them back. I just let her recite her lines and point at things in the book.
I didn't want to do it. I wasn't going to do it if I didn't have to. Did I have to?
She said: We need you to write everything down, including portion size and brand, and you have to be as specific as possible. We do this so that if your numbers go up, we can figure out why.
And THAT, my friends, is where I lost it. Civilly, mind you. But I was emotionally drained and annoyed and feeling chastised.
I blurted out, "You don't think I could figure that out myself?"
She was taken aback. "I'm sorry?" she asked.
I repeated myself. "I just...I feel like I should be able to figure it out myself...?"
I could have phrased it better (or not at all) but that's exactly what was at the heart of my issue. This blood sugar thing is NOT a mystery to me. I get it.
Said another way: Let's forget about the whole world of possibilities right now and focus on the reality that is my personal situation. I am not a statistic, I am a human being sitting right in front of you, telling you the truth about myself. ALL signs point to my condition being a direct result of my carb-heavy diet. If I cut back on my sugar and my numbers immediately go down -- which is exactly what's happened -- isn't it safe to say that we have a very good idea of how to proceed?
Based on everything I've told you today, don't you think I might have a slight handle on what's happening with my body? Maybe possibly?
No? No. That isn't how it works. They have to be careful. They have to be sure they're not missing something. I know. But right then, I didn't care. I am not a cog and I didn't want to feel like one.
The counselor was clearly affronted by my
And while that makes complete sense? Meh.
THEN? She got out the food pyramid and it was like we were downward spiraling.
Sour Patch Kids are not on this pyramid ANYWHERE!
(click for larger; this is the actual doc I was given)
(click for larger; this is the actual doc I was given)
Snippet of continued conversation
Her: ...snacks, like any of the light yogurts.
Me: Oh, but aren't most of the light yogurts full of high-fructose corn syrup?
Her: Not the light ones.
Me: Actually, I'm pretty sure they are...
And then she changed the subject immediately and tactlessly. P.S. I'm right.
Same with the conversation I tried to initiate around the "nutritional" value of:
- The crap they put in diet soda
- How artificial sweeteners trick your body into craving more, just like sugar
- How some artificial sweeteners have been shown have a similar reaction to sugar on the glycemic index
Telling me about crazy, processed sugar-free foods I should feel fine eating suggests to me we are not taking a holistic approach to my overall well-being.
But when I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, she actually pulled out a piece of paper with a sample food label.
"Do you know how to read a nutrition label?" She asked me.
"Yes." I replied.
She walked me through it anyway (why did she ask?), taking pains to go over the highlighted parts. See, total Carbohydrates is PER serving size...
Then she ended the session 30 minutes early. Spiel or no spiel, she could not get me out of her office fast enough.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When I first got my diagnosis I felt ashamed. Then angry. Then enraged, immediately following my counseling session.
Then I figured out how to make this whole thing work for me.
I have been taking my measurements religiously. In the 1.5 weeks since my diagnosis, my numbers have been totally normal. I had a couple blips that I adjusted for and corrected immediately (ex: half a grapefruit sent my numbers high; steamed sweet potatoes didn't). I have not been tracking every single thing I eat, unless there's something funky.
I have cut my carbs significantly. My new "indulgence" is fake ice cream bars (yay, chemicals!). I never exceed the amount of carbs per meal that my counselor advised (which, to be fair, compared to doing Atkins is like a PARTY). I snack more frequently (I'm really bad about eating regularly, which I learned.)
I've lost 7 stupid pounds.
Meaning I've gained a whopping total of 15 pounds this pregnancy. With only 9 weeks to go.
Resolved, I called my doctor's office and asked if the Sweet Success program was mandatory. The nurse I spoke with said it wasn't, but asked why I wasn't interested in continuing it. I explained -- again, as politely as I could muster -- that I feel very confident that I know why my numbers were high, how to correct them, and that I HAVE corrected them.
She replied by telling me why my numbers might be high. Um, but...?
She told me that if I don't get my numbers under control (BUT THEY ARE), I might need to be medicated...?
I repeated that my numbers are fine, and have been since I got my diagnosis.
Is it that no one believes me? Are they just trained to be skeptical? While I get that they need to emphasize the seriousness of the condition, I also wish someone would actually just listen to me.
If I'd thought about it for 3 seconds, I could have curbed my carb intake two days before my test and not been subjected to ANY of this. I'm actually glad I'm checking my blood sugar (it's fascinating!), but otherwise, this is all so frustrating.
I'm supposed to bring my test kit with me to my next doctor's appointment to show him all my numbers and to discuss how to proceed. My guess is that he will be like, "Oh, yeah. You're fine."
I'll keep you posted.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Serving Size: 16 pieces
Servings Per Container: about 3*
Total Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrate: 36g