Now I know how to explain diabetes!

September 25, 2012By 0 Comments

As I come into my 19th week of pregnancy, I am finally starting to feel confident and comfortable in my ‘new’ skin.  Not too much has changed since before I was pregnant, other than the fact that I won’t see my favorite jeans again until next summer probably.  It dawned on me the other day that all of these years that I have feverishly worked to get the general public to try to walk a day in a diabetics’ shoes and truly understand how we must feel on the inside, my words too often fell on deaf ears.  How can anyone understand what someone with a chronic disease feels like unless they themselves have ever experienced it?  Especially when from the outside, one may look perfectly fine and normal.  Well, I figured it out… I think!

One of the most expected things during pregnancy that a women can automatically prepare herself for is all of the advice and comments that not only family and friends will make, but perfect strangers as well.  Here are just a few of the common things that I have heard:

-“Just wait until you have to get up 5 times a night to pee!”

-“Has the hunger kicked in yet?  Are you eating everything in sight?”

-“Have you been drinking enough water? That’s really important!”

-“Don’t you just love an excuse to indulge in ice-cream every night!”

-“What a great excuse to get out of exercising!”

-“Wait till that baby comes, you will need to have her on a schedule!”

-“Packing for the hospital shouldn’t be that difficult, you really only need a few simple things like toiletries and comfortable sweatpants…”

HA!  This is it!  Everything that is written above is what I have been experiencing for the last 22 years of living with diabetes!  NOTHING has changed for me!  Think about it, as a diabetic without being pregnant, I get up at least 2-3 times per night anyways to go to the bathroom, treat a low, or check my blood sugar.  As far as hunger goes, what so many people don’t understand is that insulin actually makes you hungry, it’s the old ‘lock and key’ analogy.  If I don’t have enough insulin on board, the food cannot get into my cells to be used as energy, so it raises my blood sugar, which in turn leaves my cells still starving, so I am left with a high blood sugar and I’m still hungry.  Should I have too much insulin on board, regardless of my hunger, I must eat to avoid a crashing low.  Needless to say, I am most of the time always hungry or at least always needing to eat.  Pregnancy hasn’t even phased me as far as hunger goes!  However, the ‘indulging’, well, I will have to leave that to the non-diabetic pregnant women.  I can treat myself a little bit, but too often the consequences of a high blood sugar are not worth it for my growing baby.  So with that, I am hoping to avoid the Jessica Simpson type weight gain!  Thank you diabetes!

As for the drinking enough water, well that is nothing new either.  I know that when I am not low, drinking plain old water is the best thing for my body for a number of reasons, including just helping my kidneys stay flushed and healthy, and all of my cells hydrated.  The amount of water I am drinking during pregnancy hasn’t changed much.

Exercising is vital, to any person, diabetes, pregnant or not!  Anyone who thinks they need to take it ‘real easy’ during pregnancy should speak to their doctor first.  It is different for every individual, but for me, I have been able to keep my activity level exactly the same as I did before I was pregnant (minus lifting really heavy weights or doing a kickboxing class).  This is not only important for my blood sugar management but extremely important for the health of my blood pressure and my baby.

Putting together a solid schedule for the baby when she arrives will definitely need to have its kinks worked out I’m sure, depending on whether or not she is stubborn and difficult like her mother.  However, my entire life has been one big schedule.  Needing to worry about when I’m eating next, what my blood sugar is before any event, or where the nearest bathroom and juice box is located is always on my radar.  While my baby’s needs will be different from mine, she will be in good hands with her anal Annie of a mother.  Packing for the hospital, or packing for anything for that matter is no small task.  For me, it takes me a week in advance to just prepare my own bag, with my back-up pump, meter and insulin supplies, other medications, toiletries, clothes, cell phone charger… you name it.  I have a check-list that I have to run down, because it is always my luck to literally remember everything except the most vital thing like my insulin or a reservoir for my pump.  Now, I will need to not only pack for myself (and help my husband as he often needs a hand) I will need to pack for the needs of my little one.  This is why when someone asks me to just spend the night… it’s never that easy!

All in all, my pregnancy has been great so far.  But now, I can at least speak from experience, and when I am talking to a group about diabetes awareness, if there are any women in there, I can tell them: Remember how you felt when you were pregnant and you had to put up with a lot of things you wish you didn’t have to?  That is diabetes.  The reward at the end of pregnancy is a beautiful baby, and the reward at the end of diabetes is well, more years to spend with that baby.

Filed in: Pregnancy and T1D

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