Everyone keeps saying, "At least it's only a short amount of time!" and everything I read says managing gestational diabetes is really not that hard. But so far I've found it frustrating and overwhelming, and while 10 weeks is short in the big picture, right now it feels like a lifetime.
I admit, I've had a hard few weeks outside of the GD, and that has made it difficult to process everything involved with this diagnosis. My job has a busy season, and it has a few weeks in particular that are painfully busy, and one of those weeks is what I call "hell week." Hell week happened to be this past week. It's a tough week no matter the circumstances, but add in that I'm 30 weeks pregnant, and that I'm still figuring out how to live with GD, it was mentally, emotionally and physically draining. I had several break downs. My brain stopped working. Someone would ask me a simple question and I'd just stare at them like they were speaking a foreign language.
It was bad.
And in the middle of all that, I ended up having three separate pregnancy-related appointments, I had to start testing my blood sugar four times a day, and I had to try to navigate the ridiculousness that is our health care system.
This is long and boring, but I'm going to write it anyway because I think it'll be therapeutic for me. Keep in mind, all of this was happening during hell week, and I was completely devoid of the ability to mentally and emotionally process anything.
Saturday night Mike and I spent several hours planning out food for the week. Meal planning is a whole new ball game with diabetes. There's no "we had a rough day, let's just order pizza." Plus my work schedule was so crazy that I wasn't sure if/when I'd even have time to eat, even though regular food intake is important in managing diabetes. We had to literally write out what I'd eat each day: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, while taking into consideration that sometimes I'd be on the road with no fridge or microwave, or that I'd be leading a training all day, etc.
Monday and Tuesday were long and difficult, but I made it. Wednesday I had an appointment with a nurse educator at the diabetes center. She gave me my glucose meter, showed me how to use it, and told me all about the risks and possibilities with GD (many more frightening things than I realized!). So now on top of the stress of work and the stress of eating, I had to find time to test my blood sugar.
I had heard that finger pricks are not a big deal, but I'm here to tell you, they suck. I've figured out a few tricks, but those first few days, I had anxiety all day long, knowing that every few hours I'd have to poke myself. Every time I ate, I'd get a pit in my stomach knowing in an hour I'd have to test. Here's what I learned though, for those that might need ideas:
- I warm up my hands before testing. Sit on them, rub them together, run them under warm water. That brings the blood to the surface.
- If possible, put the lancet on the lowest depth setting. The first time I tried this, I didn't get enough blood, got an error message on the meter, and had to start over, pricking myself again, which is something I never want to do! But later I learned how to draw blood up from the bottom of the finger to get a big enough drop to test. It's a less painful poke, and even though I still hate it, it makes a difference in my anxiety.
- Use the sides of the pads of the fingers. I think that's pretty standard practice, but in you didn't know, the sides have fewer nerve endings.
- I don't use my pinkie or my thumb. My thumb has thicker skin I guess, it's hard to get blood without using a deeper setting. And the one time I used my pinkie, it bled like crazy. Turns out I had accidentally used the deepest lancet setting, but now my pinkie just seems too fragile and innocent to poke.
Anyway, at my appointment with the nurse, she said I'd have to call my OB office for a prescription for testing supplies. Thursday morning I did that, and the nurse there told me that was wrong, someone at the diabetes center had to write the prescription. This nurse also told me I'd be able to fill the prescription at the hospital pharmacy. When I called the diabetes nurse, she said a) that's not true, my insurance will only allow me to fill the prescription through a certain mail order company, and b) I'd have to come back in to see a physician before I could get a prescription.
Am I the first person in my health care system to have GD? How can there be that much confusion about who writes the prescription, and who I need to see to get one, and how I get it filled?
My options were either, find a way to make an appointment that afternoon, or wait a week. I was going to be out of test strips by Friday afternoon, so I went that afternoon. During hell week, in case you forgot. The physician gave me 10 more test strips (that lasts two and a half days, by the way), and faxed my presciription to the mail order company, instructing me to call the next day to set up an account with them.
Friday morning, I called the mail order company and set up an account. I was told an account representative would call me that afternoon to gather more info and confirm my prescription. I didn't get a call, so on my way to my 30 week OB appointment that afternoon, I called them. I had to leave a message, and of course they called back while I was in my appointment. When I finally got ahold of someone, I was told, "They were mistaken in saying someone would call you today. We can't tell you when you might get a call. It depends on what priority you are."
I'm going into the weekend with only enough test strips to get me through Sunday, and you can't tell me when I might get a call? Because it's not like the call is the last step. No. Then you have to fill my prescription and mail it to me. Best case, I'll have the supplies I need by mid-week. I asked her if she could give me any sense of timeline. Not a specific day, but does this typically take days? Weeks? Months? I have gestational diabetes, I'm on a time crunch here!
All I got was, "Ma'am, I can't tell you anything. There are a lot of people waiting, and it depends what priority you are." This is the company my insurance provide has decided to work with exclusively.
So I called the diabetes center to ask for guidance. I was told that if I could get there in 10 minutes (they were closing), I could get more sample test strips. I was at least 20 minutes away. My only other option was to have them call a prescription into Walgreens, which I could pay for out of pocket. My research tells me test strips are 50 cents to a dollar each, and because the mail order company couldn't tell me when I might get a call, I had no idea how many I'd need. This could get costly.
In the end, I'll probably just test until I run out of supplies, then wait. Fortunately my blood sugar levels have been good so far, and hopefully they stay that way even if I'm not able to test and know for sure. It has been a pain to eat this way so consistently, especially with so much else going on, but it seems to be working.
I was 30 weeks this past Wednesday. Ten more weeks to go. Approximately.
(See, I feel a little better even though that was the most boring thing ever written!)