She Says… One Test Down

Sigh of relief. Well, at least I think so.

I do not have gestational diabetes.

In fact, my test results showed completely the opposite. Which could mean the presence of another issue, but could just be a result of an unlucky combination of factors.

On Tuesday night after my after-dinner snack, I started fasting. I woke up Wednesday morning, Benjamin took Owen to school and I headed for the doctor’s office as soon as it opened. I brought my computer and planned to get work done in the waiting room since I knew I was going to be there for 3 hours. First they took a urine sample to see if there was sugar present. If there was, I think they could diagnose diabetes from that, and perhaps I wouldn’t even have to do the test at all. Not sure about that, though, because they declared mine “negative”, handed me the ice-cold glucose drink, and started the clock. 5 minutes to guzzle the sugary drink. Not so bad when it’s ice cold.

I was hungry when I arrived, and it’s no wonder that feeling magnified when I sat down in the waiting room knowing that I was going to sit there, without food or water, for the next 3 hours. Brutal. I started working, but about 45 minutes in my eyesight was getting blurry and I felt hollow inside and a little shaky. I knew it was from the fasting/sugar high/sugar crash that my body really isn’t used to, but instead of causing a fainting or vomiting scene in the waiting room, I decided to head back and ask the nurse if I could put my feet up because I felt pretty woozy and shaky. She took my 1 hour blood draw and then showed me to a big chair (very much like the one I used to have to use every time I got blood taken as a kid/teen because I used to pass out a lot — I was a weenie). I leaned back and closed my eyes for 45 minutes. I felt weak, no doubt due to the fact that I hadn’t eaten in a while, but thankfully I had nowhere to go.

At the 2 hour blood work I was feeling a bit better, so I headed back out to the waiting room to work on some spreadsheets and powerpoint slides. Fun, eh? By the time the 3 hour needle stick came around I was so starving I would have eaten the nurse’s arm off if I hadn’t packed myself some snacks. As soon as she pulled that needle out, I shakily stuffed my face with 2 granola bars, an apple and half of my water bottle. The nurse made me finish an orange juice and sit for a few minutes to make sure I was ok to drive. I felt ok and was on my way.

I had already planned my route home around getting an egg & cheese sandwich and a decaf latte. Drive through. It was glorious. It was gone before I even left the drive through lane.

In the afternoon I got a call from the after-hours nurse. “Are you feeling ok? Your glucose level at the 3rd blood draw was super low. Like, dangerously low.” Frankly I was a little confused by the phone call, since I was feeling fine after eating all day long. I was just happy to hear that I didn’t have gestational diabetes!

My numbers were:
– Fasting: 75 mg/dL (normal range 65-95)
– 1 hour: 116 mg/dL (normal range 65-179)
– 2 hour: 114 mg/dL (normal range 65-154)
– 3 hour: 33 mg/dL (normal range 65-139)

Apparently the very low 3 hour puts me in the “hypoglycemic” camp. I’ve always been a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic… if I don’t eat small meals/snacks regularly, I bonk. If I exercise on an empty stomach, I bonk. If I don’t have my emergency granola bar on hand, I tend to get really hungry, and sometimes shaky and starving to the point of needing to sit down. When I’m hungry, I’m HANGRY. But stuffing my face always fixes it pretty quickly. I kind of thought this was normal, and it’s never really been an issue since I know this about myself and rarely let myself get to that shaky/fainty point.

The nurse seemed very concerned by this number, and after some Googling I can see that low blood glucose can sometimes indicate another health issue (pancreatic tumor, kidney issues, endocrine deficiencies, etc.). But given the fact that I’m pregnant and hadn’t eaten in 15 hours and my body is not used to processing large amounts of sugar or carbs, my doctor is not terribly concerned. So… neither am I.

Just happy I don’t have gestational diabetes!

Prior to this test my doctor said she wanted me to have the gestational diabetes test done TWICE during my pregnant, because having PCOS puts me at higher risk of having it. I’m not sure if this still stands, or if maybe she will just let me do the one hour test, fasting, the next time. Because I don’t want to do this 3 hour shenanigans again!

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12 responses to “She Says… One Test Down

  1. Wow yes 33 is majorly low! Some people would not be conscious at 33 which is why the nurse was so concerned (I’m a nurse so I’ve been there with my own patients). I’m glad you don’t have GD that is definitely a relief. Hopefully the hypoglycemia is just that and nothing else. Sounds like you’ve had it for awhile and manage it fine. After that experience I may refuse a 2nd request to do a 3 hour glucose test… just saying!

  2. I am another self-diagnosed hypoglycemic (I get shaky and faint and sometimes my lips/tongue get numb if my blood sugar drops too low but then I feel fine once I eat something). For me it’s worse during pregnancy and breast feeding, since I pretty much eat everything in sight all day, so any fasting or going too long between meals/snacks triggers the shakes and lightheadedness. Yes, I’ve been known to stuff my face with graham crackers at 3AM. More than once.

    Sounds like your doc isn’t too worried, and the low level was just from the sugar crash. Hope you don’t have to repeat the test!

  3. YAY!! Congrats!

    Also, this: “I’ve always been a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic… if I don’t eat small meals/snacks regularly, I bonk. If I exercise on an empty stomach, I bonk. If I don’t have my emergency granola bar on hand, I tend to get really hungry, and sometimes shaky and starving to the point of needing to sit down. When I’m hungry, I’m HANGRY.” … made me laugh. You just described me perfectly. A good friend of mine is the same way… when we go shopping together, we always coordinate who will bring snacks so that we don’t either pass out or end our friendship in a moment of hanger. 😉

  4. I’m so glad you don’t have gestational diabetes!
    Hopefully you don’t have to ever repeat that incident! Sounds like a nightmare!

  5. @Summer, Scary! I’m very glad my reaction wasn’t more severe, then. I will definitely push back if she wants me to do the test again in the same way.

    @Julie, Yes, now that you mention it, I remember it happening more when I was breastfeeding Owen than any other time. Definitely an “I’m hungry” response (times a million). Keep those graham crackers handy 🙂

    @Meg, Thanks! I was so relieved. I’d gotten myself all kinds of nervous. I’m happy to hear I’m not the only hangry one out there. Leaving home without that emergency snack is a recipe for disaster!

    @Megan, Thank you, me too! Now that I’m past it (and still eating extra today, it seems), it feels like it wasn’t a big deal. But to have nurses tell me I could have been unconscious?! That’s a big deal.

  6. The three hour test is the worst!! I hope I don’t have to do it with this pregnancy.

  7. Umm..I don’t get it? I thought your numbers were 181 from https://thisplaceisnowahome.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/she-says-f-is-for-fail/

  8. Doesn’t it make you mad when you ace the 3 hour after failing the first? Ugg, I wish they would come out with a more accurate way to determine if you have GD.

  9. @na, I know, I was confused too. I think it had everything to do with the fact that I had been eating throughout the day, and the test was in the late afternoon the first time around. They didn’t tell me to fast except for 2 hours prior, which I did. However, I guess my body was still processing food from earlier in the day. The fasting test is MUCH more reliable.

    @Hilary, I know. I read somewhere that the 1st test is so easy to “fail” because they want to make sure they capture everyone who might even have a chance of having GD. Which I guess makes total sense. False negative could be really dangerous and most people are only screened once in their pregnancy. That said, I have another friend whose doctor did the test with real food (had her eat a banana and toast or something) and that seems like a much more accurate “test” than this contrived situation with a sugary drink.

  10. Hey Kate! So glad you don’t have GDM! The 33 blood glucose is certainly scary, but I’m not sure if the nurse or doctor told you that, due to the larger blood volume pregnant women have, it is “normal” to be lower than a non-pregnant person…however, 33 is quite low, that said! What probably happened was something called reactive hypoglycemia. Basically because your body was delivered a massive load of glucose on an empty stomach, your pancreas responded by secreting an extra large amount of insulin to remove the glucose from the blood (that was probably the initial shaky/nauseous feeling you felt). Once the glucose in that drink was removed from your blood, your sugar really began to plummet. Over-secretion of insulin is common with PCOS (so what you may have felt all of your life could be secondary to this). Dietary treatment for this is what you discovered works for you–eat a combo of complex carbs and protein every few hours (that combo is digested more slowly, without highs and lows).
    Bottom line, if the doc was really concerned, he would repeat the test who you were not pregnant or nursing. Also, lab tests are not always 100% accurate (there can be human error involved).
    Jen

  11. @Jen, Thank you so much! I am so lucky to have my own team of professionals weighing in and keeping me sane 🙂 My doctor/midwife team actually are going to test me again. This is less to do with my “score” on this past test, and more to do with the fact that they tested me quite early (21 weeks) this first time around, since I am in a high risk group, but they also planned on testing me again, at 28 weeks, like a normal patient, to make sure I haven’t developed it. Given my response to the 3 hour test, though, we have opted to do a 2 hour test instead and I will be sure to refuel properly before leaving the office. Thanks again for the info!

  12. Michele, I have strong opinions about this, but I don’t want to bias the field. Love to hear what others think!

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