Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm Guess I'm Just Sweet

Between 24 and 28 weeks, pregnant women are asked to participate in a glucose screening. There are several different ways to conduct this screening, though the most common is to first arrive at the butt-crack of dawn at a neighborhood clinical laboratory. Then, while maneuvering around a number of different levels of sickly people, you approach the sign-in area. Once at sign-in, a nice nurse or phlebotomist hands you a small bottle of juice. Remember the little, plastic juice bottles we used to get in school with the foil top? It looks like that. Oh, except that it tastes like someone poured artificial flavoring, water, 50 grams of sugar, and a little bit of feet into the bottle instead of juice. You have 5 minutes to drink this concoction, and you can't vomit. Then, you sit and watch all the crazies come and go for an hour while your body starts screaming and throwing itself into walls, trying to deal with the ridiculous amount of sugar you just ingested. Then they take a bunch of blood while you crash in the chair and you drive home (though, you might not remember the drive home). Sounds like fun, right?
This test is probably the most arbitrary, archaic thing I've experienced during my pregnancy so far. I learned from my nutritionist the numbers chosen as the "normal range" were arrived at after a sample of about 20 people. Compare that to the millions who take it every year. And it literally takes an act of Congress to change those numbers. If you fail the test by even one point, you can be diagnosed diabetic or, in my case, a gestational diabetic.
So, if normal is 130, my results were 202. For those who aren't paying attention, that's frackin' high. But the worst part was not how high the number was. The worst part was the nurse casually called me to tell me that I would have to go back and take the test over again, only this time I would have to drink MORE of the drink, stay for THREE hours, and have my blood drawn four times. That's right. I'm not metabolizing sugar correctly so the western medical world's response is to feed me MORE sugar, and then take more of my blood. Oh, and when I asked what some of the risks were, she told me I could be forced to take insulin later in my pregnancy, as well as being at risk for fetal demise. Yep. Fetal demise. Say it out loud once so you can hear just how scary it sounds. That nurse told me that my baby could die in the same breath as the fax number I needed to send my information to the lab. Remember bedside manner? She didn't. Needless to say, that was a bad day...
If anyone wants that nurse's direct phone number or home address for any reason whatsoever, just email me directly and I'll be sure you get the information you need.

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