‘Listening to the wake up call’ – Claire
‘It was June 2003 and I was 26 weeks into my first pregnancy. I was off to the pathologist’s for a second glucose test (GTT), having had a slightly abnormal reading previously. There was no history of diabetes in my family and despite having reactive hypoglycaemia, I assumed I’d be in the clear. Little did I know that this fairly routine visit to the pathologist would end up changing my life.
A couple of days later, via voicemail, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (gestational diabetes). The diagnosis and treatment for gestational diabetes is focused on looking forward and delivering positive outcomes. However, for the next few weeks I went through enormous feelings guilt and concern for my unborn child. I was told it was nothing I had eaten; yet I still worried about everything I’d consumed in the last six months.
Claire and her son
My gestational diabetes journey started with a visit to Diabetes Australia where I was given a blood glucose level (BGL) tester. I had to test my levels four times a day; which involved a painful finger pricking, putting blood onto a test strip and then recording the reading in my little green book. Next I saw a dietitian to put me on the righteous path of eating well; however, it seemed I was a fairly healthy eater already. My next visit was to my endocrinologist, who essentially became my BGL (blood glucose level) ‘personal trainer’. After a few weeks, as my BGL was controlled through diet, I able to get away with a weekly fax of my levels rather than a weekly visit. I regularly received a post-fax call from my endocrinologist, to discuss my performance with praise for good levels and a scolding for minor slip ups.
My next experience was with the chemists who sold the strips for the BGL tester. Whilst I didn’t need a prescription, it took a frustrating journey to track down a chemist who was licensed to sell me the strips despite the fact that many stocked them. It was a fairly ostracising experience due to the lack of knowledge about gestational diabetes. Once I found my ‘local’ chemist, 20 minutes away, I was slightly more immune to the questioning looks I received queuing behind the ‘oldies’ who were also handing over their diabetes membership cards.
The turning point was when my mother, who has always been my healthy eating mentor, found a fabulous book which has since become my bible – The New Glucose Revolution. This book changed my life and showed me that whilst it looked like I had a well balanced diet; I ate too many high glycemic index (GI) foods. By making simple changes I was able to manage my BGL with a balanced, low GI diet for the rest of the pregnancy and I was fairly convinced I’d be in the clear post-partum.
Two months later, after giving birth, I went for my next GTT and was diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT or pre-diabetes). This was despite losing somewhere between 10–20 kilos (depending whether you read my scales or my doctor’s). I was told that if I wanted another child and a healthy life without type 2 diabetes I had to lose weight and get fit. I took it very seriously and had great success. Within six months I was cleared of IGT… or as my trainer said ‘you are not abnormal any more’.
I have since had another child and despite doing all the right things I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes again, from week 28 of my pregnancy. This time it was much less daunting for me; I was taught how to prick my finger painlessly, I knew which chemist to visit and generally it made little impact on my life.
Post-partum I made a big effort to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight and I was given the all clear within three months and have continued to stay healthy since. However, the stark reality is that I will see my pathologist for the fabulous 2 hour GTT every year of my life until I go through menopause … at 32 that seems rather a long way down the track.
Whilst it was a fairly emotional and stressful experience for me I am so thankful that I had the wake up call early enough. Not only am I living a healthy life, but so is my family. The knowledge I have gained from The New Glucose Revolution and subsequent online research has proven invaluable in starting to teach healthy eating habits to my kids – despite the sugar marketers’ minefield in the supermarket. In retrospect, I am so positive about my experience that I hope other people can perhaps catch my enthusiasm and realise the benefits I have brought not only to my family but to my friends and others around me.'
‘We are focused on healthy eating now so we can teach our children how to make good food choices early on.’ – Rachel
'About halfway through my second pregnancy, I found out that I had gestational diabetes. I was putting on weight fast and was told that if I didn’t change my eating habits, I would be putting my baby--and myself--at risk. I had to see a nutritionist and learn what foods had a low GI and relearn how to eat so my blood sugar stayed level and so my baby continued to gain weight at a healthier pace. The health of my baby was a huge motivator, so I was able to stick to my diet and lose weight everywhere else on my body as my belly expanded a little more slowly. My baby was born a bit large (9 lb.11oz.), but had no blood sugar problems after birth. (Whew!) And I was so pleased with what the low GI diet had done to the rest of my body (my thighs and backside literally shrunk) that I stayed the course and lost more weight. Within a year of giving birth, I had dropped four sizes from my pre-pregnancy weight. My husband has recently joined me in eating more low GI foods, and he’s looking and feeling healthier than he has in years!'
‘I knew that it needed to be a lifestyle change to improve my overall health.’ – David
‘Four years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then I have increased my exercise program but the nutrition adjustments I needed to make were very confusing but I did my best. I wanted to lose weight but knew that it needed to be a lifestyle change to improve my overall health. At 220 pounds (100 kg) I was able to get to 200 pounds (91 kg) in about three years. I started reading your information in mid-December and began to make your recommended changes to my diet and today I weigh 185 pounds (84 kg). My fitness level is excellent but most importantly I feel healthy.’