I will never forget the day I discovered I was no longer safe from diabetes.
I was standing at the stove, preparing dinner. It was kielbasa with peppers, and broccoli.
I remember it so vividly, the way the kitchen smelled. Salty and earthy.
I felt a little jittery and had a headache that wouldn’t stop. I just didn’t feel like myself.
A little voice told me to check my blood sugar.
I resisted. I didn’t want to. I was done with diabetes. I was done.
Cailyn was about six months old.
Carys was almost three.
And I was delaying the inevitable.
I checked my blood sugar.
I looked at the number and panicked.
It could not be true.
I checked it again.
And then a third time, just to be sure.
It was 586.
A normal person’s blood sugar is typically below 130.
My glucometer shuts off at 599, which I’ve found out the hard way a few times since then.
Suddenly, it all made sense.
I was nursing Cailyn, and hadn’t thought much about the weight loss I had been experiencing.
I had welcomed it. I loved it. I felt like I was getting my body back.
I was insanely thirsty and I visited the bathroom more times than I could count.
I really didn’t think much of it.
I was nursing; I was burning calories, resulting in weight loss.
I was nursing; I was thirsty. Extremely thirsty.
I was nursing; I used the bathroom a lot. Because I drank a lot. Because I was nursing.
This was all because I was nursing.
And because I had a busy, full life chasing two kids around.
It was not because I had an issue with my blood sugar.
It couldn’t be.
I was happy. I was healthy.
I had a new baby, and a big baby.
I was able to stay home with my girls, which was a dream come true.
I was fine. Absolutely fine.
Just to be sure, I checked my ketones.
I had been given a ketone test kit when I was pregnant with Cailyn to test my urine randomly.
The doctors wanted to make sure I wasn’t spilling ketones; a vital test to make sure I was controlling diabetes well.
Ketones are produced when the body burns fat for energy or fuel. They are also produced when you lose weight or if there is not enough insulin to help your body use sugar for energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood. Since the body is unable to use glucose for energy, it breaks down fat instead. When this occurs, ketones form in the blood and spill into the urine. These ketones can make you very sick.
The test showed that I was spilling ketones alright. And a lot of them.
The test strip container has a comparison chart, to tell much (or little) ketones you’re producing. The colors range from light pink to dark mauve-purple; few ketones to large ketones respectively.
My strip was nearly black.
I did the responsible thing and called my endocrinologist.
It was a Wednesday evening, and I got the nurse’s voicemail.
I left a brief message that I was about 6-month post-partum after a bout with gestational diabetes. I told her I had a high glucose reading, and I was spilling ketones.
About twenty minutes later, she called back.
She asked me a few questions and said she’d call back after she talked with my doctor.
About ten minutes after that, the phone rang.
The caller id displayed the endocrinologist’s office was calling.
When I answered, I was a bit shocked it was actually my doctor, and not the nurse.
I knew it was serious. Why would he take time to call me personally?
He: I hear you’re spilling ketones and have a high blood sugar reading?
Me: Yes, I am. I do.
He: I want you to go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care. Right Now.
Me: Really? Because I feel okay. Really, I do.
He: No. Go. Now. I’m putting you on my schedule for Friday evening. I don’t have an appointment, but I will not leave the office until I see you Friday afternoon.
I was scared to death.
The ER? Really? Because I feel fine. It’s just a headache.
I was freaking out.
I went to urgent care, and told them what was going on.
The PA there was wonderful, and got me through the office quickly.
I left with a prescription for insulin and syringes.
I was devastated.
Friday afternoon came.
Chad & I made our way to my endocrinologist’s office, a little worried about what we’d be told.
True to his word, Dr. Becker saw me around 6:00 that evening. We talked a lot, he listened. I listened.
And it was determined that I would need more blood work.
Great. Just what I always wanted.
Oh, and by the way, he also found my thyroid to be out of whack.
More blood work.
He went through the obligatory statements about women with gestational diabetes having a greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. In my case, it was sooner than later.
We all agreed that I could handle my “old” regimen of insulin injections and carb counting.
And I would start a different medication for the thyroid issue.
Things would be okay, he said.
And they were.
For a little while.