What to Expect at Your First Diabetes Center Visit

I met with Ellie, a diabetes nurse educator, and Sara, a dietitian, at the Woman’s Hospital Diabetes Center about a week after I failed the three-hour glucose test. I was surprised when I called to schedule the appointment that someone actually answered the phone – there’s no answering service like I’m used to with my doctor’s office.

I was instructed to bring my glucose meter and supplies with me. I had a lot of trouble getting those from the pharmacy because my insurance would only pay for a specific brand (or at least that’s what my pharmacist thought). I ended up getting a name brand machine, meaning the test strips are more expensive. But so far insurance is covering that so other than the initial hassle that was OK.

Ellie went through a series of questions and then showed me how to test my blood sugar. She gave me a log book to record the readings and gave me the limits that I wanted to stay under. I kept it together, but she said she gets a lot of women who cry during this visit. I had my game face on and was resigned to this inevitability by the time I made it to her office. I’m also a data nerd, so knowing my readings is a small comfort.

Next I met with Sara, who walked me through the diet plan. It’s complicated in that I have to eat a certain number of “carb choices” throughout the day along with protein, fats and other nutrients. Eleven weeks in, and I still consult the guidebook she provided, although not nearly as frequently as that first week when every meal was prepared with it in hand. She marked up the booklet quite a bit, I guess to customize it for me, but the Type A in me resented it and hate looking at the messy marks everywhere (plus she crossed out most of the sweets – not even sure why they’re listed there, but maybe some women with GD are able to include those in their diets in moderation but not me!).

I had prior experience matching carbs with protein and limiting my carb intake, but nothing had prepared me for the restrictiveness and timing issues with this diet. I eat six times a day – three small meals and three even smaller snacks. I’m also supposed to exercise – at least walking – 60 minutes a day. I’ve rarely met that goal but keeping it in mind I do try to move more frequently.

After about an hour after the appointment began I had my instructions, some sample menus and recommendations for cookbooks to check out (Holly Clegg specifically). While I don’t think I felt better after the appointment I certainly didn’t feel any worse. And it did give me a sense of control and the feeling that I could handle this and manage this disease. Also a hope that if I do manage it well during pregnancy it won’t evolve into full-blown Type 2 diabetes.

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