Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Life Out of Balance

Well, friends, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted because I’ve been too busy teaching, writing, bingeing on chocolate, exercising, and practically passing out from low blood sugar. Mother fuck.

It’s 4:00am as I write this. I’ve been waking up every night between 3:00 and 4:00, unable to fall asleep again until 5:00 or so. I can link this directly to my diet. After eight weeks of strict adherence to a low-carb diet to control my gestational diabetes, I cracked. I simply could not keep it up anymore. By 3:00pm I’d be craving chocolate so badly that I’d have one piece, and one piece would lead to a binge (600-800 calories – I’m not kidding). My afternoon binges were between meals so my blood sugar would be low again by dinnertime. Thus, the binges never showed up on my glucose record. Even my fasting glucose remained low (70s-80s). But after 15 weeks of no weight gain, I’ve gained 7 lbs. in 3 weeks – all from chocolate.

My poor baby is building her body mass entirely from chocolate.

Well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I feel like a total worm. This pattern has been disturbing the hell out of me because I know it’s not healthy for me or for the baby. So I ‘fessed up about it to the OB nurses, desperately hoping they could give me some help. Here’s what I got: “Why don’t you try replacing the chocolate with sugar-free cocoa?”

You have got to be kidding me. That’s their idea of advice? Where’s the active problem solving in that approach? Do they tell smokers, “Why don’t you limit yourself to one cigarette per day?” or bulimics, “Why don’t you stop throwing up?” The rational-choice approach to human behavior totally ignores biochemical bases of cravings and addiction. If I’m craving a hit of carbs, sugar-free cocoa ain’t gonna cut it. Why? No carbs! *smashes forehead with palm*

The nurse goes, “This isn’t good for your baby,” and I murmur, “I know that.” What I wanted to say – no, yell – was, “I know that, bee-YOTCH,” Coolio-style. In her defense, I suppose most patients go in there looking for permission to mistreat their bodies. But I went in there telling her point-blank that I wanted her to help me stop this behavior. And here’s what I got: Oh, you want to stop it? Okay, then, stop it. Jesus-peasus-christmas-christ.

As usual, Dad to the rescue. My father has been treated for type II diabetes. He told me that when his blood sugar would drop into the 80s or below, he’d crave sweets so badly that he’d find himself in the grocery store, basket full of Nutter Butters, like a killer who’d blacked out only to awaken and find himself covered in blood. I took a look at my glucose record and found that I’ve basically been living in the 80s (as if my wardrobe weren’t already a clue). My one-hour post-meal draws are almost all in the low 80s or high 70s, and my fasting draws have been in the 70s. The nurses at the OB clinic keep telling me to keep up the good work. But my dad’s experience suggests to me that by keeping my glucose that low, I may have been living in a perpetual state of borderline low blood sugar. Symptoms of low blood sugar include shakiness, irritability, scatterbrainedness (is that a word?), weakness, headache, and major cravings for concentrated carbs. These adjectives pretty much describe my life since I was put on a controlled-carb diet. And did you know that driving with your blood sugar below 80 is akin to driving under the influence? That it actually has the same effect on acuity and reaction time? No joke. If my glucose is in the low 80s one hour after meals, what is it two hours after? Heavens to Betsy. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I’m working out 1.5-2.0 hours a day. Yes, they have me walking 20 minutes after meals, which is an hour/day of cardio, plus my regular strength training regimen of 30-60 minutes. (I’m not willing to give up the latter because it’s the only thing that keeps my back from falling apart and my sciatic pain from turning me into a gibbering bundle of agony.)

I’ve been fucking exhausted, too exhausted to delete all the swear words from this post.

Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance. This whole cycle completely offends my Libran sensibilities. My days are moving to the beat of a freaking Philip Glass soundtrack.

So, based on my dad’s insight, my pea brain comes upon the following possible scenario: Maybe it’s NOT good to be keeping my blood sugar so low, in spite of the nurses’ praise. Maybe I should try to keep it at the higher end of the acceptable range (less than 120 one hour after meals). Maybe, just maybe, an extra piece of fruit or whole-grain bread at each meal would give me more energy and reduce these cravings, not to mention the almost incessant headaches. And maybe I could substitute one of my beloved high-protein chocolate chip Heart Thrives ( for the 3-4 candy bars I’ve been eating every afternoon.

Yesterday I take this scenario to the OB nurse (the one who told me to try sugar-free cocoa) and she nods: Yeah, sure, that would definitely help. I say to her, “I was under the impression that when it comes to my glucose record, lower is better, assuming it’s not below 70.” She says, “Oh no, most people feel much better at the higher end of the range; just make sure to keep it below 120 after meals.” I’m thinking, Thanks for letting me know. It would have been helpful to have this information before almost losing my fucking mind and drowning my baby in sugar.

Why did it take my father’s insight to help solve a problem my medical professionals were supposed to tackle?

The upshot is, even though I have insomnia tonight (too much chocolate yesterday prior to my appointment – okay, afterward too), I’m feeling hopeful and optimistic for the first time in two months. Today’s plan: to bump up the carbs at lunch with an extra piece of fruit or bread or some yogurt and to eat a Heart Thrive for my afternoon snack.

I’m optimistic that this will help me rediscover my old fun self. It’s amazing how much “personality” is actually comprised of, or at least influenced by, daily habits like food and rest, along with biochemical attributes like hormone levels. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Okay, time to start swinging the scales back to balance by getting some rest. Thanks for reading.


Blogger cjblue said...

Hoo boy, could I go on about this subject for a while. As you may know, my husband has been a diabetic since the age of 5. He always says doctors may know a lot about diabetes but they don't know crap about *his* diabetes. He had one who wanted to put him on a 1,000 calorie per day diet when he was working construction. He drank that much per day in milk. That diet would have killed him. When he went back after the job was over, willing to give it a shot, they said "Oh, we don't do that any more..."

Unfortunately for you, you haven't had 50 years to get to know your body's reaction to stuff and what works best for you. Good that you have other sources like your Dad, cause the doctors really aren't much help. They sure love to focus on the diabetes thing though, and run tests. Even if you went in for appendicitis.

And yes, when my husband has an insulin reaction from his blood sugar being too low, it's just like living in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

I hope the changes work well for you and that you start feeling more like yourself, albeit a pregnant self, again.

PS - Can't stand Philip Glass. I'll tell you a PG story another time.

8:58 AM, September 15, 2005  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

I believe that sugar is the new heorine. Seriously. I cannot have just a little--same with potatos and bread. I TOTALLY cut out all potatos about 5 years ago because I was out of control with potatos.

I wish you luck in getting this leveled out.
Your post was really funny!


10:17 AM, September 15, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww Kris...

I can't even begin to try to understand what you are going through! All I can offer is my sympathy and a big hug ((((K))))


12:47 PM, September 15, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Kris I am so sorry but I am laughing bs's levels down with you. Banting and Best were great ,one even did my work up. But all the data in all the books say nothing about how we are feeling! Your Father nailed it! You sure sound low to me , meaning the kill for food syndrome,the I am wimpy & have the trembles . I am guessing at this low time you are staring at the wall,feeling weepy? Okay we know too high is bad, but wait up Dr. there is a lot of good ground in between. I use the old fashioned urine B.S. test stripes, why, well they do not hurt ( my fingers or my other test ) okay they say now they are not as accurate but it sure can be checked on much easier and often . Anyway if I get a postive in my urine ,I can check it with my monitor for a accurate reading. When I am high I sleep, a lot ,my personality is changed for sure , cocky and so snappy, grrr is me. I am wondering if you go low at night and it wakes you up? SO trace sugar like your Father says is on the MONEY. I 100% agree with him , as I want the moods level as well. I think we need all diabetic metabolic nursing staff,oh what a concept. LOL. Commiseration rocks and it is going both ways here thanks... Katie

1:27 PM, September 15, 2005  
Blogger mreenymo said...

Why does this not surprise me? It took you and your father, both non-medical professionals, to figure out what was best for you and your baby, when the OB's and the nurses should have been doing that for you. Outrageous!

In this day and age of managed care and insurance companies playing doctor, if you don't have great insurance (i.e., you are paying an arm and a leg for coverage), you have got to do the research yourself or you may not receive the appropriate medical care. Caveat emptor!!

But I am so happy that you are feeling better, my Libra sister.

Hugs to you, G and Jermajesty!

6:21 PM, September 15, 2005  
Blogger mireille said...

nothing wise to add -- just glad that your, and your Dad's, instincts are so strong and seem to be the right ones for you and the baby. hope it continues to move you toward the best balance for you both. xoxo

8:49 PM, September 15, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

R, J, A, K, R, & M --

Thank you all for your comments, and for your patience with me.


K -- it never occurred to me that skipping my evening snack (which I've been doing when chocolate feasts leave me too full to eat much later) could lead to low blood sugar at night, and THAT could be waking me up in the middle of the night. I read your post and made sure to have a snack last night before bed even though I wasn't really hungry. Slept through the night (excepting pee breaks) for the first time in a week. THANK YOU!!! I swear, I get so much more support and *useful* advice from people who've dealt with diabetes themselves than from my medical consultants. I'm lucky to have you reading my posts. :-)

9:56 AM, September 16, 2005  
Blogger jane said...

Doctors do ot take any nutrition classes. All they know about diet is from nutritionists and nurses. When I worked in High Risk, all our patients were put on 2200 calorie diets. Spread over 6 meals/day seems to keep the "bouncing" of blood sugar away.
But look at the individual! We are not all made the same. I flunked 1 GTT when pregnant because I had maple syrup at 10 PM. Luckily my doctor didn't get caught up in the numbers and checked me another time.Each of us,as your Dad knows,has their own schedule and triggers.with your work-out schedule,you probably need more calories.Have you tried dark chocolate or cocao powder when craving sweets? It gives you seratonins,but not the sugar and calories.
If you would like,I have a recipe for a high protein drink with fruit for preggos.
You're in great shape,can probably gain more than the "average" weight, and have a great attitude. That's what counts,and is more important.
BTW, are you keeping a diary? I always wished I had,so that I could continue it and pass it on to my kids when adults.

5:35 PM, September 16, 2005  
Blogger Jonniker said...

Nothing to add but lots of hugs and support. Kris, I'm so sorry you're going through this! SUGAR FREE COCOA? I'd have taken whatever instrument was nearby and shoved it right up her ass.

I wish I were kidding.


8:57 PM, September 16, 2005  
Blogger katiedid said...

Dads can just be the absolute best, can't they?

The living in the 80s and wardrobe thing just busted me up - heh!

And I know you didn't ask, but I just had weird sleep patterns when I was pregnant, too - some of it I think was just the rapid acceleration of hormones into a body that was totally not used to it. It never got better for me, but I sort of learned to adjust. It was just, uh, tiring. Naps, I swear, are sadly underrated.

3:31 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Sending you all good thoughts, love and support, K!. This too shall pass...

Thinking of you and sending prayers!!

8:21 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger Bela said...

What are hormones for if not for making us go bonkers most of the time? LOL! I've always found their mechanism fascinating: so delicate and tricky.

I'm sure you're going to feel better very soon and won't be suffering from "sugar flops" any longer. :-)

10:54 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger Bela said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:55 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger Bela said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:55 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger Bela said...

Terribly sorry about the above: it just wouldn't post...

10:58 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Merci, J. I certainly hope that's the case. I'm seeing an endocrinologist tomorrow so maybe he can offer additional insight/advice...?

5:40 PM, September 21, 2005  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Oh Kris, I hate when the medical profession subjects us to unwarranted torment. Glad your Dad could help you. My first husband was diabetic and he was very good at being able to tell what his sugar level was by how he felt. You have tune and eat to feel good. You're not a piece of scientific apparatus.
Glad you and the little angel are doing ok. Try not to worry too much. Your body has an amazing capacity to suck up all sorts of punishment and still give the baby a great environment to gestate in.


2:27 PM, September 22, 2005  
Blogger Atreau said...

(((K))) sending you the very best vibes!

12:34 PM, September 23, 2005  

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