By Genevieve A. Suzuki
I struggled with my lede for this column for a while, trying fervently to come up with something eloquent, but all I’ve got is “diabetes sucks.”
When I got pregnant with my daughter, my doctor told me my blood sugar test came back high. “Well, duh,” I thought. “I’m drinking strawberry milkshakes 24/7.”
But then I took the horrid mandated follow-up test— they made me drink something that tasted suspiciously like orange Fanta that had been open in the fridge for a few days before taking a vial of blood every hour for three hours — and was formally diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the bane of any lady having a baby.
Having gestational diabetes is a huge bummer when you’re pregnant. While other pregnant mamas were lounging around eating ice cream, I was on a limited diet, mindfully watching carbs and walking at least 30 minutes a day. I was put off, but then I gave birth to Quinn and magically the diabetes went away, allowing me to consume the vat of chocolate pudding Kaiser offered upon seeing my blood sugar return to normal levels.
Six years later, I was pregnant with my son and again diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This time, however, I couldn’t control my glucose levels so I was given oral medication. One would think that would mean I would straighten up and fly right, but no, I veered to the left and ate donuts, chocolate cake and cookies as though I had a teenager’s metabolism.
No surprise then that after giving birth I was diagnosed with prediabetes.
“What is this ‘prediabetes’ nonsense?” I thought. “What does this mean? And why is Kaiser recommending I attend a class on it in La Mesa? And where’s the vat of chocolate pudding from last time around?”
Apparently there are a lot of risk factors for developing prediabetes: You could be 45. You could be overweight. You could be Asian or African American or Hispanic/Latino or anything not Caucasian. You could have it in your family history. You could be physically inactive. And you could have had gestational diabetes.
At the time of diagnosis, I had at least five of the six, unlike any time I’ve played Powerball.
As I sat in the prediabetes class, I noticed I was younger than most of my classmates. I envied them for having sugary treats for decades longer than me, for indulging in the breadsticks at Olive Garden more than I will ever be able to, and for being retired and having more time to deal with avoiding Type 2 diabetes, the dreaded follow-up to prediabetes that goes unchecked.
But I also realized I could turn things around. I don’t have to develop Type 2 diabetes at 40. According to the American Diabetes Association, losing 7 percent of your body weight, if you’re overweight, can return glucose levels to normal.
And while I can’t change age, ethnic heritage or family history, I can certainly lose weight and get active at least five days a week for 30 minutes a day.
So yeah, while diabetes still sucks, prediabetes may just be the kick in the pants I needed to make real change.
—Genevieve A. Suzuki is a La Mesa resident who practices family law. Visit her website at sdlawyersuzuki.com.