Gestational Diabetes – My Tryst with the Beast

Supriya Nair

Manager & Sr. Research Officer Knowledge Management, R&D , Mumbai 

The summer of 2006 was a turning point in my life. I was 25 weeks pregnant, anxious yet happily looking forward to the arrival of the bundle of newbie in our life. All zealous and health conscious at the same time, I was going through the dietary regime and regular health checkups suggested by my gynaecologist. However, one noon, an event made my blood run cold. I was running an errand when I broke out in cold sweat and fell unconscious on the footpath outside a grocery store.

A few pedestrians seeing my preggy belly rushed me to a nearby hospital. After I regained consciousness, my family was summoned. While under observation, a few blood tests were performed. As I was being discharged the next day, my heart skipped a beat when the physician gave us the news I had most dreaded my entire life – I had gestational diabetes!

Diabetes, the most awful and sinister beast had finally invaded my life. I knew what that horrid word meant not only literally but metaphorically too. I had seen its torturous repercussions in my family. Thanks to my genes – I share my roots with a royal family of Kerala, the Zamorins of Calicut. However ostentatious it may sound, and irrespective of the riches they might have left behind, the dynasty left back a distressing heritage of diabetes. The ubiquitous bakeries of Kerala which the Portuguese had brought along serve up a slice of history and have evolved to be a modern-day convenience. The entire family and their diabetic malady flashed before my eyes in the doctors cabin – foot ulcers and the amputated leg of my grandfather, my uncles chronic kidney disease, my cousin who suffered from stroke at a young age of 35, my mom who developed gestational diabetes still has the condition chronic, elders in the family suffering from Alzheimer’s, the entire family history of cardiovascular disease and hypertension – all started with this ghastly beast, diabetes.

As I recouped from the incident, I buckled down to accept the fact that now that I am declared diabetic, I have to make the most of the situation rather than run away from the truth. Moreover, the physicians support in assuring me that gestational diabetes can very well be reversed after pregnancy and the likelihood of developing adult onset diabetes later in life can also be prevented provided proper care and precautions are taken, was all I needed. I decided to be the ‘Beauty’ and roll up my sleeves to turn the deadly ‘Beast’ into my handsome Prince! And there my tryst with diabetes began…

My first responsibility was to take care of our bundle of joy in my womb. My weight had already shot up 10 kgs more than what should normally rise during pregnancy; credit goes to all the Kerala bakery items I had craved for during my first trimester. Apart from the medication prescribed by the physician, I started light exercises and morning walks along with adhering to a nutrient-rich dietary lifestyle. Although I was scheduled for a C-section, thankfully, our baby was born at full-term without any complications.

After acing the first test, I now had a double task of going ahead with the bells on without running out of steam at the same time. To multitask between nursing and tending to my newborn and taking care of my own self was the real challenge.

My family had already showed me what should not be done – what kind of lifestyle was not suitable. I had to reduce around 25 kgs of weight to get back to a normal body mass index (BMI). I continued with my exercise regime after 12 weeks of C-section, beginning very slowing and then increasing the pace gradually. I also consulted a nutritionist to guide me with a post-partum diet so that my baby’s nursing does not get affected in the process. I had stopped taking processed food and table sugar completely. It took 2 years for me to come back to the normal BMI. Thereafter the task was simple. For the last 10 years I have followed a wholesome proportionate diet rather than a restrictive one. This has helped me from all the rise and fall that occurs when one resorts to crash diets. At the same time, resuming Kathak was an icing on the cake. I turned my passion into my exercise regime. And the yearly marathons I run keep me motivated to stay fit round the year as well.

I had read somewhere while researching on diabetes that women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within eight years and I have successfully crossed the bar. I know I might become diabetic in the future owing to my heredity, but I also know that fortune favours the brave. I am proud that with conscious lifestyle modifications I have succeeded to stay fit and keep diabetes at bay. To top off, all I could say today after my short rendezvous with diabetes is that success isn’t due to luck; it is blood, sweat and grit all the way.

 

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