Let’s talk health – I’m a mummy with Type 2 Diabetes.
Think of a donkey, weighted down with heavy loads, being forced to slowly lug them up a hill in the scorching sun. That’s motherhood. It’s hard, so hard. Then add a fat bloke to that donkey. Make the road muddy. Make the donkey feel close to collapse.
That’s parenting with a chronic health condition – such as Type 2 diabetes.
I’ve not really spoken out about this much, mostly out of embarrassment that at the age of 25 I was able to get my health into such a bad place (obviously not judging other T2 diabetics and it can be caused by other factors too) that I became diabetic, poorly, and generally in a horrendous state of health. I was on the verge of collapse most days, drenched in sweat, couldn’t see straight, and just wanted to sleep all day every day, as well as experiencing the horrific migraines associated with hyperglycemia. Parenting in that state? Thank goodness for my partner and parents.
I always knew I would be prone to it; Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, coupled with an up and down battle to keep my weight down since I was a child, and then Gestational Diabetes when I was pregnant (during which time I also gained 6 bloody stone). Add in a bout of horrible PND resulting in me locking myself in the house eating and eating and eating for many months, and it’s easy to see how my body just gave up. I must add that there are some things that can cause T2 beyond lifestyle, but in my case, lifestyle was my downfall.
I take full accountability. It would be easy for me to blame my conditions that did raise my risk but ultimately, it is a mostly PREVENTABLE condition, and I was too complacent when it came to what I was eating and my lack of physical activity. There is always a risk of remaining diabetic after Gestational Diabetes and that risk is small but I admit that I certainly didn’t help myself. I am furious with myself, and wish I could turn back the clock…
So, back to the point I am trying to raise… motherhood with diabetes is a constant battle for me, and even with good control of my blood sugars I am sometimes absolutely bone-achingly exhausted, irritable and fed up beyond the typical malaise that comes with tiring motherhood. Not nice when you’re a mummy who wants to have fun with your baby and run around with them! I want to take this opportunity to warn other ladies who have risk factors for T2 diabetes – please look after yourself. I know how easy it is to put baby and others first, but you matter too! Your babies depend on you being healthy.
- are over 40 years old, or 25 for south Asian people.
- have a parent or sibling with diabetes.
- Have a BMI on the overweight or obese category.
- are from a south Asian, Chinese, African Caribbean or black African family background.
Things like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and other conditions can raise your risk too – ask your GP if you’re considered at risk. Gestational diabetes usually goes, but for some it can cause lifelong Type 2 diabetes due to the impact of the Gestational Diabetes. The risk of developing Type 2 within 5-10 years of having a baby after gestational diabetes is known to be much higher than it would be for a mum without gestational diabetes, but the statistics on this vary.
If you have risk factors and aren’t diabetic, you have time to ensure that you avoid this fate. It is a ‘forever’ condition, contrary to the misconception that it can be cured. It can go into remission if you have 2 HbA1c blood tests done 3 months apart when not on medication and both results are lower than 6.5, but you cannot be ‘cured’ and can easily slip back into T2 diabetes if you go back to old habits.
Personally for me, I’ve found that metformin and a low carbohydrate diet (below 50 grams a day, but as low as possible) is the best way for me to keep my blood glucose in normal range, and it’s helped me to lose 4 stone and 10 pounds so far which has also meant that my HbA1c readings have dropped dramatically since my initial diagnosis. If you’re one of the unfortunate at risk ladies, I’d definitely advise reducing your carbohydrate intake but different people have different tolerances/triggers so you’re best off discussing it with your GP or a diabetic specialist. If you have PCOS, your GP may be willing to prescribe you metformin, although it’s not specifically licensed for PCOS yet despite the evidence of all the benefits!
We only have one body in this lifetime. We owe it to our babies that we keep as healthy as possible; my diagnosis has left me very scared but determined to overcome this, and I would love inspire even one person to make choices that will improve and prolong their life.
To happiness, to health, and to making the right choices in 2019!
Love from Katie. Xx