On April 1, I went in for my glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes. Due to the horror stories I’d heard from friends about the “disgusting drink” you have to choke down— and the boredom that ensues while you’re sitting there waiting for it to circulate through your system—I was pretty nervous about it.
According to mayoclinic.com, the drink is “a sweetened liquid (called Glucola), which contains 50 g. of glucose. The body absorbs this glucose rapidly, causing blood glucose levels to rise within 30 to 60 minutes. A blood sample will be taken … about 60 minutes after drinking the solution. The blood test measures how the glucose solution was metabolized (processed by the body).”
During the week leading up to the test, I tried to prepare diligently. As advised, I ate my usual diet, with fewer sweets (to counteract all the pasta, cake, and Carvel ice cream I’d consumed in New York the weekend prior). I ate sparingly at an event Keith’s battalion held at a favorite barbecue joint the night before the test. And that morning, I skipped breakfast and drank only water.
We arrived at the doctor’s office at 8:20 AM. Ten minutes later, a lab technician came into the waiting room and handed me a bottle of the dreaded drink. “You have five minutes to drink the whole thing. I’ll be back in an hour,” she instructed.
I untwisted the cap and steeled myself. Then, tentatively, I took my first sip. And to my surprise, I actually sort of … enjoyed it. Sure, it tasted like flat orange soda. But for someone who loves sweet stuff, all of that sugar was actually a welcome treat.
“This isn’t bad!” I proclaimed, as I took another gulp.
Keith cracked up laughing. “Ewwww!” he said, pointing to the top of the bottle. “Look at all the sugar that’s condensing!”
I couldn’t care less. I downed the Glucola in four minutes, then indulged in a gossip magazine for the next hour while Keith answered work emails. I didn’t have any of the physical reactions I’d been warned about, such as heartburn or dizziness.
When the lab technician and my regular physician’s assistant came to fetch me for the blood draw, I confessed that I’d actually liked the drink. The assistant, who has two small children of her own, looked at me as though I were nuts. The technician shook her head and said, “Well, I guess there are plenty of worse things we could have given you to drink.”
Since then, I’ve told many people about my experience—friends who’d been pregnant, my obstetrician, my perinatologist. They’ve all had the same reaction—a mixture of “You are so strange” and “Well, good for you, I guess!” The important thing, though, is that I passed the test with flying colors.
The whole thing reminds me of an experience my dad had nearly six years ago, after he’d suffered from cardiac arrest while driving and got into a bad accident. He’d lost oxygen for several minutes before being resuscitated and hospitalized, and it left him with short-term memory loss and other, shall we say, odd behavior. My mom, brother, and I were visiting him in the hospital when a nurse came by and give him a large cup of some gross-looking substance to drink in preparation for a medical test.
“This is not going to taste good,” she warned him, “But I’m sorry—you have to drink it.”
My dad then proceeded to slurp down the entire drink as though it were a smoothie, even offering all of us a taste. We all laughed uncontrollably, much to the dismay of medical staff passing by. I thought my dad was seriously crazy then, but who knows? Maybe this strange palate runs in our family.
Moms: Please comment and share your experiences with the glucose tolerance test. Is there anyone else out there who, like me, did not find the Glucola to be so bad? Or, am I seriously crazy?