What To Expect From A Three-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test

What To Expect from a Glucose Tolerance Test
After my one-hour glucose screen test showed I was borderline with a result of 132 (the limit is 129), I got a call from my OB telling me I needed further testing.

My initial reaction was natural, I believe: I was upset, a bit scared and worried about the consequences of developing diabetes. I read everything I could google on the subject and then worried some more.

After a couple of days, I was ready to fight. My diet got another checkup for my Baby’s sake and I made sure to eliminate unnecessary sugar (goodbye, frozen cake from my surprise Baby shower) as well as made sure my carbohydrate consumption was always accompanied by some sort of protein.

I mentally prepared for the three-hour Glucose Tolerance Test and scheduled my appointment. So, here’s how it unfolded.

I arrived at the testing lab around 10 am and waited for my name to be called. They took me in and drew the first vial of blood, which is to test for fasting glucose.

After that, I was given the 100 glucose drink, which was a clear lime-flavored fluid and tasted very much like what I drank for the 1-hour glucose tolerance test. While I “enjoyed” the drink, the phlebotomist filled out the necessary paperwork and gave me stickers for further blood drawings spaced at 1, 2 and 3 hours. So, for me, it was 11:20, 12:20 and 1:20.

I had to watch the clock and time myself, which I think is a bit odd because the lab is administering the test. Shouldn’t they give you some sort of a timer to assure the test was properly administered? I wasn’t surprised, though, as I had to do the same for my 1-hour test. I simply set my iPhone’s alarm for the next drawing and settled into a chair for my wait.

Tips for your Glucose Tolerance Test:

1. I was reminded to NOT eat or drink anything while I waited. Only tiny sips of water were okay. You will be hungry after having fasted overnight, plus the three hours of the test. Bring a snack with you so you can eat right after the test. Of course, something balanced, with a little protein. I brought roasted unsalted peanuts and a banana to tide me over.

2. Bring something to entertain yourself for the three hours you’ll be spending confined to the waiting room. It’s almost like being on an airplane. A book, magazine, your smart phone, Kindle or iPad–whatever makes time pass as you sit in one place.

3. Waiting rooms can often feel very cold. Wear layers or bring a sweater so you don’t have to freeze for three hours. Or, it might be the opposite with heat. Come prepared.

When my alarm went off at 11:20 am, I found my phlebotomist and had the 1-hour draw. This was repeated twice more.

By the way, you should prepare to be poked with a needle all FOUR times! With my fear of needles, I half-hoped that they’d install some sort of a device to avoid repetitively sticking a needle in my arm but no such luck. I had to soldier through two punctures in each arm.

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