The last time I drank Lucozade was in 2003. I used to use it as a hangover cure in my college days; feeling sick and shaky I would get up, walk to college, buy a chilled Lucozade and take it to the library, where upon I would use the subsequent sugar high to dash off an essay on, say, Atomism. I loved the stuff. Used with caution, it was a cross between a medicine and a recreational drug.
How times change. I’m going to drink Lucozade today, but for an entirely more sinister purpose.
I’m having a GTT, or Glucose Tolerance test, which I have to have purely because my BMI is slightly higher than the accepted threshold (not enough walking).
This means, at 28 weeks pregnant, I have to starve myself from 9pm the night before, wend my way to the hospital, have 3 phials of blood taken and then drink 410mls of lurid orange lucozade. I then sit for two hours in a busy waiting room before I am called back to have further blood taken. These two results will be compared and hey presto, they will know if I have gestational diabetes.
If you move about too much, be sick or faint the test has to be repeated. You aren’t allowed to drink anything, even water.
The actual test wasn’t so bad- the worst bit was the waiting room. Anyone who’s been heavily pregnant will know that sitting still in an awkwardly upright position for two hours isn’t ideal. Add to this chairs that hurt your arse, and you’ve got a recipe for disgruntlement. The waiting room is unbearably hot. People come and go.
It is full of nervous expectation as people have scans to either determine the viability of their baby or its health and sex. It is a truly public place.
I’ve got the jitters from the fizzy drink and the baby is having a mad half hour, hyped to the eyeballs on glucose. I feel sick and vague.
Some people don’t feel it is inappropriate to bring rancid-smelling food in to the waiting room, and so the smell of cheap sulphites-laden bacon now pervades. A professional couple pregnant with their first have swung by Costa and their coffees now add to the stench & there is a smell of someone who hasn’t washed- themselves or clothes, too. This fog wafts over me in waves of fetid hot air.
I am trying to read, zone out, just to get through the two hours, and I’m sitting next to a woman in a beautiful jewelled sari trying to do the same. She offers me her catalogue, and we swap magazines- M&S Home Catalogue for me, Vogue for her. She closes her eyes after a while. I don’t blame her. The sensory assault is formidable.
A young woman is shouting,
shouting about her pregnancy to a group of friends who don’t look particularly interested:
“The midwife said if I stop the fags I would stop feeling sick all’time, so I stopped…fuck all that did, so I started again. Only a few a day, mind”
Her entourage nod in silent agreement; they all smell of smoke, I think it must be hard for her to stop when all her friends have the habit too. This makes me wonder- how long, as an abstract society, can we go on allowing smoking? You can’t smoke in hospital, but you can fag it in the grounds, nay, outside the doors, and come in immediately after you’ve stubbed it out- reeking of the chemical carcinogens that kill. Why? I’m breathing in the smoke, and so is my baby, despite the choice not to smoke. Why?
I feel like I am going to faint, and I feel irritated. A man is sniffing up the snot in his nose at about 60-second intervals, which sounds utterly repulsive. I bite my lip in the effort not to shout ‘would you like a tissue, you tiresome retard?’
Nothing will make me give in to fainting- nothing. I will NOT admit to feeling vague lest the nurse- who is lovely and very skilled at taking blood- refuses to do the second blood test.
I get the results- I’m fine. I really am very lucky to have these tests, and they’re free. They save lives. But I would have done anything, anything to have been able to sit in the car, in cooling silence and a reclining seat.