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Genevieve Anna Tyrrell is a visual artist and creative writer based in the Orlando area. Please reach out if you have any questions regarding her work, if you'd like to commission a piece, or if you're looking for prints.


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BLOG: Pregnant Zombie Love

Filtering by Tag: insulin resistance

Hey, You're Fat. You must work here.

Genevieve Tyrrell

So when I was really overweight from the insulin resistance, almost every single time I was in a place like Target or Walmart or sometimes some place else, I’d get mistaken for an employee and asked about products. Almost without fail. Even if I wasn’t wearing the colors of the store. I rarely had it happen to me prior to the weight gain. No one assumed skinny me worked at a store.

When I lost all the weight, things went back to normal. I rarely got assumed to be an employee of any store.

But now I’m pregnant. I’ve gained thirty-five pounds and though all the weight is on my front, particularly belly, my baby bump is not a perfect round shape yet. Angled at just the right way, you might assume I’m just obese.

Today I was at Home Depot and bending down to get something. So at the angle I was at, you might not have been able to see I’m pregnant. Mind you I was wearing black capri pants and a dark turquoise T-shirt with “Zoo York” on it. My cart was full of stuff I was buying. There wasn’t a single bit of orange on me (the Home Depot color). And yet, a woman just presumed I worked there and started asking me questions like I worked there. I stood straight up, rubbed my belly in that maternal way everyone knows, and said, “I don’t work here. I’m pregnant.”

I wasn’t mean about it, but on the inside I was furious. Again?! Seriously?! Why is it assumed that if you’re fat that you’re there to wait on people? Am I the only one that this happens to? It only happens with significant weight gain.

My Body is Not my own - Pregnancy v. chronic illness - Healthy weight gain v. Insulin Resistance

Genevieve Tyrrell

The thing is – when I was at my worst points of POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) or NCS (Neurocardiogenic Syncope), I’d have the sensation that my body was not my own, that I had no control over it—how it acted, how it lost or gained weight, how it stayed upright, how much energy it could grant me. There were always negatives associated with this lack of control, and sometimes changes meant permanent bad change or worse symptoms to come.

And now that I’m 22 weeks pregnant, I’m feeling that same sense of “my body is not my own.”

My only history of that feeling is coupled with a chronic illness that at times took years away from my life. It’s hard not to feel panicky sometimes because of this. It’s hard not to feel a sense of dread and impending doom. It’s hard to see the impending joy that so many people keep telling me about.

Weight and body shape is one way in which I’m feeling lack of control similarities between my chronic illness and my pregnancy.

The weight that I’m putting on? Though it’s normal for a pregnant lady—it’s starting to remind me of back when I went for years undiagnosed with insulin resistance.  I went for years trying to get doctors to give me the glucose tolerance test (GTT) WITH insulin measurements at each interval. Back in 2009, before my weight had gotten up to 200 lbs, I even asked a trusted doctor who I admire whether being on Metformin (a blood sugar medication) might benefit me. The conversation never really went anywhere. In 2010 (?), I tried to get the rare diseases doctor handling my case at NIH (back when I was a research patient) to run the GTT.

She refused and said I was fine blood sugar wise if my fasting blood sugar and my A1C was always normal. (Actually, this is absolutely not true for insulin resistant patients. My fasting blood sugar and A1C are usually quite normal).

Even after I got my first GTT, my general practitioner at that time didn’t read the results correctly. I needed a really great endocrinologist years later (end of 2013) to know how to give the test and how to read the results. Then, after taking my history and doing lab work, she felt that I had probably dealt with insulin resistance even as a dieting skinny teenager. People can have an underlying genetic issue that predisposes them to insulin resistance. People can even be skinny when they start out with insulin resistance. For years.

While undiagnosed I went from my lowest NCS/ POTS weight of 125 lbs up to 230 lbs before I stopped looking at the scale. And most of that weight was on my abdomen. I looked like a pregnant woman, but I didn’t have the impending joy to go with it. There were no baby kicks, there was no loving partner, there were no friendly faces. In fact I stopped going to the beach after two young men walking behind me on my way out to the sand made cracks about my weight and what a real fatty I was.

At some point between 200 – 230 lbs I took a vacation with my parents before I started my current teaching job, back in September 2013. At that point I figured I’d take a photograph of myself in a bathing suit, because I couldn’t believe how absolutely out of control my body had become. It looked foreign to me. I remember saying, “Holy shit, I look pregnant.” Only I wasn’t. I was just very improperly diagnosed at the time.

NOT pregnant - Insulin Resistance out of control - September 2013 - in my bathing suit at hotel

NOT pregnant - Insulin Resistance out of control - September 2013 - in my bathing suit at hotel

Once diagnosed, I was put on Metformin and taught about how carbohydrates and protein effected my blood sugar. I was given a Diabetes booklet on how to eat. Within three months I lost the first 40 lbs. At one point I got as skinny as 130lbs again. Just before I was pregnant I was at 149. Healthy.

At 21 weeks while getting over Bronchitis no less.

At 21 weeks while getting over Bronchitis no less.

At almost 22 weeks.

At almost 22 weeks.


On one hand I’m joyous looking at my baby bump because now it’s a bonafide baby bump. On the other hand, every time I look in that mirror I think back on that picture of me in my bathing suit from 2013 absolutely freaked out about my shape.

Let me be clear—it wasn’t just the weight itself though. It was all the health issues associated with that weight—the shortness of breath, the exhaustion, the back pain, the feeling like I had a weight belt around my stomach at all times that I wished I could just take off, the overheating because of the extra fat, the blood sugar crashes, the bouts of feeling starving and needing to eat way more than I should.

And then there’s the anger.

How many times was my insulin resistance overlooked? How many times did I ask to have that checked? How much of my career was lost because my blood sugar was so unbalanced that it would provoke my POTS and NCS symptoms? (Dysautonomia patients are actually more likely to faint due to changes in blood sugar).

The bottom line though?

Chronic illness has greatly shaped my view of pregnancy symptoms. And part of functioning day to day is working on changing my own perception of “my body is not my own” as something that has the potential to be extremely positive. It’s not easy though. The past still haunts me.

Sunday Before Week 20 - Hi

Genevieve Tyrrell

August 21st, 2016

showing off horror flick moves in utero

showing off horror flick moves in utero

I’m starting this blog because while I found a ton of info, articles, and blogs on whether or not I should conceive while chronically ill, I didn’t find a whole lot regarding the in-over-my-head feeling I have now that I am pregnant while chronically ill.


This really came to a boiling point this week, because on Monday, August 22nd, I’ll be twenty weeks pregnant (5 months)—the “half way point” of pregnancy—and I've felt the worst I’ve felt yet, while every pregnancy app out there says stuff like, “You’re probably feeling like you have much more energy now! Most women feel this way in the second trimester.” To top it off I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, headache, and cough, which will mark the fourth time sick while pregnant (I’ve already dealt with Shingles and Epstein Barr reactivations), because when you have a chronic illness, getting a cold is pretty darn easy.


I’m a writer and artist. It’s what I do. I suppose I need this in order to process the isolation at times, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized, If I feel this way, how many other women must too?


So I dedicate this to you, ladies. We are the “high risk” ladies. We are the knocked up chronically ill. We are the invisible illness ladies and the not so invisible illness ladies, working on making a human while trying to function basic tasks. I toast this start off message with a non-alcoholic beverage just for you.


My journey begins as a POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) patient, co-diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Insulin-Resistance, Hypothyroidism, and a couple of amino acid or vitamin deficiencies that are the first of their kind documented in the entire world. I was a research patient for about six years. I’ve had more tests done on me than I care to remember. I wanted to make a difference though for other POTS patients. Finally, this research paper was written and published about my cells. (See: ) Hopefully it will help others.


Just before I got pregnant I had the worst bout of Shingles in years and period that lasted a month (they found a polyp and presumed that was the cause). I didn’t anticipate my body was even well enough to conceive, let alone maintain a pregnancy beyond the first trimester. And we weren’t trying to conceive. I simply miscalculated my ovulation because of all the previous bleeding like a total moron and the lousy mathematician I am.  My mother had asked, “How did this happen?”  Well, Mom, the usual way combined with sheer stupidity, really.


In fact I had already decided I wasn’t well enough to try to have a pregnancy. I had set up an appointment with a fertility doctor to discuss getting my eggs taken out. I had filled out forms to receive information about adoption. My significant other hadn’t proposed yet, but I’m thirty-five. I figured it was high time I plan stuff. Frozen eggs and adoption info seemed logical. And terribly responsible. I would have children at forty via adoption or surrogacy if—and only IF—I was well enough then. I was pretty proud of my well-planned genius self.

Here's a snapshot of a dorky thirty-something couple with almost everything figured out during Christmas vacation.

Here's a snapshot of a dorky thirty-something couple with almost everything figured out during Christmas vacation.

But we got pregnant and I figured if out of all the miraculous things that had to come together in order for my body to even conceive, I would help this life the best I could. There are parents out there dying to conceive. Maybe, I thought, this is the lucky gift I get after so many years of suffering a serious chronic illness?