T1D and the Zombie Apocalypse (or Let’s eat Espinacs a La Catalana)

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Late last year, I may have experienced Facebook Rage while at the supermarket.  Technically, my rage actually started at the train station, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed while waiting for the train, and came across the below post by a group I was following:

"Today is International Diabetes Day. Now, some PR came across my laptop, and 'celebration' was used in their language... pics of happy people playing. I understand their marketing strategy, because they need to raise money for a 'cure'. Yet, I'm a tad ambivalent. Conversely (and more importantly), don't ever forget that food is also preventative. Every time you eat or drink... you are either feeding disease, or fighting it.I read this post.  I fumed. I posted a rant to my personal Facebook page.  I fumed.  I got off the train.  I fumed.  I walked to the supermarket.  I fumed. And by the time I made it into the fresh produce section, a compulsion overtook me, I whipped out my phone, opened up Facebook while standing next to the zucchinis, and wrote the following response in the comments of the offending post:

Thanks Carolyn – you were much nicer about raising the Type 1 issue than I would have been!!! . [Offending Group], perhaps you would like to edit your somewhat misleading original post? World Diabetes Day was actually on the 14 November – this was chosen as it is the birthday of Frederick Banting, a man who contributed to the discovery of insulin. And what do they have to celebrate? Perhaps it’s the fact that they are still alive? For young children who have just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (and who are learning to control their intake in a way no one without this disease would understand), and for the parents who wake up at 2am every morning to check their children are still alive and not having a hypo – it is a day on which they can see the DOC celebrating the rich, fulfilling lives their members lead – and perhaps it gives them hope and comfort that everything will be ok. I expected better from a page of your calibre.

Ingredients flat lay

In case you are wondering who Carolyn is, she is an imminently far-more-sensible-than-me person, who had politely and concisely pointed out that Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease which cannot be cured by diet – and to whom the Offending Group had already given thanks for making the point.

Currants

Pouring boiling water over currants

But this was not enough for me.  The post was still up, and the implication that the only cure for diabetes was to eat right, was like a burr under my backside.  And so I Facebook Raged for the next three weeks.  You heard me, three weeks.  I spent three weeks fuming every time I thought about this post, and I also posted a number of links in the comments section:

By early December, commonsense had taken over, and I left the Offending Group alone.

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But I’m still mad.  I still quietly seethe at the implication in the original post, that a ‘cure’ for diabetes isn’t a legitimate goal.  That this isn’t something we dream of and wish for.  That this isn’t something doctors hold out as a tangible achievement, when they tell newly diagnosed diabetics, that they are ‘a few years’ away from a cure.  That all our woes will go away, if only diabetics would just eat properly.

Do you know what ‘eating properly’ meant for diabetics before the discovery of insulin?  From about 1914, doctors would prescribe “starvation dieting”, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – starving the patient in the hope that (if they didn’t die) their life would be extended just long enough for a treatment or cure to be found.  And if it worked, what a life they led!  Hair falls out.  Flesh melts away.  Gangrene.  Loss of sight.  Particular susceptibility to tuberculosis, pneumonia, gall stones, and other conditions who names I can’t even pronounce much less understand what they are.  And then after all that, coma.  And finally, death.

Before insulin

So you can see why I’m personally grateful for the discovery of insulin – it is why Louis is here with me today.  But insulin isn’t a cure.  It’s a treatment.  Louis has to take insulin every single day, four times a day.  Three fast-acting insulin shots with the main meals, one long-acting insulin shot before bedtime.  Every day.  No remit.

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I always panic slightly at the thought of Louis without  insulin.  Like the time we left his backup insulin in a hotel in Florence – and even though he and I were in the middle of a rather impressive fight, and even though it was ‘only’ the backup insulin, I still insisted on asking our holiday tour director if we could pay for someone to pick  it up and take it to our next destination, which was about 470km away.  (The tour director instead elected to drive us all back to the hotel, even though it meant putting everyone a good hour behind schedule.  Luckily we had a wonderful tour group who were incredibly good-natured about the whole thing – at the end of the day, I was probably the only cranky one).

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Anyway, all this brings us to the zombie apocalypse.  My biggest concern about a zombie apocalypse, isn’t the zombies – it’s who is going to make the insulin Louis needs to live.  Because without a cure, Louis will always need insulin.  Every day.  Four times a day.  Without remit.  And this is why the search for a cure is so important – this is why I get so mad at people who think a cure is already sitting on our plates.  It isn’t.  We still need that cure.

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I joke about a zombie apocalypse.  But the reality is that right now, there are people in our world who don’t have constant access to insulin.  People in developing countries.  People whose lives have been shattered by war.  Can you understand the logistics of getting insulin, strips, glucometers and informed medical care to these people over the course of their lifetime?  There are so many issues around global health care, and I don’t have the wisdom to discourse on them.  But imagine if the problem wasn’t how do you provide a lifetime of constant medicines and care to diabetics in developing and war torn countries?   Imagine if the problem was how do you get to visit them once – just once, because one visit is all you needed to cure them?

Beyond Type 1

I cannot think of an example that more clearly epitomises hope, than those patients on the starvation diet at the start of the twentieth century.  To purposely travail the painful fine line between life and death, when they had no idea if there was a treatment or cure for diabetes coming.

So really, it was foolish of me to let one silly little Facebook post, shake my hope and optimism for the future.  So I have deleted my comments from the Offending Post.  I have un-followed the Offending Group.  And I’m focusing on the good stuff.  Like this group (above).  I follow Beyond Type 1 on Instagram, and every time one of their stories pops up in my feed, I feel lighter and happier, for seeing the people who are living well and with hope and optimism and will.  I highly recommend you check them out, if only to see the very cute eight-year old Henry explain Type 1 diabetes, far more charmingly than I could.  Now, time to eat!

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Espinacs a La Catalana

Serves 2
Per serve: 3.1 Exchanges, 4.7g carbohydrates, 2109 kJ, 504 Calories

You know when you’re hungry, and there’s hardly anything to eat because you’ve been too lazy to go to the supermarket (or were too busy at the supermarket ranting on Facebook)?  Then in desperation you find a carton of frozen spinach in the freezer, some pine nuts and currants which may or may not be out of date in the cupboard – then enter the ingredients into Google and hit ‘Enter’?  That’s pretty much how this came about.  Enjoy!

Eating wrap style

Ingredients

  • 40g currants
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 35g pine nuts
  • 250g frozen spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 eggs (50g each)
  • 4 wraps (I used Mountain Bread wheat wraps)

Directions

  1. Boil some water (at least a cup). Put the currants in a small bowl, and pour the boiling water over. Leave the currants to soak for 15 minutes.  Once soaked, and hopefully plump, drain the excess water off.
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic paste, pine nuts and currants.  Mix together, and then stir continually until the pine nuts have started to brown (maybe 3-5 minutes).
  3. Add the frozen spinach to your pan.  As it defrosts (which should be pretty quickly), carefully break it up with your spatula, and combine with the pine nut mixture.  Keep stirring until the spinach is completely defrosted and wilted.
  4. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly between two serving bowls.
  5. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in another frying pan, over medium-low heat.  Add the eggs, and fry until the whites are just set.
  6. Add two eggs to each of the serving bowls.
  7. Serve the spinach and eggs with the mountain bread.  At this point I like to break up the egg and stir the runny yolk into the spinach mixture.  You can spoon the mixture into the wraps and roll them up, or tear the wraps into little pieces and use them to pick  up small mouthfuls of the spinach mixture.  It really doesn’t matter how you eat this, as long you do it with gusto!

Notes

  • Directions
    • I think this would be wonderful with poached eggs, so if you are in possession of this wonderful skill, I suggest you use poached eggs instead of fried eggs.  And maybe invite me over.
OMG - Vicki's about to go on another rant...
OMG – Vicki’s about to go on another rant…

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