Easter - then and now...
There has been a lot of social media activity recently concerning Easter eggs and the rights and wrongs of people with diabetes eating them. It has brought home to me how much has changed over my forty-six years of diagnosis - we do now have choice.
I was diagnosed at the beginning of March 1972 and spent a total of almost a month in hospital, which coincided with Easter. I was placed on one injection a day and had very rigid meal times. My parents were not taught about carbohydrate counting (until some time later under a different hospital regime) and on my "free diet" the idea seemed to be to avoid high sugar foods even though there was no guidance given on eating set amounts of carbohydrates at each meal.
I was told very early that sweets were off limits in this new life. The friends of Macclesfield Hospital had received donations of easter eggs to distribute to children spending Easter Sunday in hospital. All other children got to choose their eggs. As the only type one on the ward at the time, I had a nurse choose one for me. It was chocolate with a hole cut in one end and edged with icing. If you looked through the hole, there was a spring scene with rabbits, grass and trees made out of a combination of cardboard and icing sugar. It was placed on my bedside locker and I could look at the scene but was not allowed to eat the egg. There were no alternative choices - no cuddly toys, no books - and as a seven year old, rather overwhelmed by recent events, I took the egg and it stayed on top of my locker in full sight.
For Easter the following year, I received one of my most prized possessions. My parents found a book called "The Sugar Mouse" by John Branfield - a story about a girl called Sarah diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of nine. With no contact with anyone else diagnosed with the condition, it provided what some may feel was an unusual but nevertheless important lifeline to me. Even if fictional, I was not the only one.
I'm not terribly clear when I started eating easter eggs. On one injection a day, even with carbohydrate counting, it was a rigid routine. To contemplate substituting sweets for your allowed carbohydrates in a main meal was not an option, especially as a child. Daily food intake was matched to your one insulin dose rather than having the flexibility to dose to match to your choice of food.
So with Easter Sunday approaching, what are my plans? I am a fan of 70% dark chocolate. I have a Green & Blacks dark chocolate egg and some Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate mini bunnies. However, I have also dug out my copy of "The Sugar Mouse" and enjoyed scanning a few pages, reflecting on how much has changed in the management of type one.