In Sickness & In Health

I received news two Fridays ago through an email. It was 8 in the morning and I was on my way to work. Still barely awake, I clicked to open the email. The first and only sentence was this: our kids probably won’t have diabetes!

As if suddenly shaken awake, I sat there overwhelmed with relief as I started tearing in joy, literally.

February 2013

My boyfriend was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes sometime last February, right after Chinese New Year. He had a wound on his shin that just stubbornly refused to heal on its own. It began turning blue-black, which was really scaring me. As a guy, I suppose it didn’t bother him that much because it didn’t hurt. I told him to take this to the doctor’s office, but he insisted that it would recover over time. Thankfully, his mother, who is also diabetic, recognized this as a symptom. She immediately got him to take his blood sugar reading. Lo and behold, his blood sugar readings were shockingly high. A normal person’s reading should be around 5 – 7, but his was 20+, if I remember correctly. I was worried sick the entire night, crying and praying that we’re all going to be proven wrong about this.

Here’s a little background about Type 1 diabetes: WebMD

His dad had him taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital the next day. His text came in later that day confirming the diagnosis. I immediately rushed to the hospital to see him. I held back my tears over the few days at the hospital whenever anyone else was around. Only he could see how worried I was when I cried buckets at his bedside. I remember so clearly the moments of me being consoled by him – ironic, I know.

Typing this is a challenge for me till this day; I don’t think I can really speak about his diabetes without being struck with some sort of guilt and despondence.

Anyway, a few months later, after more tests had been conducted, the results came back diagnosis him as having MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young). Only 1% – 2% of diabetics are diagnosed with MODY, so I wasn’t sure what to feel about it. The only difference was that his insulin injections were replaced with pills, which were not only cheaper but also a lot more convenient than him having to inject himself with insulin before every meal. But of course, the fact that he’s diabetic remains, so it doesn’t really make anything better.

I wouldn’t say we got used to it or started accepting his condition because this is something we would never ever want to get used to. But over the past year, we got through the challenges together and slowly changed our lifestyles and diets to adapt to his condition.

Darren and I

April 2014

Back to the news I received from him 2 Fridays ago.

More studies were conducted to ensure an accurate diagnosis. This time, the results came back stating that my boyfriend has MIDD – Maternally Inherited Diabetes and Deafness.

So much for the relief that our kids won’t get diabetes because it can only be transmitted from mother to child, I just couldn’t get over the word “deafness.”

DEAFNESS.

Reading article after article about MIDD, it was emphasized over and over again that 75% of people with MIDD will go deaf. MIDD is a rare form of diabetes. “It commonly precedes the diagnosis of diabetes, is more common and is often more severe and rapidly progressive in men than in women.”

I don’t even want to go into the details of other health problems MIDD is related to. I’m just trying to deal with the part about hearing loss.

I can’t help but to think about our future. How bad will this be? Does this mean I’ll have to learn sign language? This is crazy for me to deal with at this point in my life. I mean, I’m barely even 25.

I can just continue praying that by some miracle, this is only just a nightmare I’ll soon wake up from.

 

Recipe: Flourless, Sugar-Free Chocolate Cake

I’ve been procrastinating for far too long now. Last Saturday, I finally decided to get my act together and bake the long-awaited diabetic chocolate cake for my boyfriend. Since his diagnosis 4 weeks ago, he hasn’t touched anything loaded with sugar – no cake, no ice cream, no bubble tea, and not even his favourite Snickers bar. While we do laugh about it every time I dig into my share of dessert, it’s really no fun at all when I see that sad look in his eyes.

I used to love cooking and baking, but that was about 7 years ago. At 15, I even started selling Kuih Lapis as part of my year-end school holiday business and because the sales were good, I continued all the way ’til Chinese New Year the following year. I stopped putting on my kitchen apron and oven mittens when our financial situation at home went slightly topsy-turvy. By the time things got better, I guess I had already lost my mojo. And since then, I don’t think I’ve ever felt the desire to cook or bake again. I got a little lazy and for some reason, lost interest in what was once a real passion of mine.

My boyfriend’s condition, however, inspired me to return to the kitchen once again. This time, I’ll be back with everything but the flour and the sugar.

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After some recipe-searching and studying the art of substituting flour and sugar, I discovered how simple it is to turn almost any recipe into a diabetic-friendly one. I found this very popular one on All Recipes.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 11.44.29 AMScreen Shot 2013-04-02 at 11.46.50 AM

The recipe makes two 9-inch round cakes that are supposed to go one of top of the other. Although the recipe doesn’t provide for the chocolate frosting, I believe the image shows the frosting being used to hold both cakes together and then coat the entire cake afterwards.

I had to do away with the frosting because of its high saturated fat and high sugar content. Because I wouldn’t have the frosting to hold the two cakes together, I tweaked the recipe to yield only one 9-inch round cake.

Also, instead of plain flour, I used almond flour, which is basically blanched almonds grounded to the fine consistency of flour, which is also why is costs 8 times the price of normal flour. Almond flour can be used at a ratio of 1:1 in place of normal flour. It is denser, though, so I’m not too sure how it’ll work for stuff like sponge cakes.

Almond flourAlmond flour (S$16.80) from Phoon Huat.

Almond Flour NutritionCarbohydrate count is about one-third that of our usual baking flour, which makes it diabetic-friendly. It’s really awesome for low-carb dieters too :) Don’t worry about the taste. The almond flavor isn’t overpowering or anything like that.

CocoaCocoa powder (S$3.80) from Phoon Huat

Jovia Stevia Artificial Natural SweetenerStevia – a natural sugar substitute with 0 calories, 0 carbohydrate. Costed me around S$13.85 at Guardian. According to several resources online, Stevia is in fact the safest, healthiest sugar substitute and works great in cooking and baking.

Jovia Stevia Artificial SweetenerOne of these little sachets is equivalent to the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of normal sugar. So 1 cup of sugar is 48 teaspoons. If you plan on using Stevia, I should think the math is pretty simple.

SteviaI had to use 24 sachets for mine. I know it’s expensive, but there’s really no other better alternative. Don’t bother using Equal ‘cos Aspartame – the sweetener used in the Original Equal – loses its sweetness when put through heat.

Baking Powder

Baking Soda

IMG_8890Following the instructions, I placed all the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl…

Flourless Chocolate Cake MixtureAnd voila!! Added in the oil, milk, vanilla extract, eggs, boiling water and mixed them on medium speed.

Oven BakingBaked it at 175 degree celsius for 30 mins… I was hoping so hard that it would turn out well. I’ve never made anything with Stevia or almond flour in the past and the cost of the ingredients spelt “no room for mistakes”.

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AND SUCCESS!!!

Surprised him at his place with the cake/brownies :D

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 6.14.22 PMHe loved it!

I’m going to try making something new soon. I have a few things in mind, but I’m not gonna say here (he reads my blog). I’ll make it another surprise ;)