Language and Diabetes

Laddie_Head SquareToday is hump day and we are halfway through 2016 Diabetes Blog Week. DBW used to last for seven days and I am happy that it has been reduced to five days. Although the topics were handed out ahead of time this year, I wasn’t motivated organized enough to get a head start. By Friday I will be crying “Uncle!”  with sore typing fingers and a brain devoid of ideas. Despite my enjoyment of the international camaraderie of diabetes, I will be ready to get back to popcorn and cable TV. Once again, thanks to Karen Graffeo of Bitter-Sweet™ for abandoning her knitting and cat to run the DBW show.

Today’s Topic:  There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

The problem with words, especially when writing on the Internet and not talking face-to-face, is that what one person hears might not be what the other person thinks she is saying. The hole gets deeper as one person criticizes, the other gets defensive, more words are exchanged, and other people chime in from the sidelines. World wars have been ignited over less.

I do my best to think about what I am writing. For the most part I stay out of arguments. Some people are adamant that right and wrong are polar opposites and easily distinguishable as black and white. I am comfortable living in a the world of gray where most issues are neither completely right nor completely wrong.

That being said, I do have one pet peeve.I am a Person

I hate being called a diabetic (noun). I hate being called diabetic (adjective). I hate being referred to as that old diabetic bag in Room 3. That hasn’t happened…yet.

It is a cumbersome phrase to write, but I am a person with diabetes.

I don’t buy diabetic socks because they are unnecessarily expensive. Socks don’t get diabetes anyway. I don’t buy diabetic foot creams or vitamins for diabetics. Rip-offs for sure. I do however own diabetic pants. These are LLBean cargo pants that have enough pockets to carry my pump, CGM receiver, phone, glucose tabs, Fitbit, and car keys. I revel in the tackiness of calling them diabetic pants and I own a boatload of these slacks. Some have been cropped and hemmed to be capris.

Many people are comfortable being called diabetic. Their decision, not mine. If I edit the writing of a friend or co-blogger, I will flag “diabetic” and suggest substituting “person with diabetes.” But life is too short to go ballistic when someone doesn’t phrase things the way I would.

Call me wishy-washy if you like. I am a person with diabetes who happens to wear diabetic pants.


To read other Diabetes Blog Week posts on this topic, click here.

8 thoughts on “Language and Diabetes

  1. Haha, I love this post. I don’t have any diabetic pants yet but I think that’s because I have a diabetic diaper bag at the moment…those things can hold EVERYTHING :-P. I agree with you also that I am glad DBlogWeek has gone from 7 days to 5, its a little more manageable because I am OCD and try to keep up with it all 100% 😛

  2. I need some D-pants! I have a D-fanny pack that I use when I take my walks. It is hideous and immediately makes me eat humble pie for all of the hard times my sister’s & I gave Mom for wearing one but there just isn’t a better solution when walking my pup! Next I’ll have to graduate to a carry on sized purse that has everything but the kitchen sink…. What goes around comes around. Sigh!

  3. I don’t have d-pants either, but I might should get some! I have a d-bag (backpack) that I carry. I had just graduated to carrying a wristlet, as my kid are grown and I just didn’t need to carry much anymore. Then boom, diagnosed with type 1 at age 45 (2 months ago today). Now I’m a pack mule again. Haha

  4. I have diabetes drawers., diacrap and diabetic books shelves. LOL

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of May 16, 2016.

  5. I think that’s a great pet peeve to have. I personally hate “diabetic” products because I feel they put me into a box, but I think I’d be a little wishy washy like you if it were something nifty 🙂

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