Today’s prompt asks us on our view on language and the power it has over us and the use of certain phrases over others. As of today, I am going on 4 years with Diabetes and I’ve only learned about some of the politically correct terminology within the diabetes community in the last year. Really, there has got to be a whole diabetes dictionary out there that I don’t know about. I even have an unpublished page on this blog of diabetes terms or my “Diaglossary” that I’ve been adding phrases to as I learn them. I didn’t even know there was such thing as a DOC-Diabetes Online Community until last year (thanks Diabetes Unconference!)
The main question here is where I stand on this diabetes PC spectrum. As much as I’d like to say I don’t care either way, there are some terms that I have made my mind about:
- Testing my blood sugars: The term “testing my blood sugar” infers that I might pass or fail such a test, making me less willing to take such a test. Who wants to fail at anything? Not I. I felt like crap every time I tested my blood sugar. Even when they were good, I was more likely to be a little sarcastic and say that if I sneeze, that number would shoot straight up. I’ve learned since that performing the same action and calling it “checking my blood sugars” is less daunting and I am more willing to check on how my body is doing and more willing to take the necessary steps to get back in range.
- Blood Sugars: Some people don’t like the use of the term because my meter doesn not really measure the amount of sugar in my blood. It is checking my glucose glucose levels. Saying that “I’m checking blood sugars” feeds the assumption that sweets are what cause my high glucose levels-that’s false. The intake of carbohydrates without proper dosing of inulin is what causes my high glucose levels-sweets just happen to be carbohydrate heavy. I still use the term Blood Sugars, though..calling my blog, “Cut the BG” doesn’t seem as fun.
- Diabetic: This is a big one in the diabetes online community. There are some who find that being called “diabetic” lumps the individual in with their condition and they are not their condition. Some see it as a label with a bit of a stigma. Some prefer being called a Person with Diabetes, or PWD. I don’t think I’ver ever referred to myself as a Person with Diabetes. I’ve told people, “I have diabetes.” And before learning of the distinction, I’ve definitely told people I was diabetic. To me, the term diabetic is the quickest way to identify myself in certain cases. For example have you guys checked out the Diabetic Ink Facebook Page? Rarely have a seen a tattoo that says Person with Diabetes or PWD. I don’t have a tattoo, but if I did, it would be for medical identification purposes and the quickest way for an Emergency Medical Responder to know I have diabetes is for the tattoo to say, “T1 Diabetic.”
Language is a very powerful tool. I find it important to be as fluent as I can be in my diabetes terminology. I also find that being able to speak the proper dialect with those who are not familiar with my condition and those who are elbows deep in diabetes has the potential to help more people instead of isolating anyone. I want to embrace everyone with my giant Diaglossary!
Our topic today is Language and Diabetes. 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.