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 I even have an unpublished page on this blog of diabetes terms or my “Diaglossary” that I’ve been adding phrases to as I learn them.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.
Yesterday, it was announced that Conor Daly, racecar driver and son of former Fomula One and Champ Car driver Derek Daly, will be driving full time with Dale Coyne Racing for the 2016 Verizon Indycar Series season. Ok, so why am I writing about this on our Diabetes Blog? Conor Daly will be the second Indycar driver to represent us People with Diabetes. Who is the first? Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. I am beyond excited!
Conor has been driving in some form since he was 10 years old. He’s been around Indycar driving all his life since he’s dad was in racing. He’s driven in racing series all over the globe including Formula Mazda, GP2, GP3, Formula One (as a test driver for Sahara Force India,), Indy Lights, and now a full-time ride at Indycar. You may also have seen him in well known races as the 24 hours of Daytona and the Indianapolis 500.
“This is truly the most meaningful announcement of my career,” said Conor Daly. “After experiencing what I have in my career, especially the last three years, it is an incredible honor and opportunity to work with Dale Coyne Racing for a full season. To be able to go head to head and take the fight to other drivers every weekend is very exciting. I cannot thank Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group and all of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing’s partners enough for their effort in putting this program together. I am ready to get to work and try my best to outwork everyone else in the field every weekend to get results for this team.”
What does that say to me? It says that we have an exciting and competitive year of Indycar racing ahead of us. Conor Daly was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes in 2007 when he was 15 years old. (Eerie tidbit, Charlie Kimball was also diagnosed in 2007.) Back to Conor: If you look at his driving accomplishments, you will find that his biggest accomplishments were made post diagnosis, so take that Diabetes!
I cannot wait to see him in action this year. I also cannot wait to buy myself a Conor Daly/Dale Coyne T-shirt to get my selfie on in. Much like my Charlie Kimball selfies!
To read more on Conor Daly, go to his website at http://www.conordaly.net and follow him at on Twitter at @conordaly22 .
People who know me know that I am generally a happy person. Upon meeting people, I am smiling, cracking jokes, even making myself the butt of jokes just to make others feel comfortable around me. I work on being a sunshiny person with rose colored lenses. (I love pink!)
So, it is really a challenge for me to share this next post because it asks me to reflect on the types of stories you may not read from me for one reason or another. Here goes:
I have a feeling you will not hear about the times when Diabetes just really gets me down. I’m not talking about, “Oh, I had a bad reading on my meter.” or “That last lancet really hurt!” down…more like Breakfast at Tiffany’s when Holly Golightly describes “The Mean Reds”. I will probably not write about the times, when my optimism, inspiration and hope run slim. Why? It is not really what I am about. I feel no need to bring anyone down with me when I am there. And most times, there just are no words to describe that place I find myself sometimes-even after only 3 years of diagnosis.
Honestly, I believe it is enough to let you know I have those moments of darkness.
And so onward and upward, I will leave you with something that helps me when I just have no words. The words of the famous Charlie Chaplin:
Smile, though your heart is aching Smile, even though it’s breaking When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by If you smile through your fear and sorrow Smile and maybe tomorrow You’ll see the sun come shining through for you Light up your face with gladness Hide every trace of sadness Although a tear may be ever so near That’s the time you must keep on trying Smile what’s the use of crying You’ll find that life is still worthwhile If you’ll just Smile
Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see. What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet? Or from your family and friends? Why is it important to keep it to yourself? (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone. There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects. Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won’t tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.)
Ideas have been floating in my mind about how I was going to start this week’s series of blogs. This is my first Diabetes Blog Week, and honestly, I’m a little nervous. How am I going to knock it out of the park?
I thought about listing all the things I have been able to do since I was diagnosed. I thought about the fact that after I got home from a week long stay at the hospital, my muscles had weakend and I couldn’t even get up the stairs without crying. And how with determination, I am now able to run up and down those stairs daily. I thought about talking about my first time eating out at a restaurant with my husband and diabetes and how his encouragement of not being ashamed to check my blood sugars in public and take my insulin in public has given me the strength to be able to do so many other things with him, our girls, and diabetes. I thought about all the places we have travelled to since then and the people with diabetes I’ve met along the way. I thought about talking about my JDRF walk team #teamcuttheBS and how much we’ve raised together and how proud I am of the work we’ve done.
Today’s post is meant to talk about something that I am proud of accomplishing. And as proud as I am of all these things, nothing beats the text, email, or private message from one of my friends online who has been struggling with the notion of even checking his/her blood sugars. When I get that message from someone after they see a post of my meter that reads 238mg/dl asking me how I responded or the message that says, “I checked mine today too!” Or “I found my meter, I can start checking again.” Or the beer someone bought me because she was no longer “pre-diabetic.” I’d say those are the accomplishments I find most dear.
Why? Because until I sat in a room where everyone else checked their blood sugars, every time I checked my blood sugar, I felt alone. I find it impossible that I am the only person to feel this way. Why did I feel alone? No one else had to do it, no one else really had to react at the number that comes up (unless it’s super low and I’m passed out on the floor,) and no one else around feels the guilt I do when the number is “out of range” high or low. Loneliness sucks and I wish it on no one.
If I can help someone to find the strength in themselves, to get out that effing meter, prick themselves and brave whatever number flashes on that screen, then I have it it me to do anything.