Today’s prompt is: “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.”
I want to start this post by saying that every person is going to have a different opinion about language and the use of various words. What I write is strictly from my own viewpoint.
While I think using non-stigmatizing and non-judgmental language is important, to me it is not a huge issue. I don’t care if someone calls me diabetic. Because I am. I even call myself diabetic. To me, saying “person with diabetes” is just too wordy, though I do understand the point of focusing on the person first and diabetes second. I don’t feel that I am being over-looked as a person if I am called a diabetic. I think of the word “diabetic” as an adjective (though I realize it can also be a noun), and it is just one of many ways to describe me. The one thing that does irritate me about being called diabetic is when the type of diabetes is not specified because there are so many differences between type 1 and type 2.
As for “checking” vs. “testing” blood sugar–in my head, I prefer checking. My blood sugar isn’t like a nursing school test that I am going to pass or fail. In my head, that makes sense, but I often say check and test interchangeably and it doesn’t really bother me. It also doesn’t bother me if someone asks if I need to test my blood sugar.
One thing that does bother me is when blood sugar numbers are referred to as “good” or “bad.” Referring to out of range (low or high) blood sugars as “bad” makes me feel like I have somehow done something wrong/bad. I don’t like saying my blood sugar is good or bad but instead low, high, or normal. Though sometimes I do contradict myself and call a normal blood sugar “good.”
Another thing that bothers me is being called a “brittle diabetic.” Brittle diabetes is when there are frequent extreme blood sugar swings. Never have any of my healthcare providers told me I have brittle diabetes nor have they considered my blood sugar roller coasters to be unusual. I have been called “brittle diabetic” upon telling people that I am type 1 diabetic or when I have a blood sugar roller coaster day. Personally, I just hate the term “brittle diabetes.” When I hear the word “brittle,” I think of a frail, fragile person. Yet those of us with diabetes are the complete opposite. We are STRONG, RESILIENT, and THRIVING.