Diabetes Blog Week-Language and Diabetes

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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’ve been living in a pregnancy/baby/toddler bubble the last 3 years.  I was pretty active in the DOC until lately, where being pregnant with all the doctor appointments while chasing after a toddler and still trying to work and do housework and errands doesn’t leave a ton of time for blog reading.  I did, however, come across a meme about babyhood that I thought could be used on today’s topic.  Here is the original:


The diabetes version that I made up:

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.04.42 AMPersonally, I don’t care what terms you use when I’m speaking with another person with diabetes.   I’ve read blogs and Twitter posts where people get upset if someone uses the terms diabetic.  I’ve honestly never really cared one way or another if people use diabetic or person with diabetes.  I’m not even really sure why it bothers people to use one term over another (guess I’ll find out today reading the other blogs!).  I would hate to offend someone but I don’t even know what words bother others when it comes to diabetes.  I’ve always said testing my blood sugar and in fact, I even call my blood glucose meter my test kit.  It’s just what I’ve always said and I don’t know why I started saying it.

However, I have definitely been hurt by words when it comes from non-diabetics.  There are so many things they can say that hurt, like you can’t eat that or you don’t really have diabetes, etc.  I’ve had this disease since 1993 and everyday is a struggle physically, emotionally and financially so hearing those words is very frustrating.  The stigmatizing and uneducated terms play into a lot of what was talked about yesterday, the mental side of diabetes.  Luckily, I don’t deal with those things too often anymore.  Because I have been hurt by words, I definitely don’t want to upset anybody in the DOC so I’m looking forward to learning what words I should try and avoid when writing about diabetes, I’m thinking diabetic is one of those tops words. The other posts about Language and Diabetes can be found here.

10 thoughts on “Diabetes Blog Week-Language and Diabetes

  1. I totally agree with you!! I could not care less if someone calls me diabetic even if I tend to say “I have diabetes”. Whatever – doesn’t make a difference to me! But I am so easy goingvand not easily offended at all 🙂 and I tend to get in trouble sometimes for not being politically correct enough so… I am sure there are many who will disagree and I respect that

  2. Checking my sugars
    Taking a shot
    Doing it quickly
    Getting on with my life

    Making it a habit, reducing the time needed to think about it, let’s me live my life focused on my life, not my disease/condition. And words don’t bother me. Those red disposal containers do bother me. They are ugly and I don’t want them around. Much prefer a can wrapped in pretty paper sitting on my cupboard or table that makes me happy when I look at it. Disposing of needles and lancets is fun, like putting coins in a piggy bank.

  3. 100% agree with your post. I always say test kit, too, because “blood glucose meter” is just a mouthful! Also, I got a nice laugh about the Caillou comment in the meme you posted, so thank you! 🙂

  4. i’m also interested to find other’s posts that will enlighten me about the offensive wording.. i’m probably unaware! i don’t mean to offend anyone either. but since i’m not easily offended….
    so happy for this diabetes blog week thing so that i can discover loads of other bloggers! 😉

  5. Words have never bothered me either, but I respect those who are bothered by them. We all come in different packages and have our own opinions. I too am bothered by the non-educated comments that often come from people who do not live with diabetes. I feel like our society needs to be more educated about all diseases, diabetes included. When I taught, I went above and beyond the written curriculum and always made sure my students understood what diabetes was, what to expect from someone living with diabetes, and how to assist someone with diabetes. More parents thanked me for that than anything else I taught. Diabetes is everywhere, yet so few people are educated about it. Thank you for all that you share through your blog posts to help educate others, Kelley.

  6. I demand to be called, pretty much whatever. It sort of goes along with the territory LOL

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

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