So a guy I’ve gotten to know online who is a diabetes advocate (and a t1d himself) recently posted this great video about the whole issue of what to call someone “like me”….a “person with diabetes” or a “diabetic”.
Apparently, there remains a huge debate over this and some folks are really touchy about which one you choose to use.
Here’s the video I submitted as requested by my buddy in response to his video : (btw–I’m planning to join the discussion if possible!)
I sorta-kinda used to be offended about being referred to as a “diabetic” back when I was first made aware of the idea. I fell for the whole “don’t limit me with a label” and “you’re saying I’m nothing more than a disease when you say that!” mindset. I say fell for because frankly, it didn’t last long. It’s just not my nature to stay terribly upset by something like that. I just got caught up by an idea that I’d never had before, I think. That and it gets really old using that many words to say something that could be relayed with one word…and I find it awkward to always say “person with diabetes“. Maybe that’s just me.
I really just got tired of being upset about it. I wondered if, in the end, was it really worth my energy and emotional balance to get riled up about that, ya know?
Obviously, I’ve decided that for me, it’s not worth my time. I don’t care if people refer to me as “a diabetic” or as “a person with diabetes“. I try to use the terms interchangeably in my posts because I know there are people out there who really have an issue with it. Since I don’t care one way or another, I try to be balanced with which term I use as a courtesy to my readers.
Here’s the thing…if someone says, “That’s Geannie. She’s a mom.” I’m not going to get all bent out of shape because, obviously, I am more than “just a mom”. But that’s kinda a given, don’t you think? Do YOU know anyone who is a mom or dad and absolutely nothing else?
No! Of course not! I guess I feel like this debate falls a bit too close to the whole “politically correct” atmosphere that seems to be epidemic everywhere in the US today. My feelings are not that easily hurt most of the time.
I have come to really dislike hearing the fairly uncommon phrase
“bad diabetic”, however. Not that I go on a rant anytime someone says that. I realize that it’s not meant as a personal insult or even a general one. I figure that it’s just how some people speak, it’s how they were raised to talk about someone with a chronic disease.
But that got me to thinking that there’s really NOT another disease out there that is ever put into words like that. I mean, you don’t say of someone “He’s a bad hemophiliac” or “she’s a bad pianist” ya know? Nobody does that. No one says “they are a bad cancer patient” when someone has had cancer for a long time. I know that’s what at least one of my friends means when she introduces me to people that way (not EVERY time, but often enough to make me wince — ha ha!) She just means, I think, that I have struggled with diabetes for a long time and it causes me various problems.
Honestly, I’ve never ever stopped someone or called them out for using that phrase. Maybe one day I will, but probably not. Anyone who has said that is either a family member or a friend. People just don’t understand and I can extend them some grace for that.
People really DON’T understand diabetes at all unless they live with it or with someone who has it. You can’t totally understand it otherwise. But I sometimes assume people who know me know more about it than they do.
I have some friends who I love dearly, but we’re not super-close as in we don’t get together often or just chat/text on the phone regularly. One friend, after being around when I had a hypo that kept me from driving home was sitting with me while I treated and she says, “I thought your pump took care of that.”
Yeah, I was stunned for a second. I just didn’t realize anyone did, would or could think that a pump was essentially a cure. It blew me away. I quickly tried to expand her knowledge as best I could. But I’m still not sure she really understood.
You see…people just don’t understand. I always try to inform people as much as I can (when they show interest) about what diabetes is really like, what is means to live with it 24/7/365. But not everyone can really grasp it all.
Like my one friend who will still refer to me as “a
bad diabetic“. Bless her heart. Even though I’ve posted various statuses about that or even mentioned something like that there really IS no bad/good kind of diabetes, she still doesn’t seem to understand. And that’s okay. It’s not on me to make sure she does. We don’t see each other very often, so it’s not like there’s time or even a need to more fully educate her and make certain she is understanding.
And after all, it’s not like she’s calling me a “bad friend/wife/mother/singer/bungee jumper”… ya know? There are a lot worse things to be called. Ha ha!
But if you would like to understand more about how it is to live day in and day out with diabetes, ask me! Ask me!! I would much rather someone ask questions than make assumptions any day!