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.
Let’s face it, girls are bitches. Growing up, the things girls said to me hurt. They hurt a lot. Equally, the lack of words also hurt. It was only when I reached the 20 year milestone that I really stopped caring about the things people say. I don’t care that I’m not ‘cool’ or ‘popular’. I don’t care if you think I’m sad for staying in, knitting. It’s a hobby and I’m not doing it to entertain you.
When it comes to diabetes, I think I take the same stance. A lot of people don’t like being called ‘diabetic’. To me though, it is just a way to describe my poor excuse of a pancreas. I know Diabetes UK has a lot of guidelines surrounding the use of certain words to describing a person with diabetes. And hey, I’m all for adhering to those guidelines.
You can pretty much call me what you like, and I will answer. I answer to Louise, Lou, LouLou, bitch, dimlow (apparently a term of affection). I won’t correct you if you call me diabetic. I don’t mind, I just appreciate you taking the time to talk to an odd girl like me.
BUT. And this is a big but. Please don’t refer to my diabetes as an illness or a disease. Diabetes is a long term condition, to which I have had to adjust. Sure, I have bad days where my sugar levels are too high or too low and leave me feeling rubbish. Diabetes is the cause of multiple symptoms and there is a long list of possible complications, but I truly believe that it is not a disease, in any way. Disease has negative connotations. Why would I call the thing that has introduced me to some wonderful people, a disease? It’s a blessing in disguise, if anything!
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but my broken pancreas won’t disappear!