I hate the word diabetic. Why is it that my disease also is used to describe me? A person with cancer is not called cancerous.

I know that there is a movement for PWD or People With Diabetes. It has been my mission since I first read the phrase. Every time I hear the word diabetic I ask the person to use People With Diabetes instead and explain my reasoning. Even with doctors. It is hard to explain to other people how the word has an inference, of disease to describe a person with a label, rather than to just use the name of the disease to describe the disease.

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Tags: diabetic

Comment by Elizabeth on November 26, 2010 at 6:01am
I felt like someone stabbed me in the heart the day I heard the nurse in the pediatric ward call Eric "the diabetic" -- she didn't say it to me, she was talking to the other nurses on the ward about dividing up responsibilities while one of them was on break, and she didn't know I could hear her. Still... I know just what you mean. If it's any consolation, the book I'm writing about parenting a child with T1D insists on "child with diabetes" instead of "diabetic child".
Comment by melindalaw on November 26, 2010 at 6:58am
Great idea. I only wish that existed when I was a child. In 1960, my diagnosis year, the only description was a diabetic child. Yikes.The word still stabs me in the heart. I have to try and understand that the word has probably been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. Back in the ice ages, people wanted to describe a person with this disease, to I think describe all the symptoms in one word. The symptoms being everything we know as part of it. Thank you for addressing this in your book. I always welcome the positive changes that can come when people speak up.
Comment by Cathy Jacobson on November 26, 2010 at 9:38am
I like the idea of PWD, and hope that we can do something to have it catch on. But in the end...does it matter? Maybe we get to caught up in the words and not enough in who we are period. I have a long list of alphabet soup diagnosis, BPD, PTSD, CSD, OA, etc., to add another alphabet diagnosis really doesn't make me any of those things, it makes me Cathy, and that's better than any alphabet soup after my name.
Comment by The Diabetic Welfare Queen on November 26, 2010 at 1:39pm
Honestly, I don't worry myself over it. I'm more concerned with people learning what Diabetes is, and the different types, than what they choose to call me. I know very well that I am NOT diabetes, and I think most people know, too. My life is full of adjectives: short, fat, latina, female, minority, brunette, infertile, etc, etc. And yet, those things do not define me either. Adjectives are just that: small parts of a much, much larger picture.
Comment by Natalie ._c- on November 26, 2010 at 4:39pm
I like Kerri Sparling's line about diabetes is part of me but doesn't explain me (I know I didn't quote it right, but that's the general idea). We do have other adjectives, like asthmatic, epileptic, etc. Also, there's a difference between "I am diabetic" and "I am A diabetic" I prefer the first over the second when describing myself, and I definitely agree with Kerri and Queen -- out of all the adjectives that describe me, that's just one, and there are lots of others!
Comment by Betty J on November 26, 2010 at 6:00pm
AMEN!! I have been saying that for years. There is no other disease where a person is named after their chronic condition except for D. I always refer to myself as a person living with Diabetes and when someone says differently I correct them....I guess we just have to keep correcting others until it catches on.
Comment by Miri on November 27, 2010 at 5:01am
Interesting! But as this is the first time I've heard of PWD, I am just wondering: if someone saw me prick my finger and asked me what I was doing, would I say "I'm a person with diabetes"? - might be a silly question.. refering to myself as 'a person' seems very unnatural to me.. but maybe the old 'I have diabetes' does the same trick (rather than 'I'm diabetic')..
Comment by spica on November 27, 2010 at 8:25am
i may have diabetes but it doesn't define me. theres soooooo much more to me than a mear disease.
Comment by melindalaw on November 27, 2010 at 6:53pm
Carrie,
I think you have the same reaction that I do. The words imply that there is something wrong with us and that is the reason behind the movement for the People With Diabetes instead of the word diabetic, Yes, when people ask me why am I pricking my finger to do a test I do say I am a person with diabetes. Every time. It just comes out of my mouth that way. The funniest is when I try to correct my diabetologist. He says diabetic and I correct him. All the time.
Comment by Elizabeth on November 28, 2010 at 1:25pm
That brings to mind an oncologist I know who tells his patients to never, ever refer to the disease in their body as "my cancer" because that makes it seem as though it belongs there. He tells them that they need to keep it firmly in their minds that the cancer is an interloper and an intrusion because as long as they think and feel that way, their immune systems are more likely to follow suit and take action against not only the primary tumor, but more importantly any breakaway cells that are trying to metastasize. He has a pretty good track record keeping his patients alive & relatively healthy so there must be something to it :)

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