Today every profession, most social networks, heck even families have jargon. We lie in a jargon rich society. I have worked with Teachers, Firefighters, Police officers, Sanitation workers, Sewer plant operators, building inspectors, and Federal emergency management workers among others, all use jargon as shortcuts to communicate with each other. They also use jargon as a way to separate themselves from nonprofessionals in their respective fields.
In fact I have found that Jargon is often the price of admission to their professions. Consider the sanitation worker who suggests that upstream flow is increased by infiltration. Of course if you set down and think about that statement you might figure out that the sewer line is cracked and water is pouring in somewhere before the manhole or you might just give up and nod. When a police officer says TS in sector 12 is on the upside, you might not know that they are referring to traffic stops. If the fireman says the chauffer is off today and the private is filling in you might not know that the regular driver has the day off and a rookie is filling in. When the building inspector says that the FB’s have taken over an abandoned structure, you likely don’t know that, ahh well never mind, sorry for mentioning it.
Regions have jargon as well. Some of the favorites where I grew up referred to food. Unique to Indiana is the term beef or turkey manhattan. This (brace yourself) refers to a roast beef or turkey placed between two pieces of bread cut down the middle with a scoop of mashed potatoes put on the plate between the two halves and covered in beef or chicken gravy. It is a whopping sandwich with more carbohydrates than I have ever figured out and something I have not eaten in at least 29 years. No one knows why it is called a manhattan, but we do think we know where it got started. It is common lore that it began in a dime store restaurant named Danners. Today it is on many cafeteria and restaurant menus in our state. Yet despite its culinary appeal the name remains anchored in Central Indiana and few other places.
Of course those of us who have been diabetic for a few years know that doctors, nurses, and diabetic educators use jargon to express their directions. I once had a doctor say over a telephone that I needed to flatten my basal and prop up my bolus in order to better control my blood sugar. To that uninitiated that might sound like gibberish, but to me it made perfect sense. I knew right then I had crossed from being a pump outsider to being a pump insider.
It is not surprising that pumpers have jargon in fact the diabetic world is full of jargon. It took me a few months to understand what PWD (Person with Diabetes) meant or how about the CHO (carbohydrate), Hemoglobin A1C (Glycosylated Hemoglobin) or liver dump (glucose produced by the liver).
One of my favorite terms crossed both food and medical lines. When I was introduced to the words “brittle diabetic”, I was about 9 years old. Naturally I thought of it as peanut brittle, a sweet treat often made and consumed around Christmas in my part of the country. To understand why I thought fondly of brittle consider the allure of peanut brittle. It is a combination of heavy corn syrup, corn starch, sugar and of course whole unsalted blanched peanuts. Heating all this stuff up and mixing in the peanuts makes a thick gooey liquid that is poured on a cookie sheet and left to cool. When finally cooled the mixture was extremely breakable or brittle. These chunks of candy were cheaply and easily made, so it became a Christmas tradition in my area. I do not know a single household where I grew up that didn’t make this concoction. Therefore when my mom was announced to be ‘brittle” I thought it a good thing. Later, I realized it meant, “an unpredictable diabetic” and the thought of the peanut treat faded from my mind.
Today we do not use the term brittle. In its place we often use other very imprecise terms like “all messed up”, ‘screwed up”, “crazy” or in my case “this darn disease” (ok I don’t use darn) to refer to a diabetic who goes low or high in the opposite of the usual pattern. You have to love the idea of substituting the imprecise term brittle with even more imprecise terms. Somehow brittle seems about right to me. But what do I know?
I suppose like all groups of like people it is inevitable that diabetics would develop our own language. In fact using that language is one way we talk between ourselves. Language separates the in’s and the want-to-be’s from the outsider. So for those in the know enjoy TU and get the low down on the D in today’s