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Old Habits 

May 17, 2016

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.

Diabetes diagnosis week

I grew up saying diabetic and never thought of it having a possible negative connotation until I joined the DOC in 2010. For a while, I had an, “I don’t need to change” attitude. I am diabetic and deal with it. I compared it to playing sports. I’m a skiier, tennis player, runner, etc. No one describes athletes as people who… But then someone pointed out to me that I was comparing choices to something that we get stuck living with.  

I realized diabetes was the only illness I didn’t start with “person with…” I suppose since I didn’t mind the term diabetic, I thought all others might feel that way. Over the years I have come to use people with diabetes. It still is not my go-to descriptor. If I am with my family or some of my very best friends with diabetes, I will say diabetic, but that’s because it takes so much less time for me! Saying “people with diabetes” takes time for me because I still have to think about it, edit the words in my head and THEN say it. I know it’s worthy of my time. If you hear me say diabetic and it’s a term that offends you, I am genuinely sorry. Please understand I view it as a piece of me and you, and that it has made you stronger. 

Words are powerful; here are more

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2016 1:55 PM

    ❤ ahhhh. I love you, Briley!

    • May 18, 2016 1:23 PM

      It amazes me how someone as smart and integrated in the diabetes community enjoys my writing as much as you do. Thank you for always supporting me.

  2. May 17, 2016 4:23 PM

    Yes, exactly. Diabetic doesn’t bother me, but I know it bothers others so I try not to use it.

  3. May 18, 2016 3:03 AM

    Same thing here. I think it’s important to be considerate, which you definitely are!

  4. May 18, 2016 4:49 AM

    It doesn’t bother me, but I’ve never used it.

  5. May 18, 2016 6:10 AM

    I think the same way. I feel proud to call myself a diabetic, its a somewhat empowering term. But at the same time, when I speak to other people with diabetes who I have not previously met I tend to bust out the ‘person with diabetes’ language. It is confusing!

    I guess if you forget, people will let you know if they’re offended

  6. May 18, 2016 6:28 AM

    Love the photo – early communications!

  7. May 18, 2016 7:55 AM

    I prefer people with diabetes but I lose no sleep when people say diabetic. Unfortunately both describe the blasted health problem we live with… Good post.

  8. May 18, 2016 9:44 AM

    Good point about other i

  9. May 18, 2016 7:50 PM

    Same here…didnt know any better until I found the DOC!

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