And the Public… Disagrees

What was it they say? “Two diabetics, three opinions.” (or was that about another group?)

DisagreementAnyway, no surprise to see the wildly different reactions and advice I got on my last post about my inhaled insulin dilemma. Answers ranged from “No, I wouldn’t participate” to “this sounds so cool!” to “what the heck?”

I’m still mulling it over, for all the listed reasons. Essentially, it’s fear vs. excitement at the prospect of needle-free diabetes care. Not that the injections hurt or embarrass me, mind you; they’re just a hassle-and-a-half!!, to put it mildly. Wouldn’t it be nice to just inhale — no fuss, no muss? Except of course for the potential LUNG DAMAGE. See? I’m going in circles here… never mind that for now.

Another hotly contested diabetes topic comes to mind (since I wrote about it this month on dLife): the Great D-Labels Debate.

Here’s the skinny, according to me:

We live in an in-your-face era. Sex, bodily functions, neuroses — nothing is sacred. And then there’s the concept of “political correctness,” a pushback on using terms that might marginalize or insult certain groups of people. There are so many terms and labels bouncing around the diabetes arena, my personal take is that we ought to seek some clarity and stop getting insulted (agree on definitions and get over the emotional baggage)…

I’d love to tell you more, but dLife owns the rights. Perhaps you care to go read it, and then tell me what you think, ‘kay? I’m getting addicted to all your fascinating feedback here :)

12 Responses

  1. Will
    Will December 12, 2005 at 10:01 am | | Reply

    Regardless of where the terms “type 1.5″ and “type 3″ originated, it seems to me that they are now being used in forums and elswhere to describe “double diabetes”.

    I despise political correctness, and the moniker “person with diabetes” sounds so dumbed-down; like you’re explaining it to a five-year-old. Political correctness is for people who are too immature to face up to the reality of life.

  2. PrintCrafter
    PrintCrafter December 12, 2005 at 10:29 am | | Reply

    I don’t mind being called a diabetic. If fact, I call myself a diabectic. It is simple, clean, and conveys the message needed. On the other hand, being a “person with diabetes” seems like too much of a mouth full to me. It also, to me, seems more derogatory. Sounds like something someone else can catch from you

  3. Simon
    Simon December 12, 2005 at 11:40 am | | Reply

    I’ve only been diagnosed for six months but it doesn’t bother me to call myself diabetic – it’s just another one of the things that I am, along with boyfriend, brother, uncle, son, vegetarian, atheist, bassist, cyclist, swimmer, socialist, Ipswich Town Football Club Supporter, Londoner, teacher etc
    None of these things on their own define me but they all combine to make me who I am. If others can’t see anything beyond the diabetes that’s a problem that would be there whatever I decided to call it.
    Like Printcrafter, ‘person with diabetes’ strikes me as faintly ridiculous, like calling myself a ‘person with siblings’ instead of a brother!

  4. Kerri.
    Kerri. December 12, 2005 at 11:56 am | | Reply

    When I read a post referring to this debate a few weeks ago, I responded then. I haven’t changed my opinion:

    – Whether “diabetic” or “person with diabetes,” I’m still harboring a wounded pancreas. Adding a suffix or a prepositional phrase doesn’t change my A1c or affect my basal rates.

    Having an internal battle as to what to call it makes me rebel against it a small bit. Don’t call me “Kerri the Diabetic” or “Kerri, a person who has diabetes” or “Kerri the Hun” … just “Kerri” will do just fine.

    Or “Kerr-ic”, if you’re feeling particularly sassy about this discussion thread. :)

    The point is, the semantics and political correct angle of this can be forever debated, but what matters is that I have diabetes, whether a “person with” or an “-ic”. No new moniker is going to change that fact.

  5. Violet
    Violet December 13, 2005 at 5:14 am | | Reply

    What Kerrie said.

    It’s just not important to me. I’ve started using PWD in my writing in order to avoid offending those for whom it’s important. I respect that point of view, but I don’t identify with it at all.

    I do believe that language holds great power, and the way we use words helps to create our reality. Nevertheless this just isn’t a point of contention for me.

  6. Kassie
    Kassie December 13, 2005 at 6:36 pm | | Reply

    I think you missed a few of my points. First, the only time I’ve felt ‘diabetic’ was when diabetes was the overwhelming, overriding concern in my life (when I was pregnant). Everything about me was essentially pushed aside in favor of diabetes and pregnancy. At other times, when I’ve felt more balanced, I haven’t felt ‘diabetic’ but rather have viewed diabetes as one aspect of me (hence, PWD). I have had success (as I would define it) both as ‘a diabetic’ and as ‘a person with diabetes’. My comments about my own denial were musings, and were more about finding a happy medium between all-consuming diabetes and ignoring diabetes.

    Second, diabetes isn’t a one-size-fits all disease. Treatment protocols, and treatment choices, vary. So, too, does the choice of descriptors. I think your goal of agreeing on a term is an unrealistic one. Just as I wouldn’t expect you to use a pump, you shouldn’t expect me to ‘get over my emotional baggage’, as you call it.

    Calling myself a person with diabetes is, in fact, part of my approach to the disease and part of how I treat myself. I can *totally* see how calling myself ‘diabetic’ would have other emotional advantages (and it would be a lot easier to type!). But I choose the empowerment of PWD.

    Third, and last, I have known many people who have been hurt by the label ‘diabetic’. I have sat on a beach and overheard an ignorant person telling her kids not to swim with those diabetics (I kid you not). I have heard stories of people whose parents told them not to date that diabetic. I have known people who cringe at the word being slapped onto their children, who are so young and vulnerable and trying to figure out who they are… and don’t want to be stamped with a label that sets them so far apart from their peers.

    If you call yourself a diabetic and have been irritated or offended by my use (and the ADA, and JDRF’s use, etc) of the phrase, “Person with Diabetes”, then I can only apologize. “Diabetic” has become a harmless term to me, personally, but I think that “Person with Diabetes” has more power. I won’t ask you to change your stance, if you won’t ask me to change mine.

    I appreciate Violet’s respectful take on this, as well as her take on language (which I find to be true in other arenas).

  7. AmyT
    AmyT December 13, 2005 at 7:53 pm | | Reply

    Hi Kassie,
    Interesting feedback, thank you — but you may have missed some of my points as well.

    I am certainly not irritated or offended by PWD. My point was, no matter what they call me, I still have diabetes.

    I understand now what you meant about diabetes being in the forefront when you were pregnant. Klar! And discriminating against children or making them feel inferior because they are “diabetic” is reprehensible, to say the least…

    But I’ve seen so many posts and articles by ADULTS fretting about what they should be called… my point was that I don’t think it’s necessary to expend so darn much energy bickering over the terms.

  8. Kassie
    Kassie December 14, 2005 at 6:17 am | | Reply

    And it turns out, that’s the point with which I most passionately disagree! I don’t see it as wasted energy. If people feel strongly about their labels, to the point where they are willing to write 7 drafts of a comment on a blog ;) or try to explain to the world why they call themselves what they call themselves, then it’s worth their time and our respectful debate.

    Just to throw fuel on the fire, if PWD doesn’t annoy or offend you, and you want to end the debate, why not just adopt PWD? (said with a wink and a smile)

  9. Pete Gregorio
    Pete Gregorio December 14, 2005 at 6:30 am | | Reply

    Its impossible to eliminate personal associations and prejudices but it is possible to minimize them by the process of decomposition. A question (or for that matter an answer) is best served by the simplest and most factual description. This often requires more words. Catagorical designations like “diabetic” and anacrynyms like “PWD” act like prisms to condense and defuse information. Such labels then take on a life of their own . Diabetic covers a range from lab animals to Mother Theresa whereas “_____ with diabetes” is more specific and therefore more informative. Further, labels matter to the person being labeled and if we know their preference, we do them and ourselves more credit by honoring that preference than by demonstrating our superiority discounting it. Ask any “person of color”. Similiarly, I personally prefer to think of my Immigrant Italian grandfather as having been “without passport” than a “WOP”.

  10. AmyT
    AmyT December 14, 2005 at 8:44 am | | Reply

    Hi again Kassie,
    You’re missing my point: I have adopted PWD! It has a nice ring to it.

    But it still seems silly that we have to tiptoe around the term “diabetic.” For example, I now write articles for a number of publications on diabetes topics. I am expected to spell out “person with diabetes” on every reference. This is really cumbersome! And if I happen to forget, and the term “diabetic” slips past the editor, I get hate mail. I kid you not! This is where I find that people are taking the terms far too seriously for their own good.

  11. Jay
    Jay December 14, 2005 at 9:55 am | | Reply

    As a LADA member I am glad you wrote about it. I feel a special connection to those of us who lived a long non-D life, then got rapidly dropped into it. Attached to it is the endless/pointless argument of if it’s harder to be diagnosed younger or older as an adult. It’s hard either way, why try and quantify something that isn’t quantifiable.

    The diabetic v. person with diabetes is another classic argument on every D message board I have seen. I am big on the idea that lanuguage constructs our reality, but I think that this fails the test to become a worthwile argument. A diabetic is defined as a person with diabetes. I see very little difference between the two, other then one is better word economy. I tend to find that those that critique the word diabetic are trying really hard to seperate themselves from the condition. Is that bad? No…not really. Just a different stratagy for coping with the illness.

  12. Megan
    Megan December 15, 2005 at 8:59 pm | | Reply

    I have asthma and diabetes. Personally, I find the inhalers as much of a hassle as the injections (okay, maybe not as much, but still a hassle). If I take them in front of someone I still get the occasional response, “OMG, are we gonna have to call 911 on you?” This wasn’t helped by the fact that I left calculus one day in an ambulance, much thanks to asthma. After I take the inhalers I caugh everytime, and if your inhalation technique isn’t just right, you don’t get the full dose. I can’t imagine taking insulin that way personally.

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