“You have very poor control.”
No mention of how I was feeling after my first couple of weeks living with a demanding chronic illness that would affect me for the rest of my life.
No mention of how my family, friends, peers, work and uni were treating me in the aftermath of my diagnosis.
No mention of how I was handling the insulin injections, finger pricks, food, physical activity, hypos, hypers and stigma of living with diabetes.
After a quick flick through my diabetes logbook charting some less than ideal blood glucose levels, I walked out of my very first endocrinologist appointment eight years ago on the verge of tears. This endo had clearly spent more time with his head buried inside a textbook than he had in the real world, and I was left feeling very little empathy for what I had been going through.
Despite several weeks of learning about diabetes under the wing of a very supportive diabetes educator, it took just one ten minute consult with that endo to undo what I believed was some solid progress in managing my diabetes.
That is exactly the reason why the language we use when talking about diabetes is so damn important to me.
I’m insulted when people think that this issue is about nothing more than political correctness over the phrase ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes.’ I honestly couldn’t care less which of these words you prefer to use. What I do care about is how your choice of words, sentences, body language and attitudes could impact others.
My diabetes educator could read my face the minute I stepped out into the hallway, and knew that something wasn’t quite right.
I tried to laugh it off. I told her that I hadn’t taken too much of what that endo had said to heart.
But man, those words hurt. They still hurt today.
Being mindful of language is about more than just being polite or trying not to offend someone with your choice of words.
The language we use when talking about diabetes has the power to create reality.
You can also check out my five reasons to be mindful of language when talking about diabetes in my latest column for Diabetes Daily.
And commit Diabetes Australia’s Position Statement on Language to memory!
Mine said I would likely live well until about 40 then things woudl be downhill. Yeah language matters a lot.
One of my endocrinologists circled all of my low blood sugars on the BG log that I brought to the appointment and told me that I’d die in a car crash!!! I quipped, “Dr. W., if I spoke to my Deaf/HH student that way, none of them would listen to me!”
I hear you. My old PCP who I don’t see anymore for the obvious reasons, dumped the diagnosis on me without much compassion. My A1C was 6.5. I was in shock & disbelief but she couldn’t care less. I posted about this when I first started blogging. https://comeinsitdown.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/diabetes-and-denial/
Mate I hear you. My first Endo was horrible and had no bedside manner, he just spent the whole time speaking clinical notes into a Dictaphone while I was in the room. Went to the Randwick diabetes clinic for a second opinion and was criticised for not sticking with my first Endo! Third Endo was better but told me every low I was having was slowly giving me brain damage, sheesh. I tried going to the St Vincent diabetes clinic which I heard was good but the two appointments I went to the doctors were running 2 hours late and when I eventually saw them I just got the same info, count carbs, do exercise, avoid lows blah blah blah. I can’t see any reason to visit an Endo anymore. I haven’t found a good educator either so have just read lots of books, latest one is Think Like A Pancreas by a exercise physiologist who has type 1 diabetes.
Years ago, a new primary asked me if I had an Endo. When I told him I didn’t, he said, “Don’t bother.” He maintained that they might be scientists, but they weren’t healthcare professionals.
I’m always amazed when someone assumes this is a lifestyle choice. Like, if I wasn’t so lazy, so careless, and lacking in responsibility I wouldn’t have any problems.
Invite that Endo to keep up with you for a week, eat what you eat (and no more), exercise when you do, and test the typical 500 times a day.
Then we’ll see how dismissive they can be over the challenges we face. Then they might realize that for some a 6.5 is a lot of work. That primary, BTW, was a DO. He seemed much better at considering every aspect of living with this noose around my pancreas. Alas, he retired. Now I have to go to a clinic. But I’ve never felt I needed an Endo.
Solutions To Fit the Needs of the Individual - Type 1 Writes - Diabetes Blog
[…] impact of the attitudes and language used by our healthcare professionals cannot be underestimated. My first endocrinologist told me that I had very poor control over my diabetes mere weeks after my d… That can be detrimental to a young person who is already feeling insecure about a new lifelong […]
'Manage your diabetes well, or complications will develop.' - Type 1 Writes - Diabetes Blog
[…] there was to know about diabetes, and supported me in my desire to commence insulin pump therapy. She had my back when my endo berated my very first hba1c result within a very short time after diagn… (Sidenote: ‘You have very poor control’ is still etched into my brain to this very […]