One of the things that I feel most passionate about when it comes to diabetes is language. Perhaps second only to peer support. I quite often find myself thinking about the deeper impact of things that I see shared on social media, things said in presentations, things written in articles and how that might make other people feel.
Language Matters. Language has the power to influence the way we think, feel and behave. Language has the power to become reality. (So much so, that Diabetes Australia wrote a whole position statement on it…)
I have to admit that one of the things that doesn’t quite sit right with me lately is the suggestion that it is of the utmost importance that people with diabetes be controlling their blood sugar right now. Or something to that effect.
The way that reads to me, is that it’s only going to be the people with poorly controlled blood sugar who will be at greater risk of Coronavirus. In exactly the same vein as the suggestion from a few weeks ago that ‘only those with pre-existing conditions will be at risk.’ We don’t throw people under the bus in the diabetes community. If you ask me, that’s a really poor way to motivate someone to take care of themselves.
I can’t help but think about how some people in our community might be feeling about these messages. Let’s say, for example, someone who is newly diagnosed and is not seeing the 5.5 that’s on the box of their blood glucose meter very often. Or in the case of my life in the past week, the story of my extremely stubborn blood sugars that are resistant to the same amount of insulin that was sufficient last week. I must admit that even I’m feeling a bit invalidated by this messaging.
I have absolutely no problem with anyone who might feel inclined to use this time to provide additional focus towards their diabetes, if they see fit. (Although I would love to know where you are finding this spare time, because I certainly haven’t found any…) I have absolutely no problem with encouraging good hygiene, good health behaviours and preparedness. Go and have a look at Diabetes Australia’s socials.
But diabetes is a tough gig. When you live with diabetes, every day is diabetes day. Every week is diabetes week. Every month is diabetes month. I refuse to believe even for a second that people with diabetes aren’t trying. I can honestly say that I don’t know a single PWD who isn’t doing their best, under extremely trying circumstances.
I’m not going to suggest that it’s not important to manage blood glucose, but a number isn’t the only marker of people’s efforts in their diabetes management.
People with diabetes deserve a medal just for continuing to show up each and every day during an extremely challenging time.