“You Have Very Poor Control.”
“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!