Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I'm definitely not militant about saying "person with diabetes" instead of "diabetic."  I don't care much if people call me diabetic (either as a noun or as an adjective).  I try and respect that others might not like it and at least won't refer to anyone as "a diabetic" unless they've called themselves that.

But, I'm beginning to really see why some people dislike the very word "diabetic."

When I visit my OB, it's like diabetes labels everything about my pregnancy... in a way that I don't think is accurate.

For example, she keeps saying "diabetic placenta."  I know that what she means is "the placenta in a pregnant mother who has diabetes," so I'm not offended or going to go on about how a placenta can't be diabetic.... but I feel that calling my placenta "diabetic" feels like calling it "broken down and incapable of supporting a baby properly."  And that isn't true.

It is true that a placenta is more likely to break down too fast in a mother with diabetes.  I definitely won't deny that, or deny that it could happen in my case.  But the placenta does not break down faster simply because you are diabetic.  It breaks down faster in the presence of higher than average glucose levels.  Therefore, a very well-controlled diabetic mother might have a perfectly healthy placenta that is in tip-top shape all the way through pregnancy.

I accept that I am at a higher risk of needing interventions, but I dislike such suggestions (however unintentional) that I and my baby are doomed merely because of my diagnosis.

So, I now kind of get why some people dislike the word "diabetic."  I understood already that it comes across as a label, which many people dislike, but now I also get that it suggests a state of being more than "with diabetes" does, and a "diabetic" state suggests poor health.  Whereas, plenty of people with diabetes are actually healthy.

I am continually fascinated by the power of words.  Thoughts shape language, but language also shapes thought.

1 comment:

  1. This post reminds me of Eminem's tune "I am, whatever you say I am."

    I am not militant about saying "person with diabetes" either, but I do get irritated when doctors or family use diabetes as an excuse for anything that might be wrong...

    Such as, I have a head cold-- it must be diabetus!

    I have a back ache.... must be diabetes!

    The sky is falling! ... diabetez!