The language of diabetes

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week Prompt is all about language and diabetes. Here’s the prompt:

There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

I love that it’s a prompt about words that needs to ask people to be respectful. Words get folks all riled up sometimes. I work in PR/marketing communications, let me tell you, we have debates about single commas in come of the things that we develop, so of course word choice is important. I’m one of the folks that the above prompt refers to when saying, “May advocate  for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes.”

I wrote a post about it for Diabetes Mine today, so please head on over there and read it when you’re done here… Continue reading


The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.

William Osler

Maybe it’s because I spend 90% of my days writing, or because I like to talk, or because I manage the images that people have of brands, or maybe it’s something entirely different, but I’m really sensitive to the way that people use words. So sensitive in fact that I can become physically uncomfortable when people use words poorly or in a way that is misrepresentative.

I’m especially sensitive to the way the people use words to describe me, or my broken body. In the same way that I don’t like the word “sugar” being used to describe diabetes, I don’t like the word “disease” being used to describe diabetes.

Not that the word disease isn’t scientifically accurate, it does appear in the medical definition of Type 1 Diabetes, I just don’t feel like I have a disease. I don’t feel like I’m sick. Most of the time I don’t even feel like I have a “health condition.”

If anything, I feel like I survived organ failure (which is how a relative of mine described type 1 when I was first diagnosed). Most of the time I feel healthy.

When I was a kid, I was afraid of catching diabetes (type 2) from my grandmother. I didn’t know that it wasn’t contagious. I feel like using the word “disease” makes it sound like diabetes is contagious or makes one worthy of ostracism.

At the end of the day though, no matter what I feel like, I have an autoimmune disease.

I’m diseased. <——- I don’t like that way that sounds. 

As I write this, I have to wonder if use of the word “disease” portrays diabetes of all types as a serious medical condition, worthy of trying to cure…

Fun Fact

Here’s a fun fact for your Friday, courtesy of the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (3rd Edition):


I was looking up a technical term to solve a capitalization question (my life is thrilling, right?) When I was flipping through, I stopped on this page and the word “diabatic” jumped out at me. Sounds like it would be describing a batty person with diabetes… but nope, just thermodynamic stuff.

Have a wonderful Friday!


Mental Hang Ups

Are there any phrases or expressions that just bug you? Even when used “correctly” there are some expressions that for some reason annoy me. For example:


I will never use this phrase (other than above). It’s completely possible to refer to a full heart in some way or another, but wholeheartedly is not only more common, it just sounds better in my ears.


Rhymes with “potion” but for some reason feels foreign to say.

“Goes up” (conversely: “Goes down”)

Elevators and escalators do go up and down, but in other references I will always opt to use: increase, decrease, climb, fall, rise, etc. in whatever conjugation is appropriate. When the level of something rises, it’s not inappropriate to say that the “level goes up;” it just sounds elementary to me and I feel like there’s always a better way to describe something.

Watson creeps down the stairs


I always prefer to say “dinner” (or “lunch” according to some). This word also reminds me of Snoopy.

These are just some of my mental hang ups when it comes to words. Our brains are very strange places to say the least!

What are some of your hang ups?


Friday Five: Words that Drive Me Crazy


You mean presents? Shortening a word, but not actually shortening it, doesn’t make you appear more intelligent.


See also “punchin” and “pumkin.” These are supposed to be endearing terms for small children, but I can guarantee you, I got called “pumpkin” a lot as a child and never really felt the endearment… so spelling it wrong or hashtagging it won’t really gain you points. Often times it looks more like “punching” or “punking” than pumpkin anyway.


This one is more for Brad than anyone else, someone that he knows mispronounce the word “else” as “elts” (and not due to an accent).


Not that the word isle is annoying, but I never see it used as isle to mean “island.” I see it used almost exclusively to refer to  walking down the aisle for a wedding or in the aisle of a store.

“Wife” (as a verb)

I like being a wife, that usage doesn’t bother me, it’s when “wife” is used in the same manner as verbs like “run” or “change.” For instance, “He wifed her” makes my skin crawl. He married her? He proposed to her? I also don’t “wife,” I cook, I clean, I bake, I sew… but those wife-like duties aren’t wifing because people who aren’t wives can do them too.

I get that English can be tough and that people like to show personality in the way that they speak, but often using or misusing words like this can take away from your credibility, readability and even cause people to ignore your messages.

Are there any words that people use or misuse that drive you crazy?