After I speak I often try to give the audience 10-15 minutes to ask me questions. In Duluth this past Tuesday somebody raised their hand and asked me what my preference was to be called….”Diabetic” or “Person living with diabetes”. My answer was that I personally didn’t have a preference. Another woman in the audience, who is in the healthcare industry, commented about why I didn’t have a preference. She felt very strongly with referring to her patients as “people living with diabetes”. This got me thinking about this. I quickly called about 10 friends that I know who have type-1 diabetes. A lot of them told me they had never even thought about it.
After having sometime to reflect on the issue I still have the same stance….to me it’s not that important to what you choose to refer to me as. I believe when people are educated about what type-1 and type-2 diabetes is, then it comes down to them if they have an understanding and compassion towards anyone living with a chronic illness. I 100% believe that diabetes doesn’t define me, it defies me. At that same token though there is so much to be done in the world of diabetes with education and fundraising, the issue of what to be called is just not on the top set of my prioirties. My father refers to my younger brother and I as diabetics. And I know with full confidence that he doesn’t just view me as a “diabetic”. It’s just how he chooses to say a sentence….there’s no loaded connotation to it.
Every person living with a chronic illness is different. So give everyone the grace and the courtesy to ask them what their preference is. Trust me, they will let you know because they’re the ones living with it 24/7.
What are your thoughts?