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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

What's In a Name? Am I a Diabetic or A Person With Diabetes?

A very brief post today about a regularly recurring question. Lately I have seen several posts on different forums from people getting upset about being referred to as a diabetic.

The bard put it, as usual, so well:
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
   Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II, by William Shakespeare.

I don't get precious about labels. Many will disagree with me, but I also tend to be a bit old-fashioned about many of the politically correct terms that have entered our language since I went to school.

Context matters. I rarely care about the word that is used to refer to me if the context is appropriate and the speaker or writer's intentions are good. For example, I am:
  • a father
  • a son
  • a brother
  • a husband
  • an engineer
  • ex-RAAF
  • retired
  • ex-military officer
  • a pensioner
  • aged 66 
  • an oldie
  • a senior 
  • an ancient 
  • a child (to my mother) 
  • a traveller 
  • a seeker after wisdom 
  • an omnivore 
  • a curmudgeon (at times :smileyhappy:
  • a man 
  • a baldy 
  • a six-footer 
  • a diabetic
  • a leukaemiac 
  • a hypogammaglobulinemic
  • and many other things
All of them are descriptively accurate, none define me. I object to none of those words in the proper context. To me the intent in context of the writer or speaker is far more important than any of the specific words. I cringe sometimes when I see the unwieldy "person with diabetes" or eve"person with type 2 diabetes" when diabetic or "type 2" may be simpler, more succinct and probably more apt, especially when used by a medical professional, another diabetic or some-one who cares for the diabetic. There are times when the longer description may be more appropriate, but not many in my opinion.

Stop worrying so much about words. If a word offends you, look deeper than the word to discover the cause before reacting. Be more concerned about correcting ignorance than the words used to display it. For years I used my own version of Hanlon's Razor before I found others had discovered it before me:
  • Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice.
  • Never assume stupidity when ignorance will suffice.
  • Never assume ignorance when forgivable error will suffice
There are more important things in life and diabetes.

Cheers, Alan, T2, Australia.
Everything in Moderation - Except Laughter