re-Defining Diabetes…..

In an attempt to clarify my mission for this blog, I’ve changed the look around again. I hope it’s not confusing…I’m still trying to find a theme that is visually pleasing and not too busy. I also have given the blog the title: re-Defining Diabetes because that is my goal. I want to transform the way we think about diabetes. Instead of a disease associated with blindness, kidney failure and amputations, I want people to think of healthy eating, exercise and a life of moderation. I want to change the face of diabetes.

When I was first diagnosed I hated the word, “Diabetes.” At fourteen years old, diabetes sounded like die, and I was suddenly no longer an invincible teenager. I wrote about the power of language when it comes to defining and communicating about illness in my book:

Excerpt from chapter 1 of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes:

This confusion about the term ‘diabetes,’ and whether someone is a “diabetic” or is “living with diabetes,” and whether they have type 1, type 2, type 1.5, Gestational or LADA, reflects an ambiguity; what do we have, what des it mean, and how do we define ourselves? The language of illness is very scientific and women are quickly immersed in the challenge of learning a new language after being diagnosed. We are taught that diabetes leads to death, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. We are taught phrases such as: combat the illness, wage a war against complications, battle the disease, control our blood sugars.

I have never been comfortable with the language of diabetes, and have never felt the terms I used were “right,” for example, the small zippered pouch I use to carry my supplies I call my “shot bag.” However I don’t even give shots anymore, so what should I call it? Am I giving myself shots, or multiple daily injections?

Why, as women with diabetes, do we have to learn to speak like medical professionals to talk about our disease? And is it a disease, or an illness, or a chronic condition? If we don’t know how to communicate about diabetes, how can we accept it fully into our lives? How can we own it, and color it with a pink ribbon like women with breast cancer if we don’t speak the language?

So instead of “seizure” why don’t we re-Define this word that triggers frightening images to “a low blood sugar.” Instead of “Diet” let’s call it “healthy eating.” Instead of “Complications,” let’s say “Challenges.” Lets think of people who are inspiring us to live well with diabetes….there are so many! Here are just a few:

Athlete, Rachelle Glantz

Singer, Amanda Lamb

Writer, MaryJeanne Hunt

How do you define diabetes?

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