The Wrong Debate

The other day we came across a post on the Medscape entitled “Is ‘Diabetic’ a Dirty Word? A Doctor and Patient Debate” and all we could think of is here comes the diabetes language police. That the West Coast Mafia fresh off the ADA conference were once again more concerned with how something was being said over the substance of what was said. The post states the following;

“Is “diabetic” a dirty word? Cynthia Rissler says it is, explaining that her son has diabetes, but he is not a diabetic. “Just because you have diabetes, it does not mean that the disease is allowed to name you,” she told Diabetes Daily.” It can never change who you really are.”

Laura Kronen, on the other hand, has never found anything offensive about being called a diabetic. “I am proud of saying I am a diabetic,” she writes in her blog. “It shows strength and dedication. It shows determination and perseverance. It’s a badge of honor that I wear proudly.”

So which is it? Last year, Medscape asked readers whether the term “diabetic”—used as a noun to refer to a person—should be retired from clinical use. Only 27% of respondents agreed that it should, whereas 66% disagreed; 7% of respondents said it depends on the circumstances.”

Now we hate to be Captain Obvious but being from Chicago a great city known for Al Capone, Michael Jordan and outstanding deep-dish pizza, we aren’t an overly sensitive bunch and have been known to bring a gun to a knife fight. Here in the Midwest unlike the left coast we tend to focus on mundane things like how do we change the fact that nearly two thirds of all patients with diabetes are not under good control and that fact hasn’t changed all that much over the last 20 plus years.

While the diabetes language police are trolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram looking for offensive diabetes terminology we on the other hand are looking at the latest drugs in the medicine cabinet and toys in the toy chest. We pay little attention to which terms these companies use to describe people with diabetes. Heck the name of our firkin publication is Diabetic Investor, so I suppose technically we are in violation of the diabetes language rules and have been for over 20 years.

See Momma Kliff didn’t raise a bunch of panty waste boys with thin skins. She didn’t, excuse the expression, sugar coat the truth or the harsh realities of what we would experience once we got out into the real world. Having been on the receiving end of a Momma Kliff beat down we can also say with confidence she didn’t mince words either. She called it like she saw it and let the chips fall where they may. Mom loved her boys but wanted them to grow up be responsible adults who could handle the truth.

Our biggest problem with the language police isn’t just their lack of attention to the facts but their people with diabetes as victim’s mentality. People with diabetes are NOT victims. We are regular folks with a chronic but very manageable disease. However this patients are victim’s belief excuses these patients from personal responsibility. The language police along with the wicked witch of the west and her minions rather than acknowledge this fact seeks to blame poor outcomes on everyone but the patient when the fact is the patient often times is to blame.

The “high” out of pocket cost of insulin is a perfect example of this. As we have said countless times yes there are patients who through no fault of their own cannot afford insulin. However had the mafia bothered to look at the facts they would have discovered many of these victims weren’t victims at all as they did have options, but they chose either to ignore these options or didn’t not purse these options.

The same can said about the mafia’s misguided belief that way cool whiz bang toys will save the day. Yes, these toys have lots of potential IF the patient CHOSES to use them.

Let’s make this perfectly clear diabetes is chronic but very manageable disease IF THE PATIENT CHOSES TO DO SO. Whether the Mafia wants to acknowledge it or not THE PATIENT DOES BEAR RESPONSIBILITY FOR MANAGING THEIR DIABETES. PATIENTS SHOULD NOT BE ABSOVLED OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY.

Frankly all this attention being paid to diabetes language makes us want to puke. It just takes attention away from what’s really important and is insulting to any patient who is managing their diabetes to the best of their abilities. It provides cover to all the patients who have the means to manage their diabetes but CHOSE not to manage it. A group of patients which will use every excuse in the book not to manage their diabetes. “Hey, I’m not to blame I’m a victim. It’s ok that I just ate an entire bag of Dorito’s downed it with a big can of Coke and topped it all off with ice cream sundae.”

Each day we are grateful that Momma Kliff did not coddle us, did not absolve us of personal responsibility. We’re grateful that she praised us when we did well and taught us to learn from our mistakes. She never said it would easy and the fact something wasn’t easy shouldn’t stop us from doing the best we could. It’s time for all this bullshit to end, does it really matter what we call a person with diabetes? Will changing the language produce anything tangible? Can someone please tell us what good will come from all this PC crap?

To put this as simply and as only we can – THIS ISN’T ABOUT WHAT IS SAID HOW IT IS SAID THIS IS ALL ABOUT RESULTS AND CHANGING THE WORDS WON’T CHANGE RESULTS. Get a life people and start concentrating on what really matters.