The Power of Words….


So the other day I had the pleasure of being involved in another Twitter conversation of #awesome with all the lovely folks at the #DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocates) and the #DOC (Diabetes Online Community).  This time around it was a special focus group for some health research being carried out by Jane Dickson for an upcoming report she is writing.  I was really keen to be involved as were lots of other #DOCers.  There was an air of positive, excited anticipation….

As we started the Twitter chat things went along well, with loads of participation.  Jane, you must have been super happy with that! 🙂

Part way through though I became aware of a feeling, a sensation creeping up on me from the depths of somewhere I preferred not to look.  It started when the chat moderators asked us to name one word we would like medical professionals treating people living with diabetes to stop using.  Mine came to mind within nano seconds.  So fast I didn’t even register its birth into my conscious mind.  I raced to tweet about it (the chat was super fast paced and we were all racing to keep up with it!), but then I felt my fingers freeze over the keyboard…

I knew what I wanted to say and why I wanted to say it….I just didn’t know if I wanted the whole world to hear and know it.  It is, at its essence, my greatest fear and embarrassment about being a person living with diabetes (#PLWD).  I knew all the research, I knew I was on solid scientific ground in my justifications….but I couldn’t help but think that this would be better received from a skinny person.  What that?!?  Did I just think that?  Really?

I’ve never been one to shy away from something I believe in so I swallowed my pride, my fear, and every other negative emotion that was trying to fight for supremacy of my brain….and I soldiered on….I announced to the world my number one pet hate as a #PLWD and the one thing that causes me the most upset and embarrassment.  And it’s only a word….

A very powerful word that has so many negative and scientifically untrue connotations…. DIABESITY!! 

There, I said it…and having had my fair share of lightning striking me lately, I am pleased to report that nothing happened.  I didn’t get swallowed up from embarrassment but rather I got enveloped by a sea of agreement from fellow #PLWD. *Big grin*!

Yes, type 2 diabetes can be caused by obesity in some people.  Type 1 is never caused by obesity.  However there is so much science out there now that tells us that obesity is not the only causal factor in type 2 diabetes, it is so much more complicated than that.

Just look around at the statistics –  if every obese person in the world also had diabetes, the word epidemic wouldn’t even begin to cover it.  There are a great number of obese and overweight people in the world who DO NOT have type 2 diabetes, just as there are a great number of people with a healthy body weight that DO have type 2 diabetes.  Genetics, diet, physical activity, and so many other factors are at play here.

I’m overweight and I have type 2 diabetes.  My husband is an active, fit and slim person (and always has been) and he as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.  We were diagnosed with diabetes within a month of each other.  Our endocrinologist told us that I had only had diabetes for a few months, whereas my husband had likely had it much longer, probably two years!  He is now taking more medication than me….but thankfully he is doing really well.

So why?  Why have doctors and endocrinologists latched onto the word ‘diabesity’ when there is so much more to it?  It is an awful word, horrible to the ears, and with immediate negative connotations – not to mention it is completely misleading. 

I agree that many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, but so many others are not.  It just doesn’t make any scientific sense to me….not to mention I, for one, think it is the single most likely word to ensure that a type 2 patient disengages with their medical professional.  Surely that is the least positive and least desired outcome a GP or endo could want, so why risk it?

All the feelings!  So many feels….Breathe, just breathe….

I realised that even though I felt excited and empowered being part of the #DSMA focus group I also felt really challenged by it, which is a good thing.  I’ve never been one for colouring inside the lines or staying within my comfort zone. 

So firstly, thank you to #DSMA and Jane for challenging me and getting me thinking.  I had pushed that word into the dark recesses and likely wanted to never think of it again….but once that question was asked….it didn’t wait for permission to come raging forward.  It just did, and slapped me upside the head as it birthed forth!

Secondly, thank you to all of the #DOCers who tweeted their shared concern about the over use and under-scrutinised employment of the word diabestiy in the treatment and care of type 2 #PLWD.  Although that may not seem remarkable, given that it was a focus group for #PLWD, it really was because most of the participants were type 1.

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disorder that has no cure – YET!  It is a life long, chronic condition that affects millions around the world.  Diabesity does not apply to type 1 #PLWD!  Nevertheless they rallied around and showed their distaste for it anyway.  Way to go #DOC….that’s why I love you guys so much…xx

So what are your thoughts on the use of the word diabesity?  What word in the treatment of diabetes, or any other health condition, really irks, upsets, hurts or embarrasses you?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below….I’d love to here them.


One thought on “The Power of Words….

  1. This is going to sound crazy, but I truly believe that becoming a diabetic was one of the greatest Blessings. It taught me to learn about food which in turn allowed me to get to the weight I desired, have more energy, and nothing embarrasses me about the word “Diabetes”. Once we learn how food impacts the body, diabetes can be controlled by diet, without insulin or medication – I know because I am a living example of it for over a decade. My A1c always stays in the range of 5.6 to 5.9 and I haven’t had to give up breads, pastas, desserts or anything else – I learned how to substitute healthy carbs vs. unhealthy carbs and there are tons of products out there that do not spike sugar levels.

    Liked by 1 person

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