Are you Diabetic? or Do you have Diabetes?

I have read where the use of the question: Are you diabetic? has been…well,…called into question. This got me to thinking, which can be a dangerous endeavor. What is wrong with being addressed as a diabetic? What is wrong with being addressed as having diabetes? I say, nothing. I think either term or phrase is appropriate. In fact, I found that I use them interchangeably when I am discussing my weight loss with others, declining to buy candy from fund raisers, soliciting sympathy from my wife (an unsuccessful venture), etc.

The medical condition of diabetes can be limiting, but we do have the choice / freedom of describing our condition with two phrases. “I am diabetic” and “I have diabetes”. If I had cancer I could would not have this choice. While I could say that I have cancer, it would not be proper for me to say that I am cancerous.

When my doctor called me to tell me that my blood sugar reading was through the roof (from a blood sample drawn during a physical), he told me that I may have diabetes. A few days later I was tested again and he told me that I was diabetec. Was it bad that my doctor called me a diabetic? I don’t think so. Our society uses lables all of the time, as do I. I may think some one is sexy (I can only assume that they have sex), but that does not take away their other identies.

Diabetes or Diabetic? I think either term, phrase, or question, is fine to describe me. Which is your preference, and why?

ahem Here’s take 2 on this, since it’s been reposted.

Neither term offends me. I’d never even heard ‘Person with Diabetes’ until a few weeks ago. When talking to people I usually say diabetic, or I’ll say yes, if they ask if I’m diabetic ( sometimes I’ll say ‘pre-diabetic, but it’s really the same thing’). It’s just what is in common usage.

In my head though, I never think “I’m a diabetic”. I think “I have diabetes.” Now, It may be that I’ve only been diagnosed a year and a half, but I think there’s more to it.

I’m quite sure I had diabetes for at least 5 years before I was diagnosed - probably ten, the symptoms were there. Before I was diagnosed, if you’d asked me to describe myself, I’d say, ‘I’m a programmer’, ‘I’m a bookaholic’ (always those two first), and perhaps a few others like ‘I’m short.’. If you ask me now, post diagnosis, I’ll say the same thing. Unless you’re eating with me, or I’m on a diabetes site (where my identity suddenly centers over what type of diabetes I have), the diabetes doesn’t come up.

Diabetes has not changed my identity. It’s made me change how I think about food and exercise and given me an extra pill in the morning. It’s something I think about a lot. But it hasn’t changed what I love, what I believe in, or what I enjoy. I’m still me. I’m me with diabetes.

Until diabetes becomes the first and foremost thing about me, I won’t think of myself as a ‘diabetic’.

Before TuDiabetes, I honestly hadn’t given enough thought to the difference between the two terms.

Today, I feel more comfortable saying “I have diabetes”. It’s a condition that is a part of me, something that appeared in my life. But there’s no such thing as hopelessness with diabetes now. Though absolute control is a bit of a utopia, we can work towards maintaining very good BG levels and lipids most of the time.

As for “I am diabetic”, it feels a bit more hopeless to me, like something where you constrain yourself. I think this could be best summarized with the tagline that Kerri has in her blog: “Diabetes doesn’t define me but it helps explain me.” :slight_smile:

I couldn’t care less. No matter what you call it, it still involves frequent glucose monitoring and having a pump connected to me.

I never use the word “diabetic” because to me it does sound like the primary quality of that person is a disease.

You don’t refer to people as “arthritics” or “malignants” or “sclerotics.”

Personally, I don’t even like the word “diabetes” because “diabetes” is really a symptom–high blood sugar caused by various metabolic faults, not one disease.

How many times have you read a headline that says something like, “Diabetics five times as likely to die of [fill in nasty condition here]?” When it turns out that it isn’t “diabetes” that kills them but uncontrolled high blood sugars. People with “diabetes” who maintain normal blood sugars will have normal health.

This sounds like maybe it isn’t that important, but here’s why it is:

Over and over my doctor has said things to me like, “of course you will have slow wound healing, because you have diabetes.” Well, I have normal wound healing because I have an A1c in the mid 5% range. Ditto the heart disease he assumed I had to have, which after expensive tests I was found not to have. If he was taught that the “disease” is “High blood sugars” then he’d be more likely to look at a person’s blood sugars, rather than their diagnosis. But the two are so confused in the public mind that doctors seem to think that if you have “diabetes” you MUST have high blood sugars and they don’t do much to change that!

I don’t mind either way when people talk about my diabetes or diabetes in general but I do use “I have diabetes” when I talk about it. “Diabetic” seems to me as a lable and I don’t like lables, especially that I’m so much more than a diabetic. I have diabetes sounds better. Or I can even phrase it as diabetes has me, lucky basturd, but I don’t think people would understand that one :slight_smile:

But what does upset me is that in the country where I live, the Netherlands, they call diabetes “sugar illness” and that sounds plain offensive to me.

We’re trying to teach Noah to say something along the lines of " I have diabetes, and I’m insulin dependent."

Lea B, I like what your teaching your son! I was diagnosed at 11, and I went to camp with kids as young as 6. No one was diabetic. We all were the same. We have Diabetes, and are insulin dependent. I’m not a Diabetic, but I don’t freak out as much anymore when someone addresses it like that. I used to correct people, but that part of my mean spirit has gone away. If anyone says, You’re diabetic, I say, yes, I have diabetes. I don’t think they get my tone, and thats fine. So, to me, I have diabetes, and will until there is a cure. And even then, we will all still have had diabetes, so we will always be there for each other.

Words have great power. I prefer to say “I have diabetes” because the term “diabetic” seems so all-encompassing (even though db pretty much affects everything I do). But, I don’t get my undies in a bundle either way.

I also prefer to call db “a condition” rather than “a disease”.

And, what about the phrase “she’s got real bad diabetes” - does that mean she takes a large amount of insulin, or that the db is uncontrolled. When I switched from 2 insulin injections to multiples (about 20 years ago) I remember that my family members thought that the db had “gotten so much worse”.

Since some people are greatly offended by the term “diabetic”, I think it’s just safer to stick with “a person with diabetes”.

Hi Kathy:

I hope folks, especially those with diabetes, are not offended when I refer to myself as a diabetic. If they do, they will have to come to terms with it because I consider how I refer to my “condition” (I agree with you 100%) is my business. As I was reading this post I picked up a mail solicitation that I recently received from dLife. I thumbed through the contents and I found a solicitation to Diabetic Living, with the rest of the solicitation pieces, etc. referred to diabetes care, diabetes management, diabetes recipes, etc.

Diabet…ES or …IC matters not to me. What does matter to me is that I always clarify the D word with TYPE 1.

I totally agree with you!

100% agreement with you it really don’t matter to me how say it or anyone else> It part of me not me!

Since I started this discussion I left out at least one person who has diabetes / is a diabetic, but refers to his condition by another name. How about we just tell every one that we have “diabeetus”? I think Wilford is trying to start his own trend.

Yes I always make sure I throw in the type 1 too.

Steve and Anita:

Is there a reason why you feel the need to clarify that you are Type 1? My doctor has advised me that if I live long enough, my pancrease will stop working. Wouldn’t that then make me a Type 1? If your pancrease did function, would it function properly enough for you not to be a Type 2? I only ask this because I have heard comments (not neccesarily at tudiabetes) that hint that Type 2’s are responsible for their condition.


Sadly a lot of Type 1s buy into the media view that Type 2 diabetics caused their own disease with their lazy gluttony.

In fact, this is not true. Type 2s usually have genetic errors of metabolism which, among other things, cause them to pack on weight AFTER their blood sugar is abnormal so that while they may be obese at diagnosis, that obesity may be a side effect of the underlying flaw, not the cause.

But because of the perception of Type 2 diabetics as being fat slobs, cute young Type 1s get very upset if they are confused with them.

I was diagnosed as a Type 2 for many years without being overweight, which is what made me do the research to learn about what really causes Type 2. I was shocked at how much research there is that proves very conclusively that obesity does NOT cause Type 2. Not only that but only 1/3 of the obese get type 2 diabetes!

Blaming the victim for Type 2 diabetes does only one thing–it ensures that people will put off getting diagnosed as long as possible, because of the stigma, ensuring complications and it also keeps doctors and the health care system from devoting the energy and resources needed to deal with the problem.

If you think a person “Caused” their disease with culpable behavior, you really don’t care what happens to them.

Which is pretty tragic.

i just call myself a sick-o.

what’s so bad about being sick anyways? i mean it totally sucks to have to deal with a chronic illness. but there’s nothing wrong with being sick, right? it doesnt make us any less worthy as people, any less deserving of our full human rights, any less capable of making decisions for ourselves. instead of trying to distance ourselves from the “really sick people” or the abnormal people, or the untouchables, or the sexual perverts, we should be demanding full rights to self-determination for all!

healthy people try to tell us what to do and how to live our lives all the time because we are seen as somehow being defective cuz we’re sick. they think they are better than us. they feel they have earned their health somehow cuz they are superior (privilege) and we have earned our illness cuz somehow we are inferior (oppression). they use a difference to gain power. this is a system of oppression. it is similar to other systems of oppression like racism. let’s name it. ablesim. ok now let’s dismantle it! who’s in?

yes, jenny!

My father was diagnosed as Type 2 while he was serving in the US Air Force back in the early 1970’s. He was definitley not overweight, let alone obese.