Philosophical question

I’ve been thinking about this and thought I would throw it out there. Do you have diabetes or are you a diabetic? What is the difference and does it matter? When you answer tell us how long since your diagnosis.

Happy New Year

It may be “just semantics” but I for one think how we talk about something affects how we think about it. I work in the mental health field where we always refer to someone as, for example “having schizophrenia” rather than “being a schizophrenic”. In the same way I think of myself as “having diabetes” rather than “being a diabetic”. Being a diabetic, to me, makes it too great a part of my identity; when it’s really only one thing about me. I was misdiagnosed type 2 in 7/07 and correctly diagnosed LADA in 3/09.

Great insight, Zoe, that is what I was looking for. I, however, have a slightly different perspective. The longer I go on, the more I realize that accepting diabetes as who I am helps me deal better with it and empowers me to own my decisions better. Also…I am currently waiting results of my antibody tests for LADA too.

I’m both. don’t really see a difference between the two. i’m a husband and I have a wife (or does she have me?)

type 2 dx july 1996

I use both interchangeably. Diabetes doesn’t define who I am, but it is an important part of my life. I do know of people who get very angry when someone refers to them as a diabetic. I don’t see the problem.

I hold it as being a " person with diabetes " …If you, Scott and others are holding "it " as " having diabetes or you are a diabetic " , so be it .
Managing or not managing the disease makes the difference .
27 years living with diabetes.

Fun question, Scott! Intriguing, too, because language is both incredibly powerful yet exasperatingly limited.

To me, in the context of diabetes, “having” implies contagion, as if I picked up a cold virus and can then pass it on to others. On the other hand, “being” is a permanent state; I can have a cold but cannot be one.

It also feels as if having diabetes implies that it will change or go away. But if I think in terms of being diabetic, my decisions are governed by conscious awareness of the thing will likely as not one day kill me. Knowing this, I have made some adjustments in priorities – enjoying each day more fully, having a better appreciation for friends, and no longer postponing time off or vacation because there might be a more convenient time later.

Happy New Year!


Saying I am “a diabetic” puts me as a member of a group in the same way that calling me “a brunette” puts me in the group of people who were born with dark or black hair. However, in describing me as an individual, the adjectival form is required – “I am diabetic” or “I have diabetes”, just as “I am blue-eyed” or “I have blue eyes”, not “I am a diabetic.” To call me a “person with diabetes” is so utterly PC that it rankles me almost as badly as someone calling me “a broad”, or someone using a racial or ethnic epithet.

That said, in writing to the diabetes community, I will use the terms “diabetics” and “PWDs” interchangeably, often in the same paragraph

I’m diabetic. It’s hard to forget when you’re sticking yourself and counting carbs all day long.

My preference is to say “I’m diabetic.” If I say that I am A diabetic, it feels as if I’m defining myself. Saying that I’m diabetic sounds more as if it’s just one aspect of who I am.

OTOH, I have no problem saying “I have diabetes.”

Different strokes . . .

Diagnosed '74. In absolute denial until about '90.
I hate the word diabetic. It is so all-encompassing, and we are more than our disease.

LOL…I was afraid of something like that. Just thought it would be fun to see what people have to say. Its not actually that important, but something I’ve pondered lately. Guess I am feeling philosophical. Happy New Year!!


That was my point…exactly how I have started to feel. Thanks for the insight

Cool…yeah the nice thing for us here is that we are all in the same boat and can not (hopefully) offend or be offended too easily. I love it here

HAHA and that Kathyann is the real essence of it all isn’t it…very true

Danny your too much. Reminds my of my philosophy classes in the university. I had professor that would walk around the parking lot pondering questions like this before class. But your right, when we brought up questions like this the damm class would erupt with emotion for the entire hour! …Whew

I do not have diabetes, but my 9 yr old daughter does (dxd Oct 31 2002).

Here are my thoughts on that. It’s from a past post on my blog (

"Until today, I used to hate the term “diabetic”. Maybe it was a symptom of me not fully accepting Adele’s Type 1 diagnosis, but I interpreted the term as if Adele WAS Type 1 Diabetes. She HAS Type 1 Diabetes, but that’s not all there is to her. She is so much more.

So why did my thinking change today? It came to me on a bike ride this afternoon. The feeling of freedom just flying down the road on my bike was amazing. My legs and whole body working together to propel this machine was perfect I thought. I will continue to ride as long as my body will let me. I need to. I am not just someone who rides a bike, I am a “cyclist”. That’s when it hit me… Playing the Type 1 game is not just something a Type 1 “diabetic” does off and on, it’s part of life 365 days a year, 24 hours a day without any vacations. It’s constant ups and downs are ALWAYS there. And this is nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, if you’re a “diabetic” or a second-hand “diabetic” like I am, be proud! You’re a survivor playing one of the most complex games in the world… Not many people could do what you have been chosen to do."

Well said, Joe.

I am diabetic. I have diabetes. (25 + years)
I am an engineer. I have an engineering degree. ( 10+ years)
I guess that makes me more a diabetic than an engineer.
I am a sister. I have two brothers. (37 + years)
I am brunette. I have brown hair. (20 years, used to be blond)

Look up “diabetic” in the dictionary. It says “someone who has diabetes” or “suffering from diabetes”. That is the engineer in me, I guess, having a hard time with “philosophical questions”.

Just trying to have some fun.

I have a Ph.D. (guess that’s the philosopher in me) BUT…I prefer to say that I AM a neurophysiologist. I’m an identity person I guess.

HAHA…I’m enjoying this!!