The contradictions in diabetes are complex and confuse my little mind sometimes. Today is one of those days.
Getting the message that diabetes is serious – and needs to be taken seriously – is sometimes messed up in our determination to show that diabetes won’t stop us from being superheroes. In our proverbial capes*, we do amazing things; we are brilliant; we advocate; we inform. All while pretending to be a pancreas.
We use language that empowers us and makes others see us as forces with which to be reckoned. I say I live with diabetes (often saying I live well with diabetes, never struggle with it. I refuse to even suggest for a minute that I am suffering with or from diabetes and will correct anyone who suggests otherwise.
But is that undermining the seriousness of it? And is it ignoring the days where it does seem like a battle – and an uphill one at that.
I refer to diabetes as a condition, never a disease. Is that the right terminology? And why do I do that?
According to this piece at Health Writer Hub a disease is an …’ abnormality in systemic function…that causes both physical and emotional signs and symptoms’. A condition is …’an abnormal state of health that interferes with the usual activities or feeling of wellbeing’. Both are actually correct when talking about diabetes, and yet I (and many others) object to using the term disease.
Perhaps we don’t want to be thought of as ‘diseased’ or as if there is something wrong with us and ‘disease’ does suggest that.
We want people to think we are superheroes who manage to not only thrive and excel with the condition (disease?) we have been dealt, but also demand that they don’t think of us as any different to everyone else and are given the same opportunities and choices.
Are we doing ourselves a disservice by appearing so ‘in control’ and, dare I say it, ‘normal’, when there is truly nothing normal about having to pretend to be an internal organ, day in day out?
I don’t for a minute want to stop being the empowered, confident, secure and capable person I am. But sometimes I do feel that in all my cheerleading efforts, I sometimes forget – or rather refuse to admit – that it can be tough.
And mostly, I wonder, and fear, that if we all are making diabetes look so easy to manage and impact us in such insignificant ways, do others not see and understand the urgency that we feel every single day in our desire to make things better? Who needs a cure if we look so bloody happy and competent with our little condition?