Having returned from vacation, I was going through a week’s worth of newspapers and an article caught my eye (http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100701/NEWS01/7010342/Car-stickers-could-help-diabetics-get-help-faster). The headline indicated there were stickers for people with diabetes to place on their cars so medical personnel and police would be aware the driver’s erratic behavior may be related to a low (hypoglycemic) or high (hyperglycemic) blood sugar episode.
Before I even read the article, I realized that I had someone that I needed to educate about the “D” word. Yes, I am talking about “diabetic”. For a long time I have lobbied against the use of this word. In short, labeling someone as a “____ic” assumes that the disease defines or becomes the individual. While diabetes is serious, my son is a boy who has diabetes; it doesn’t have him. For a longer discussion on this, see my blog entry titled “What’s in a Name?” located at
As I continued reading the article, I came across a term in the article that both made me laugh and fume. I quote the writer “Some people aren't aware of the symptoms of a diabetic attack. Victims may be dizzy, confused, nervous, agitated or drowsy. They also could have fruity breath or start to vomit.” My first response was “what the hell is a diabetic attack?” Does it mean that diabetes reaches up and attacks my child or my child labeled as a diabetic goes ballistic and attacks someone? I am being facetious, but that term conjures up images people having fits or something. I would prefer the proper terms of hypo- or hyperglycemic episodes.
I realize that I may be hyper-sensitive and some folks, including diabetes folks, may not agree. However, I view it as another opportunity to educate people about diabetes and the fact that you can’t catch it, there is a difference between Type I and II, my son didn’t develop diabetes because he ate too much sugar, etc.
I dropped an e-mail to the writer expressing my thoughts about her use of “diabetic” and “diabetic attack”. She hasn’t responded. Maybe she brushed me off as a whiner, but at least I tried and hopefully have made you think about it as well.
Zach, A Tennessee Squire
P.S. I was asked to convert the letter I wrote into a blog format and it was posted at a friend's site (http://www.daddybetes.com/2010/07/changing-worlds-perception-one-person.html) as a guest blogger.
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