What’s in a word?

One of my favourite bloggers pet hates is when someone is referred to as being a Diabetic. I know she isn’t alone in this and a lot of effort is put in to change the way people use words.

I’ve never had a problem being referred to as diabetic and to be honest never understood why others did but I’m not them and as a sign of respect I try not to use the word in reference to anyone bar myself though I’m sure I fail on occassions.

The other day I got to wondering about why it didn’t bother me and wether I should change my thinking so that it did.

From a young age I have been surrounded by such language, my mother had epilepsy, she was defined as epileptic by the doctors and others. It was so common I still think of her in that way, though that was only part of who she was and by no means the most important part to us though it was very much a defining part of our lives.

I spent a fair bit of my childhood in children’s homes and while the name calling from other children was expected and something that could be settled by fighting the constant verbal and periodical physical abuse by those in power was something that had to be endured. I guess after years of being told you are worthless being called diabetic is a step up.

I went from there to the Navy and while you cop a lot of verbal abuse in training it is tough love and after the homes was actually a bit of a holiday camp to be honest. The same sadly can’t be said about the abuse received from civilians and one lovely day spent in Geelong will be with me long after I no longer walk this earth. In 1982 I vowed never to step foot in that place ever again and I never will.

Whilst I don’t actively practice my faith these days it is still a part of me and the power of words has long been an integral part of that faith. So referring to myself as diabetic could be empowering the disease except the word needs two things. Firstly intent and I’m pretty certain most of the time that intent is none existent, secondly it needs ears that hear and I know my ears never hear the word.

I think that last point is important, ¬†whilst many people might use the term diabetic with no venom attached ultimately a lot of the power of a word resides in the ear that hears and whilst my life experiences will mean many words are about as potent as a fart in a hurricane, that is not the case with everyone and we should do all we can not to empower other people’s demons especially in a community people should rightly expect to be able to come to for support.

I seem to have rambled and I’m pretty sure it makes no sense what I actually wanted to know was now that diabetes has taken a back seat in my health care life how do I define myself?

Cancerian? Cancerous? I never seem to hear cancer patients referred to in this manner.