I Am A Person First

By Anne56 Latest Reply 2010-01-17 08:15:51 -0600
Started 2010-01-16 12:57:14 -0600

In the ER for respitory failure from pneumonia, a doctor asked, "Did you know that you're a diabetic?" No, I didn't. My glucose level was over 600. Later that week, as things settled down for me a bit, I recalled what the doctor had asked. I will never refer to myself as a diabetic. I am a person diagnosed with diabetes.

If this seems simple semantics, perhaps it is. Though language is important. If this seems unimportant to you, I have no judgment or quarrel with that. My own life experiences have caused me to put my human-ness first in all matters. My education tells me that illness and disease is a Medical Model view of what goes on in our bodies; and that is a singular view.

On my last day in the hospital, my physician's visit was much more informal. He asked, "So how're ya doin' with the diabetes and everything?" My answer included what I have written here. To my surprise, he responded, "Yeah, I know what you mean." He did, too! Our final discussion was very uplifting. My perspective is that the Medical Model primarily includes treatments for disease. For many Americans, that points to drug therapies. It is not that simple for the symptoms of this diagnosis. (Truth be told, I do not believe that it is ever that simple.)

I do not feel diseased. I feel that my body is working differently than I had come to know it. I need to make adjustments. I am learning, and I am choosing what those adjustments will be.

My family, friends, and colleagues know me well. It was my daughter who sought out this site and Emailed a hyperlink to me, suggesting that I might gain some "peer support". I have. For me, the medical stuff is widely available in literature and on the Web. I am most grateful for the experiential knowledge available here.

I am a person who is a mother, wife, citizen, taxpayer, voter… and so much more! I am a person diagnosed with diabetes. As the Beatles remind me, "I get by with a little help from my friends"!

17 replies

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-17 01:24:41 -0600 Report

You couldn't have said that better, and I am sure we would all agree that we are humans - normal people, just like any other person…it's our bodies that's different, but than again, nobodys body is the same. And good song reference :)

redglitter 2010-01-17 01:01:01 -0600 Report

Hi Anne, nice to meet you. :)
I have had diabetes for about six years and I have not come across this before. It doesn't bother me to "be diabetic" I even call myself a diabetic, but if I put another term in there, like "crippled" for instance, I can very much see your point.
I will keep this in mind.

Kirla 2010-01-16 23:27:33 -0600 Report

I don't like the word diabetic. I tell people I have a problem with blood sugar. I say it was a little high and I have to watch it. Thats exactly what I do. I test 6-7 times a day and my blood sugar is almost normal. My last A1C was 5.6. I keep watching it.

spiritwalker 2010-01-16 20:53:43 -0600 Report

Hi Anne and welcome to DC. You will find friends and
support here. You are so right when you say You are a person first. I know that I don't want a label of a disease
defining me.

justgeo1 2010-01-16 18:39:17 -0600 Report

Been there, done that… only I didn't have any other problems to add to the diabetes at that time. I was diagnosed in 1998 with a BG of 670 and spent 3 days getting my numbers back down. My wife knew a really good endo, and she came in and took control of my treatment. I also had the Joslin folks come in with training the first day I was there. I have been doing the diabetes thing now for several years and have accumulated a few other conditions to add to the list, including thyroid cancer diagnosed last October. I am a person, with several health problems, but I will get through them all! :)

jaclyncrystal 2010-01-16 19:08:47 -0600 Report

Oh what a wonderful subject and your answer is just great, I TOO AM A PERSON, who just happens to have diabetes along with a large list of other cronic problems, Thank you so much for this topic. and good for you, I am proud to call you friend. :)

mamaoak 2010-01-16 18:01:31 -0600 Report

that was a great we are all friend n her i could not have ajusted to this but every one her encourage us it is so great to br on this site i am with you.

tabby9146 2010-01-16 17:50:49 -0600 Report

I know what you mean. I don't like it when someone refers to someone as diabetic. I like to say that person has diabetes, it sounds better. I do not feel I have a disease either. I know we are supposed to have weakened immune systems and maybe I will someday, but it was caught early,a nd I feel I do not right now. I have been exposed to colds, strep, and stomach viruses and I have not been sick yet. I don't like to feel "different" from those that don't have this.

Anne56 2010-01-16 18:09:32 -0600 Report

Hi, Tabby. I read in the materials provided by the hospital that when a person with diabetes manages to attain blood sugar levels in the "normal" range, our immune systems may function "normally". (For me, the word normal is person specific!) Rather than attributing the possibility of lowered immunities to diabetes, I would have been more correct to qualify this as untreated or uncontrolled diabetes. Your not being sick for so long is inspiring! Glad you posted.

glucafect 2010-01-16 15:56:07 -0600 Report

How were your numbers when you left the hospital and how are you doing since you left the hospital? I'm sorry but when did you leave the hospital

Anne56 2010-01-16 17:36:29 -0600 Report

Hi, Glucafect. I left the hospital 12-24-09 after an 8-day stay and having been treated for swine flu, strep, pneumonia, and of course, diabetes. I have never been quite so sick before, and more than one staff person suggested that my immune system wasn't up to par due to the diabetes. I rec'd insulin shots, and my glucose numbers went steadily down. Not being familiar with any of this, I don't recall precisely; but I think a bit over 300 was not a huge concern to my treatment team at the time. I was unable to eat the first 2 days and little during the next 3. I think I was told that diabetic symptoms were simply improving. I was released at 9:00 P.M. and an RN came to my home the following morning to get me started on a morning and bedtime dose of self-injected insulin. As for my numbers now, I range from 120 - 302 and my average is about 240. I am not satisfied with this and continue to learn about myself.

BeckyJ 2010-01-16 14:35:25 -0600 Report

Too true, too true. My family has a large number of people with diabetes in it, most have poor control. When I was first diagnosed I kind of went into shock. It took my Uncle (who has sinced passed away due to complications from diabetes) to put it all in perspective. He sat me down and talked with me for a couple of hours about all the challenges I would face and told me that in the end it was all up to me on how I dealt with it. Take care of yourself first and the rest will fall in line. If he had faced it earlier he would still be here today and he admitted that. He kept waiting for some doctor or nurse to tell him what to do instead of stepping up and focusing on what his body was telling him. I do call myself a diabetic but I also call myself many other things as well. Loving Aunt, daughter, sister, and overall darn good person. You take the good with the bad and the good for me was that I now know more about myself than ever before. I choose life and being a part of it, diabetes just comes along for the ride. Thanks for the encouraging words!

hbkunkel 2010-01-16 14:24:52 -0600 Report

Welcome, I always appreciate when people treat me as a person and not a "diabetic". So I enjpyed your article.

kaydee 2010-01-16 14:16:29 -0600 Report

Hi Anne,

Could not agree with you more. Have had diabetes for 51 years and have found that the last 2 years have been more torturous than the previous 49 because it takes months if not years to get beyond your so-called Medical Model and address my concerns as a PERSON who has been diagnosed with diabetes for many years and has some newer concerns that I've not yet found from either care providers or a number of info sources. Like you, I'm much more than a diagnostic label and will continue to look for the answers for me. They are out there and I know I will find them soon. In the meantime, it was inspiring to read your post. Bless you and best of everything as you continue to learn to take care of yourself. Many thanks.

tabby9146 2010-01-16 17:52:53 -0600 Report

Kaydee: in the beginning when you were diagnosed, did you control it by diet and exercise, or were you always on insulin? I'd just like to know more. I don't think I personally know anyone who has had it that long. I do know some who have for 20 or 30 years. Thanks!

Anne56 2010-01-17 08:15:51 -0600 Report

Wow, Kaydee… 51 years. What a wealth of knowledge and experience you have to share! I hope you find help here with the answers you now seek. You might write an article or discussion topic on "50 years and counting". (Just a suggestion from someone who would be very interested!) Thanks so much for your response.