Tag: #DBlogWeek2016

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Language and Diabetes

 

When it comes to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, many will actively campaign for the use of words that don’t give individuals labels such as ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’. They strive to use more inclusive language when referring to people with diabetes. For them, words like ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’ becomes quite a derogatory word to use. Words are words, and I suppose it really depends on how those words are conveyed by individuals.

How do I feel about these words?  Well, the lovely lines delivered at the end of this video (one of my favourite movies 🙂 ), by Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) sum up my feelings pretty well.

Personally, I’ve used the term ‘diabetic’ quite openly throughout my diabetic life. It’s a word which has never offended me, I’ve never felt upset by being referred to as ‘diabetic’. If someone asks me if I’m diabetic. I respond, “Yes, I’m diabetic”.

Many a time, this then leads to meaningful conversations and many questions which for me becomes a chance to make others more mindful of what living with diabetes is all about. Since becoming a blogger, I’ve become even more self-assured and don’t feel apprehensive to advocate for diabetes, when the opportunity presents itself.

Living with diabetes, I’ve had to develop a thicker skin and not let something as small as a word affect my emotional state of mind. I have way too much to cope with to waste time pondering over the words people chose to label me with.  In all honesty, I really don’t care.

A person who becomes too hung up on the labels and what they prefer people to call them, will only focus on that and not take the occasion as something to share with or educate and network with other people. It becomes a missed opportunity to share your knowledge.

For those of you, who are new to this journey and may feel a little sensitive to those words people may reference you with,  don’t let it bog you down. 

Your diabetes knowledge maybe very little (but you know even after 21 years I’m still learning) but you too can take this as a chance to let that person or persons know how you feel when they refer to you with the words ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with  diabetes’. Let them know! They too may know nothing of the condition or have only picked up on things here and there from the media etc. Be brave, be strong and be proud of yourself. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your condition or fearful to let others know your true feelings.

So words like ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’ don’t bother me. Just like I won’t let diabetes hold me back, I won’t allow a words to impede me in anyway. I’ve accepted that I have diabetes and have become comfortable with who I am with diabetes.

Whether the word or words are conveyed in a malicious way or if they genuinely don’t mean any malice in the usage of the word, then why get all upset or hot and bothered about it. Correct them, defend yourself and teach them more about diabetes or the words you have a preference for.

words

There are many occasions when diabetes is misrepresented in dramas, movies and even in the news. There are also times when diabetes is turned into a joke and isn’t in the slightest bit funny. These are the times when, I find myself becoming annoyed or frustrated. Firstly, the misrepresentation causes others to think that diabetes is a certain way and that it is all the same. Secondly, they aren’t delivering the correct message and therefore it causes misunderstanding of the condition.

There was a recent situation just like this with a well-known drama here in the UK ‘EastEnders’, where diabetes was misrepresented. A lot of people complained and a mother with a child with Type 1 diabetes decided to write an open letter to the BBC. You can read it here.

This then was followed by many others including medical professional like, Dr Partha Kar, who also wrote a letter to the BBC offering them his professional services.

There were many letters of complaints but finally, JDRF also got involved and finally the BBC responded to their concerns regarding the portrayal of diabetes in the East Enders show. The BBC agreed that in the future, their scriptwriters and researchers would contact JDRF for any referencing of diabetes. Click here to read their response.

Going back to the use of words…….

Although, I’m not bothered by either the use of the word ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’, some people really are, so think before you speak or just ask. Truthfully, I wouldn’t want people tip toe around me just because they don’t know which words I like better.

To the ‘diabetics’ or ‘Person with diabetes’, don’t get mad and don’t dwell on the choice of words people decide to use. Instead, let them know your preferences, because how will they ever know you’ve been hurt by that word if you say nothing. And please remember you are no different because of your diabetes. You are so much more. Don’t let a word stop you from being that great person.

To the non-diabetic person using these words, ask us what we desire to be known as. Don’t presume that the use of one word or the other is better.  

Amina xx

 

 

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – The other half of diabetes

 

I could never have dreamt that living with diabetes would be such a challenging prospect to contend with. Mentally and emotionally, it is one of the most demanding and turbulent things I’ve ever had to deal with. It has stretched me beyond belief and it doesn’t give me the option to just check out. It’s a constant presence in my life and  for as long as I can remember it’s been with me. It’s actually hard to remember what life without it was like.

With all that said, I’ve had to find ways to make living with diabetes one that isn’t so gruelling and tedious. Instead of letting diabetes consume me, I’ve pushed myself to try new things to achieve new goals and to make my life into something more than just diabetes.

Of course I know all too well that it isn’t going anywhere and sometimes it can affect me. However, I’m also aware (as you should be too), that it shouldn’t hinder me from being able to do things I want to do. Even, during negative times, I know that those times eventually will pass. I’ve had to learn different mechanisims to help me deal with these darker times and come back to the light. Mentally i’m stronger because of diabetes and I definitely have my emotions in order. I give everything it’s just time and try not to be too hard on myself, because I know deep down that I do the best that I can.

Superhero

Mechanisims I take to make living with diabetes a little more doable:

Do what I’m supposed to do? –  Do the routine blood testing (write down my levels and keep an eye out for any patterns), take my insulin and just try my very best to keep on top of it all. If I can do this, #You can do this too! As perplexing as it can be, just try your best. Take it one step at a time and I know you can do it.

Reach for the sky – I find myself new goals, something I want to achieve or get better at. It helps to have something to progressively work towards and keep your mind engaged on something other than the daily diabetes grind.

Tiny steps – Take everything diabetes wise, one step at a time. Don’t let it drown you. Slowly work to the best of your ability to make a healthier more in control you.

Release – Find an outlet and let go of all you’re tension. My current outlet is working out. It’s a great stress reliever. I’m keeping fit and health and hopefully it will keep me looking good lol 🙂

Family – I’ve always been fortunate to have the support of my family and this has been one of the major reasons for me being able to deal with some of those negative times. I know that some of us may not have that support which leads me to my next point.

Buddy – Your online, that’s great! Now start to make connections with other just like me and you. Whenever I meet another diabetic, I automatically have a strong connection with them. They can relate to the whole diabetes aspect of my life, which speaks volumes.

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Although this post was meant to be about how diabetes affects me mentally and emotionally. I wanted to get the perspective of my loved ones and how they think diabetes has affect me and them throughout the years.

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The Mother

What can I say about your mental and emotional disposition?

Exceptional. From the time I started to know you, that was when I gave birth to you, I felt that you were special. All mothers feel that about their children but as the months and years passed I realised that you had an extra-ordinary level of calmness and internal contentment.

Over the years, those attributes have grown more and more. You do not seem to complain like the rest of us but you may sigh and say something to the effect.” Oh! Man,” and the matter seems to be then closed.You have a level of tolerance which is outstanding, yet you are direct and can tell someone exactly what they need to do or to try in order to alleviate a particular problem.

I always feel that you have your life in balance. You constantly analyse your situation, research and make others aware; improving our life styles and understanding of not only diabetes but many social issues. I feel that you are well grounded; you have your aims and objectives planned out-even if you may not be successful you always move on. A great strength mentally and emotionally.

So, you are undoubtedly exceptional and an excellent role model to young and old, diabetics and non-diabetics. Your self-control and serenity has allowed me (selfishly) to worry less and live more.Thank you.


The Eldest sister

The strength to endure diabetes is a daily battle that I (a non-diabetic cannot begin to imagine or appreciate. It is not only a physical battle to maintain a healthy body but also an emotional struggle to want to continuously push yourself to do what you have to do in order to survive without complications.

My sister has had diabetes for 21 years and as I write down that number, the image of her laying on the living room chair so ill she can barely move but having to move because she needs the toilet, is so fresh in my mind that I cannot believe time has passed so quickly. In saying that the years are filled with lessons not only for my sister but for me also. It has given me the chance to learn not to feel so helpless and to be able to learn about this lifelong condition in a way that brings value to my sister. 

Our mother set a strong foundation for life with diabetes because a challenge that my sister faced on one day was never an obstacle for the next. I think this positive attitude helped me to see that life with diabetes was filled with as much opportunity as a life without. My sister and I would train for tennis together and she would go harder than I most of the time.

I don’t think my sister ever wanted to be defined by diabetes and because we always lived an adventurous life that continued after her diabetes diagnosis. 

Thinking about it now though, that push to maintain good BG’s must have been arduous,  must have challenged her daily, must have taken every ounce of strength but she continued and still does because of her determination to have a positive diabetes life. Regardless of life’s challenges, diabetes has given her the experience to handle the difficult situations that she may encounter.


The Husband

Before I met Amina, I only knew about diabetes as a condition other ‘people’ get when they are older or overweight. I never associated it with someone in my own age group or of good health.

Experiencing life married to someone with diabetes has not only taught me about the condition, but having an emotional connection to someone with the condition has opened my eyes to what’s really important in life. 

I reflected on, my own relatives and my personal health and saw that diabetes was already a part of my life. People I had known my whole life, aunties, uncles, my own mother all have this condition and the implications it has on their health affects the lives of all of my family. Also, had I not met someone with diabetes, my lifestyle choices would have inevitably led me to develop type 2 diabetes. I personally take more care of myself in order to take care of my wife. Although we can’t know what will happen in the future, I have at least taken steps to live a healthier life.

Living with a diabetic has also taught me a great many things. Amina’s mind-set is tremendously positive and her outlook on life has shown me the heights the human psyche can reach, and inspired me to become more positive and mature about life’s ‘thousand natural shocks’. Her ability to share her experiences has influenced those around her including myself, our children, her relatives and mine, as well as her blog followers. It has also taught me patience in dealing with people, when her hypos inhibit her abilities I have had to search deep inside myself to be supportive in ways that best serve her needs. 

The adversity faced by diabetics should not only be encouraging but the strength of the human spirit that is embodied by their struggle to overcome is truly inspirational to those around them.


The little sister

Unlike my older siblings and parents, I have no memories of Amina’s diagnosis with diabetes. I can’t remember – like my mother often says – how skinny she was or any of the other symptoms she presented. I was only about one at the time. So growing up there was no adjustment to a new lifestyle or shock at seeing her take injections or measure her blood sugars. She was never made to administer her insulin in a different room like it was some sort of secret, so it wasn’t something out the ordinary to me. I now appreciate how important that was; it was and is (literally) part of her survival and isolation could have affected her attitude towards her diabetic state (by the way she’s always had it under excellent control.)

Having had the opportunity to learn more about diabetes through my education, and considering the complications associated with a lack of control, I have developed a real sense of respect for how she has managed her diabetes through the years. From my point of view it never seemed like an overwhelming problem for her. Yes, it remains something she deals with daily. But she’s always on top of it. I’m always impressed by the fact that diabetes doesn’t rule her life, rather it is an aspect of her life that has shaped her in ways but never defined her.


The baby Brother

Being the youngest member of our family, I have always aspired to be like my elder siblings as they have all lived successful lives and I have never once thought that there is any difference between them.

I have only ever known my big sister to have diabetes and from a young age I could never really understand what it was, but with age I have a greater understanding; but even still I am always asking questions. Over the years, I have seen the slow effects it can have but with strong will and dedication, not allowing it take control, it can be managed. Personally I can see how many people could lose the will to constantly check what state their body is in at certain times of the day, however to those in the diabetic community, I believe you shouldn’t see yourself as any different from other people.

The reason I have this view, that diabetics shouldn’t see themselves as any different from other individuals is based on my sister. My sister, when possible, never acted as if she had an illness. She was and still is very proactive but what I believe to be key is she knows her limitations. And by knowing ones limitations you can build your life and wellbeing around them slowly overcoming them.

I know you’re probably thinking it’s easier said than done, especially since I have never been in that position. However, it can be done and Amina is an example of this.

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To my loved ones, thank you for all the love and support you’ve given me throughout the years. I love you all dearly. Amina xxx