The power of words on our diabetes experience


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I just listened to a wonderful podcast produced by tudiabetes. Click the link, go down to the video and hit the play button. If you aren’t a tudiabetes member, you may need to sign up. But it’s one of the richest social media sites in diabetes.

The podcast features CDE/PWD, Associate Professor at Columbia University Jane Dickinson. She comes into the video around 10:35.

First, I have to say how small the world is. I met Jane only three weeks ago at DiabetesMine’s Innovation Summit. Immediately, we knew we were kindred spirits. In our respect for people with diabetes, making the experience of diabetes more positive as well as the language.

In the podcast, Jane shares what she learned from people with diabetes regarding how we feel about words like “compliant” and “control.” Control happens to be one of my hot buttons – it doesn’t exist! Stop saying it! Yet getting most HCPs to undo that hard wired language they hear everyday is a Herculean task. This may just be a time when WE have to teach THEM.

Jane also shares the really intriguing background of how “control” and “test” as in “testing blood sugar” came into our diabetes language.

Host Emily Coles says why don’t we talk about “pride” with diabetes for all we do? Why indeed. I will now use a great line Jane threw out when she was at her dermatologist’s office and she told her she should do something. Jane said, “Don’t should on me!” It went over her provider’s head, but not mine and probably not yours.

It’s time to change the conversation. Jane plans next to study if we change our diabetes language to rid it of the judgment and replace judgement with praise, can we affect clinical outcomes. Truthfully, I expect so.


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