Restraining myself to not interfere, I watched to see how Corey would react to the woman in the grocery aisle who was motioning him over for a free sample of the cookies she had on her table.
“Would you like a cookie?” the grandmotherly woman asked Corey.
“No, I can’t have that. It will make my sugar go too high,” he said with maturity beyond his seven years.
“Oh, you’re a diabetic aren’t you?” she said with concern.
“No, I’m a little boy,” Corey answered, a little confused at the unfamiliar word she used.
“I mean that you’re a diabetic because your sugar goes high,” she tried to explain, a little confused herself at this point.
“Are you asking me if I have diabetes?” Corey asked, trying to clarify what she meant.
“Yes. Are you a diabetic?”
“I’m not a diabetic. I’m just a boy who HAS diabetes, but it doesn’t take up ALL of me,” Corey explained firmly as he tired quickly of the conversation before he walked away from her table of free samples.
I don’t think he was intentionally trying to be rude to the woman but it made me happily aware that he doesn’t see the diabetes as the center of who and what he is.
Internet sources cite the year of 1799 being when the word ‘diabetic’ was coined. Back then it was also acceptable to refer to hearing and speech impaired people using the now completely offensive term of ‘deaf and dumb,’ or those with mental handicaps as ‘retarded.’ I have another son who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and I would suspect the intelligence level of anyone who would refer to him as ‘brain damaged.’ Surely we would never imply that someone suffering with cancer is a ‘cancerous person.’ Then why is it that after all these years of realizing as a society that a person’s disability or disease does not define them in the wholeness of who they are, do we still refer to someone with diabetes as ‘a diabetic?’ The term is appropriate as a noun but from here on out will not be used by me or any of my family as an adjective used to describe someone afflicted with diabetes.
Regardless of the disease, disability, condition, or affliction, people are human beings first and foremost and deserve to be treated as such, find out more, and should not be labled according to the name of their disease as if it makes up the whole of their identity.