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October 22, 2016
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Our "Secret" Language

At faire:


New club member (sotto voce, to partner): I'm 145. I need something low-carb. (to group) Any idea where I can get something low carb?

Me: Diabetic?

New member: Type 1. (holds up structured leather pouch with diabetes gear)

Me: Pump or shots?

Her: Wireless pump.

Me: Omnipod?

Her: Yes.

Me: I'm Type 2, diet and exercise. Best I can think of for low-carb are those turkey drumsticks, steak-on-a-stake, or if they're selling jerky...



As kids, many of us grew up with "secret languages" ranging from the transpositional (such as Pig Latin ("Igpay Atinlay"), "Ubbi Dubbi", and "Op Language") to the family-specific (nicknames, words based on baby-talk, and words and phrases based on ancestral languages), to the utterly private (intimate words and phrases your parents used with each other, or which you use with your partner).


As we grew older, we learned the jargon of our hobbies and trades. Some, like "Beam me up, Scotty!" have made it into the national slang; others are as quirky as the people after whom they are named (look up "Pauli Effect", as opposed to "Pauli Principle").


Kerri sporadically maintains and updates a somewhat humorous list of some of what she has called "Diabetes Terms of Endearment", or "DToEs", which include some of the short forms of our own "secret tongue". Some of these are not commonly used, but are commonly understood. Others ("dead strips", anyone?) are part of our everyday speech.


Away from the humorous, the "secret language of diabetes" still persists. How often have you spied someone wearing an insulin pump, or overheard a conversation in which a teenager says, "I'm 54," and you think, "get him some juice, now!" or heard someone say, "I'm at 204, and I still need food," and you commiserate?


Just as our ears tend to perk up when we hear a snippet of a language we learned in childhood, or phrases from studies last visited in university, I suspect we (or at least I) differentially and preferentially hear "Diabetese" (or is it "Beetusese" or "Diabetusseze"?) in a crowd.


And just as when you find another colleague in a room of "everybody else", you slip into jargon as if it were a well-worn sneaker...


Yes, our new friend could eat what she wanted to (needed to) for breakfast -- she just needed to know in advance the carb count so she could bolus for it.


As a diet-and-exercise-controlled Type 2, knowing mostly pill-controlled Type 2s, I probably would have never learned any "insulin jargon" if I weren't active here on dLife and in other online communities. I may not be able to visualize how Type 1 "feels", but I can understand the jargon enough to converse semi-intelligently and place things in some semblance of perspective.


Then again, I've been told I'm a bit of a jargonaholic (does such a word exist?) -- but it's so much easier to speak in shorthand!

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