FUDiabetes

Your favorite depictions of diabetes in films/movies? (And the worst ones!)

So, my first introduction to T1D was the Babysitter’s Club. One of the main characters, Stacey, had type 1 diabetes. I don’t remember it being wildly inaccurate, and at least the description of the bed wetting and the weight loss prior to her diagnosis I think helped me spot Samson’s symptoms early.
Anyways, there’s a new Netflix show coming out and I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I’ll be watching it. I’m very curious about whether they’ll get the d-facts right – and if they’ll update the technology to reflect 2020, as opposed to 1987.

What are some of your favorite depictions of diabetes in books/movies?

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What about “A Beautiful Mind”?! I was not aware that “shock treatment” consisted of giving a person an insulin injection to put them in a severe low state! I was stunned when I saw that in the movie!

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Actually the movie got that part wrong I think. My understanding is the insulin treatment and the shock treatment are two different things they unsuccessfully used to try to treat schizophrenia in the past. They may have just combined them in the movie for dramatic effect, or maybe they actually did try and combine them.

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I just googled insulin shock treatment and found this.

It says:
The daily insulin dose was gradually increased to 100–150 units until comas were produced, at which point the dose would be levelled out.[[1]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_shock_therapy#cite_note-Neu-1) Occasionally doses of up to 450 units were used.[[6]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_shock_therapy#cite_note-Maclay-6) After about 50 or 60 comas, or earlier if the psychiatrist thought that maximum benefit had been achieved...

It also mentions … and A Beautiful Mind , which depicted genius John Nash undergoing insulin treatment.

Incredible! Sure seems like an awful way to treat someone!

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Sorry, @TiaG, I know you meant this thread to be uplifting, and my previous post was certainly not, except that thank goodness that insulin is no longer being used for that treatment! I guess one could say such movies depicting insulin shock treatment are the “worst ones” depicting insulin use, anyway!

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haha, no worries! I don’t really consider the Babysitter’s Club “uplifting” :slight_smile: and this was an interesting discussion. I think I missed the insulin shock treatment the first time I saw A Beautiful Mind.

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As far as worst, I think Con Air has to be in that list.

Not only did it have ridiculous diabetes nonsense, it was also a horrible movie.

image

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If I remember correctly, in Panic Room the daughter was very hypo and it was such a desperate situation that they needed to take huge risks to get the diabetes kit and inject her with insulin. In my mind, that’s about as bad as it gets.

[Jen says it was glucagon, not insulin. Somehow I missed that.]

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I diagnosed myself at age 10 after reading the BSC book where Stacey describes her symptoms pre-diagnosis. I went to my mom that night and said I think I have diabetes, she explained to me what hypochondria is but also said we would go to the doctor the next day to check in case, and by that next evening I was being checked into Joslin with a blood glucose of 750, with high ketones.

That said, there were some significant inaccuracies, because they took the “Stacey needs to eat health food only because she’s a diabetic” to extremes that made no sense, even for the time. She treated low blood sugar by eating a salad for example and she couldn’t eat stuff like chips or other foods that a diabetic back then definitely would have been able to eat if they had fit them into their meal plan. In contrast they did not portray her as needing to stick to rigid timing/amounts for her food (plus not eating stuff blatantly sugary), which is what being a T1 actually looked like at the time. But on the whole, I’m super glad it existed since who knows how much sicker I would have gotten if not!

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Also in terms of bad (but kind of funny) representations, there’s the Seinfeld episode where they shove cookies in the guy’s mouth having the hypo, but at least that’s not portrayed as a good response.

The movie Memento is one of many examples where a diabetic is shown giving an insulin injection into the vein. How hard is it for script writers to research that and get it right?

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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), i.e., shock therapy, does actually work for certain things and is still used today, but it looks different from how it used to (people are completely sedated during it, for one). It can be highly successful for treatment-resistant bipolar disorder and very severe treatment-resistant major depression, especially depression with psychotic features. It should not be used unless a person fails other treatments first, because of the risks (primarily recent memory loss), but for the folks who get it, what they are suffering with is is bad enough for ECT to be worth trying. I’ve been on treatment teams for patients for whom it has been remarkably effective. The mechanisms are still not well understood.

Insulin therapy used to be used because it induced seizures, and it did appear to help some people I believe, perhaps via similar mechanisms; however, it fell out of favor given the risks and the relative safety of ECT.

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Thanks for the clearly more informed comment than the one I provided.

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Steel Magnolias made me cry (allergies) less than a year ago when I watched it for the first time after my wife prodding me.

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oh god, I WON’T watch that one now, with Samson. I can’t bear even contemplating it. Even as a kid that one made me cry my eyes out, so it’s a definite no-go now that I’ve become an overly sentimental mom who will cry at a shoelace commercial.

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It broke my heart. I couldn’t help but think of Liam during every gut wrenching moment.

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Speaking of insulin shock therapy, I first read about that this winter, when I looked up the life story of Townes van Zant , who wrote Pancho and Lefty. I’m almost certain Eric linked that song somewhere?

Sad story. A loss of talent, too young

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My grandmother’s nursing handbook from the 1940’s (three typed pages) included insulin as a treatment for some listed form of mental distress. I just looked through my files to see if I had a copy of it but I couldn’t find it. If I get it from my mom I’ll post it.

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But things have changed SO MUCH since 1989 when movie was made, based on true story of woman with T1 who died. At that time, I had T1 for over 25 years, and just had laser and surgery on eyes, yet still doing fine 30 years later. Having Diabetes and knowing potential higher medical costs actually made me do well in school and get a good job/insurance.

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yeah I mean nowadays this is much less likely – also if I remember correctly in the movie, she dies in part because she chooses to have a kid even though it’s risky with her Type 1 and somehow she has pregnancy complications? Samson is unlikely to be able to carry a baby himself unless things get really advanced around here…at which point I hope they choose to cure type 1 diabetes first.

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When I was diagnosed in the early 90s (not long after Steel Magnolias, which I’ve never seen and don’t really want to), the question of T1s getting pregnant was still a lot more fraught-seeming, I think because it was so much harder for anyone to be in super tight control with the available tools. I remember it being considered a big deal when a T1 family friend had a safe/successful pregnancy back then, and people using it to point out to me that I would be able to do that someday (because it wasn’t always framed as a given). Now I think it’s a huge range depending on levels of bg control—if you are in tight control going in, you still need more monitoring than an average pregnant person, but it’s not seen as the risky choice it used to be. I have other medical issues that made me decide pregnancy was not for me, but diabetes alone would not have seem like a major barrier at this point, just something that would make it more complex.

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