Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Misrepresenting diabetes in Panic Room

I watched Jodie Foster's Panic Room tonight for the first time in several years. Although I love that movie, it annoys me to see diabetes portrayed so inaccurately in the media.

Here are some of the things that bug me:

1) Sarah's insulin dose would not have been set so that her blood sugars dropped overnight. Notice how quickly she goes down during the course of the movie? Well, the body uses insulin even more efficiently while you're sleeping, which means that she would have crashed even faster had she been left in bed. And no doctor (or parent!) is going to set a child's insulin dose that high.

2) When you are stressed, your blood sugar goes up, not down. Remember when Foster tells her daughter not to get herself worked up, because "you know what happens" when she does that? Well, in actuality stress would make her go high, rather than low — but I guess high blood sugar isn't as immediately dangerous (and therefore not as dramatic).

3) The glucose monitoring "watch" didn't work very well, and therefore never came into widespread use. I guess it would make sense that her daddy (who, remember, they said was in pharmaceuticals) could pull some strings and get her one, but why bother when it doesn't work?

I guess though that I also have to give the movie credit for the things it did get right. For example, seizures are a symptom of severe or extended hypoglycemia. Also, I liked the way they made Forest Whitaker's voice sound when he was talking to her — the hollow, almost distant-sounding echo hinted at how surreal it feels to crash.

Like I said, I really like Panic Room, but I think it's important to educate people properly on diabetes and point out where the movie is inaccurate!

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