Diabetics Always Have Comas
Diabetic comas in fiction
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(permanent link) added: 2012-11-16 00:20:06 sponsor: bulmabriefs144 (last reply: 2012-11-17 08:24:59)

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The Other Wiki estimates anywhere between 2-15% of diabetics actually fall into comatose state, usually from either extremely high or low blood sugar, or possibly because the body has converted its fats into sugar. And yet somehow, Diabetics Always Have Comas.

First, because Viewers Are Morons. It is presumably far easier to show the audience this, than have syringes being shot or blood being tested, or even excessive water getting drunk. And second, it's more dramatic. It's also a quick way of adding Character Development, or shoehorning in a Very Special Episode.

In Real Life though, it's not that simple.

First off, that coma? It doesn't get easily treated offscreen, there are three different causes, remember? The doctor has to correctly figure out which it is, and how to treat it.

Next there's the fact that usually one slice of cake is eaten, and the other people in the room shift their attention for a second, and the diabetic collapses on the floor. In actual fact, despite food having more of an effect on their blood sugar, the calories and nutritional amount of food is fixed (that is, a tiny slice of cake won't do you in, a 1/4 of the cake might).

Then, of course there's the fallacy that sugar is the only cause of diabetes. Listed causes have included pancreatic cancer, a virus, high amounts of fructose in the system, and even trans fats. But of course, sugar is the culprit, because sugar is bad.

Finally, doctors in films or live action television like to tell patients they'll have to live with this "the rest of their lives", especially because of their genes (never mind that the problem developed in adulthood, and their family has no history of it). There's increasing evidence that a healthy diet can actually reverse the disorder.

But of course, the writers didn't care, because knowing all these facts drains all the tension from the room (especially that last one). Any good drama, must have random people suddenly develop diabetes, when they appeared extremely fit and healthy three episodes before. Even if it makes no sense.


Examples:

  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Hoopz falls into a diabetic coma after Jordan stabs him with a needle filled with Type II Diabetes. The only possible excuse this could have is the fact that he is in shock from the surprise injection. He eventually is cured by Wilford Brimley's super power: Absorbing the diabetes into himself.
  • In Body of Proof the protagonist's daughter suddenly collapses after eating a (rather small) slice of cake. After the episode, we find out she is diabetic in real life, though it's doubtful she found out as dramatically as this.
  • Subverted in Doc Martin as the soon to be patient actually is shown to have the lead-in symptoms (excessive thirst, easy drunkeness). She too gets a coma as a clear symptom of what's wrong, though.

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