22 posts tagged “type 1 diabetes”

Shout out to The Golden Girls: Shows and movies that “get” chronic illness

Posted 7 months ago by

‘Tis the season for binge-watching — but the media often flops in its portrayal of people with health conditions. So we’ve gathered patient perspectives on Hollywood depictions of illness and who’s gotten it right (thanks, Bea Arthur).

When doctors doubted Dorothy

A writer for The Mighty who has multiple health condition recently praised The Golden Girls for it’s portrayal of main character Dorothy navigating the healthcare system with a chronic condition. Over the course of a two-part episode (called “Sick and Tired”), Dorothy (played by Bea Arthur) starts feeling constant exhaustion and hops around to different doctors who don’t believe she has a real ailment.

“Maybe I am crazy — nobody believes me,” Dorothy laments to Rose (Betty White) after multiple appointments.

“Dorothy, you are not crazy, honey, you’re sick,” Rose replies. (Thank you for being a friend, Rose.)

Ultimately, Dorothy is relieved when a specialist finally diagnoses her with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The show was ahead of it’s time in building credibility around CFS, which is just now gaining recognition as a serious longterm condition that shares many characteristics with some autoimmune conditions. Golden Girls creator Susan Harris based the episodes on her own experiences with CFS and doctors who didn’t understand the condition in the 1980s.

Other shows worthy of some applause

While no show does a perfect job, additional shows that The Mighty includes on a list of 7 TV Shows That Got Chronic Illness (Mostly) Right include:

  • The West Wing — Writers consulted with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to depict President Josiah Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and his relapsing-remitting MS. Some have argued the show didn’t capture all the symptoms and severity of the condition, but it raised awareness of MS.
  • Brothers & Sisters — A young character named Paige (Kerris Dorsey) is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after experiencing symptoms that real-world patients may experience, such as increased thirst and frequent urination. People with type 1 diabetes say the media often gets it wrong, so it’s refreshing that this show got it right.
  • The Good Wife — Before playing a person with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on The Michael J. Fox Show (2013-2014), Fox (who has PD in real life) played a character with a neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia on The Good Wife in 2010. The show gets props for featuring an actor with an actual health condition, playing a character who’s an aggressive attorney and not “just” a patient.
  • Grey’s Anatomy — In general, hospital-based shows are known more for their romantic plot lines than their medical accuracy. But a 2016 episode called “Falling Slowly” captured some of what it’s like to get a rare diagnosis known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (a group of disorders affecting connective tissues in the body).

Speaking of Grey’s Anatomy, one of its stars, Kate Walsh, who played Dr. Addison Montgomery from 2005-2012, recently opened up about being a patient in real life. Walsh revealed that she had surgery in 2015 to remove a lemon-size brain tumor, which turned out to be a non-cancerous meningioma.

“I played a real badass on TV, but when it comes to being a patient, it’s such a vulnerable experience,” Walsh said.

More and more shows and movies are also depicting mental illness — and doing a better job of it than before. For example, Stranger Things recently got good reviews for raising awareness of some aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The media’s increasing focus on mental illness — if done carefully and correctly — can be a positive thing overall, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

On PatientsLikeMe

Members have shared a lot about shows and movies portraying chronic conditions, mental illness and more.

In the Mental Health community, some members have given “thumbs up” for some TV shows, like A&E’s docuseries Obsessed and Hulu’s show Mental. “I think Obsessed is pretty good. It doesn’t seem to ridicule, exploit, or put down the patients like some shows I’ve seen on the topic. Many shows I’ve seen on OCD seem to portray the people with the disorder as sideshow attractions. I like that Obsessed keeps it on a more human level and is also focused on treatment,” one member said.

But members also recall how the media has propelled stereotypes in the past, such as the acclaimed 1975 movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest associating mental illness with violent crime. “I wish the stigma didn’t exist, but people unfortunately assume some pretty bad things based on what they have seen on tv,” a member noted, mentioning that film.

Members with ALS expressed frustration with the depiction of people diagnosed with ALS on TV shows (including ScrubsThree Rivers and Law and Order), as well as mixed reviews of the 2014 movie The Theory of Everything. But some members did like the film. “It’s a touching film that does a great job in humanizing Stephen Hawking. Although some have criticized the lack of science in the film, I think its purpose was to look more closely at his life and his relationship with his wife, Jane, which is fascinating and complex,” one member said.

Those living with MS have said that some shows (like Private Practice) have been so-so at portraying the condition — but they’re no West Wing. One member’s take? “West Wing did an excellent job of portraying ms. It showed that even the President of the US could run the country while in the middle of a relapse… it didn’t interfere with his ability to do his job.”

In your opinion, which shows and movies have done a good or bad job of portraying health conditions? Join PatientsLikeMe today to chat about what to watch (or avoid!).

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How many kinds of diabetes are there? Lots. Explore type 1, type 2, LADA and more

Posted 9 months ago by

Confused about the different types of diabetes? Never heard of other forms of diabetes beyond “1” and “2”? You’re not alone. As American Diabetes Month comes to a close, we’re shedding some light on this topic. Overall, more than 30 million Americans (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) have diabetes. Here’s a guide to help you and your loved ones learn more about the various kinds of diabetes. Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with and learn from members living with 10+ different forms of diabetes.

Well-known (but still misunderstood) types of diabetes

People are most familiar with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so let’s start with some stats, facts and myths about those:

  • Type 1 diabetes – About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes (previously called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age (some members on PatientsLikeMe say they were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in their 60s). It’s caused by an autoimmune reaction (where the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin (the hormone that lets blood sugar into the body’s cells for energy). Because of this autoimmune attack, the pancreas makes little to no insulin (so people need to inject insulin). Diet and lifestyle habits don’t cause type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes can eat normal, healthy meals and have sweets (in moderation, like the general population) when they follow their treatment plan. Connect with 3,000+ members with type 1 diabetes on PatientsLikeMe.
  • Type 2 diabetes – At least 90% of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, the CDC says. It usually develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens and young adults are also getting diagnosed. In most people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes extra insulin because cells in the body have become “insulin resistant” — they don’t respond normally to allow blood sugar in as energy. Many people think that being overweight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. While weight can play a role in the condition, other risk factors include family history, ethnicity and age. Most overweight people never develop diabetes, and many people who do develop type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only slightly overweight, according to the American Diabetes Association. Treatments for type 2 diabetes range from dietary changes and exercise to oral or injected medications. Connect with 19,000 members with type 2 diabetes on PatientsLikeMe.

Lesser-known types of diabetes

Research has uncovered many more types of diabetes than just types 1 and 2. In a 2013 study, the authors concluded that “the latest scientific findings no longer support such a rigid classification of diabetes…. Rather there appears to be a continuum of forms and a mixture of diabetes phenotypes.”

Other known forms of diabetes include:

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) – Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women toward the middle or end of pregnancy, and usually goes away shortly after giving birth. But in some cases, diabetes doesn’t resolve after pregnancy, and it is then considered type 2 diabetes.
  • “Type 1.5” or LADA – Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA, nicknamed “Type 1.5”) is a type of diabetes is usually diagnosed after age 30, in which people show signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the CDC says. Some experts believe that LADA is a slowly developing kind of type 1 diabetes because patients have autoimmune antibodies in the pancreas. Many people with LADA are initially misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Most people with LADA still produce their own insulin when first diagnosed but require insulin injections months or years later.
  • MODY, NDM and other monogenic forms of diabetes – Some rare forms of diabetes result from mutations in a single gene and are called monogenic. Monogenic forms of diabetes account for about 1 to 5 percent of all cases of diabetes in young people, according the National Institutes of Health. In most cases, the gene mutation is inherited; in the remaining cases the gene mutation develops spontaneously. Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) usually first occurs during adolescence or early adulthood, but it is often mistaken for type 1 diabetes or undiagnosed until later in life. Neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM) is a monogenic form of diabetes that occurs in the first 6 months of life (earlier than type 1 diabetes occurs), and remains a lifelong condition for about half of those diagnosed.

Check out BeyondType1.org’s roundup of other rare kinds of diabetes.

Living with a rare or confusing kind of diabetes that doesn’t fit neatly into “type 1” or “type 2”? Connect with members of these smaller diabetes-related communities on PatientsLikeMe to learn from their experiences: LADAMODYdiabetes insipiduscystic fibrosis-related diabetesmedication-induced diabetes mellitussteroid-induced diabetes mellituspancreatogenous diabetes and prediabetes. If you have another kind of diabetes, please leave a comment.

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