What’s Up EnDoc? – Endocrinologists in Pop Culture
Bien J. Matawaran, MD, DPSEM
This column is the obligatory question and answer portion of Hormone Hotspots. We will entertain any questions about Endocrinology & Metabolism from all of you—patients, friends, colleagues and even enemies (just don’t hold your breath waiting for the answer:. I will try to be simple minded as possible (as if I can try to be otherwise) so that comprehension of endocrine topics will hopefully be easier. I will be your resident Joe D’ Mango/ Kuya Cesar cum Helen Vela— well known “showbiz advisers”, until the editors can find a qualified and saner writer for this column. But for now you don’t have a choice but read on or tear this page ASAP.
1 will veer away from the usual question and answer format of my column and will instead deal on what is an endocrinologist in popular culture. By now, you may already know that Endocrinology is a branch of medicine that is concerned with the study of the biosynthesis, storage, chemistry, and physiological function of hormones and with the cells of the endocrine glands and tissues that secrete them. Sounds simple enough, at least based from Wikipedia. So it follows that we endocrinologists are doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the endocrine system, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders and many others. In the Philippines, this subspecialty is quite young and is not as well known as .cardiology and pulmonology. However, as you may now, we now see a lot of patients with endocrine disorders so that more often than not you get to see only a few of our tribe. One thing more, not a few of patients know what an endocrinologist is-since most would say that we are the doctors who do endoscopy and deal with diseases “inside” the body. Part of the challenge of the Philippine College of Endocrinology & Metabolism (PSEM) is to introduce ourselves to patients and co-doctors that we are Hormone Specialists. True enough there are little of us exposed in popular culture— I can’t think of any high profile TV or movie character who are as well – known as surgeons, paediatricians and cardiologist, like MJ’s Dr. Conrad Murray. Endocrinology in mainstream TV or film come far in between, like Dr. Lisa Cuddy , a character on the television show House MD and Naomi Bennet, an endocrinologist and fertility expert on the television show Private Practice. It just shows that it is as hard to find an endocrinologist in TV or film as it is to find an endocrinologist in your locality.
However, there are a lot of movies or film characters that deal with diseases of the endocrine system and you will be surprised that majority of the time, it is the plots turning point or highlight.
THE GODFATHER III (1990)
A 1990 American thriller film written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Coppola. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire. Character Michael
Corleone has diabetes.
CON AIR (1997)
A prison parolee, played by Nicolas Cage, and another convict, whom he befriends, are being transported on a maximum-security plane with some of the country’s most dangerous criminals. After the plane is skyjacked, Baby O, who has diabetes, doesn’t receive a scheduled insulin shot, and his syringes are destroyed during in-flight chaos.
STEE L MAGNOLIAS (1989)
M any moviegoers recall Julia Roberts in the movie with beads of sweat on her lip from Sally Field during a severe hypoglycemic episode in Truvy’s Salon. Itwas arguably the most famous scene depicting a person with diabetes in a major motion picture.
A psychoIogical thriller written and directed by Christopher Nolan, adapted from his brother Jonathan’s short story “Memento Mori”. It stars Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a former insurance fraud investigator searching for the man he believes raped and killed his wife during a burglary. The main character’s wife has diabetes and is killed by his giving her overdose of insulin shots.
Judi Dench portrays a grandmother with diabetes. “At the end, through the metaphor of chocolate, people are able to embrace a free lifestyle and sexual freedom and reject repression of all kinds. And that wasn’t available to the woman with diabetes. Well, it was, but at a price,” she says of Dench’s character, who dies of complications from diabetes presumably brought on by hanging out in the chocolate shop instead of adhering to a healthier diet.
PANIC ROOM (2002)
A suspense-thriller starring multiple Oscar best actress winner Jodie Foster. The young character, Sarah, has diabetes and experiences an episode of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) while trapped in the panic room with her mother. Sarah seems to have type 1 diabetes and was on continuous subcutaneous insulin injection (CSII)/ insulin pump. Jodie Foster’s character was struggling to find her ward’s glucagon pen.
MAD MONEY (2008)
When Character Jackie Truman (Katie Holmes) drops her purse, an insulin needle is among the items co-workers Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton) and Nina Brewster (Queen Latifah) help her to retrieve. Unaware of Jackie’s diabetes, they assume she is a drug addict. Go-with-the-flow Jackie never corrects them, feeling that their show of concern makes the deception worthwhile.
As you can see, in film, patients still outnumber endocrinologists. If ever you’re in the medical profession, endocrinology is definitely one good subspecialty to consider …. CUT!
WHAT’S UP AND WHAT’S NOT!
Oprah Winfrey’s battle from weight gain and weight is internationally followed. The Queen of Talk eventually announced that she suffers from a thyroid disorder, probably Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. So if ever you have weight problems, might as well have your thyroid checked.©©©
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Brought to you by the Philippine College of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism (PCEDM)