As a medical drama, Breaking Bad is pretty great, says one practicing MD


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Xeni, that Tio shot is simply awesome.


It’s been a while since I’ve seen the start of the show, but I don’t think emotional support was lacking, it was that he didn’t have money to cover the treatment and take care of his family, right?

A little of each. It becomes clear early on that Walt doesn’t have a lot of close relationships in his life, and he has a knack for sabotaging the few that he does. Even before the cancer diagnosis his relationship with Skylar didn’t exactly appear to be the picture of marital bliss.

(Edit to correct name)

True, but didn’t Skyler want him to borrow money or something for the treatment? Then he was desperate and went astray. Geez, I can’t remember it way back when.

“Social support” as in socialized medicine. If he wasn’t worried that getting treated for the cancer would bankrupt his family and leave them horribly in debt when he died, then he could have kept his job as a teacher and avoided the whole drug empire thing.


Well that I could agree with. Thanks.

Let’s not forget, Walt didn’t have to become a drug dealer. He was too proud to accept money from his former friends/colleagues who became millionaires off the company that he helped co-found. He could very easily have taken the money from them and saved himself a whole lot of trouble, but he was too proud.


I just watched the episode after Hank gets shot by the cartel guys. (I know, we’re way behind.) I had to pause it to say to my husband “Oh my God. For once in the entire history of television, they didn’t shock a flatline.” They actually had an exchange between medical personnel that went something like “Defib?” “No reason, he’s flatlined.” OH MY GOD THANK YOU.

Explanation for people who may not know: You know the common scene where someone’s heart stops, the monitor flatlines and goes “beeeeeeeeeeee…”, the doctors grab the defibrillator, stick the paddles on the patient’s chest, yell “CLEAR!” and shock the patient multiple times until their heart starts beating again? In real life, if you’ve flatlined, the defibrillator won’t do any good. It’s not a jump-start.

A defibrillator, as the name suggests, helps if your heart is in fibrillation. Normally, the different parts of your heart are electrically activated in a certain order. A small area at the top of your heart starts the electrical activation for each beat, and then the signal moves through your heart in a certain order. This causes the familiar shape of the ECG, like the bottom panel of this image. As each part of your heart is electrically activated, the heart muscle contracts. As long as this happens in the right order, your heart pumps blood like it’s supposed to. But during fibrillation, the electrical activation gets all out of order and chaotic, so that your heart is just kind of twitching and not pumping properly. Your heart is trying to start a normal beat, but it’s being blocked by the chaotic electrical signals already running around. When this is happening, the monitor won’t show a flatline. It’ll show an irregular, jagged, scribbly-looking line, like the top panel of the same image. The shock administered by the defibrillator paddles stops the chaos by bringing your whole heart to the same voltage for a moment. This actually makes your heart flatline for a moment, as you can see in this ECG – the black arrow shows where the defibrillation shock was applied. The idea is that, once the fibrillation is stopped, your heart can re-start beating normally again on its own.

In other words, a defibrillator stops your heart momentarily. If your heart has already stopped, then trying to stop it more isn’t going to do any good.

But every single TV hospital scene treats the defibrillator like a jump-start, and it makes me grind my teeth in annoyance. I was shocked (no pun intended) when Breaking Bad actually got it right. I already had a lot of respect for the writers, but I gained even more respect for them with that scene.


Cyborgs deserve medical care too, you know.


When I had cancer, I had no insurance and there was a time I actually thought I might have to rob a bank to get medical care (I needed a bone marrow transplant and the hospital was telling me to find the money). I have now heard that medical care is not so hot in prison, but you live and learn.


I don’t want to spoil it too much for your future BB watching but there is a scene in an upcoming season 5 episode where a guy hooks himself up to an AED and proceeds to kill himself with it.

Now as I recall, isn’t it pretty much impossible to intentionally activate an AED machine in this manner if it detects a normal heartbeat?

This scene might have you to grinding your teeth again.

Anyone else remember that the Tio actor was the scary henchman in Al Pacino’s ‘Scarface’?

I presume someone has found a way to use the pun “baking Brad” by now…?

Obligatory rebuttal…


Minus the stolen bwho-hoo, you knew, few hew, so pyrew…



Thank you. That’s certainly worth mentioning again and again, because so many people seem to miss it.

If anything, Breaking Bad - in its’ entirety - is an exploration of the old adage (often ascribed to the bible) “Pride cometh before the fall”.

With three episodes still to go, and regardless if he dies or manages to weasel himself out of it in the end:
It’s clear that none of this would have happened to Walter White - or the people he supposedly loves - if he hadn’t been so damn fucking arrogant.


Or, for that matter, just stayed with Grey Matter and been a billionaire.

As with various details of cooking meth, I suspect that the details of the AED suicide were deliberately obfuscated in order to deter copycats.