I have Diabetes

This episode of True Life was about three Teenagers and their challenges with Type I and Type II Diabetes. Type I diabetes is when the body does not produce any insulin. Type II is when the body produces insulin but the body does not use it properly. The first person was a guy and he had just finished up his sophomore year of college. He had Type I diabetes and he had to take insulin shots daily. His hemoglobin A1C level was about 7 when he found out he had diabetes and got it under control. Hemoglobin A1C is a test that shows your glucose readings over the previous three months from the doctor visit. Normal Hemoglobin A1C levels should be between 4 and 6. Therefore, his reading was not that bad. However, when he got to college, he began to drink excessive alcohol and this caused it to go to 8, which is not a good thing.

The other two people on the episode had Type I and the other had Type II. One of the girls was pregnant which puts the baby at a high risk for sugar through the placenta and also puts the baby at higher risk for being overweight (Crandel, Zanden). The other girl used an insulin pump and it costs her so much that she had to move back in with her parents just to pay for a new one.

I think that the stories that the people told were considered Quest Narratives because they were all telling their stories and how they were going to live a better life while dealing with diabetes. Quest Narratives always views the illness as a tough journey but also the opportunity to improve based on certain lifestyle changes (Lecture 2). For these testimonials, they were just that. All of them were working towards making their diabetes in better shape by eating the right kinds of food and carefully monitoring blood sugar levels. Throughout the episode, they went to several doctors appointments.

They all seemed to have pretty good experiences with the doctors. The doctor focused a lot on what they were doing socially. For example, doctors often asked if they drank alcohol excessively, if they ate out a lot, if they were getting enough rest, etc. There was not much culture emphasis within the video. Each one of them seemed to handle the diagnosis and treatment quite similar. They obviously believed in taking medication because they all took meds for their diabetes.

They also did not discuss a lot about when they were first diagnosed with the illness. Therefore, the sick role is quite difficult to discuss in this case. However, I am a Type II Diabetic myself and I had several symptoms when I suspected that something was wrong. I had frequent urination, headaches, fatigue, my hands were shaking when I waited too long to eat. As far as the sick role, it was my responsibility to seek medical attention for these symptoms.

Narratives are important for the patients, family, and healthcare providers because they are ways to describe how intense the medical situation is and how the patient feels about the symptoms they have been having and the overall situation.


Crandell, Zanden. Human Development. 2009. (160-165)

Lectures 1 and 2

True Life “I have Diabetes”

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About Shavon Alexander

My name is Shavon Alexander. I am a Human Development and Family Studies major. I will be a junior in the fall. I am looking forward to learning new things about illness and culture in this class. I plan on going to medical school so I am really excited about this course!

4 thoughts on “I have Diabetes

  1. I really enjoyed your post, particularly your personal story with diabetes; it brought an added dimension to your post. The illness narrative I found was also of a younger person dealing with Type I Diabetes. This twenty-two year old girl posted a video on “YouTube” using images, music, and personal pictures. It was mostly a Quest narrative, since it went through the juvenile onset of the disease, her adapting to medications, and at the end, her attitude of overcoming her illness. Unlike the people from the “True Life” show that you mentioned in your post, she discussed when she was first diagnosed with diabetes. She was three years-old and says her mother remembered her experiencing symptoms similar to the ones you experienced at the onset of your diabetes, signs like frequent urination and fatigue. Like the one girl you mentioned from the show, this girl too used an insulin pump. She was able to use it for up to 72 hours and said she was able to eat almost anything she wanted as long as she administered the correct dose with her meals. The only real complaint or struggle she mentioned regarding her medication, as that from poking her fingers 5 to 10 times a day, they were now hard to draw blood from because they were so calloused and she also had lost a lot of sensation in her finger tips. From her video, she seemed not to suffer some of the same strains and pressures the “True Life” people had to go through. She had a lot of familial support and did not discuss any financial strains due to her illness, which for a lot of people suffering from diabetes, the cost of medications is a big issue. I think this lack of real conflict socioeconomically and in her familial life, led her to have a more easy and positive attitude towards her diabetes. The one issue she seemed to view as a complicating action was the cultural perception of those with diabetes; she thought that some people automatically assumed she was obese or unhealthy because she had diabetes. Overall, I found her illness narrative to be an interesting look into the thoughts of someone with diabetes.

    megdelugas, . Personal Narrative: Life With Type 1 Diabetes . 2012. Video. YouTube, U.S.A.. Web. 29 Jul 2012. .

    • For some reason the link that goes with the citation of the reply I posted above is not there, so here is the citation again-
      megdelugas, . Personal Narrative: Life With Type 1 Diabetes . 2012. Video. YouTube, U.S.A.. Web. 29 Jul 2012. .

      You can watch this video as the address: .
      Sorry about that.

      • .
        I’m not sure why it keeps not showing up, but there is the address again and I hope when I hit “post comment” it will show up this time.
        Source: .

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