I have Narcolepsy

Julie and Katie both suffer from narcolepsy, and their stories follow both a chaos and quest narrative. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes excessive sleepiness from irregular sleep cycles, frequent sleep spells during the day, and cataplexy (a sudden collapse in the muscles that can paralyze you anywhere from a couple seconds to several minutes). At first, their stories started off as chaos narratives with lots of symptoms, frustration, helplessness, and social anxiety. Towards the end of the video, the audience sees that it is an unpredictable illness that needs to be embraced and improved and is accepted as a part of life. There was not too much specific information whether or not there was a definite long-term cure or treatment process.

Both Julie and Katie had a supportive environment around them, in terms that their family or significant other understood their illness, and had good intentions to try and help them get better. Culturally, narcolepsy is not understood until explained. If you were to see someone suddenly collapse or fall asleep on the wheel it would be a very confusing thing to witness and act upon. The main stigma seemed that many people thought narcolepsy and cataplexy could be more controlled through their daily activities. There was one scene in which Katie could not keep her head up at the bar because her friend had made her laugh. The illness is completely unpredictable, and can only be regulated through medication, alternative treatments, and/or a healthy lifestyle specific to narcoleptic patients.

Julie had already been taking medication for her cataplexy, but without much improvement on her well-being. Her mother started to look into alternative medicine, specifically a chiropractor. She stated in conjunction with the medication, the chiropractic session helped her feel a lot more energetic, and not so dependent on the medication. She was also doing a lot more physical activity that she normally wouldn’t have been able to do with her cataplexy. Katie would try to be without her medication for a couple of days, realizing that she was much worse without it. She did not try to seek out alternative treatments outside of her medication, other than completely cutting it off. It was hard to see whether or not she could have gotten better in other ways. However, one could see that with her taking regular medication and regulating her body and sleep schedule she was able to function better throughout the day.

The sick role became debilitating for the both of them in the long run. Katie and Julie knew what their illness was doing to them and did take responsibility to help them adjust them back into society. However, if they did not take responsibilities and measures and seek help they would not be able to live a healthy adult life on their own. It was very insightful to see Julie and Katie’s illness narratives. Although, they did suffer from the same illness, they both had different environments, social settings, and treatment processes that were different and specific to them. This put into perspective that an illness can be interpreted completely differently from teller to listener, vice versa, as both can come to terms and encourage each other on an illness that is happening, but is not necessarily fully understood medically.

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