True Life: I have Diabetes

Type/Use of Narrative: I believe that this episode followed the chaos narrative, since the three individuals followed in the episode will have to deal with diabetes for the rest of their life. I feel that the part on Kristyn followed a quest narrative as well as a chaos narrative, as she is shown to be working quite hard in order to pay for an insulin pump which will improve her condition. For Matt and Jen, I believe that there is no quest narrative and it is entirely chaos, as both choose to ignore their condition and their health in favor of lifestyle choices (alcohol and unhealthy diet choices, respectively) I believe that this narrative is used to highlight the frustration all of them feel when dealing with diabetes, and the limits it places on their actions.

Culture and Stigma: I believe that cultural stigmas are most easily seen with Matt’s case. On the one hand, many people close to Matt are scared for him and his health, worried that his alcohol use will give him a strong enough blood-sugar rush to cause a coma or seizure. On the other hand, Matt is under constant pressure to go drinking, even though it is much more dangerous for him to do so than for the average college student. The culture of college drinking combined with Matt’s refusal to accept the limitations of his condition are strong enough for Matt to choose to endanger his life.

Experiences with Medical Professionals: Kristyn, Matt, and Jen have all had extensive experiences with medical professionals. Kristyn is in debt due to the cost of her treatments and medications from visiting professionals. Matt also has frequent visits with medical professionals as his drinking habit regularly induces diabetic seizures. He is constantly reprimanded for his drinking habits, especially because his A1C test (which measures his average blood sugar levels for the previous three months) is far higher than it should be. Jen is also constantly reprimanded, especially because her refusal to give up fast food has forced her to switch from oral medication to insulin injections, not to mention the fact that Jen is pregnant and her blood sugar levels can impact her unborn child.

The Sick Role: All three of the individuals in this True Life episode have a hard time accepting their role as an individual with a persistent, debilitating, chronic condition. Of the three, Kristyn is most accepting of her role as a sick individual, and is primarily struggling with the financial burden of diabetes. Matt and Jen have a much harder time accepting their illness. They refuse to recognize the fact that their illness places limitations on their lives; instead they continue on with their habitual lifestyle which is unfortunately detrimental for them as diabetics. Because they have a hard time accepting the reality of their situation, they have a much harder time dealing with their condition than does Kristyn.

I believe that illness narratives are useful for the patient because the full extent of their condition and the trials they face can often be hard to determine without the explanations of the patient. Additionally, talking about one’s illness is often an important step in the road to recovery, because it can help the patient to come to terms with their condition and find emotional/social comfort in dealing with their illness.

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