The episode I chose to analyze was called True Life: I Have Narcolepsy. In this episode two girls are followed, Julie, 16, and Katy, 25. Both suffer from the conditions narcolepsy, sudden overpowering sleep, and cataplexy, sudden loss of muscle control. I believe that in this True Life, both Julie and Katy are giving quest narratives, but Julie struggles in some parts of the episode and gives somewhat of a chaos narrative. Narratives can be very helpful and important to patients, family, and healthcare providers alike in helping each other understand what the other person is feeling. The only way to portray what you are feeling- you must tell others who surround you and seek help when necessary. Some examples of these from the lecture are when people are suffering from mental illnesses such as postpartum depression and PTSD. The only way to get help is to tell others how you are feeling.
Katy had been suffering from these conditions since she was 15 years old and was already on a large amount of medication when the episode began. Her boyfriend was very concerned about her health on the medication, and wanted her to quit. Katy decided to quit cold- turkey in order to appease her boyfriend, and struggled greatly after doing so. Katy tried to stay off the medication for some time, but could barely get out of bed in the morning; which caused even more problems with her boyfriend. After arguing and almost breaking up, they decide to come to an agreement that Katy did need to take some medicine, but a more controlled amount. We are told that she did manage to cut the dosage amount nearly in half. After doing so, she began to live a much more normal every day life. The only time Katy mentioned going to a medical professional, she overslept and missed her appointment.
Julie, on the other hand, had only been diagnosed with the conditions for about four months and was not yet on an a.m./p.m. medication schedule like Katy. She was very afraid of the side effects and, to me at least, it seemed like she did not even have any interest in getting help. After some convincing from her mother, and after falling during a cataplexy attack and hurting herself, Julie decided to go see a doctor. The doctor told her that she was unlikely to grow out of her condition, especially without treatment, and suggested she started taking medications. Before agreeing to take the pills, I would say Julie’s narrative was one of chaos, but then when she agreed to try and improve herself it became a quest narrative. She began feeling better and the symptoms of her condition slowed down greatly. Julie’s mother also suggested alternative forms of healing, and decided a chiropractor could help stimulate Julie’s brain and help bring her back to normal. At the end of the episode we are told that Julie had no cataplexy attacks in months, and was doing much better.
I believe that culture does not have a very good understanding of narcolepsy and cataplexy. People seemed very concerned and uncomfortable when they would be around Katy or Julie and an attack would occur. It also seemed that Julie was somewhat embarrassed by her conditions at first, but at the end of the episode opened up to her fellow classmates about them. Furthermore, Katy’s boyfriend helped her with basically every thing at the beginning of the episode, but then slowly became less and less empathetic towards Katy. He did not understand how she felt, or understand the possible effects of asking her to stop her medicine cold- turkey.
Finally, according to the lecture, the sick role is the practices, rights, and responsibilities that come with being a person suffering from an illness. This includes things like submitting to the care of a professional and sometimes being excused from regular responsibilities. I believe that both girls used their rights and responsibilities to try and take control of their conditions and keep themselves safe. Julie was slow at this at first, with not wanting to get help from professionals, but eventually learned that it was a way to get help. The only thing about Katy, is that she has a responsibility in controlling the amount of medication she was taking, though, and seemed to have a lot of trouble doing so.
True Life: I Have Narcolepsy