My definitions of health and illness when doing the lecture were different than what they are now. My initial definitions were health is the absence of disease and illness was any string of symptoms caused by a foreign body or pathogen. I now realize that these definitions are a bit narrow, and have since reformatted them to fit more of what we learned in our lecture. I now define health as a state of homeostasis in the body, absent of any pathogens and disease. Illness is the individual experience of disease, including the pain, experience, and narrative involved with the disease.
My original ideas came from my family experience and also my scientific background. My mom was in the medical field, so we always think of health and disease from a biomedical standpoint. I think a lot of the people in our culture forget about the experience of disease from a personal level, almost as if the psychology of the disease is not as important as the disease itself.
The first condition that I would like to talk about from the list was old age. This is an interesting thing to be on this list to me, because I’m really interested in gerontology and particularly Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The reason this one was so interesting to me on this list was because I couldn’t decide if I felt old age was an illness or not. It honestly depends on the factors involved with old age. Someone who is suffering from an “old-age disease” such as Alzheimer’s or dementia may consider their old age as an illness. Their experience with aging may be surrounded by these diseases, therefore their illness experiences are important to their psychology. On the other hand, some people age without disease and live healthy “golden years”, and these people may not view the condition as an illness. This one in particular shows that illness is more of an individual process rather than something we can define scientifically.
The second condition that stood out to me was migraines. My mother and I both suffer from migraines, but for two different reasons. This condition really stood out to me because I do definitely see it as an illness, but it’s another example of how the actual experience of illness is different for people with the same conditions. My mother gets migraines from her fibromyalgia, and when she has a flair up in her neck she often gets the migraine to go with it. I suffer from migraines because I got into a car accident and have a neck injury, and now I get migraines on certain days. These two different experiences give us different illness experiences, something I never would have thought about until analyzing this condition.