W4 activity: I have Narcolepsy

In this episode of true life, the two main characters suffer from narcolepsy. This is a condition where the individual has the overwhelming desire to sleep often. Some side issues related to this problem is Cataplexy which is the sudden loss of muscle function. A trigger shown by one of the subjects of this episode is laughter which is dangerous because she is a teenager that likes to have a good time with friends. This episode is basically a summary of the two victim’s illness narratives. These are important to a variety of people including the person’s family and doctor.  These are important because it allows the family and doctor to understand better what is going on because not all of the issues may be apparent through simply observation. This allows the family to fully understand and the doctor to diagnose and treat the issue at hand. Most importantly it is the patient’s primary way of communication in an attempt to deal with the issue that is plaguing them.  Both of the participants start with the restitution narrative because they want to deal with the problem at hand and get to an expected goal. The chaos narrative took place half way through because both of the participants had a hard road to deal with. One struggled with not wanting to take any drugs while family and friend tried to change her mind and the other dealt with the use of too many drugs and the potential negative effects that it could have on her body. The whole story was a quest narrative because it tells the entire story from beginning problem to attempted solution through steady improvement.  At the end of the video we find out that Julie finally gives in to taking medication which improves her quality of life. Katie also has a happy ending because she cuts her dose in half which makes the relationship with her significant other much better because of his constant worry.

3 thoughts on “W4 activity: I have Narcolepsy

  1. The article used to compare is titled The Voices of Narcolepsy* by Tara Parker-Pope and can be found at the link at the end of the comment.
    In episodes of True Life, we definitely have a much more intimate view of the patients observed because we can hear their respective points of view and see how they personally respond to the varying situations they are exposed to.
    You didn’t state specifically which patient had a response to the laughing trigger, but in the provided link above, there was no mention of any sorts of triggers. Rather, it was explained how the disorder affects their daily lives as a whole.
    This is a perfect example of how we can get more out of visual and auditory narratives than from something like an article depicting the struggles of several people.
    This article briefly described the lives of three different people who had been previously diagnosed with narcolepsy. Though I believe people often have a misconception of narcolepsy. As described in the article, it is a strong urge to sleep that takes a lot of energy to overcome rather than simply passing out involuntarily.
    Both the article and the True Life episode seem to depict people in normal United States, suburban lifestyles, so I would say the biggest influence on all the patients in dealing with their diseases would be, inevitably, culture as well as socio-economic status.
    * http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/the-voices-of-narcolepsy/?_r=0

  2. Hi John,

    I have briefly heard of narcolepsy in the past but I wasn’t too familiar with how extreme symptoms can be and how often the condition occurs so hearing about these narratives within the True Life episode was definitely eye opening. In my search to find another narrative of the disease I found a video on Youtube that nicely illustrates the way the condition affects a person in real time. The poster also suffers from cataplexy which works hand in hand with narcolepsy. In the video, the poster was trying to shoot an instructional dance video when she is attacked by her cataplexy which takes her to the ground and then a sleep attack occurs that knocks her out momentarily. She notes that this occurred because she was dancing for 3 hours before shooting the video and her tiredness might have been the trigger to her narcolepsy, similarly to the person in the True Life video who is triggered by laughter. The purpose of posting the video is to offer her narrative and straighten up misconceptions and ignorance dealing with the condition. The poster shows her grievances with those who may be inappropriate with their viewings of the disease and the True Life individuals show a fear of being judged for it. Social structures that create ignorance with unorthodox symptoms have created a social landscape where dealing with the disease itself is not the only trouble people who suffer have to deal with. This is manifested in the day to day lives of these people and will only be mitigated with understanding.

  3. Hi John! I found your post about narcolepsy pretty interesting. It was kind of funny to read this post because I actually used to self-diagnose myself with narcolepsy but I now realize I definitely do not have it and I was just being dramatic as always. Reading your post, I found some differences between an article I read about narcolepsy and your True Life episode. In my article I read about how difficult it is to not only wake up in the morning but to actually have enough energy to go on with the day. In your post you talked about Cataplexy and triggers for it. In my article I simply just learned a little bit about what narcolepsy is like to actually live with. I read a little bit about memory failure. When people with narcolepsy start to get the very intense urge to sleep, their memory may actually start to fail because their brain is obviously going into rest mode I suppose. I found that very interesting. I never really thought about narcolepsy as something that comes with other issues. It is clear to me now that people with narcolepsy do not simply just have the urge to sleep more, but they can have what you described in your post as Cataplexy, memory failure, and more.


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