Illness narratives play a vital role in the natural progression of health care for not only the individual undergoing treatment for an illness, but to those distributing the care and those alongside the patient. These narratives allow for a greater understanding all around of what is occurring. Certain narratives provide greater context to overcome temporary illnesses and focus on separating the sick person from the ailment itself. This allows for a dissection of the issue through medical treatment that all participants can actively work towards. The patient works with medical practitioners to understand what is happening to them and how they can achieve health again and the healthcare individuals use the patients experience to help treat symptoms and provide a cure. Alongside this active approach, those close to the sick person can participate by facilitating treatment and offer support in any way. Achieving a detailed illness narrative allows for either a complete cure, a goal towards recovery or at the very least, sometimes provides people an opportunity to lend support to those without hope or a cure.
I watched MTV’s True Life episode, “I’m Deaf.” This particular episode features two young people suffering from deafness. The first subject is a 16-year-old boy named Christopher who is about to undergo a life changing operation, which should hopefully restore hearing. The second subject is Amanda. She is a dancer attempting to try out for a role on an NFL dancing squad. Deaf since birth, she struggles in the competitive dance world at a disadvantage.
Christopher goes through many challenges throughout the episode. From his invasive cochlear implant surgery to the first time he hears, the stress of a large and dangerous operation wears heavily on him. The excitement of being able to hear and a chance to interact more normally with his peers allows him to carry on through this difficult time. He has to come to terms with hearing for the first time and learning to speak. This proves to be difficult and frustrating. With the help of friends and family he perseveres and his future seems bright at the conclusion.
Amanda has a far more difficult time. Her abilities are unfortunately shadowed by the fact that deafness is a non-apparent condition. Those that don’t know her don’t know she is deaf and this ends up costing her the audition. She is unable to hear commands and feedback from the judges and ends up being cut. She remains optimistic but realizes that deafness presents an always-present set of challenges.
I believe this relates best to the restitution narrative. This certain medical condition does not just go away over night. However, the activities and the progress that the two of these people are undergoing differ from day-to-day. One day they might need speech therapy and it can be going well, and the next day it could be altered. They accept that they have a medical condition, and the way that they deal with this can be beneficial to both them and those around them. For example, changing your major to psychology and taking advanced sign language course, as in Amanda’s case because she wants to help others.