Narratives can serve multiple roles in the healthcare field. The patient is able to describe how they feel and handle a particular illness. It can also show how the patient makes sense of and understands the implications of the illness. The patient is also able to adjust to their illness and potentially feel stronger when they’re able to speak out about what they are going through. Similarly, the provider is able to help the patient feel less isolated and understand where the patient is coming from and any issues outside of the medical field (social or economical for example) that may impact treatment. Overall, narratives can help the patient and the healthcare provider to be on the same page with one another.
The True Life episode I chose to watch was “I have epilepsy”. The episode followed two women McKenzie and Tabitha who are in their twenties and their daily struggle with their disease. In both cases the girls had their first seizure in their teens and it is idiopathic in nature. They both take a large amount of medications every day to try and control it, but both have complained of a decrease in larger episodes but smaller ones can sometimes be triggered every day. In the end McKenzie was able to see a new neurologist who prescribed a different medication and expressed optimism that her seizures would be able to get under control. This led her to being able to land her first job, a small step forward in getting her life back to normal. Tabatha was given an EEG monitor to try and localize the source of the seizures but the test was unsuccessful. Still, the doctors would change her medications which led to an improvement of her symptoms. This ultimately led to her exercising more and improving her nutrition, which the doctors felt would help even more. Like McKenzie, Tabatha was also able to get her first job as a result.
This was clearly a chaos type narrative. In both cases the condition is chronic, there is social suffering, and both girls felt like many of their friends and families didn’t understand what they were going through. They expressed frustration talking to their doctors, feeling like “I’m always a problem”. This is because the epilepsy has prevented them from steady employment, driving, and always relying on others to help with day to day activities. As McKenzie put it “I have medical debt because I have epilepsy that I cannot pay for because I can’t get a job because I have epilepsy.”