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Sick Role Memoir Analysis Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022

Introduction

Sickness is associated with a certain disease or an infection that may cause one to be unhealthy. However, sickness leads to various consequences, some fatal and others minor. At times, sickness interferes with our day-to-day activities, in that we cannot operate effectively compared to when we are well. Physicians also advise patients to take some time off and rest in order to regain their healthfully as a way of being productive once again. Cancer is an illness that has an increased chance of being fatal compared to malaria or typhoid. Therefore, these patients have different types of medication and care. In addition, sickness may result in patients being exempted from some duties. Sometimes, sickness is viewed as undesirable in society, and the patients have to work towards getting better for the sake of their family and themselves.

According to McQueen (2011), when individuals fall ill, some of them seek medical help while others prefer self-help strategies like taking painkillers. However, a small percentage of individuals are likely to ignore the symptoms. Hence, sickness is associated with a certain behavior from the affected individuals; however, these behaviors vary with age and gender. Indeed, women access medical services regularly compared to men. Normally, sickness is influenced by culture to the extent that some cultures disregard medical services and prefer their own beliefs, and thus discouraging their members to visit hospitals.

Sick Role Memoir

McQueen (2011) describes the concept of the sick role as one of Talcott Person’s works, such that he was concerned with understanding how the sick individuals relate to society and what their role is in the social system. Some time back, I suffered from cholera, which is a disease caused by an infection in the small intestines caused by the Vibrio cholera bacteria. Some of the symptoms that were evident in my case were diarrhea, dehydration, and vomiting, thirst, and muscle cramps. I also lost appetite for almost every food since my stomach would hold nothing at all. At first, I had ignored the symptoms and opted for some painkillers. However, when the symptoms became severe, my parents sought medical help and I was put under hydration to prevent the symptoms from increasing. Sincerely, I had a problem embracing my sickly situation as I felt like I was being denied my normal life.

Just as parson’s theory of sick role, whereby a patient is excused from his normal tasks and roles, the doctors advised that bed rest for a couple of weeks was the best, as I took medication, towards gaining my health back. Parson’s theory further indicates that a patient is not held responsible for his illness and he/she requires assistance to get better. This proved to be partially right, as I would have not gotten better without the help of physicians, however, a little bit of my effort and determination hastened my recovery. Thirdly, the theory states that being sick is regarded as an undesirable state by some people; for instance, during my period of sickness, I realized that it was hard being around people especially if vomiting occurred, as most people view it as undesirable, therefore, being confined to a hospital until I fully recovered was the best choice.

Fourthly, Parson insists that to enhance recovery, a patient is supposed to seek medical attention and comply with the prescribed medication. It is evident that when people get sick, a high percentage of them tend to ignore symptoms and result in taking painkillers; indeed, it is until the symptoms get severe when they rush to hospitals. This is in contrast with parson’s theory that entails seeking medical assistance before things get out of hard (Rebhan, N.d, p.3). Through my experience of being sick, I realized that the world of the sick is not a comfort zone, as one is allowed to lie on the bed for some days thus being inactive.

When one is sick, most family members tend to neglect most of their duties in order to pay a visit to the sick person, and there is a lot of anxiety among family members, as they can only hope and pray for recovery especially if the situation is severe. One of the most factors that affected me when I was hospitalized is the thought that my peers continued with their life, for instance, attending school while I lay idle on my bed.

Nevertheless, the sick role is regarded as a temporary situation that needs not be prolonged and creates a relationship between the patient and the physician. Here, each individual plays his/ her part in enhancing recovery; the physician prescribes what is best for the patient, whilst the patient takes the initiative of adhering to the prescription and medication.

According to Giri, et al (2009, p.550), when one is diagnosed with a certain illness, such as cancer, a patient may develop a certain pattern of beliefs that aid in coping with the situation. These beliefs may range from a medical perspective or through the experiences of allies who had similar symptoms. Positive perception towards one’s sickness yields to fast recovery due to psychological well-being. The authors further add that research has proven that employees with a positive perception of their health tend to return to work fast compared to those with negative perceptions of their illness. A look at Trillis’s fight with cancer, in her writings, she admits that every human being is afraid of dying, that fear of death creates a distance from those who seem threatened by death.

However, she emphasizes that it is important for everyone to accept death, despite our fear of it. The deception that humans are immortal contributes to their sanest, as they are able to camouflage their fear of death. According to Trillis (2001), she was diagnosed with lung cancer despite never having smoked in her entire life. Nevertheless, she never gave up hope for living, and after 10 years of being diagnosed with cancer, she still kept hope alive and lived to witness her two daughters walk down the aisle. The will to keep living is supported by Giri, et al (2009, p.551), where the authors emphasize that a patient’s perception and will determines the rate of her recovery and the probability of living for a long period.

Maguire (N.d, p.2) criticizes parson’s model by arguing that, it does not establish how the doctor’s interest can conflict with those of the patient. In addition, being sick does not guarantee that one is a patient, since an individual may decide whether or not he needs to consult a physician. In addition, being a patient does not always involve sickness, for instance, pregnancy issues and vaccinations among others. According to Doyle, Hanks and Cherny (2005, p.107), life-threatening diseases, which can cost a life have various needs ranging from physical, psychological, to spiritual. Therefore, it is important for physicians to work closely with the patient when delivering palliative care. In addition, good communication is necessary when dealing with patients’ well-being, since poor communication wastes a lot of time and could cost a patient’s life.

Larsen & Lubkin (2009, p.26) elaborate that sickness is viewed as deviant behavior that was a response to social pressure and any individual could assume the role in Parson’s model. However, Gordon developed an impaired role as a response to parson’s model, since he viewed parson’s model as only applicable to patients with injuries and illness. Gordon’s model applies to long-term illness; the imparted role assumes that an individual has a permanent situation. However, he does not give up his responsibilities. In addition, the patient is not needed to have hope of getting better.

Conclusion

Sickness may be interpreted in different ways among different cultures. Some do not view all conditions as a sickness to an extent that one has to neglect their duties. Parson’s model elaborates on the sick role, which to some extent is agreeable but also subject to criticism. It is evident that communication is vital when a patient’s condition is involved. Both the physician and the patient are required to play their part in enhancing recovery.

References

  1. Doyle, D., Hanks, G. and Cherny, N. (2005). Oxford textbook of palliative medicine.
  2. Oxford textbook Series. Edition 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. Giri, P. (2009). . Occupational Medicine, 59; 550–555. Web.
  4. Lubkin, I. Larsen, P. (2009). Chronic illness: impact and intervention. Edition 7. NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning Publishers.
  5. Maguire, K. (N.d). Parsons’ sick role. Sociologies of Health & Illness E-Learning Databank.
  6. McQueen, D. (2011). Encyclopedia of Public Health. Illness and Sick-Role Behavior.
  7. Rebhan, D. (N.d). Health Care Utilization: Understanding and applying. Theories and models of health care seeking behavior. Case Western Reserve University.
  8. Trillin, A. (2001). Betting My Life. Good Housekeeping, Vol. 233, Issue 5, p.211.
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