This article focuses on and details some important information regarding the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. It contains much vital information on important topics and questions people may have about the pandemic, specifically of the notion of “flattening the curve”. This notion outlines the attempt to slow down the spread of the virus in order to try and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed with cases. Since this is a vital concept for people to understand, it is good that the article put it in such a clear and concise way.
The article also focuses on the number of ventilators available in the United States. If the COVID-19 pandemic is similar in severity to that of the flu pandemic of 1957 and 1958 , the U.S. would have enough ventilators to support everyone who would need one, as the total capacity of ventilators in the U.S. is 160,000. However, if this pandemic escalates to a situation similar to that of the Spanish flu pandemic, we are short of ventilators by a long shot. This would put medical professionals in an extremely difficult situation, where they would have to pick and choose which patients were put on ventilators, and have to find new, creative ways of care in order to attempt to save the rest. Through outlining this, the article does a good job in driving home the recommendation to cancel events and self-isolate, so we can try to avoid such a terrible scenario.
Dunlap-Shohl’s graphic memoir is an innovative illness narrative, and as such it could be beneficial to try and classify it under Frank’s models of restitution, chaos, and quest narratives. Looking at these models, I would say this graphic memoir is the most similar to what Frank would consider a quest narrative. This first piece of evidence to support this conclusion is that the book is a memoir, which is commonly used to document quest narratives. On top of this, the narrative itself has many concepts that Frank would consider as an indication of a quest narrative. For one, Dunlap-Shohl is diagnosed with a disease described as “progressive and incurable” (Dunlap-Shohl 7), and he is left to simply deal with it. This sends Dunlap-Shohl on a spiral downards, even bringing him close to suicide, until his wife helps talk him out of it (Dunlap-Shohl 30-31). After this emotional point, Dunlap-Shohl begins his long quest, one to both understand and learn to live with Parkinson’s. However, unlike a traditional quest narrative as described by Frank, Dunlap-Shohl’s quest does not seem to have a return. He departs from his old life when he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s (Dunlap-Shohl 6), and initiates this quest when he takes his first steps learning about Parkinson’s, as exemplified by the chapter “learning to speak Parkinson’s” (Dunlap-Shohl 17), but he never returns from where he started. This breaks from Frank’s model of a quest narrative, but it exemplifies that learning to live with Parkinson’s can be seen as a lifelong process, with no clear end in sight.
Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.
February 27th, 2020
Specifically looking at the reading assigned for Wednesday, February 26th, Dunlap-Shohl’s graphic novel seems to share many characteristics with Frank’s model of a chaos narrative. The story up to this point doesn’t have much narrative direction, with most of it being about trying to understand Parkinson’s. The second chapter exemplifies this, as Dunlap-Shohl attempts to describe and explain much of the terminology for symptoms coming from the disease. Another quote that seems to align with Frank’s chaos narrative is the description of Parkinson’s as being “progressive and incurable” (Dunlap-Shohl 7). Unlike a restitution narrative, there would be no miracle cure for Dunlap-Shohl, and he would likely have this disease for the rest of his life. Another piece of evidence that makes the first few chapters of this graphic novel reminiscent of a chaos narrative is the interview with the personification of Parkinson’s in chapter 3. This personification describes, in painful detail, that it wants to take everything from Dunlap-Shohl, best exemplified by the line “I want it all, your entire self, the physical and the emotional.” (Dunlap-Shohl 26). Right after this powerful and utterly terrifying line, Parkinson’s concludes the interview, with the line “But don’t worry… I’ll be back.” (Dunlap-Shohl 29). While this personification has not taken much from Dunlap-Shohl yet, this line gives the impression that the disease will continue, relentlessly, until it has what it wants. Therefore, due to the jagged sequence of the narrative up until this point, Parkinson’s attempt to rip Dunlap-Shohl’s voice and identity away, and the impossibility of being cured, the graphic novel seems to follow closely with how Frank would describe a chaos narrative.
January 25th, 2020
I chose to examine a section of the second vignette of Berger’s “A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor.”. This story recounts the slow decline of a woman throughout the years, despite the doctor’s attempts to diagnose and cure her. He pursues many routes of diagnosis, ranging from x-rays and allergy tests, but everything comes back inconclusive, leaving the doctor without any potential treatment. Over time he learns what is causing the illness, and realizes it is too late to treat her, shown when the narrator describes that “She now survives on steroids.” (Berger and Mohr 23). The rest of vignette further describes the impact of the illness on the woman, and ends with a paragraph describing a river. This is a stark contrast to the story told immediately before it, where the doctor was confidently able to save a man whose leg was crushed under a fallen tree. In this way, the story of the woman can be seen as a failed restitution narrative, as the woman was unable to receive a cure, or get better. It is interesting how the author explores how the doctor feels about failing in this key moment of the narrative, as generally stories of suffering and illness focus on the feelings of the patient. The doctors feelings on this are best exemplified in the lines “And afterwards the shallows, clear but constantly disturbed, endlessly irritated by their very shallowness as though by an allergy. There is a bend in the river which often reminds the doctor of his failure.” (Berger and Mohr 23). The river being clear, but being constantly disturbed exemplifies the condition of the woman, where she is stable and living, but her condition leaves her with constant problems. The bend in the river exemplifies how, even though he failed in his task, the doctor must learn from his experiences, move on, and continue trying to heal others.
Berger, John, and Jean Mohr. A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor. Vintage Books, 1967.