Parkinson’s, ALS, Muscular Sclerosis, these are just several of many incurable Neurological Conditions. The debilitating effects of having on of these diseases is common knowledge.
There are a number of other, rare chronic illnesses out there and there is very little knowledge among the general public regarding them.
One such illness is Narcolepsy.
It is a rare, incurable illness in which very little is known, even among physicians. Because it is a neurological condition, in which a portion of the brain known as the hypothalamus is damaged due to the permanent loss of what’s called orexins.
The hypothalamus plays an important role in controlling the functioning of metabolism, sleep wake cycles, the circadian rhythms, and the nervous system, just to name a few things. It is unfortunate though, that the only knowledge many have of Narcolepsy is inaccurate and comes from what they have seen in movies like Deuce Bigalow and in comedy skits.
Lately, it seems as though Narcolepsy has become the laughing stock of chronic illnesses with things ranging from a retracted Honda ad to one of the couples of The Real being challenged in a dance off to do a Narcoleptic MoonWalk just to get a laugh.
Although Honda withdrew their ad and is now sponsoring public service announcements, “The Real” has yet to reply to criticism from people who suffer from or have loved ones who suffer from Narcolepsy.
The question from many upset PWN, Persons with Narcolepsy, is “Are Parkinson’s, Autism, Epilepsy taken so lightly that they are commonly the subject of jokes.”
The actual facts regarding Narcolepsy are: 1 in 2000 people suffer from this debilitating disease. Because of a lack of knowledge, the average time for a correct diagnosis is 10 to 15 years. It is incurable. There are few medications and they have minimal success rate for many Narcoleptics in alleviating symptoms.
This oftentimes immobilizing illness, has an equal effect on the quality of life as Parkinson’s and MS with many similar symptoms. Many PWN have lost jobs, spouses, homes, and children because of Narcolepsy.
Bringing recognition isn’t enough if it is perpetuating the misinformation and stigma that already exists.
It is OK to find humor, if it is being done in a tasteful, way that can bring understanding and enlightenment.
Maybe we need to see more segments fitting that criteria and a bit more effort taken in understanding something before making it the butt of jokes.