A day in the life of a Ménière’s patient: understanding the lived experiences and mental health impacts of Ménière’s disease
Sociology of Health and Illness
Wiley for Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness
Reason for embargo
Concepts of social practice are increasingly being used to understand experiences of everyday life, particularly in relation to consumption and healthy lifestyles. This paper builds on this in the context of lives disrupted and reshaped by chronic illness. It uses social practice theory to examine the lived experiences of individuals with Ménière’s disease; a long-term progressive vestibular disorder, defined by episodes of severe and debilitating vertigo, aural fullness, tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss. Drawing on the findings of 20 in-depth narrative interviews with Ménière’s patients, and eight spousal/partner interviews, we explore the impacts of the condition on sensory, temporal, spatial and social dimensions of the body. In doing so, we highlight the intensely embodied sensory and emotional work required to maintain connections between the ‘competences’, ‘materials’ and ‘meanings’ that constitute and sustain the performance of both mundane and meaningful social practices over time. As connections between these elements of social practice are disrupted during more active phases of the condition, affected individuals may be defected from old practices and recruited to new ones, often requiring both time and social support to find meaning or pleasure in these alternative ways of being in the world.
Many thanks go to all the study participants for sharing their experiences; Mr. David Whinney (Ear Nose and Throat Consultant at Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske), Clinical Project Advisor; the Ménière’s Society for funding the study; and PenCLAHRC (the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula) for providing follow-on funding. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or the Ménière’s Society. We would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on an earlier draft of this paper.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Version of record online: 2 December 2016