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Healing Through Stories
by Vicki Rackner MD

Stories are powerful. How many times have you heard a child
beg, *Tell me a story.* Scientists say we are wired to learn
through stories. In fact, the first three polysyllabic words
your child spoke are most likely Mommy, Daddy and story.

Story-telling is an important activity when seeing your
doctor. Your doctor’s question — *How do you feel?* — is
your doctor’s way of saying, *Tell me your story.* Your
doctor can diagnose your medical condition most of the time
just by listening to your story.

Sometimes doctors have difficulty interpreting your story.
That’s because you and your doctor have different
perspectives. Imagine how different Little Red Riding Hood
would sound if told by the grandmother or the wolf.

For example, you may have episodes of abdominal pain and
bloating. You never know if it will be a good day, or if you
will stay home from work with cramping. In your experience,
you have two pains: the abdominal symptoms and the
limitation on your activities.

Your doctor’s goal, which you share, is to arrive at a
diagnosis and eliminate the source of your pain.. If you
have gallstones or an ulcer, you can be cured; so both you
and your doctor will be gratified to see an end to the
unpleasant symptoms. In that case the story you tell and the
story your doctor tells are much the same: *I had an ulcer
and my doctor cured it with medication.*

However, doctors don’t always have a *cure*. You may undergo
an exhaustive series of tests to learn that you do not have
a serious medical condition. Your doctor tells you that you
have *irritable bowel syndrome*, a poorly understood
condition that is not curable, but rather managed.

By Admin

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