Author's Note: I wrote this in 2012 to Mr. Leonard Pitts, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist with the Miami Herald, in response to one of his commentaries in the local paper.
We are fortunate that we do not live in such a hellish nightmare. I believe that what this missionary came to understand is equally applicable to each of us. Our patients come to us sick, frightened, at times dying. They feel vulnerable and helpless. They are often totally dependent on others. Their life has become chaos. They, too, can feel as if their humanity has been loss in the maze of increasing technology and decreasing personal touch that is medicine today.
Our patients have their own stories, too. They may not be as tragic as the one above but they are nevertheless just as meaningful. Our lives are made up of stories and stories are a powerful way to convey a message, to tell others who you are, what you need, what you fear, and what brings you joy. In the busyness of the day, when it seems that there is not enough time to do one more thing, or when you have done all you know to do, yet nothing has helped, may we take the time to sit down with them and "share their stories". In doing so, we can bring the human side back to medicine. Isn't that why we went into medicine?