The Stories Doctors Tell
Physicians and Patients Stitch Together Narratives to Diagnose and Heal
The belly pain is so bad that Mrs. Alves*, a woman in her 40s, is worming uncomfortably on the ER stretcher. “I need an answer,” she says. I promise her that pain medicine is on the way. What I can’t promise her—despite countless tests and specialists’ opinions already on record—is the definitive answer. The diagnosis, the root cause of her symptoms, proves elusive. But her distress is real. And when there’s distress, there’s a story.
To be an emergency physician for nearly 30 years is be humbled again and again by …