Speaking at a Conference recently, solely for those in the medical field specialising in Gaucher disease, I could tell from the response to my talk that several points I made during my 45 minutes allotted time, had not been heard before. Patients are generally reticent about coming forth with what they consider personal information, feelings, fears or thoughts. All this very pertinent information, may seem trivial to a patient, and feel awkward, but a doctor needs to hear the entire story, which is where narrative medicine comes into play. Understanding completely the complexities of any serious illness should be part and parcel of one's health care, but both parties (doctor and patient) have to realise the importance of this extra information and put it into practice. Some piece of seemingly insignificant information that a patient has not bothered mentioning for fear of sounding silly, may in fact be the missing piece of the puzzle when a doctor is trying to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. A doctor can only work with what he is given. Sometimes even an extensive gamut of medical tests wont give the entire picture without the patient's story.My advice to doctors, is to please take the time to listen to your patients if they are trying to tell you something. And equally important - if you are a patient, put your dignity or any embarrassment aside, and tell the doctor your entire story. With both parties co-operating, you have the best scenario possible.
My story has been featured along with other interesting articles in "A Journal of Narrative Medicine. If you would like to take a look at this informative site, The Intima is an on-line Journal dedicated to Narrative Medicine.