When you tell me your story I often resist making you stop.
I hold myself back from truncating your words. I stand by you or sit on the bed and I listen, as you say so much and yet so little.
Usually I get only a hint of what I need to know, as your physician, to heal your wounds (the physical ones). But through your narrative I learn you; what drives you, how you think, where you come from, why you are really here.
If I stay silent long enough you will tell me of your uncle who died last year of brain cancer, and now I have a better idea of why you are here in my emerg at 4 a.m. with a mild headache.
Though I may stay with you longer than perhaps I should, for the sake of efficiency, I don’t sacrifice these moments because I am truly delighted to be someone you can trust, to tell me your story.
I will take your words and write them down, first in your chart and then in my heart, as I learn what it is to have fear.
Written at a wellness conference for Canadian women physicians.