August 12, 2012
roots of pain
I don't even remember why she came in. Most likely something to do with pain or arthritis. But given my prior life experiences, I know that physical pain and emotional pain are inextricably tied together. So I underhandedly steered the interview towards how she was doing emotionally. There is no specific strategy that works for all, or even most patients. It's an ebb and flow that one just gets a feel for by trial and error. In other words, a relationship. The patient begins to open up and turns to me and says, "I don't know why I'm even telling you this. I ain't ever told anybody this." She pauses a minute, wags her finger at me in a revelatory manner, "You're going to be a good doctor. Uh-huh. You're easy to talk to. A good doctor."