This billboard advertised a TV station in Auckland NZ. It can also be wonderful reminder for health professionals. If we accept that each person is unique, then surely that person’s story must be the currency of choice in the health care exchange?
Most medical facts are based on statistics, probabilities drawn from the crowd. For an individual such ‘facts’ are not truths. It is only by sharing a personal story that one can find the real challenges, and can dig out the most powerful resources.
If you have the time, being invted to share a personal story is one of the great privileges of practice. It also steers you away from formula treatments. You quickly learn that each encounter is a unique lesson, that what first presents rarely turns out to be the main problem, and that there are new opportunities to co-create real change rather than just a quick fix.
“Jack’s dead and the boys are gone“
Dr Kieran Sweeney used to tell this story in his teaching. How he had visited 85-year old Mrs B ready to manage her diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis and other morbidities. When she responded to a question with “Well, Jack’s dead and the boys are gone” and told how her life had nose-dived with her husband’s death and sons’ prison sentences, Kieran suddenly saw that the narrative being applied by his medical colleagues was not the narrative that mattered.