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What's The Point in Telling Stories?

Penny's eyes are disconcertingly blue. They're the kind of blue only seen in carnival glass. Penny looks directly at me when she speaks, her eyes ever so slightly wider and eyebrows just barely raised such that I know that her interest is honest. She's not much of one for fussy things, never pulling back her long blond hair that falls in casually disheveled waves just beyond her shoulders. She enjoys golf, and though I loathe the game I imagine it suiting both her frame and her style of competition—minor adjustments made to suit varying circumstances and always played with the goal of personal bests in mind.

Thomas is lean, wears slack with plaid shirts—cotton or flannel depending upon the season—and sometimes allows his mostly brown, but somewhat salt and pepper beard to get ahead of him, its growth seemingly less purposeful than opportunistic. He drives a reasonably-sized pick-up truck. His greetings are an equal mix of eagerness and caution, as he peers over the top of his gold-rimmed glasses like an inquisitive barn owl. He always carries a computer, which he grips too tightly in his right hand such that the screen splinters outwards from the impression of his thumb. He's planning a trip out to Yosemite with his college-sophomore-aged son this summer. He hugs me whenever we say goodbye.

Matthew is reserved. He crosses his long legs at the knee and places one slender hand over the other as he listens. His slacks, dress shirt, and tie are impecable but, on the whole, unremarkable in shades of khaki, grey, black, white, and blue. His dark brown hair is combed back. He speaks softly yet unwaveringly. Even his laugh is measured. He has twin sons born in mid-September. We shake hands hello and goodbye.

Christopher is tall and lean with dashing brown hair and meticulously trimmed beard. His fashion also tends more on the dapper side with striped shirts and slacks. He is direct, if not perhaps a tad perfunctory, but appreciates a sense of humor, even a caustic one. He is married and seems to rely on deductive reasoning supported by data.

Elizabeth is social. Her slight Southern accent comes out less in the pronunciation of words than in the slow manner in which she speaks. It's as though she spends most of her time talking to very old people. She smiles a lot, and wears her brunette hair pulled back. She married her college sweetheart—they both went to Carolina—and the two of them moved back to her hometown to work with her father. She does not yet have children.

Penny, Thomas, Matthew, Christopher, and Elizabeth are all doctors. They are my doctors. They are also human beings with stories of their own. Stories may seem to do little in terms of patient care; however, sharing stories creates a bond and with that bond comes trust. With trust comes the ability to listen reciprocally. I am the better patient, and they the better doctors, for it.


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