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Medical Writing: the Healing Power of Narrative

(Page 5 of 6 pages)
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"And yet there was something a bit odd.   He faced me as he spoke, was oriented towards me, and yet there was something the matter -- it was difficult to formulate.   He faced me with his ears, I came to think, but not with his eyes.   These, instead of looking, gazing, at me, "taking me in', in the normal way, made sudden strange fixations -- on my nose, on my right ear, down to my chin, up to my right eye -- as if noting (even studying) these individual features, but not seeing my whole face, its changing expressions, "me', as a whole.     -- p. 9


Can I help?' I asked.

"Help what?   Help whom?'

  "Help you put on your shoe.'

  "Ach,' he said, "I had forgotten the shoe,' adding, sotto voce, "The shoe? The shoe?' He seemed baffled.

  "Your shoe,' I repeated.   "Perhaps you'd put it on.'

  He continued to look downwards, thought not at the shoe, with an intense but misplaced concentration.   Finally his gaze settled on his foot: "That is my shoe, yes?'


"Did I mishear?   Did he mis-see?

"My eyes,' he explained, and put a hand to his foot. "This is my shoe, no?'

"No, it is not.   That is your foot.   There is your shoe.'

"Ah!   I thought that was my foot.'

Was he joking?   Was he mad?   Was he blind?"


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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)

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