Healing Through Stories

Stories are powerful. How many times have you heard a childbeg, *Tell me a story.* Scientists say we are wired to learnthrough stories. In fact, the first three polysyllabic wordsyour child spoke are most likely Mommy, Daddy and story.

Story-telling is an important activity when seeing yourdoctor. Your doctor's question -- *How do you feel?* -- isyour doctor's way of saying, *Tell me your story.* Yourdoctor can diagnose your medical condition most of the timejust by listening to your story.

Sometimes doctors have difficulty interpreting your story.That's because you and your doctor have differentperspectives. Imagine how different Little Red Riding Hoodwould sound if told by the grandmother or the wolf.

For example, you may have episodes of abdominal pain andbloating. You never know if it will be a good day, or if youwill stay home from work with cramping. In your experience,you have two pains: the abdominal symptoms and thelimitation on your activities.

Your doctor's goal, which you share, is to arrive at adiagnosis and eliminate the source of your pain.. If youhave gallstones or an ulcer, you can be cured; so both youand your doctor will be gratified to see an end to theunpleasant symptoms. In that case the story you tell and thestory your doctor tells are much the same: *I had an ulcerand my doctor cured it with medication.*

However, doctors don't always have a *cure*. You may undergoan exhaustive series of tests to learn that you do not havea serious medical condition. Your doctor tells you that youhave *irritable bowel syndrome*, a poorly understoodcondition that is not curable, but rather managed.

When your doctor cannot cure you, it can feel as if yourdoctor is telling you that your pain is not real. It's likea parent saying to a child, *You can't be hungry. You justate an hour ago.* You might even think your doctor has lostinterest in working with you because you cannot be *fixed.*

This is when your story becomes even more important. Even ifyour doctor can't cure you, your doctor can listen to youand offer recommendations that will enhance the your qualityof life. This will assure you that your doctor cares andwill be there to minimize your suffering. Knowing thatyou're not going through this alone offers comfort.

You can use your story as a way of establishing the caringrelationship that you want with your doctor. Here's how:

Know your story.

You may know the doctor's version of your story. *I have thefollowing medical conditions that has been treated by...*While this is an important version, I encourage you to tellyour own version of your story. What is your experience ofliving with this medical condition? What challenges have youfaced and what have you learned as a result of going throughit? You may have never done this before. You can eitherrecord it in a journal or tell it to a friend.

Ask for the time you need with your doctor.

Telling your story takes time. So ask for it. When you callto make the appointment ask, *How do I schedule a half-hourappointment?* Offer to pay for time your insurance companywill not cover.

Understand that you and your doctor tell different stories.

After a brief time of telling your story to the doctor, yourdoctor may interrupt and guide the story to a diagnosis. Ifit's important to tell the story your way, say, *I wouldlike just three more minutes to tell my story my way, thenyou can ask your doctor questions.*

Tell your doctor how you're feeling.

Your doctor may understand how the gastro-intestinal systemworks, but you are the expert on what you feel. Yourfeelings convey information that is as important as any labtest or x-ray. If your doctor doesn't understand howimportant something is to you, speak up! If you tell yourdoctor about the nausea with your new medication and yourdoctor brushes it off and moves on to the next topic, say,*For me, nausea isn't just a little annoyance. It's a bigdeal. Are there other medications that will work?*

Recognize the healing power of having someone listen to yourstory.

Have you ever had the experience of simply listening tosomeone and hearing the other person say, *Thanks I feel somuch better having told you my story. Thanks for listening.*Some say healing means accepting the past as it is, notneeding to change it.

Pain and illness are part of the human condition. You makechoices that determine if pain will lead to suffering. Whenyou're sick, your goal is to restore the quality of yourlife. You - not your doctor - know what that means for you.After all, you're the one living your story.

Your personal health story, as distinctive as your face, maybe the most important story you ever tell. Dr. Vicki'sPersonal Health Journal is a place to store and organizeyour medical records and your account of your story.http://www.medicalbridges.com/products.html

Copyright © Vicki Rackner MD, 2005

Vicki Rackner, MD, president of Medical Bridges, is a board-certified surgeon who left the operating room to helpemployees become active participants in their health care.She is a consultant, speaker and author of the *PersonalHealth Journal*, author/editor of *Chicken Soup for theHealthy Heart Soul* and author of the lead story for*Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Soul.*

More Resources

Alternative Treatments For Arthritis Pain Relief
Natural, herbal remedies can help arthritis sufferers who have tried traditional pain medications without success. Many natural remedies and supplements have been found to actually reduce cartilage deterioration and even rebuild a patient's lost cartilage.
Keeping Well When Monsoon Dwells
First showers of monsoon are heartily welcomed by everyone after experiencing the scorching heat of summer. But monsoons reduce the immunity of our body and make us susceptible to many diseases which are commonly associated with this season.
Preventing Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy Through Ayurveda
Definition:Benign prostatic hypertrophy is swelling of Prostate gland. The prostate is a walnut sized gland that is only present in men.
Essential Oils Blends and Uses
Better Living With Essential OilsPractical formulas you can use in Personal Care and Your EnvironmentPersonal Care - What Essential Oils can do for Your Skin:l Penetrate lower skin layers to work on moisturizing and healing.l Stimulate and regenerate skin cells, to heal skin damaged by sun, burns, wrinkles, or injury.
Body Calling: All Natural Cures
Natural remedies can heal and have been around for centuries. They are affodable cost wise: vitamins, minerals, calcium supplements, digestive enzymes and essential oils.
Reiki Energy Balance
Here's a simple exercise that anyone can do, even if they haven't been 'attuned' to Reiki. It requires a basic knowledge of channeling Reiki energy, the positions of the 7 primary chakras and a willingness to spend some time making someone else feel good.
Sun Chlorella and the Benefit
Sun Chlorella is referred to as the Green Magician due to the amazing healing powers of sun chlorella and its benefit of chlorella. Also known as the 'Super food', sun chlorella is packed full of the benefit of chlorella! Chlorella contains the highest levels of chlorophyll of all earth's foods and has many benefits of chlorella.
Are You Really Overweight?
If you are overweight, you know it by how you feel, how your clothes fit or how you look. But, by how much are you really overweight? And how much weight do you need to lose? One measure of how much you should weight is by determining your Body Mass Index, BMI.
Vitamins And Minerals
It is obvious that each of our bodies is unique - there are not two human beings that are exactly the same. That is why I encourage every one to eat the best that they can and get plenty of vegetables as the first source of vitamins and minerals.
Teas From Plants Around You and Their Benefits
All teas unless specified are brewed with 1 teaspoon dry material or 2 teaspoons fresh material to 1 cup of water. Always steep.
Why Detox?
For most of my life I considered myself fairly healthy. I was not overweight, very slim infact.
Herbs For Protection
If you have never used plant matter in magic before, I explain in detail in the column Plants, Herbs and Roots for Prosperity the different ways these substances can be practically used in rituals and everyday practice. In brief, the main methods of using plant material to summon protection are: carrying the substance on your person in a locket or a sachet, boiling the herb and sprinkling the residual water around your residence, putting a sprig of it under your bed or pillow, bathing in a distillation of it or burning it as incense.
Holistic Is Not A Four-Lettered Word
If you're anything like me, then you've got a certain picture in your mind of what *holistic* is supposed to be. For me, it's conjured up pictures of holy men, or shaman, doing a ritual dance while chanting mantras, and rubbing *energy crystals* in an effort to remove evil spirits from your life.
Natural Medicine--Finding a Qualified Naturopath
Naturopathic medicine is currently the fastest growing segment of the alternative health movement but not everyone practicing this branch of "natural" medicine is qualified to do so. I like to group naturopaths according to their educational backgrounds because I believe that the quality of your naturopath's education directly affects the quality of care you'll receive.
Test Your Indoor Air Quality!
How safe is your Indoor Air?1) Does your home have carpeting?* Carpeting captures dust, dirt, chemicals and everything we track in from the outdoors. Carpeting also outgases formaldehydes and other chemicals used in processing.
Laughter, Why Its so Good for You
For hundreds of years, we've known that 'Laughter is the best medicine'.Laughter makes you feel good for a reason.
Neuro Emotional Technique
NET or Neuro Emotional Technique is one of the newer "power therapies" and stress reduction techniques that along with TFT (Thought Field Therapy), and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) have become popular in the last ten years. These therapies seem to work quicker than traditional talk therapies.
Colon Cleansing
Colonics are one of the best types of medicine. They clean up deposits of old toxemia.
What Exactly is Alternative Therapy and How Does It Boost Your Health and Well-being?
My first yoga retreatI never wanted it to stop. It was a wonderful feeling of joy, love compassion and connection to everyone who was there with me.
Green Apple: Refreshing Taste, Uplifting Fragrance
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"A common fruit, the apple is perhaps underrated in its medicinal properties. Most regard it as just a healthy fruit or a dessert ingredient but are unaware of its other uses when it comes to aromatherapy.

More Alternative Information:

Related Articles

We talk a lot about stress in our society, but very little about relaxation. Odd, isn't it? The ability to relax is, in my view, undervalued.
Organic Bedding and Organic Mattresses by Prescription Only?
Effective January 1, 2005, California law requires all mattresses contain chemical based fire retardancy for "public safety". This law may become national within a year, and is under consideration by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Alternative Health Care is Under Attack by a Hidden Standard - The Unfortunate Case of Dr. Shortt
A recent case in the news highlights an alarming trend in "alternative" health care-how difficult it is becoming to both obtain and provide alternative care in the United States. Dr.
Organic Juices for Constipation
Organic fresh made juices have cleansing and laxative action, which will help you eliminate constipation. Taken regularly they will help you have daily bowel movements.
5 Ways to Deal With ADHD
With an increasing number of our youths suffering ADHD, stress syndromes, unemployment, depression, drug use, crime and higher rates of youth suicide than ever before, today's parents and teachers are finding their roles more and more difficult.According to renowned family relationships specialist, Marguerite Clancy, there are no overnight solutions for issues such as ADHD, but there are a few quick things struggling parents can do now to start dealing with it:1) Get into a routine and stick to it (try to include fun times and laughter)2) Set up a punching bag or get your child playing a sport3) Be consistent with discipline and offer rewards where appropriate4) Use positive language, keep directions short, maintain calm5) Agree on consequences for behaviour together"There are many options available to parents and carers.
Youth People Obsessed With Sunless Tanning
Darker-complexioned teens will always seek a tanning bed or booth. Because they want a perfect and perpetual tan.
Magnets: How Do They Really Work?
Can magnets actually help us feel better? When I first read about this theory I was somewhat skeptical but curious. After looking into it further and trying out a few magnetic products, I was pleasantly surprised.
Nerve Pain: Try Using Visualizations And You May Get Some Relief
"Neuropathic" means nerve damage and refers to nerve pain. So far there's very little that science can do about it.
Vitamins And Minerals
It is obvious that each of our bodies is unique - there are not two human beings that are exactly the same. That is why I encourage every one to eat the best that they can and get plenty of vegetables as the first source of vitamins and minerals.
How To Have Optimal Health and Energy: Seven Key Steps
Hello!Alan Allard here?You have my respect for taking action to learn how to improve your overall health. You can discover and learn how to do just that?change and improve your health?and enjoy the new levels of energy and vitality that will simply come your way.
Which to Use When: Ice or Heat?
Knee pain after running? Wake up with a backache? Twist an ankle?When aches, pain, strains or swelling take place due to an injury or chronic condition, what is the best course of action: ice or heat? Many people automatically assume heat will ease their discomfort. Think again!Ice and heat have opposite effects when dealing with inflammation and pain.
Natural Arthritis Pain Relief - By Doing Simple Arthritis Exercises
Treating arthritis is not easy. Apart from the regular medication, proper diet, rest andrelaxation, doctors also recommend arthritis exercises.
What Exactly is Alternative Therapy and How Does It Boost Your Health and Well-being?
My first yoga retreatI never wanted it to stop. It was a wonderful feeling of joy, love compassion and connection to everyone who was there with me.
Herbal Medicine
Herbal Medicine, also referred to as Herbalism or Botanical Medicine, is the oldest healthcare known to mankind. Herbal medicine is the utilization of herbs for therapy or medicinal purposes.
Balancing the Light and Dark
Integrating my dark side was a fairly torturous process for me, partly because I made it harder than it had to be. Apparently I do that a lot.
Quick Tip for Runners Who Have Knee Pain
Running with knees that hurt and are not getting better trough time is no fun, and being addicted to running doesn't help either.Fortunately, pain isn't always a definite sign of tissue damage; instead it can be protective pain that is coming from entities called myofascial trigger points.
Radical Healing
This title to a book by Rudolph Ballentine deserves more thought than we might give it. The book deserves more thought than I will give it too.
Hemorrhoids Remedy: Practical Diet Tips, Toilet Habits And Exercise To Prevent Hemorrhoid Symptoms
Some people say that prevention is better than cure. That is a wise statement indeed.
Fraicheur DAgrume (Citrus Fruits): Freshness in a Bottle
Citrus oils are perhaps one of the more popular essential oils for perfumery. They provide a fresh, invigorating and stimulating aroma that is indispensable in fragrances.
Eucalyptus: The Way to Smoother Breathing
The eucalyptus is a popular Australian remedy that was first introduced to the world by the aborigines as a treatment for many kinds of ailments. Its uses range from treating wounds, suppressing colds, relaxing the mind to repelling insects.