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Chronic Pain: A Comedy
Dec 19th, 2016 by Dr Karma

As some of you know, in the summer, I was in Spain at a narrative health conference. The talks are all addressed to professionals–doctors and teachers talking to doctors and teachers. I participated as a teacher, but listened as a chronic pain patient.

The conference was really interesting, but I kept finding myself frustrated. There were all of these techniques–aimed at letting the patient tell his/her story to the doctor. In other words, instead of just having a doctor actually listen (and take the time to, which is sometimes the hard part), there were “activities” to force it.

And then someone in the audience would ask how they could streamline the activity–you know, to save all that time of listening.

There was also a lot of emphasis on art therapy, which I am behind to an extent, but the idealism at the conference annoyed me sometimes.

One of the organizers asked, “wouldn’t it be great if your doctor put away his diagnostic tool and got out a guitar?”

I leaned over to Melissa and said, “I would punch my doctor if he did that.”

I believe in holistic care, and I mix Western and Eastern techniques in my fight to feel better.

But hey, there’s literally bile in my stomach. And my discs are “desiccated.” And so on. Laughing makes me feel better, but it won’t fix my stomach lining or discs.

That said, stories are immensely important.

After watching me give a couple of presentations in the last few years, a woman suggested I do one woman shows.

“Well, I sort of do–just in shorter form with stand-up comedy.”

(This woman also seemed relieved when she learned I’m originally from the South: “Oh, that makes sense. I was trying to figure you out. I’m normally suspicious of charismatic people, but you always seemed so nice. You’re just Southern.)

This woman is right. I am nice. I am charismatic. I should do a one woman show.

And so that was on my mind when I saw the call for The Storytelling in Health conference this summer in Wales.

I sent them an exploratory email: hey, I could do a regular panel on this, or I could come in as a chronic pain patient and give my narrative–in stand-up form.

And so that’s what we’re going to do.

I’ll have 45 minutes, including a Q&A.

Thrilled. Terrified.

Wondering if a bunch of medical professionals will know they’re supposed to say, “break a leg.”

 

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