Diana Toubassi is a family physician at Toronto Western Hospital, and she has been in practice for dozens of years. Every day seems to be a hectic and chaotic day in the hospital.
“I was thirteen or fourteen patients into the clinic,” she says, recounting a typical day in practice. “I had a green trainee with me who hadn’t done any clinical rotations yet. We were running behind, and I felt like we were drowning in patients. I had her go and see a newborn baby who was there for their first visit. Mom was clearly overwhelmed and tearful already. Baby was jaundiced and not gaining weight.” At the same time, Toubassi says, she was seeing a woman in her eighties armed with a written list of eight issues that had to be resolved in ten minutes.
With precision she tells the story quickly, and she narrates the chaos “as if it were a regularly scheduled program”.
She seems amused as she tells it, as if the sequence of events was both hilarious and ridiculous. Slight discomfort belies her laughter, a momentary slip of the mask from sprightly to exhausted, then back.
Lately, Toubassi has been drawn to a discipline known as “narrative medicine,” a movement that aims to use the special qualities of storytelling as a tonic for what ails contemporary medicine.
Learn more about narrative medicine over at The Walrus.
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