Literature about medicine may be all that can save us
A new generation of doctor writers is investigating the mysteries of the medical profession, exploring the vital intersection between science and art
The language gap frustrates your visit to your doctor. He seems not to understand the problem because you can’t describe it lucidly enough. You don’t understand the proposed treatment because he can’t explain it. I’ve sometimes foresworn medical help because the complexity of voicing what is wrong has felt heavier than the sickness itself. This is especially true for psychiatric illnesses such as the depression I have experienced, but it is true of physical problems, too. It has been entirely manifest to me when I’ve tried to explain the problem with my left ear, in which I am partially deaf. I’ve said what it feels like, to which my consultant has repeatedly replied with various options. I’ve said it doesn’t feel like any of the things in his multiple-choice list and theorised about what is actually wrong. He has resisted my inexpert opinions, and I have battled with his inability to grasp the subtlety of my experience. We are both articulate and we are both exasperated by this sticky communication.