The present state of health care in this country to an increasing extent involves strangers caring for strangers, with patients' narratives and life stories no longer a key element guiding decisions about their own health care.
Patients like Robert make clear that the very personal meaning patients find in their illnesses can be profoundly empowering. All too often, however, health care does not allow patients to explore the personal significance of their diseases.
Maybe when our new flock of medical students -- many of them immersed in all sorts of humanities programs -- become full-fledged doctors, we will no longer have the curbside conversations about inhumanities in medicine. That will be a relic of the past.