I realize that my naïve pre-medical view on medicine was laughably distorted. Real medicine, real doctoring, is not primarily about making friends out of strangers, and drawing out a patient's entire life-world within the course of a single meeting. At the end of the day, our objective is to be a good doctor first and to discern the details that matter in saving that person's life.
My patient and I were walking down the tiled floors of the hospital ward, past the other patients' rooms, every door flung open like in a college dormitory but none of the rooms very inviting. We were almost around the bend by the elevator when he looked up at me and said: "You know something? Every man in my family has died at the age of 53."
It was a warm Thursday afternoon and we were in dermatology clinic. This 20-something young professional had come to have her scalp examined. She'd noticed a sudden increase in the quantity of hair follicles that parted ways in the shower, after an ordinary brush, on her pillowcase, and she was worried that she had developed female-pattern hair loss.
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