Hearing voices

Malia asked me if we could go to the Carrboro Farmers Market yesterday, so she and I drove into town. It was cold, crisp morning, and only two dozen or so vendors were gathered. Chapel Hill Creamery, which sells cow’s milk cheese and pork products, had two vacuum-packed bags of beef shanks; that’s a rarity for them, so I purchased them soon as I saw the sign atop the blue cooler. And now, those shanks are in the oven, in my orange Le Creuset pot, braising into osso buco.

After our short visit to the farmers market yesterday, Malia and I stopped into Gray Squirrel Coffee Company, which has the best cappuccino and hot chocolate that comes with coffee-flavored whipped cream. Malia brought along a new book I’d bought for her the day before at the Regulator Bookshop. She’d asked me to order it on Amazon, but I buy all my books from local bookstores only. At the Regulator, I had glanced across the new releases table, and grabbed a copy of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, MD, who I once heard speak at a conference. At Gray Squirrel, I sipped my cappuccino and started Ofri’s book, which explores the doctor-patient conversation, or “the single most powerful diagnostic tool.” Just a few pages in, I knew that this book will be very useful and informative to me — after years of talking about my Voices of Medicine listening booth project, last month I finally drafted a document to explain the project, and I’ve been sending it around to Duke faculty who are interested in narrative medicine. One piece of this project is a narrative medicine blog, but I’m not sure the best place for that, so I may just start blogging here about Voices of Medicine and narrative medicine and the listening booth.

Anyway, later in the day, Anna and I went to the Chelsea Theater to see A United Kingdom. It’s a solid, uplifting movie about love and racial harmony and democracy, based on a husband and wife who were integral to the founding of the Republic of Botswana. There’s a scene where the Bechuanaland women gather at the couple’s home to sing their thanks to Ruth Williams, and their harmony brought tears to my eyes. “I love the human voice,” I said to myself in that dark theater, looking at the dusty African scene, picturing myself at Duke in the listening booth.



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