Thursday, July 7, 2011

Practicing Medicine Can Be Grimm Work by Valerie Gribben

The Fairytale Trilogy: Fairytale, The Emperor's Realm, The Three Crowns Fairytale 

Last Thursday, there was an opinion piece in the New York Times about fairy tales: Practicing Medicine Can Be Grimm Work by Valerie Gribben. Gribben wrote a fairy tale trilogy--The Fairytale Trilogy: Fairytale, The Emperor's Realm, The Three Crowns--at the age of sixteen back when SurLaLune was new, too. Gribben is now a doctor of medicine and wrote an article about how fairy tales help her cope with the real life stories and strains of her chosen profession.

Here's an excerpt, but do click through and read the entire article while it is still free.

The practice of medicine bestows the sacred privilege to ask about the unmentionable. But what happens when the door to Bluebeard’s horror chamber opens, and the bloody secrets spill onto your aseptic field of study? How do you process the pain of your patients?

I found my way back to stories. The Grimm fairy tales once seemed as if they took place in lands far, far away, but I see them now in my everyday hospital rotations. I’ve met the eternal cast of characters. I’ve taken down their histories (the abandoned prince, the barren couple) or seen their handiwork (the evil stepmother, the lecherous king).

Fairy tales are, at their core, heightened portrayals of human nature, revealing, as the glare of injury and illness does, the underbelly of mankind. Both fairy tales and medical charts chronicle the bizarre, the unfair, the tragic. And the terrifying things that go bump in the night are what doctors treat at 3 a.m. in emergency rooms.

So I now find comfort in fairy tales. They remind me that happy endings are possible. With a few days of rest and proper medication, the bewildered princess left relaxed and smiling, with a set of goals and a new job in sight. The endoscopy on my cross-eyed confidante showed she was cancer-free.

How lovely. I so appreciate Gribben's words. Fairy tales help so many of us deal with the vagaries and unfairness of living. And that is why I'm here!

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