On a Night that Changed My Life


June 22, 2022

Storyteller Linda speaking at the Interstitium

On a Night that Changed My Life

It was late Friday night when the audience filtered through doors to the chapel at Lewis & Clark College and  the zoom waiting room was filling up just as quickly. The audience on both ends were buzzing, and the physical space was filled with warmth. 

In the first hybrid interstitium since the start of the pandemic, everyone was itching to feel. And feel we did. The audience laughed, cried, smiled, and made fists. On a night about MIS/TRUST, I was left feeling all of those emotions.  

When I attended the Interstitium, my world was shaken. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I had felt genuinely moved by other people. There was something about watching other people be absolutely vulnerable in person with their medical experiences that really got to me. I found myself choked up on many occasions. 

Afterward, I remember thinking, "if I can help this organization to touch someone the way this has touched me, I’d do it." 

We had seven brilliant speakers. Patients, doctors, students, and public health workers. All incredibly vulnerable with their personal experiences of trust in medicine. Each story was incredibly individual, highlighting the diversity in health and its experiences. 

A public health researcher and future med student bared her soul to the audience in a speech and poem about the systemic racism that permeates America. She spoke about how our American melting pot is thought to stew and get better with time- raising each community up- but instead was left to boil over and leave the individual voices hissing and screaming. 

A brain tumor survivor spoke about the “trust chain” required in medicine, how it extends from the self, to the primary care physician, outwards to who they trust.

A med student told the story  of how her trust in her attending was broken in an instant.

A three-time breast cancer survivor shared her story about finding the right relationship with a doctor, and how that does not always mean who is recommended, and her subsequent journey to self-trust. 

 A behavioral health specialist was brought to tears while speaking of the power of transparent leadership that leads to trust brought and her early pandemic experience. 

Overall this night was about trust in healthcare, but it was also about humanity in healthcare. The storytellers pointed out that compassion and empathy is what led to the trust in healthcare. The need for compassion and humanity may sometimes be overlooked when thinking about trust, but in that room it became obvious the two were interwoven. 

On a night that changed my life, I saw storytellers expose their deepest experiences in health. On a night that changed my life, I heard the call for humanity and compassion. On a night that changed my life, I felt an audience ready to feel, ready to empathize. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, another real live person moved me to emotion. On a night that changed myself, I witnessed incredible individuals move hearts and souls, and change the course of some of the listeners. 

And so I must thank the storytellers, not just for having the courage to share their stories, but for changing my life.

Thank you

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