Seattle Interstitium Brings Poignant and Funny Stories to the Fore


February 13, 2024

Seattle Interstitium Brings Poignant and Funny Stories to the Fore

Emcees Stephanie Cooper and Elizabeth Dorn

by Elizabeth Dorn

On January 7, the Seattle branch of the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative ran its 9th Interstitium storytelling event to a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd at the beautiful Shafer Baillie Mansion. We find it a testimony to the hunger for such events that tickets were posted on December 12 and sold out within six days, yet still people came to get on the waiting list. 

The Seattle contingent has intersected with other local narrative medicine groups, writing circles, and theater labs, including the Cancer Lifeline, It’s About Time Writer Circle, and Freehold Theater Lab,  which has amplified the voices now shared.

Our theme was “What Were They Thinking?”

We had 10 storytellers -- a mixture of patients, caregivers, nurses, Family and EM doctors, many of whom performed their stories Moth-style. 

We heard stories about the harrows of getting Hepatitis C from a childhood blood transfusion and navigating the stigma and presumptions of this diagnosis, along with callousness and kindness.

We heard about working in the remote Alaska wilderness and being unable to transport a dying patient, and all the shame that swallows us when we don't live up to our ideals in the systems that rule our reality.

We heard about watching fathers say goodbye, and how poetry can ease the passage and elevate the transition.

Storyteller Alison Krupnick

We heard about  being thrown into the river Styx by chemo, and fished out by the very nurses that throw one in, again and again; the separation of the soul from the body, and the new territories we land in.

We heard stories about “box breathing,” quarantining the anxiety of the incoming wounded from a school shooting, and “the therapeutic use of self."

We heard about the healing of the soul and channeling forces greater than ourselves.

We heard about coming out in the era of virulent anti-gay culture.

And having to CPR naked in a Korean spa…

These stories were told with humor and precision, with turns of phrases and expressions that one can only fully feel from the voice and body of the very human from whom such stories poured.

Our storytellers wrote:

“I am so honored to have been part of such an incredible group.  Thank you for sharing many of the feelings I so often feel as both a healthcare provider and as a family member.  I found this to be a very healing experience.”

“Thank you for the opportunity to participate and to hear all these stories. They have stayed with me and I’m sure I will be reflecting on them for some time, especially when I take time to breathe.“

“What a privilege to be part of this!”

“I  laughed and cried and my soul was fed!”

We are so thankful for our growing community of storytellers and that burgeoning audience that is so obviously nurtured by it.

We are so very grateful to the generous support of the Shafer Baillie Mansion, which hosts our events in their absolutely gorgeous space, allowing the magic to happen.

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