The Subjectivity of Suffering: An Exercise in Compassion

By Melodie Winawer, M.D.
November 1, 2017

Last month, a patient walked into my office smiling. How many people enter a neurologist’s office smiling? Often an initial social smile quickly disappears as we get down to the business of discussing a neurological problem that brought someone to my office, and the anxiety or outright fear of what that diagnosis might mean grows.  On that particular day, the patient — I’ll call her Ms. S — probably smiled in part because I smiled. And I did smile; I was happy to see her. What is surprising about this particular patient’s smile is that it came from a woman who has suffered from not one, but five neurological illnesses, and many non-neurological illnesses. [read more]