Rheum to Heal: Stories of Health and Humanity at Hospital for Special Surgery

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Who We Are

Hospital for Special Surgery is an institution that values individuality and the wholeness of an individual. Everyone, the trainee, the faculty member and most importantly the patient, is a person with experiences, objectives and ambitions – not just a set of numbers, whether those numbers are scores, rankings or lab results. Health professionals are encouraged to accept invitations into the intimate chambers of their patients’ lives and in so doing, provide medical care based on open communication, mutual respect and unreserved empathy.

What We Hope To Do

Patients want and deserve physicians who do more than just treat symptoms. A genuine caregiver is someone who places these symptoms in the broad set of circumstances that govern the patient’s life. We live in an era where molecular genetics has transformed the study of human disease and advancing technology is providing tools to combat traditional gaps in knowledge. However, we cannot forsake the tools of compassion and listening, for it is the presence of the physician that kindles the light of hope in the patient’s period of unbearable pain and despair. In disease and dying, the body becomes alienated from the self. Physicians, witnessing this struggle, assist patients in navigating that which is unfamiliar and uncertain. It is not just about treating symptoms or prescribing medications; physicians become part of patients’ stories as they unfold. 

Stories. We take them for granted. However, our lives are made up of stories. With the evolution of contemporary evidence-based medicine, narratives have been labeled as “soft” and have often been neglected in favor of “hard” facts and findings, which are considered more objective and scientific.

In sponsoring this narrative medicine journal, our hope is to build a sense of community among people with similar health struggles and reduce the sense of isolation that often accompanies chronic illness. We acknowledge that physicians do not have a monopoly on wisdom and hope to decrease the psychological distance between physician and patient. Through this highly accessible tool, we will be able to bring attention to rheumatic diseases, some of which are rare and understudied, and also to the emphasis of humanistic, patient-centered approaches in the field of rheumatology as a whole. We know that our patients’ voices are often lost and we wish to give you a platform to share your stories. 

HSS Rheumatology Stories

This is a journal for, by and about our patients and their caregivers. We welcome poetry, photography or prose, on or related to themes of health, healing, navigating illness, mind, body and/or self-transformations within the field of rheumatology. We will accept pieces from patients with arthritis, autoimmune diseases, pain disorders affecting joints, and osteoporosis. Relevant book reviews, commentaries and opinion pieces, and contributions on or related to ethics, public health/health policy or careers in rheumatology are all welcome. We are eager for pieces from patients who have something to say about medicine, rheumatology in particular, and health professionals, practicing or retired.