Fiction is an odd concept in narrative medicine. Fiction borne out of our reflections in healthcare is fiction in name only. In my piece, “Country Doctor,” the superficial details are made up. But the feelings are real. The sights and sounds are real. The anatomy is as it always has been. Perhaps more than in any other field, fiction in narrative medicine is grounded in concrete, informed by real life. The lines are blurred. Sometimes the lines are blurred in both directions. Sometimes our lived experience is so intense, so extraordinary, that it feels surreal. It feels like a dream.
What student wouldn’t be intrigued by being allowed “to wear nothing but hats / to school, take naked that test I won’t ever pass”? It’s a tempting, subversive double-violation of our high school dress code … and a major reason, I’m sure, why my English students often choose to analyze Jen Karetnick’s “Ode to Melatonin” (Spring 2017) at the Raleigh, NC, magnet school for medical science where I teach.