IN MEDICINE, the History of Present Illness is a synopsis of the events that preceded and contributed to a person's illness. It includes things like a person's chronic conditions, any recent ailments or surgeries, and a description of their symptoms. It is typically a few sentences. In a perfect world, it would fill many pages.
Too often, when a person is transformed into a patient, she quickly becomes a jumble of diagnoses - broken parts in need of fixing. We lose sight of what makes this person human: Who was she before she got sick? What kind of work did she do? What kinds of things were important to her? What made her life worth living? When it comes to patients, there is always more than meets the eye; their life story is guaranteed to be richer than what makes it into their medical chart.
History of Present Illness is dedicated to the idea of the patient as a whole person. We offer people a chance to tell their story the way they want to tell it, without abbreviation or interruption. Because patients are so much more than their diagnoses, and their stories deserve to be heard.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please reach out! We would love to hear from you. Your experience does not need to be a miracle cure, a one-in-a-million diagnosis, or a Grey's Anatomy-worthy drama - we welcome all stories. We're simply looking for people who had (or have) an illness that impacted their lives in a meaningful way.
"My head would start to bob a little bit like I was always saying yes to everybody," he said. The tremor had spread to his jaw. His balance was "starting to get really questionable," and his tongue would trip up on words while speaking.
"This isn't quite right," he remembers thinking. "We should find out what's going on."
what to expect
• We will start with a short (10-15 minute) preliminary phone call, just to get a sense of the story you want to tell, and to answer any questions you may have.
• If you move forward with a full-length interview, you will receive a waiver to sign. Your medical information is protected by law, and this document grants us permission to share your information on the website.
• The full-length interview is via Zoom. You will receive a link by email. Please budget 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the interview, as there is usually a lot to talk about. If you want someone else there with you—a family member or friend—they are welcome, but keep in mind that we want most of the story to come from you, in your own words.
• We ask that you share 4-5 photos of yourself, to be published alongside your story. It is up to you which photos you share—they can be in a medical setting, at home, on vacation…your choice.
• Participation is strictly voluntary and is not compensated.
Your story belongs to you and you alone. We ask that you be as candid and forthcoming as possible during your interview, but if there are parts you don’t want to share, that’s OK. Your story will include identifying information such as your name, age, and sex. We tend not to share a person’s location unless it is pertinent to their story.