Bagalamukhi’s Words

Bagalamukhi is the demi-goddess of words and the power behind them. In medicine,
we maneuver words to hide intention. We call a patient “This 28-year-old nonsmoking female”, describe their illness as a “presentation”, and call their lifelong chronic illness “uncontrolled”. Medical jargon dehumanizes patients to physicians and disempowers the physician-patient relationship. On the floor, I often wonder if we truly see our patients. We see their disease, their habits, their weaknesses, their strengths, and their process of recovery measured in lab values, vital signs, and physical exams. This piece uses spoken word to bring intention back to the words we use, dissecting our sterile case presentations to reconnect physician and patient. We also hope to bring to attention the inherent discrimination of the medical system against people of different skin colors and lower socioeconomic means who live paycheck to paycheck. Through exploring the daily case presentation through the eyes of a young patient, we ask for physicians to remember to humanize our patients through our communication and discussion.

Choreography: Jenn Pamela Chowdhury and Shilpa Darivemula

Performance: Jenn Pamela Chowdhury, Shilpa Darivemula

Presented at IHRAF 2018 and Sakhi’s Gender Justice Event in 2018