Mr J looked at me in astonishment as I entered the exam room. I greeted him warmly. “My name is Dr Mgbako, and I’m your new doctor.” Mr J clutched my forearm, reluctant to end our handshake. He looked to his case worker, then back to me, then back to his case worker. “You mean to tell me I have a young, BLACK doctor? Now we are in business!”
A proud black man in his mid-50s, Mr J explained that there were some important things I needed to know about his life. First, we discussed his struggles with drug addiction. After being clean for years, he fell in love with a younger man who brought addiction back into his life. He now faced the reality that no longer using cocaine also meant letting love go. He then recalled the time he was homeless. Those years left him with crippling anxiety, and he worried that someday he would end up sleeping in subways and under bridges again. Then there was his relationship with his mother. She had always been there for him, especially when he was hospitalized and gravely ill. “She’s who I live for. Without her, I guarantee I wouldn’t have survived,” he said. I listened intently as his poignant personal story helped slow the pace of a hectic day.
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Mgbako O. The Unicorn. JAMA. 2019;321(2):149–150. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.21048
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