Global Storyteller: Scott Kolbaba MD

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This week’s featured Global Village storyteller is Scott J. Kolbaba, MD.

A doctor of internal medicine in Wheaton, IllinoisDr Kolbaba is the author of Physicians Untold Stories: Miraculous experiences Doctors are hesitant to share with their patients, or ANYONE. Today we are featuring an inspirational story from the book.

The Dime

Stephen J. Graham, MD

            I wondered if the unusual tattoo on John Walters’s arm might be related to the sadness in his eyes. He was seeing me in the emergency department for abdominal pain. I was initially hesitant to ask him about the tattoo, but curiosity got the best of me.

“Is that a coin?” I asked, pointing to his forearm.

“Yes,” he said.

“That’s a little unusual,” I said tentatively, not wanting to offend him.

“It’s a dime,” he said. “I did it for my son, Robby.”

He paused and took a breath. I soon realized why I had struck such a deeply emotional chord.

“He was killed,” he said as he stopped again to compose himself. “It was terrible, an accident on the expressway over ten years ago. He was my…only son. He loved coins and had an incredible coin collection. We would go through the change together to find the pennies, nickels, and dimes for his collection books. My wife and I would give him the rarer coins for his birthday and Christmas. His favorite collection was dimes, and he had an unusual knack for finding them everywhere. We would go to a Cubs game, and he would find a dime under his seat or on the sidewalk outside his favorite storefront Christmas window. Whenever we did anything special together, he would find a dime. It was really uncanny.

“I know you probably won’t believe this, but after he left us, I started finding dimes too. Anytime I do something that would have been special for him, I find a dime—vacations, dinners out, sporting events. They appear on the floor, under a plate, or anywhere. I can almost count on it now, and I think it’s his way of communicating. He looks out for me, like my guardian angel. I wanted Robby to know that I knew he was there, so I put this tattoo on my arm. If you look at it, the year is Robby’s birth year, and his name is right here, R-O-B-B-Y.”

“That’s a touching story,” I said, trying not to show my skepticism, while at the same time wishing it really was true. But it was true for John, and that was the important thing.

After I finished his exam, John went for a CT scan, which revealed a minor infection.

“I have good news,” I told him after the radiologist called with the report. “You won’t need to be admitted to the hospital. It’s a simple infection. I’m going to give you some antibiotics, and you need to follow up with your regular physician in three days. Oh, thanks for sharing Robby’s story with me,” I said as I turned to walk out of his room.

“I had a feeling you could help me,” he said. “Thanks.”

John’s story resonated in my mind, but I still couldn’t get myself to accept that a loved one could communicate from the other side.

I made my way back to the doctor’s dictation area where patients have no access. As I sat down at my computer to complete his notes, something on the floor caught my eye. I reached for it. A dime!

A sudden eerie feeling came over me. Then I smiled.

“Thanks, Robby,” I said under my breath, “for looking out for your dad…and for helping me believe.”


Storyteller Bio

unnamed-10After being awarded a degree in economics from Cornell College and serving with the Marine Corps Reserves, Scott Kolbaba completed his medical degree at the University of Illinois and graduated with honors. He interned with Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center and completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.


Visit  or order his new book at Physicians Untold Stories: Miraculous experiences Doctors are hesitant to share with their patients, or ANYONE on Amazon now.


Happy New Year!


As wjod.jpge contemplate the first blank page of this New Year, we are excited to anticipate how you will fill the pages of the next twelve months with your stories.  We’d love you to share those stories with us here so that we can continue to build a community resource for anyone interested in the power of storytelling.

This year will be a big one for the Global Village as we grow and expand our network and we are looking forward to growing alongside you in the coming year.  Please help us grow our community by connecting with us on Twitter and Facebook. And do get in touch and let us know how how we can help you grow a storytelling culture in your organisation in 2017.

Here’s to a super new year of storytelling!

Related Reading

The Power of Storytelling: Why Stories Matter 

A Story About Telling Stories

From The Middle of The Story

A Story About Telling Stories


This week’s featured Global Village storyteller is Naomi Brook.

Naomi is from Coventry, UK. She has biological family all over the country but also friends who feel like family nearer to home. She is passionate about having a healthy lifestyle (that involves plenty of homemade cake!) and researches, coaches and participates in social movement ways of improving communities.

Now read Naomi’s story for the Global Village of Storytelling.

Walking back from the train station recently, I decided to take a longer route home, through the Park. I had just spent a day in Birmingham, brain frazzled from staring at my laptop and contemplating statistical analysis. A friend had posted on a podcast a WhatsApp group about Labi Siffre’s song, ‘something inside so strong’. I clicked on the link and while i listened I walked up past the grand private school, along a small park by the road, and into the Park with the Memorial rising up in front of me.

The podcast was talking about a choir that had formed with singers from all backgrounds of life. They had decided to sing the song, ‘something inside so strong’. I soon had tears running down my face as I zig zagged between the trees and across the grass – this way avoiding too many people seeing me! Each person had experienced such life changing experiences, from family illness leading to homelessness, to long term mental health issues to racism and homophobia.The are lyrics so poignant – ‘refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing’ and ‘you thought that my pride was gone’ also made me think of my recent experiences. One being that three months previously I’d been sitting on a nice big corner sofa in my three bedroomed house in Warwick, also with tears streaming down my face. People had since told me that splitting up with my husband was incredibly brave but whilst listening to that podcast, walking round the park i felt pretty humbled. Yes, I’d done something difficult and life changing but I’d done it with money in the bank and friends to help me. These others stories weren’t just on this podcast though; they might be with the guy in the grey hoodie and the German Shepherd who just walked past me, or the old lady who just got off from the bus, or they might even be a close friend who’s never had the opportunity to tell it.

I was imagining all these stories emanating from people in the park, and wondering what could be different – what action might people take, or take differently if they heard them? Just like when hearing the lyrics my thoughts were stirred. Then, as I was getting towards the end of the podcast and my walk, with my bag starting to feel heavy with my laptop in it and the feeling of damp sweat at the bottom of my back, it hit me: it didn’t matter that my story wasn’t life changing ‘enough’. It only matters that I’m prepared to tell it. And other people are prepared to tell theirs. So I have decided to make it my life’s work to make these stories heard to make the most impact.

To enable people to tell them in a way that asks others to take action, not just sit in a big lecture hall, clap and say ‘nice story, thank you’. But to tell their friends, neighbours, community groups in run down centres with crooked chairs, their suited and booted bosses and their members of parliament – and yes, this last one has actually happened!

Maybe you have been through something that has changed the course of your life. Maybe you know people with a mental health condition, or you’ve felt stressed because of the hundreds of emails (or WatsApp messages!) you have to read, or maybe you have or are experiencing a physical long term health condition, or you know what it’s like to have sprained your ankle and have to hobble around for a few weeks. We all have stories we can use to relate to others, that can encourage or help motivate change

So use your story that will connect with others around your chosen campaign, topic or area of interest. Whether you’ve had parents separate, been the parents who’ve separated, had therapy, started Salsa, or had the experience of turning up to Parkrun for the first time, we’ve all had the experience of something that led to our lives changing So don’t lose the chance to tell – what really are – your precious stories, and to hear the stories that others carry. Together we can use these to engage with others like we never have before, and enable them to realise that we all have something strong inside ourselves, and that something is a story.

From the Middle of the Story



This week’s featured Global Village storyteller is Audrey Birt.

From Scotland, Audrey is a coach and health activist, committed to developing heartful leadership and supporting transformation in health and care and within individuals.

In 2016, Audrey was diagnosed for the third-time with cancer and shares our experience on her self-titled blog.

Now read Audrey’s story for the Global Village of Storytelling.

It’s a year now since my third diagnosis of breast cancer. Yes that’s right, third. Once is unlucky, twice is a shock, third is more wtf! But it’s still a primary cancer so bizarrely I feel lucky. But none the less it’s been a tough year and over the last few months I’m gradually accepting that this is just my story.

And like most stories it has a beginning, a middle and an end. And this is still the middle, the meat in the sandwich, the arc of the narrative, the -to be continued- rather than the end. Thank goodness. Sort of. Because I don’t know the rules for a three times diagnosis. It’s not the end that much I know. It’s not even the beginning of the end as far as I know. It’s more of an oops I did it again and this time meant a mastectomy and reconstruction. A flipping great scar across more that half my body, a reconstructed breast that is quite amazing and a stamina that was left on the operating table.

So this year has been the gradual acceptance of my new reality, a painful back and slight limp at times and an increase in breathlessness when I’m overtired. And a slow return to strength which is feeling more sustainable. And a gradual re-prioritising has shaped my year. I’ve had really wonderful family and friends time this year as well as been involved with some really great work  that I’ve enjoyed immensely. I’ve focused on what brings me joy and realised that’s not only social time it’s also some of the work I do.

If I have one word to symbolise this year it’s been connection. Connection to people I love has been a vital, life-giving, force for me. I’ve found joy in so many things, from dinners round the table, to singing together, to watching sunsets on a beautiful balcony, to fireworks set to music, to a family treat to Rome; it’s been wonderful. I’m deeply grateful for those times and how precious they are.

Internally too it’s about connection as I’m probably more connected to what’s important to me than ever before. I’m trusting myself to follow what’s right and letting go of controlling the outcomes of this life story. I’m navigating the waves of the storm more confidently than ever before. I admit to getting sea-sick now and again and weary too but strangely enough I’m not scared.

Finally I’m accepting the words of The Anthem by Leonard Cohen, that wonderful story teller, who I’ve grieved for this year.

Ring the bell that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything…’s how the light gets in.

Global Storyteller: Brian Stork MD

xoxoIt’s a proud moment for us here at Global Village Storytelling, as we share our first global story from the pen of Dr Brian Stork.

Dr Stork is a urologist from Muskegon, Michigan, USA. He is also a husband, father, uncle, dog lover, beekeeper, and a wise and empathetic storyteller.

While the story published below will have particular resonance for an American audience still reeling from a divisive election, its core values of community, compassion, and citizenship are truly global.

America – When We Step Up, We Discover Our True Selves

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A Very Special Dinner 

Recently, my family and I were invited to a very special dinner. It was a dinner put on by the board of a local nonprofit, Step Up, as a thank you to their volunteers. Food for the meal was donated anonymously and the meal was prepared and served entirely by the board.

Step Up is a organization in Muskegon, Michigan that helps young women as they transition out of foster care and into the adult world. It was started when a handful of concerned citizens, many from our local medical community, saw a need and responded with kindness and love.

Children in foster care face many unique challenges. These challenges only multiply and intensify as they try to become adults. Step Up provides housing, safety, mentoring and job possibilities for these young women. Its goal is to help these women achieve their full potential and avoid becoming statistics.

The dinner we shared together, however, was more than just a meal. It was a celebration of how people can come together, under the right leadership, and not only change and build community, but also change themselves.

Forming a Community

Throughout the evening, we heard story after story of how the right person with just the right skills would come along at just the right time to help renovate the Step Up house.

In the process, a new community started to form. Churches that had never previously worked together started working together. Persons of different colors who normally wouldn’t have a reason to interact started to interact.

The volunteers who donated their time and efforts to help their community, in the process, created a new community. We came together to become better than our individual selves.

It was a moment, as a father, that I was grateful my children could see.

Good Citizens Step Up

In America, we are trying to heal from an election cycle filled with racism, hatred and negativity. Participating in Step Up has reminded me what is really great about America. It’s the way in which the good citizens of our country continue and will always continue to Step Up and take care of those less fortunate than ourselves.

It’s only in this process that we discover who we are and what community is all about. I’m thankful my children had an opportunity to witness this caring and community in action. It strengthens my resolve, and gives me hope for the future of our country at a time when hope is seemingly hard to come by.

Bipolar Disorder: 7 Deadly Sins (What Not to Say)

I’m thrilled to share our very first story today. Written by @debecca it provides an insight into the day-to-day realities of being bi-polar while dealing with societal prejudice and people’s misconceptions about the disorder.

The Joy of Bex

1. “Bipolar Disorder – is that like being up or down all the time?”

No, Ronan Keating, Bipolar Disorder is not like being on a rollercoaster.  Speaking for myself, I have long periods of time where I am WELL.  I’m not up, and I’m not down.  I am just like most human beings on the planet, living every day as it comes and managing to function to boot.  Yes, I can be up sometimes (manic), and I can be down sometimes (depressed) but very often, I am neither, or I can be BOTH.  Yes, both.  That’s about as much fun as it sounds; I’m depressed as hell and life seems totally futile, yet I’m irritable and impatient and want things to change RIGHT NOW.  A “mixed state”, as it’s known, can be the most dangerous states for people with Bipolar Disorder, for obvious reasons.

2.  “So are you some kind of…

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