Surgeon finds unexpected healing in patient’s poetry

chronic pain poem and keepsake box

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 11–40% of Americans experience chronic pain. All doctors, whether they specialize in spine surgery or primary care, have to deal with patients who suffer from chronic pain. We are unable to get rid of the illness.  

We do not have a one-time pill to fix chronic pain.  

Contrary to other illnesses, persistent pain may not always be curable. We receive relatively little instruction on managing one of the more prevalent illnesses Americans experience throughout medical school and residency.  To address their patients’ pain, some doctors will try to treat chronic pain in the office, while others will refer these patients to pain management experts or surgeons.  

“Take as directed.” 

In medicine, we swiftly recommend drugs, injections, and surgical treatments for our patients to treat their chronic pain, but we fall short of totally resolving the pain’s underlying cause. To address persistent pain, we frequently use pricey bandages without offering permanent remedies.  

Their pain continues……  

Studies have shown that the best method for treating chronic pain is a multidisciplinary one. Managing chronic pain can be challenging in the present healthcare system, and many doctors are asked to do so even when they would prefer not to.    

Listening is a treatment option. 

Although we should, physicians are not compensated more for listening to patients discuss their chronic pain. Everyone dreads the patients who take up so much of our clinic time. Even though it might not be monetarily profitable, we should advocate for taking the time to listen to our patients who are in chronic pain. Listening to one’s suffering can occasionally have profound healing benefits. The reviews we receive online are probably not going to represent the time we spend with patients listening to their complaints of pain. Instead, when patients get better over time without the bigger secondary improvements, we want to be internally rewarded for that.   

Everything is worth sharing. 



At the beginning of my work, I oversaw a patient who underwent a protracted, one-year recovery from a shoulder injury. The family gave me an engraved wooden keepsake box to store my presents and cards from patients after we helped the patient heal. I initially felt it was absurd. Why would I want to conceal this information from my patients? The keepsake box is no longer stupid in my opinion. I genuinely appreciate adding stuff from my patients to my box as my career progresses. When I’m feeling low, I delve into that box and am inspired by some of the wonderful patients I’ve had the privilege of caring for.  

Unexpected poetry from a patient. 

One day, a patient of mine gave me a poem on college-ruled paper that had been handwritten in pencil. I had never operated on this patient, nor had I ever given him narcotics to manage his ongoing pain. Over the years, I gave him prescriptions for physical therapy and informed him about the advantages of aquatic therapy, yoga, meditation, and quitting alcohol and tobacco. Every three months, for 20 minutes, I basically listened to him talk about his pains, his family, and the drama in his life. Up until recently, I was unaware of the true impact I had on this patient. The patient had started to write poems without my knowing. He surprised me by giving me a poem, which I will now share with you.    

The Poem: Chronic Pain  

I was caught in the past 

I couldn’t face the day. 

My thoughts were racing fast. 

And I had so much to say.  

I was used and abused. 

I’ll never forget this day. 

I was lost and confused. 

Till you showed me the way  

You took the extra time. 

And listened to my pain. 

Your words eased my mind. 

And now I can see it again.  

You were there for me. 

When I needed a friend 

You set my spirit free. 

And I found solace again.  

Although the night is long 

I know I’ll make it through. 

And I’ll remain strong. 

Because of friends like you  

I share these words with you. 

I know I can always confide in you.  

Final thoughts:   

My eyes started to cry as I finished reading it for the first time. I’d never heard poetry sound so lovely. I never imagined that merely by listening to someone, I could change their life. I was taught to prescribe in medical school and to operate during residency, but this patient needed someone to pay attention to them.  

This poem serves as a heartfelt ode to everyone who gives chronic pain victims a chance to be heard. I am hoping that by sharing this with you, other doctors may be inspired to share the artistic endeavors of their patients. Find a souvenir box to keep poems from your patients in, and do not forget to do so.    

The keepsake box that was bought for me can be found HERE.  


Chronic pain patients can be challenging to treat, and doctors aren’t usually paid for their efforts. This article describes how poetry was inspired by listening to a patient who experienced chronic pain.   

John Doe

John Doe

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One Response

  1. Poetry boosts memories and increases self reflection soothes emotions and boosts up morale.. In the pathway the brain diverts towards positive attention and as a result magnetism towards the pain goes away.. Coz Energy flows where attn goes.. I m humbly a poet and a composer and play on piano on hearing… Thanku.

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