The pain experience- “Ode to Pain”

Ode to Pain- mcgrathp

“Ode to pain,

Which seems insane.

Pain brings suffering,

And suffering brings pain.


Ode to pain,

Which brought me tears,

Shed in frustration.

Pity, and fear.


Ode to pain,

Which sprung from my stomach,

Spread to my muscles and bones.

The pain is amuck.


Ode to pain,

Which makes it difficult to walk,

To sit, sleep, or even think.

I simply lay in shock.


Ode to pain,

Which stumps every doctor,

Inspiring misdiagnoses, medicines,

And fills me with horror.


Ode to pain,

Which controls every aspect,

Every minute of every day.

My plans always wrecked.


Ode to pain,

Which I will now entertain.

For I am in control,

Not my pain.


Ode to pain,

Which gave me ambition

To conquer my goals.

Despite any restriction.


Ode to pain,

Which filled my soul

With power,

Power I now control.”


This poem is the style of an ode- the author is addressing the subject which is pain. This piece of art speaks to the physical pain experience and how it impacts their quality of life. The physical pain spreading; stomach, muscles and bones.  The pain impacting their function- “difficult to walk, to sleep, or even to think.” How the pain makes them feel uneasy based on it being undiagnosed or treatments not working.

I feel like the author conveyed well the feelings of pain and I interpreted his experience as fear, grief, and sorrow. The pivotal moment for me in this poem and the authors pain experience is when the author takes power back over their pain in order to accomplish their goals and wants in life. This aspect of the human pain experience I had never thought of prior. But after this poem, I understand how those in pain must accept and take ownership of pain, it’s apart of who they are. They are empowered by their pain in order to take it head on and conquer it in order to live their best quality of life.


How do you guys feel  as Physical Therapists we can help our patients get to the point of taking back power in their pain experience in order to improve their quality of life?


  1. In previous clinical experiences, I had the opportunity to work with individuals with CRPS. During this time, my clinical instructors often talked about how if we can get our patients to understand their pain, and become aware of what is happening in their bodies, that they are then able to take back the power over their pain!

  2. I think one thing we could do is go into every session with the goal of making them just a little bit better on their way out while giving them tools to do that on their own. Great job with your post!!!

  3. Great poem Blair! I think as PTs, we need to be both a reality check and a helping hand for those with chronic pain. They may not be able to get back to their prior level of functioning, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make improvements within their current abilities. Helping patients realize that their pain doesn’t control them, despite it being present, is an important part of chronic pain.

  4. This poem does a great job describing one’s journey with pain; the initial suffering and fear can one day be replaced with self-efficacy and health. My grandpa experienced this journey over the course of 40 years as he struggled with various serious medical conditions. I think it is important that as PT’s we treat patient pain, but also teach patients how they can deal with pain on their own so that they gain the confidence to achieve holistic health.

  5. I think your question ties in nicely with the ending of my post. As I mention in the conclusion of my post, Frida Kahlo suffered from chronic pain for virtually her entire adult life, was forced to endure countless surgeries, and had to deal with very disabling health conditions. However, for most casual art fans, they do not know this side of her. They know Frida Kahlo the world-renowned artist. Some of her most famous works were created while she was bedridden in hospitals. I think we need to foster this same sense of control and self-autonomy over the course of our patient’s life that Frida Kahlo is determined to capture, which is the same determination that I see in this poem.

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