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Pectoriloquy |

More Than Wounded FREE TO VIEW

David C. Schwartz, PhD
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Editor’s Note: The poet is Professor Emeritus of Public Health at Rutgers and Professor of Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami (Voluntary Faculty). He wrote this poem to express his concerns about the impact of modern war on the warriors.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;139(5):1242. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0761
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Of course I know it could have been worse.
I passed on the body bag and the hearse.
Or an anonymous grave in the sand over there.
Although that might have been easier on Claire
Than having to come here and see me like this - -
And kiss the bandages - - and sob.
I can’t sleep; I can’t breathe;
I cry; I seethe;
My chest hurts, my ribs ache.
I don’t know how much
more I can take.
I’ve a full-length mirror and I work my strength up
To look at myself, twice a day, after I pee in the cup.
Sometimes I vomit, more often I weep,
Mostly I just feel the numbness and go back to sleep.
The transplants and implants and artful prostheses
Will help me deal better with my food and my feces
After that, plastic surgery and two years of rehab
Will allow me to appear like I wasn’t made in a lab.
My kids and my work and what this all could mean
Those thoughts are taken away by the endless morphine.
Of course, I bless the drugs too, without them I scream.
No thanks, I don’t smoke: I also don’t dream.
Or maybe I do dream but just can’t remember it
Like the rest of my life before I got hit.
After the blast, I lost consciousness fast,
I didn’t see the medics get to me,
Or the doctors who saved my life with their care.
They did wonders with my body; my mind wasn’t there.
The nurses here tell me that the mind/body connection
Can change the direction of healing, for better or worse.
I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m depressed, I’m confused:
They say that’s all normal, as is my feeling misused.
Their acceptance of my negativity helps me, I think:
Though perhaps not as much as a joint or stiff drink.
Yet, there is one question that haunts me right down to the core.
The doctors saved me from death,
What did God save me for.


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