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Pectoriloquy |

Curse of Crohn, Spawn of Grendel FREE TO VIEW

Thomas J. Gross, MD
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Editor’s Note:The author writes, “This rant came to me while reviewing my son’s high school literature project on Beowulf during a perioperative stupor. Never underestimate the creative powers of high dose steroids and low dose narcotics. As a physician, I never really appreciated the burden of long-standing illness until becoming a patient myself. When mundane subconscious visceral sensations invade daily awareness – the work of breathing for the emphysematous lung, the thump of the failing left ventricle, the writhing of the inflamed intestine – one joins the ranks of the chronically ill.”

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2014;146(6):1691. doi:10.1378/chest.14-1490
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Lo! Pangs return without warning to catch the prey unprepared.
As the sly serpent uncoils, slithering skirmishes precede the war.
From whence it hails, a wicked world of mucosal morass.
Who is accountable for summoning the latent beast?
Does entombed pathogen elicit futile efforts at extirpation?
Or is innate self-loathing manifest as immune civil war?
Only sibilant borborygmi augur the impending fury; No herald trumpets here.
Ironic self-extispicy.
With nociceptors ablaze, the day is greeted de rigueur.
Only a temper shortened, or humor less effusive, belie the raging conflict within.
The armory holds arrows bent and archaic rapiers dulled by time.
Warriors so woefully equipped do not beard the beast this day.
With no option for retreat, compromise and concession rule.
Meals less succulent and agendas abridged are offered in peace.
Less pain accepted as reconciliation to draw an armistice nigh.
The yardstick shortened.
Suddenly, without warning, the wicked writhing abates.
Whether from pharmacopeia or desperate incantation, the dragon grows weary.
Passion ebbing, claws retract, and under peristaltic cover it retreats.
A colicky yawn the only clue of where it waits in interictal torpor.
Cautious probing draws no response. A hesitant normalcy eases into place.
Recurrent taunts of a peace indefinite weigh heavily.
A familiar path pocked by previous false promissory truces.
Sardonic optimism.


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