Stephen F. von Till Shares an Original Poem Called “PAIN”

Photo credit: Robin Pendergrast


As an attorney who represents injured people,  Stephen F. von Till tells this story:

“I felt great on my 70th birthday, so I did 40 leg lifts that morning in ‘celebration.’

“I went to my office and 2 hrs later I could barely stand.

“Moral: Old people need to make sure they don’t push it. I’m very careful now to stay within ‘limits.’ I’m not going to be Jack LaLanne — so just keeping limber and reasonably fit is the proper goal.

“The physicians at Stanford and Palo Alto Medical Center diagnosed the pain as from a degenerative condition in the cervical spine. I disagreed given my exercise history on my birthday which immediately preceded the onset of pain, but I allowed them to go ahead with a cervical steroid injection.

“I had great misgivings, since as an attorney representing injured people, I had a client partially paralyzed from such an injection when the spinal cord was nicked.

“The steroid injection failed to relieve the pain, which proved my point. They had not performed an MRI because it would affect my magnetic shunt, which treats my excess CSF.

“Ultimately, we arranged for an MRI with a neurosurgery appointment the same day to make sure the pressure setting of the shunt had not changed. That’s how the particular muscle was identified.

“That muscle pain brought me to my knees — until then, I had no idea how much a muscle tear could hurt. It must have slowly increased with bleeding.

“I am no longer in pain.

“I wrote a poem so I would not forget what it was really like and to let others, who have never experienced such pain, get an idea of what it’s like.

“As the poem states, once the pain is gone, the brain forgets about it — probably ‘ hard wired’ to do so.”

Stephen F. von Till’s Poem, “Pain”

It is my privilege to share with you Stephen F. von Till’s poem, “Pain,” with his permission.

Stephen F. von Till









Stephen F. von Till



Pain –

Its many thresholds,

When most severe, the mind cannot distract.

Can’t turn off Devil Pain – the worst.

Then Devil Pain recedes, levels out,

Then strikes again.


You forget pain when it’s gone.

The hard-wired brain does not revisit.


But when striking, Devil Pain destroys “life.”

One can do nothing but bear the unbearable.


Put on music – Try to go there – Pain takes over

Pain is King when it has you.

Evil King, Devil King

EXHAUSTION !!! Helplessness.


Crying for help, others cannot give,

nor fully understand,

– They are helpless in the face of Devil Pain

As it grips you and twists you

And sends you to the floor

Pounding fists and crying out.

A grown man cries

But no one can help.


Trapped in a burning car –“ shoot me.”

“Yes sir, I will if I can.” I’ve been there.


Devil Pain briefly leaves, plotting its next arrival –

It’s hitting you all the time – multiple assaults.

The most painful gains attention.

If you’re lucky enough to beat it,

reinforcements are right behind, coming to the fore.

Other body parts are under assault.


And the medications can kill.


When there’s a lull, people say, “ Oh, you look fine”

But little do they know of that hell.

And you can’t communicate.

Somehow you think they can help (they can’t).


King Devil Pain is stealthy.

He does his work,

Then hides like never there,

Waiting to strike again.


All rights reserved  © 2017 Stephen F. von Till


  1. Robin Pendergrast on October 13, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Stephen…a solid personal friend for years. Thank you for sharing. Robin

  2. Dianne MacKay on October 15, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Imagine that pain never leaving…. and there you have the chronic pain patient, forever living in pain, hard to distract, hard to function. Until one day, for many, an opioid medication was introduced and finally, the volume was turned down, and once again, we were able to function and live life… Until the ‘crisis’ which demonized a drug that was rarely abused when given medically and for legitimate pain. Now many suffer the song and dance all over again. The pain that never ends…

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