Pain, Seeking Relief

Spring 2020




Pain, Seeking Relief
watercolor, ink, and paper
Kristina Alton

Per Ms Alton: “Pain management has been a topic of national debate throughout my medical education. The conversation surrounding the opioid crisis has particularly implicated medical practitioners, and as a physician in training, responsible prescribing of analgesics has been repeatedly emphasized during medical school. This artwork is a product of my reflection process on how this shift in the practice of prescribing has affected patients. I often hear accusations by practitioners that a patient is ‘pain seeking,’ and I often hear from patients that ‘no one listens’ to them when they complain of pain. This has been especially poignant in female patients with chronic pelvic pain. It seems very difficult to balance protecting patients from dangerous drugs and empathizing with patients who are suffering. I am interested in the intersections of culture, media, and medicine, and this issue has been particularly interesting to explore.” Ms Alton attended an arts magnet school during middle and high school, which introduced her to visual art. She continued to work on art in her free time as a pre-med and medical student. During her gap year between college and medical school, she became focused on anatomical illustrations with pen and watercolor. Her favorite part of medical school so far has been considering the ethical dimensions of patient care, and she feels privileged to have the ability to process difficult encounters she has with patients and physicians through art. She is a fourth-year medical student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



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