Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P=Pain Scale

The 10-point Pain Scale is used by doctors and patients to estimate the amount of pain percieved. Pain is a very personal problem, and the responses to pain vary widely. I know people who would yell and scream at pain that I would rate around a 5. I also know people who would only grimace at pain that I would rate at a 9.
Here is the "general rule" for
the 1-10 Pain Scale:

0 = No pain
1-2 = Can be ignored
3-4 = Interferes with tasks
5-6 = Interferes with concentration
7-8 = Interferes with basic needs
9-10 = Requires bed rest

My own personal rule for the 1-10 Pain Scale is as follows:
0 = There's no such thing as NO PAIN, but this is as close as I can imagine!
1-2 = I'm a little grumpy, but can't really complain; I've had worse.
3-4 = I'm officially grumpy, and I do complain, even though I've had worse.
5-6 = Time for extra pain medications, heat and/or ice, and couch time.
7-8 = I'm really unhappy now; don't want to get out of bed.
9 = This is my worst pain, while I'm still conscious. Please make me unconscious!
10 = I cannot have a 10 and still live. 10 is being eaten by a shark, or burned alive, or having my  skin ripped off. I don't generally rate anything a "10," because I would have to be dead.

I also like these pain faces better. Even though it goes up to 12, you can see that no one (in their right mind) wants to live above a 5 or 6.

I used to think that my tolerance for pain was quite high. But, after living with pain for nearly 4 years, I find that I am less tolerant than I was. Rather than becoming callused to pain, and able to take more in stride, I have become wimpy about pain, and the smallest thing looms high on my radar. Just like loading a camel (hmmm... anyone ever do that? anyway, you'll get the analogy), the last little straw will "break its back."

I have kept an almost daily log of my pain, so that I can look back over the months and see trends. It also helps me to remember that I have had more pain (which is encouraging for today), and I have had less pain (which gives me hope for tomorrow). I remember that, when I lived in 7-8 (remember my version of that), I prayed to live with 3-4. In January, after the injections in the correct place, I rated several days as ZERO, realizing that I didn't want to live with 3-4. These days, mostly, I'm living 0-2. Woohoo!

Here's part of a funny story from FireFighters and Paramedics, about a drug-seeking woman who complained of severe pain:
I asked my patient to rate her pain on a scale of 1-10 if a 10 was the most pain she had ever been in. This is a funny thing that goes on in the medical profession. We always ask the patient to rate the pain. I generally don't care what they say their pain level is, their body language always tells me what I need to know. So why do we ask? I digress. My patient said it was "a 10"! So I asked her if this was the single most painful event of her life. She looked at me as if I were stupid and said "No." So I tried to explain further. "Think of the most pain you have ever been in, that is a 10. How is this pain compared to that?" "It's a 10," she said, still with that look of 'you're an idiot' plastered on her face. Really not the best tactic if you're trying to get some pain meds. At this point I gave up. She obviously isn't in much pain, if any at all.
I'd like to hear back from some of the medical professionals out there. Do you really ignore the pain scale I give you? I've learned to say "ouch" when something you do hurts me (see tomorrow's blog, Q=Quacks and other bad doctors). Should I yell instead? How can I explain to you how much this hurts without dying (my 10) before I can get medicine?

P.S. My pain is a little better (like a 6, now), and I'll see my physical therapist tomorrow. My sister-in-law commented that, when we had lunch together on Sunday, she didn't notice my pain. I thought I was being grumpy, but I'm glad I didn't ruin the fun. She's doing fine; I'm so grateful that she's not in constant pain. But, being stuck in a chair all day is torture for someone as active as she is. Stop by her blog, and say "hello": Sheila Scribbles!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post a lot. I have been thinking about it and realize that with my knee injury I would rate my moment of injury (using the face scale) as a 7 or 8 and I am grateful to say that now it fluctuates between 1 and 2 depending on how active I have been. I certainly am blessed and having nothing to complain about when I look at it this way! Thanks for the visuals.