The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pain

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That's all. No hidden stories, no less-than-subliminal messages. Just pain.

What got me cranked today was last night's Radio Lab episode in which pain was discussed. During the discussion, various ways to rank pain were discussed.

In the hospitals, doctors offices and etc I've had to visit in the past some years, a pain chart is generally on the wall. It looks a lot like this one:
Now this one is purty good. Not perfect, which I will discuss in a moment. However, I prefer this pain scale, drawn by Alle Broche who is freekin' awesome and suffers from her own personal demons.

I think Alle's comes closer to reality.

One of the people, who lives with chronic and not-understood pain (like my buddy Doc), went to the ER the first time with pain. The MD talking with her gave her a similar chart. She was asked to rate her pain based on the chart. Zero being no pain and the last being the ultimate.

As she thought about her own pain levels, she recalled the then-recent news story of a man being dragged behind a struck until he died. Her own pain, she reasoned, was a whole lot less than what that man went through. She called it a 3. The doc 'scribed some Tylenol and sent her home.

Now you see why I think Alle's chart is a better description of pain levels.

However, this is still subjective. Pain levels that send some people screaming are, to me, highly annoying. I've seen this. What has sent some people to the ER bellowing and begging for pain killers has merely made me mad and I've had dislocated joints.

One of the pain categories discussed was labor. A series of tests had some women hooked to a machine that heated their skin during a contraction. The women were all asked to peg the heat pain level to the contraction level. Most were in the 2-3 range. One woman was over 10 and actually suffered second degree burns on her skin. In other words, her pain level from a contraction was much much much higher than most of the women experienced.

In case you're wondering, men can know what labor is like. The nurse who took care of me with my first kidney stone said the pain was exactly same, but the stone was worse. She'd had a kidney stone and natural child birth. Labor pain, she said, comes and goes. The kidney stone pain stays. I've had several.


A line of low-end gourmet ketchups
Can you enjoy pain?

Absolutely.

I also draw your attention to people who like pain. I am one. I am, to use the slang we folks like, a pepperhead. I like hot peppers. I enjoy the burn. Sort of. What's probably far more accurate is to say I enjoy the endorphin release I get when I lace my burger with Scorpion Pepper sauce.

The S&M (sadism and masochism) crowd should also be mentioned in a discussion of pain. So, I mentioned it.

I also believe a discussion of pain has to involve suicide. I am told that most people who chose this exit strategy do so because the pain in their life will not lessen (so they believe), likely get worse and it has greatly affected their quality of life. Rather than live with this pain and how it has affected them, they exit stage whatever comes next. I have no problem with someone making this decision.

To my thinking, a better chart is: What would you do to end the pain? What would you be willing to give to end the pain?

Think about it.

Think about the pain you've experienced in the past. At the time, what would you have given up to end it?

Now think about enduring that same pain now. What would you give up now to end that pain?

Which brings me back to my idea of ranking pain. What would you do to end it? Some people say they would rather not live than have the pain. To me, that is the end of a realistic pain chart.

But is it?

How much pain are you willing to endure for someone else? How long?

Ah.

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