On a Scale Of...

You probably already know where I’m going with this, because honestly, how often have we heard the whole, “On a Scale of 1-10, how bad is your pain?” (aka the ‘pain scale’) Well, that’s really hard to answer. A lot of them will be like, compare it to the “worst pain in your life”… Why I find it hard to explain, or even try and answer, is because I feel like the levels of pain are different, when dealing with different TYPES of pain. Does that make any sense?

Our scale goes over a 10, to me at least. I found this on Pinterest, and had to share it. (I'm a Pinterest Addict, btw)


So let me give you an example, not too long ago I got hit with a REALLY bad migraine. Now as of you know a migraine is NOT the same thing as a headache. So, I go into the ER Triage, and they start asking me all the basic questions. Need my med list, which by the way, he kept asking, “Is that all?” after every medication that I told him I was on. Which by the way VERY annoying; I will tell you when I’m done with my med list, I know it’s long… but you don’t have to be rude and try and ‘rush’ me along.

Don’t even get me started on my visit to this ER… I will never go back to it, if I can prevent it. My husband was there with me and he was getting angry that I was just sitting there in pain and no one was doing anything. Like, I’m in pain… manage the pain so that I can at least think enough to even speak. My mom had shown up without me even knowing she was coming. She came straight from work, and was in her scrubs, since she is a Home Health Nurse. Well when she sat there and was getting irritated that I was in a closet size room (that I couldn’t even have the light on, cause of the light causing the pain to intensify), with nurses and doctors laughing by my door, she went out there and not too long after, someone was coming in to start an IV.

Before they administered the medication… They asked me what my pain scale was, from 1-10… and I wanted to reply, “On a scale of 1-10 do you even want to know how bad I want to hit someone right now for asking me ‘1-10… 1-10… 1-10? IT WOULD BE A 10!” However, I didn’t say this because I didn’t want security coming to my room. My husband was about to have them called to the room with his agitation at the situation as well. Now, just an FYI… I’ve come to realize that the ‘type’ of migraine I had is considered a migraine without aura.”

Anyways, I was asked by many different people while I was at the hospital, “How would you rate your pain, on a scale of 1-10?” I feel like a lot of people think when you answer above a 5 or 6, that you are lying, and just trying to get seen faster, get medication, whatever. Well no, sorry that is NOT the case for people living with a chronic illness. The pain is real. No, we cannot ‘compare it’ to the worst pain we’ve ever experienced in our life… well I can’t at least. Because for one, my memory isn’t that good, for two… having a migraine, w/ the stabbing behind my eye balls, can’t stand light, noise, and am sick to my stomach??? That’s a DIFFERENT kind of pain, than what I deal with on my muscle spasms, childbirth, etc.

I mean, when I was asked about my ‘pain level’ when I was in a flare and dealing with a really bad episode of Nerve Pain, I didn’t even know how to rate it… For one, I had never dealt with it before… for two, I’m scared, for three… how do you compare your inside (invisible) burning/tingling, with like… a broken bone? (Which by the way, I’ve had my share of those too.)

I know that I’m on a rant right now, but I just can’t help it. I really think that I respond differently to this question, depending on the ‘bed side manner’ of who is asking it. I also have to take into account, that I don’t “feel” all the pain at times. Sounds weird right? Well I went in for acupuncture once, and she was blown away that I couldn’t feel any of the certain areas she was trying to stimulate or whatever. So, bottom line is, I have a high pain tolerance. I think I’ve mentioned that before… I can’t remember (memory issues again lol)

So basically when I’m being asked to rate my pain… 1-10… do you want me to rate it on what it would feel like if I didn’t have a tolerance to it? Or what? I also get the funny looks when I try and explain my pain tolerance to people, some understand, some don’t, but you can’t change that. At one point, maybe a year ago, I went in to the ER because of a… MIGRAINE! They tend to get bad when it heats up, or weather changes, which is a very common thing in Central Texas. My mom took me, and I got hooked up to an IV and they gave me something for the nausea, and then I think like some high dose painkiller through my IV, maybe morphine? Anyways, they came back in 30 minutes later, whispering to my mom, asking how I was handling everything.

Obviously they thought the medication would have knocked me out, because it does with a lot of patients. I tried to warn them of this beforehand, but they didn’t take my word for it. So instead of my mom answering the nurse, I decided to speak up… you are probably already imagining what I said lol. Anyways, I told the nurse while lying down in the dark room, “I’m still awake, the pain meds dimmed the pain down a notch and the nausea is sort of going down.” My mom said that the nurse, doctor and whomever else was tending to me, seemed shocked that I was still coherent from the meds that they gave me… this is another one of my ‘high tolerance’ issues.

I at times, get certain looks, where I feel like I’m being judged or lying about my pain level, just looking for pain killers? Has anyone ever felt like that too? HELLLOOOO, I don’t want to have to take more medicine than necessary. If I could just take a Tylenol and it actually did something, I would do that. But no, I’m looking for help, but I’m getting judged while doing it. I’m not saying that this is done with every doctor, or place I go. Just mainly when it’s an emergency situation, or if I’m seeing someone that I’m not familiar with, and they don’t know my history.

Because let me tell you, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I am VERY stubborn at times. I usually just try and endure whatever I’m going through silently, or on my own. But do you know how hard that is to do with a husband that has medical knowledge and a mother that is a nurse? NOT EASY AT ALL! It’s like they team up on me, or plan behind my back. Isn’t that rude? I’m totally smirking as I write this, by the way. Because I know that they do it for my own good, and they know I’m too stubborn to make other people have to take care of me, or whatever it might entail.

So back to the whole scale thing, sorry I get sidetracked a lot. Do you know how many times I’ve had it in my head to come out with a smart remark to the person asking it? Something like, “Oh… about 50 maybe 60.” Just to see their reaction really. I think I’m going to be calling a “Pain Specialist” to help get everything under control, especially since it’s starting to warm up here. With the heat, comes pain for me.

Okay, that’s enough from me on this subject, for now… I just wanted to vent about that, since I just went through it, and I know I’ve discussed this with some of y’all on my FB Page. I also wanted to share this image I found on Pinterest, thought it kinda fit w/ the mood I'm currently in, and how I feel at times.



Ashley Ringstaff

MSWorld.org Social Media Director

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