My mother and I both suffer from herniated discs. Right now she is the midst of an episode and we've been trading emails about pain levels, treatments, procedures. The discussion got me to thinking about pain in general and the way people describe pain. In therapy, you are asked to rate your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. And I wonder how differently people might respond to this request.
To me, a “1” is an annoying pain that I take no medication for and doesn’t prevent me from doing any daily activity – like a paper cut. It’s there, I can feel it, it hurts, it’s bothersome, but I continue on. A “3” is where the pain level begins to interfere with daily activities. It hurts enough that it is distracting and I am unable to concentrate as well. There are some things I can’t do, but most things I still can. I’ve had a 2/3 going on for about a week now with a muscle I pulled in my shoulder.
I used to get debilitating migraine headaches - those constituted about a “7” in my book. Interfered with daily life to the point where I couldn't do anything but stay in a cold dark room and try to sleep it off. Giving birth to my first daughter ranged in the 6/7 category with a few moments of searing 9 or 9.5. But at least that was over quickly. The next two were C-Section which was largely pain-free. I figured I deserved that little perk for being brave enough to have two at once.
A “10” for me is the most excruciating debilitating pain you can imagine. It hurts so bad that you can’t think about anything but the pain and you’d honestly rather die than continue to live with it. I’ve only been at a “10” once in my life – my first time with kidney stones. I was a classic textbook case - and was literally writhing and moaning it hurt so bad. The flank pain was so bad, there was no position I could put my body in that eased the pain. I was nauseated and miserable. Even morphine only took the edge off enough to allow me to lay still and answer the doctors questions. It didn’t take away the pain. Have you ever had pain at what you consider a level "10"? How did you deal with it?
And all that pondering about pain, got me to realizing that it is difficult to appreciate being pain-free if you haven't experienced pain. But once you have, being pain-free is something to really be thankful for.