Pain Scale

Anytime someone walked into my room at the hospital, I was asked, “What is your pain level on a scale of 1-10?” I cannot even begin to describe how much I dreaded that question. That question frustrated me, so I tried to come up with different ways to answer it. But then I realized how subjective those numbers meant. Because a level 7 pain to me, might look and feel completely different than someone else’s level 7 pain. It frustrated me so much that I wrote the following while in the hospital to demonstrate my frustration:

” What is your pain on a scale of 1-10?”
Well, let us see… do you just want a number for insurance purposes? A scale of 1 -10 is so subjective. I learned that in gymnastics. Here is the difference, in gymnastics the start value is a 10.00 (well most of the time). We base deductions from the 10.00 on a book called the ‘Code of Points’, with real definitions. For example, if you step out of bounds on the floor with one foot it is one-tenth of a point from your score, if you step out with two feet, it is three-tenths of a point. If you touch your feet to the floor in a bar routine, major deduction. There are definitions and rules. And get this, each skill even has an assigned letter, for further definition and execution. Example, a pike stalder on bars is a D-Skill, complete the skill perfectly it’s worth fourth tenths. These letters and numbers are still subjective, but not as subjective as numbers that come with no real definition. Every pointed foot and 180 degree split counts in gymnastics, they add up, and deductions add up to, but the pounding in my head and the pressure in my temples doesn’t add up to a number with no definition. Don’t try and tell me that “hurts a little bit” under the 2 on the pain scale is a definition. So when you ask me “What is your pain on a scale of 1 -10?” you are not providing me with definition or requirements, where is my code of points for pain? I truly cannot answer a question when the number is so subjective and differs from the type of pain and the patient. Each doctor will interpret my number differently because they all have their own definition that I’m not aware of.
How about I explain my pain and you choose the number? Kind of like a judge would in gymnastics. It is hard, isn’t it? To put a number to a subjective description. It is not working for me, and I don’t understand. Do not give me a subjective scale or a picture with faces and no definition. There are no deductions for flexed toes on a pain scale.
So please don’t judge a subjective number with no definition or code of points to the flips and twists going on in my head.

Wong-Baker Faces Pain Scale

3 thoughts on “Pain Scale

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