You know those charts in every doctor’s office and hospital? The 1-10 pain scale with the creepy smiley faces — I hate those.
Pain is completely relative. The pain I experience and feel presents differently than the pain you feel. It’s not entirely quantifiable… for anyone. Your pain level of a 6 is going to present and feel differently than someone else’s pain level of a 6.
And 10… good grief. That’s the impossible number. I have a snippet of a memory of being in the hospital after the accident and holy hell… THAT was a 10.
So even within one person a pain-scale is relative.
Every time I’m asked “On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your pain right now?” I just kind of sigh and shrug my shoulders. I also maybe roll my eyes. The pain in my body is not sitting up there at that 10 I experienced post-accident… But it’s still very real and very rough. So what do I say? Because if I compare the scale based solely on that, my answer will probably always be around a 2-5…
But damn. I am in pain.
So, no. I can’t answer your 1-10 question. I know what a true 10 is and now everything else is skewed.
Say I chuck that specific 10 out the door. My pain scale completely changes. I don’t have that 10 experience to compare to any longer so now I’m sitting around a 6-9.
“How do you function?!”
Mostly, I don’t. But when I do, I grin and bear it. I work through the pain as much as I am able. But there are times, days, weeks when I am not able to push through the pain.
During those times, I let people down, I’m not able to focus as well during therapies, I cannot work, I cannot even get out of bed.
“So are you on a pain management program?”
Nope. I have medications available to me to take sparingly, but I do not have a specific regimen of painkillers. I hate painkillers. They make you feel all crazy up in the clouds and lord knows I don’t need any more of that shenanigans. My brain can do that now all on it’s own, thank you.
When I need to, I take the meds. When I can grin and bear it, I don’t. When staying in bed and resting is enough to keep the pain plateaued, I don’t.
“What do you do when you stay in bed.”
I’m stuck. Literally. My legs and back are in so much pain that I don’t move. I don’t toss and turn. I’m still and I’m breathing through it.
“You must be tough.”
That or a big fat baby. I miss more opportunities and obligations to socialize, to work, etc from pain than I do from the PTSD. The TBI is still the Queen B around here… But as far as affecting my ability to function, pain comes in at a close second.
Work. For real y’all, I’d love to be able to work again. Real work. Hard work. Committed work. Reliable work. All the work.
Interestingly enough, I hate shame and the shaming of people — But I shame myself every single moment I miss out on something work related. Every time I can’t show up. Every time I let people down. I just dump dump dump that shame alllll over myself.
Don’t shame people for the things and experiences that they cannot control but, please, shame yourself.
I’m totally a hypocrite.
“So what triggers your pain?”
All of the things I work on to get better. All of the therapies. All of the homework I have to do along with my therapies. Trying to work while also managing my therapies.
Therapy is a pretty broad term. In my world there are quite a few different types I do and they vary in frequency depending on a million different factors I don’t really want to list.
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Intensive Outpatient Therapy
- Post Traumatic Stress Therapy
- Speech Therapy
Five hours/day… And then I need to run a business too — More on that another day?
Yesterday I had Intensive Outpatient Therapy and Music Therapy.
Eventually I’ll talk about all of my therapies in depth. I like to keep track of my progress. We take pictures. We take videos. I go back and study them…
Instinctively I want to shout, “EVERYTHING.” Buts that’s dramatic and very rarely true. My right shoulder – rotator cuff, my upper spine and shoulder blades, my neck, my lower lumbar, my right leg, my right arm, my feet, both of my shins, my forehead, my jaw…
Maybe someday those things will stop hurting. Maybe someday the frequency in which I’m in pain will decrease. Maybe someday I won’t be in pain any longer. Maybe.
Maybe someday my pain will ease and I will become a contributing member of society again. We shall see.
Mahal, Mrs. Cruz
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” –Lance Armstrong