Monday, May 2, 2011


You've probably been asked by a doctor to describe your pain level on a scale of one to ten. Did you realize that a bee sting or toothache is only a four?? And standing on a sprained ankle is just a five???

I'm not sure why I find this so horrifying. Or that childbirth is comparable to "a real bad migraine." Or that "excruciating unbearable pain" (e.g. throat cancer) is not the very worst level. No, that'd be a good solid hand crush ("unimaginable/unspeakable pain"). Who knew?

For one thing, this all demonstrates the ridiculousness of the 1-to-10 pain system. Not being subject to migraines, throat cancer, hand crushes, or, to the best of my recollection, childbirth, I have a very different spectrum of experience from some other people. Perhaps this explains why my doctor prescribed OxyContin for my recent stubbed toe (which I think I described as an eight).

If you can't resist subjecting yourself to the horror of that link, you can salve your eyeballs with
this much happier 1-to-10 system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find the 1-10 scale useless without calibration. Generally if asked to describe my pain on that scale, I tell the person that the worst pain I've ever experienced was having a 2 inch scalpel incision cut without anesthesia, and that they could consider that a 10, and then how my current pain related to that.

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