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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Better Way to Rate Your Pain!

From Hyperbole and a Half:

Print this out and take it to your next doctor's appointment. When asked to rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, use this visual representation and the accompanying descriptions. This "10-scale" is so much easier to explain.

1:  I am completely unsure whether I am experiencing pain or itching or maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth.

2:  I probably just need a Band Aid.

3:  This is distressing.  I don’t want this to be happening to me at all.

4:  My pain is not fucking around.

5:  Why is this happening to me??

6:  Ow.  Okay, my pain is super legit now.

7:  I see Jesus coming for me and I’m scared.

8:  I am experiencing a disturbing amount of pain.  I might actually be dying. Please help.

9:  I am almost definitely dying.

10:  I am actively being mauled by a bear.

11: Blood is going to explode out of my face at any moment.

Too Serious For Numbers:  You probably have Fibromyalgia.  It appears that you may also be suffering from Stigmata and/or pinkeye.

Gentle hugs and wishes it was just itches,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not ready for the straight jacket yet, Doc.

I saw a new doctor yesterday. I'd been putting it off for so long and I don't know why. My primary care doctor of 12 years has been pushing me to go to Texas Tech because they have a new pain management facility in our area. He gave me the referral in August and I only just called on Tuesday.

I guess I'd just given up that anything could be done to help me. But, of late, the pain has been so unbearable that I could not put if off any longer. There was also the nervous breakdown I feel is imminent and my mother's gentle pushing (love you, Momma!) that made me realize something needed to get done -fast .

So, I went. Honestly, I don't even know if the doctor I saw today was a pain management specialist or a general practitioner. First I spoke with a 4th year medical student (totally cute! And me looking so frumpy! Shit!). He took my medical history and talked about my symptoms and that took about 45 minutes. I made sure to tell him every detail of my pain, what triggers it, how most times nothing triggers it, how it feels like my bones are being crushed, and I can't turn my head to the right without considerable pain, etc. Every sorry detail.

When my new doctor came in, he had already been filled in on everything by cute Dr. 4th Year. We talked about medication I've taken (I took in my empty Rx bottles to show what I've taken, the dosage, etc - I didn't want there to be any question); we talked about what worked and what didn't, how long some meds worked and the bad reactions I've had to others. Then he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm going to help you."

"I'm going to help you."

I have never had a doctor tell me that. Usually it's me asking, "Will you help me?" or something to that effect. But he was sincere and seemed confident that he was, indeed, going to help me.

Then he started talking to me about my depression. I explained I've been depressed pretty much my entire life. He asked if it was worse now and I agreed it was, stating, "When you're in pain 24/7, it gets rather depressing." Hand on shoulder again, he says very softly, "I know."

Of course, this is when I start crying.

At that point he asked me if I was suicidal. I didn't say anything at first, as he was giving me a look that said, "You can trust me." I told him I frequently thought of death and dying (frequently being pretty much all day, every day), but I wasn't going to kill myself. Then I added, "I just wish a meteorite would come down and kill me instantly. I won't take my own life. I just wish something beyond my control would."

Dr: It's hard to live with the pain, but you won't kill yourself because you have people who love you.

Me: Exactly.

I guess he trusted me, because I'm not under 72-hour observation at our local state psychiatric hospital (where my uncle works, incidentally - I could have been hanging out with him for the next three days).

He tells me again that he's going to help me. He's going to request my records from my 12-year primary care doctor (I wonder if this means we've broken up), then I am going to return to see him in three weeks. But for now, take this extra-strength Vicodin for the pain, along with the usual Rx regiment, and relax. Relax because he is going to help me. We'll run tests and panels and take MRI's and CAT scans and everything will be ok. He just wants to see my records first.

Dare I hope that this doctor knows his shit? Dare I hope at all? How many times have I been let down by doctors in these years of constant pain? Only to find one about 5 miles away from my home who understands, cares, and promises to help? What are the odds?

Gentle hugs and shine on you crazy diamond,

P.S. Totally unrelated: I spend a lot of time playing on Tumblr, which is kind of blog site in a totally different way. If you have a Tumblr account, I'm HERE. Feel free to follow! Send me a message and I'll follow you, too. I also spend a lot of time on Goodreads and you can see my profile HERE. If you're a member or reader who would like to join, please feel free to send me a friend request. Next month's group read will be The Plague by Albert Camus. Would you like to join me?

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