She's a character, she has opinions.

My benchmark of pain.

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The point of this entry is that pain is not a “thing” you can treat in a definitive fashion. It’s your brain’s response to something that’s happening to you. There are three main parts to it – the stimulus, how your brain reacts to the stimulus, and how you (meaning you the individual, the personality, the consciousness) react to how your brain reacts to the stimulus. [What is Pain?]

With me, the stimulus happens when my nerves misfire, which is what PHN makes them do. How my brain and I react to it is different now than it was when I first came down with this. PHN pain, at least certain kinds of it, are my new benchmark for measuring other types of pain.

I was recently asked to measure a particular pain I had and before I answered with a number between one and ten on the pain scale I stopped and thought to myself “how does this pain measure against PHN?” It hurt less, so instead of answering “six,” I said “four.” I wondered after if I gave the right answer. Did my answer lead the doctors to believe the condition wasn’t serious? Because it was a great deal of pain, but compared to what I live with every single day it was bearable.

I’m careful when I talk about pain levels when at the doctor’s. Routinely, at the beginning of every appointment with every doctor I am asked “are you in any pain today?” I answer yes, because I am, and I tell them my pain level. Then I clarify by saying “I have a chronic pain condition, I’m in pain every day.” It’s in my records, they should know, but I’m afraid if I don’t say that they’ll think there’s something seriously wrong to be dealt with right at that very minute. (Since my gynecologist, for example, can’t help with my PHN, I really don’t want to waste that kind of time.) But I also worry that by not wanting to discuss it or by saying it with a smile that my pain will be dismissed as being less than it is.

I don’t talk about my pain often, outside of the doctor’s. I try to not weep over it, or rage, or do anything that will upset myself. That isn’t because I’m so stoic and so able to handle the pain. It’s because I don’t see the sense in getting myself upset because there is nothing I can do about this that I’m not already doing. All getting upset will do is cause my nerves to fire more and put me in more pain and, frankly, I’ll pass on that. Sometimes, mind, I weep and rage despite my best intentions.

Yeah, it hurts.


Written by tldegray

May 12, 2010 at 8:26 am

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