She's a character, she has opinions.

Measuring your pain and fatigue when they’re chronic.

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…That ever-annoying question that us chronic pain sufferers hate to hear:  “What is your pain level today on a scale of 1 – 10?”  I know that it is the therapists’ and doctors’ jobs to ask us that question, but they don’t realize how difficult that can be to answer.  For me, and for many of my chronic pain peers, trying to rate the level of our pain is like a ME/CFS patient trying to rate the level of their fatigue.  When you are exhausted all of the time, day in and day out, it always seems like the fatigue is bad.  When the pain is there all of the time, day in and day out, it’s hard to rate it and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it is coming from all of the time, too. [Source]

Wow, do I ever relate to that. The way I measure both pain and fatigue has changed since becoming ill. When I’m asked if something hurts I find myself thinking “it hurts less than my PHN so it’s okay,” okay, of course, being a relative term. As for my fatigue, I’m always tired, always exhausted, a good day is a day when I get out of bed despite the exhaustion.

It’s particularly troublesome for me when it comes to measuring pain. Doctors need to know when you’re in pain and how much pain you’re having. This came into play during my lumbar puncture when I was told there would be a moment of pain, a “zing” going down my spine and down one leg, and that would be the moment the needle was in the right place so I should tell them. But I didn’t recognize that moment. Sure there was pain. But there was less pain than I’m used to having from my PHN so at first I wasn’t sure. Was it a twinge? Was it pressure? Was it that zing we were waiting for? It was and we finally figured that out. But I probably could have spared myself the second moment of pain had I been able to recognize it the first time.


Written by tldegray

December 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

One Response

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  1. I can identify with this! i have no grasp on what is a true assessment of pain anymore – I had a procedure once where I got a lidocaine shot in my head (!) and had zero pain for short period of time and it rebalanced my sense of pain – I had no idea the amount of pain I had gotten “used to”. Whenever I add just one more thing to the pain I feel unable to manage… like with a cold today – I just need to couch it all day in response!


    December 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm

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