Friday, February 27, 2009

Pain scale

Whenever I'm at a doctor's office or hospital, the nurses and doctors ask me to rate my pain on a scale of 0 to 10. Apparently pain is a common symptom among cancer patients. Over the years I have experienced different kinds and degrees of pain across the spectrum. And with that experience I have developed a guide to keep my assessment consistent from week to week.

Pain scale
0: No pain.

1 or 2: Noticeable pain. Not enough to be bothersome, but enough to be aware that some part of my body is unhappy.

3 or 4: Distracting pain. It draws attention away from normal tasks and causes discomfort. It is not unbearable, but I would prefer to treat it if possible.

5 or 6: Constant pain. I am continually aware of the pain and unable to concentrate on anything else without great effort.

7 or 8: Writhing pain. Pain that makes me moan, yelp, grimace, and contort.

9 or 10: Blinding pain. Unendurable pain, greater than what I could imagine under normal circumstances.

During most of my treatment the pain has fortunately been in the 0 to 2 range. I have had frequent excursions into the 3 or 4 range with problems such as proctitis or healing after surgeries. When the source of that pain is unknown it can be useful for finding a new problem, but if the source is known then I prefer to medicate to a level where I can function normally.

The tumor that broke my pelvis caused pain in the 5 to 6 range. The radiation to treat it caused rectal pain shooting as high as 8, which made me wonder whether the cure was worse than the disease. After a few months it improved into the range of 1 to 4 which I medicated when necessary.

I am not conscious of experiencing a 9 or 10, but I think I did in the hours and days following major surgeries. Strong drugs or trauma have erased those memories.


Jack Bouffard said...

Sorry to hear you're going through this crap. I too am a young adult survivor. Feel free to reach out to me. I've got your back!! Check out the I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation if you'd like and email me with any questions. Hope all is well. Survivors Rule Over Stupid Cancer!!

Jack Bouffard

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