Monday, February 20, 2017

Adventures in Pain Management

You know how the triage nurse, then the nurse, then the doctor, then every other health professional you encounter asks you, in a very flat way, to rate your level of pain following an injury? Their scale is usually 1-10, with 1 being pretty ok and 10 being the worst pain ever. I usually answer just as flatly "5" because I don't know quite what to say. That. And by the third or fourth time I'm out of patience and looking at them as a bigger pain than whatever has me in enough discomfort to be there. (I know... I'm a "difficult" patient. And I don't give a flying you know what about having that label.)

How do you rate something that's such a personal experience into terms someone else can understand and identify with anyway? We all handle pain differently. Personally, I don't even like to even think about it... Sadly, I've been having an adventure in pain control the past couple of weeks and spending a lot of time with hurting on my mind.  Maybe it's a bit sadistic, but to keep me entertained through the ordeal I came up with my own scale to more colorfully tell my tale of woe and agony.

Don't you think you've got a better idea of how I'm feeling when you hear me grunting my way through the room than me shrugging and saying "5?"


It's the dogs' fault. No, really, it's my fault. I knew I didn't have a safe hold on the leashes with my left hand when were exiting the car after a shopping trip and stop at the dog park. I knew it but I didn't stop to change how I was holding them when we were going inside so when the three of them made a concerted lunge for the porch, down I went. Face first. In the muddy patch on the side of the driveway. And if insult wasn't enough... I reached out to grab the support post that helps to hold up the porch with my right hand in an attempt to not fall. 260-ish pounds of solid and determined pure muscle are no match for my flabby slightly off-balance self...  So while my body felt nigh unto catapulted into Pennsylvania (which is really just a few yards up the hill) my right arm was mangled and flopping in the Maryland mud next to my broken glasses (which Walmart fixed for free even though I didn't buy them there). Then, even though I was literally seeing enough stars to organize my own galaxy from the pain and my arm could just hang there immovable, I still managed to finally get myself upright, put the boys in the house, finish unloading the car, take a shower and shimmy into clean clothes.

Then I started to wonder how bad I was really injured.  I think it's a sprain. It's starting to get better. The first few days, improvement was very small and measured by being able to lift my arm an inch or so.  Yesterday and today have been a little more dramatic as far as strength to lift it up and range to move forward and back and side-to-side. It's especially noticable early in the day while I'm well rested that I can move it further and easier than yesterday. By the end of the day I'm pretty hurty again, though, from trying to do as much as I can for myself. I'm ready for it to be completely recovered and it's not and that makes me complain that it's going slow. I need to put some effort into being satisfied that there is progress... and that things, like pulling my pants back up in the bathroom, that have been supremely challenging are getting easier.  Which is good since it's kind of frowned on to go pantsless most places!

My pain has been all up and down that scale every day.  Now, at day 12, it's hovering mostly around Take a handful of Advil and Breathe like a prego lady. I think I'm managing it pretty well.

But I still wish the pain would just go away!

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