Friday, March 26, 2010

Uncomfortable vs. Pain

I had my neurological procedure done yesterday and was acutely aware of the differences that exist between the medical community and the general public. When I tell someone they are going to be uncomfortable, that means your pillow will not be adequately fluffed and I should probably get you two bon bons instead of just one. Would that make you more comfortable? Uncomfortable means not terribly threatening but merely something that requires some small adjustment to correct it. When I am "uncomfortable" with something someone says, it usually means that I will make a mental note of that, but not necessarily confront them in an attack on their opinion or point of view. I might even say that "that makes me uncomfortable", but that would be said in a conversational tone, without anger or malice. In my mind, uncomfortable means simply with a little tweaking, we can all be comfortable again. No biggie. Pain, on the other hand, is something that gets your immediate attention. It hurts big time. Pain has different levels, like the little smiley face chart in the hospital rooms where they ask you to describe your pain. On a scale of one to ten, describe your pain level. The last smiley face (at ten) has a big frown and tears are drawn in. This is not adequate. In order to describe real pain, we must increase the levels to twenty, and the last couple of smiley faces would need to be animated so you could see the little frowning guy banging his head side to side against the little box he lives in, with his mouth wide open in a scream. This would more adequately describe levels of pain. A frown with tears is often how I feel when I awake in the morning, Certainly not my last option on a scale of pain offered up in the emergency room. They are delusional. Or, (and this is my real belief), they are not interested. Not because they are a compassionless group, but because sometimes there isn't alot they can do for your pain. It is a dilemma of discretion. So, when I received the information paperwork in advance of this procedure involving needles and electric shocks, I was quite concerned that the description of "you may feel some discomfort during this procedure", would not be an adequate nor totally accurate way of giving me all the facts. And, truth be told, I was prepared to pre-medicate myself with some over-the-counter product that would simply take the edge off what was described as discomfort. Being the "follow the rules" kind of gal that I am, I called the doctor's office to make sure that would not interfere with the program, or better yet, I didn't want to impede the possibility that they would be giving me something REALLY effective upon my arrival and finding that I had pre-medicated on my own, was no longer eligible for the "good stuff". As you can see, I know my way around medical procedures. Anyway, I was told in no uncertain terms that taking any pain meds would in fact interfere with the procedure as they needed my muscular responses to be unrestricted and totally normal. I did what I was told. I took nothing. Big, big mistake. I will leave out the gorey details. We can leave those for another day when I feel the need to rail against the world. Suffice it to say that medicating in advance would have been humane. Comparing my pain level to childbirth and commenting that "if I had survived childbirth, this should be nothing" was not a smart move by a seemingly very educated man. He should have known better. Of all the stupid things that people say, and we could devote an entire column to really stupid sayings, that one rates way up at the top. Essentially, if I whack this man in the southerly region (and by the way, that is not the term I used, shame on me), I can stand over him and proclaim that "compared to an amputation, that is nothing!-Buck up my friend!" as he writhes in pain on the floor. Are you kidding me? WRONG!!!! Just because I survived childbirth does not make me immune to pain. It makes me simply aware that pain is something I should avoid every frigging chance I get. Whether it is a ten or a twenty on a very inadequate scale of comparison is irrelevant. OUCH! that's good enough for me. OWWWWWW. This is more serious. Holding my breath as tears stream down my face uncontrollably, and breathing only enough so that I won't scream out in pain or start to sob in that downward spiral we've all had at one time or another, when sobbing is all you can do, now that is pain. Childbirth it's not. Obviously. But at that moment, I wasn't comparing, nor did I care. It was today's issue with today's inability to cope with it. Since he was not signing on for the whacking, nor did he comment any further on my reaction, I can only assume that he saw my point. He shook my hand and left, and the nurse was lovely, handing me tissues and giving me instructions for the afternoon. It was over. He had asked me mid-way if I wanted to stop the procedure and take it up another time. Obviously my answer was No. We had started-now finish. I was determined to get through it. So I never have to go through it again. Are we clear?

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