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Stoic, stubborn, whatever you call it

lilac100llilac100 Posts: 179
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Pain Management
Ok I have a problem. I'm stoic or stubborn, something in me is broken. When anyone asks me how I am I downplay the pain, my standard answer is I'm here. So what I need to know is how do I communicate the true amount of pain I'm in? I can never seem to tell the doctors the truth. I have an appointment Tuesday with my PM doc, I know he know's I'm downplaying the pain. Maybe I just don't want to admit it to myself. Even when I was going into surgery the Anesthesiologist asked my pain level and I said 4. After the first round of meds he fired in the IV didn't work rapidly he said to me "you didn't tell me the truth of the pain level did you?" I said probably not. He then upped the medication to get me out.

So really how do I explain the truth of my pain? It effects everything about my life. I avoid things because I know it is painful. Even with that when asked I still downplay. I just can't understand why. I can say it here, but not in my regular life.


  • I'll PM you a link.

    It is just a few different descriptions of pain scales in more logical terms, so we stubborn stoic people don't get caught up in it.


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  • Maybe try writing it all down, when you're in a higher state of pain, you might be more likely to be truthful about it. Pu everything down, how it affects your daily life, what levels of pain you have after doing certain activities, what helps with it, everything. Then take it with you to your next appointment. Just be sure to take it, and not crumple it up and throw it out, lol! Will somebody be going with you to the appt? Maybe give it to them to give to the doctor.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
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  • Thanks guys. happyHBmom I read the link you sent. Seems I haven't seen a 4 in many years, LOL. Guess 6 is going to be my good day answer. smiley735 I really wish I could see my doctor when my pain is at it's worst. I work night shift and my pain is at it's worst around 4am and no doctors are around then. I've tried to make lists and such I'm not really organized but think I will try again.
  • I usually find that selecting one or two activities of daily life that I try to do and can't helps explain what my pain level is or has been. For instance "I couldn't even lift the coffee pot to pour myself a cup of coffee this morning". They will usually clarify if it was due to weakness or due to pain. Seems to work for me.

  • Lilac, when the doctor asks "how are you feeling now" I translate that in my mind to "how have you been feeling since I last saw you?" and answer that question. Because regardless of how THAT day was, I have generally had both good and bad days during the month.

    And, really, the doctor doesn't seek to treat you only when you're in his office, right?

    So my answer might sound like "At the moment, I'm hovering around a 5. But it's been a tough month, and I had at least 2 weeks that I couldn't get below a 6/7 no matter how I tried." (actually my current doctor doesn't use scales, but you get the idea).

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  • I like the facial expression scale that they use a lot for little kids. I think it gives a much better idea of exactly what the numbers indicate.

    A funny example. One time my husband and I were just relaxing in the hot tub. He hels up his hand and said, "look at my fingers. They are all shriveled up. It hurts so bad." Hurts??!!??. So I asked, "On a scale of 1-10, where is your pain level?" He replied, "Three or four." WOW! When I showed him the facial scale, he laughed and changed it to two. However, we all interpret pain differently.
  • I found it easier to take the scale, and make it fit my life. At 1 - I defined it with things that made sense to me. Mine had 10 levels, because I can live the day at a nine, and be fine, I am a hair away from leaving for ER.

    It contained things that I do each day, examples.

    On the other side, was a Dose chart, man figure for placing the pain and a list of my fav things to counteract pain, and the last on the list was my meds.
  • I appreciate all of the great advice. Hopefully I will be able to convey my feelings. I'm still kinda in denial about the whole thing.
  • On using 9 and 10 on the pain scale- I have heard doctors describe the maximum as "surgery without anesthesia." I know you'll see it tossed around here by some people, I'm not a fan- many doctors consider 10 a level of pain few people have experienced. I think they are thinking of people who have been through severe trauma, not people with back injuries.

    I know it's relative, but it's also a part of dealing with the system.

    Honestly, I've never even been able to choke out an 8. Using the chart I gave you, I'm functional at 5, semi-functional at 6, non-functional at 7. I was 9 in the emergency room right after my accident (multiple fractures) and had a lot of 8 days directly after, but any day I can get out of bed I pretty much call a 7 or lower. As long as they put me to sleep for my surgery I hope to never see a 10 :)

  • for about 8 months following my Lumbar fusion in 2007. I was unable to be real with myself about the level of pain I was in. It was not until my NS said to me one day, "Okay Jackie, pretend I am not wearing this white coat and just tell me how you are doing", that I snapped out of it and got real with myself, and him. I blurted out that I was completely screwed.
    Having spine issues has taught me a great deal about self care in so many ways.
    Now, most of the time, I communicate with doctors about my pain using the pain scale in relation to certain activities, procedures, therapies etc.
    My doctors seem to understand me better. Learning to be real with myself has been an empowering, but I still have times when I struggle.
    I am glad you posted and asked for help!
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