His eight? My three.

On Gray's Anatomy tonight they were discussing a man who says he has lived with a pain level of 8 (on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being screaming excruciating pain), for years. One of the doctors scoffed and said, he's a wimp. His eight is my three.

This is EXACTLY something I've been pondering the last few weeks in acute care, as we have to ask all our ortho patients (knee, hip replacements) their pain level. Two ladies with the exact same surgery on the same day may have two very different answers. People with low pain tolerance who complain of high levels of pain – like a 7 – always seem to be seen with at least a slight level of disdain. I've noticed in general, people brag about high pain tolerances, as if it's an amazing talent. Or calling people wimps like in the TV show – “His eight is my three”.

I guess I'm sensitive to the pain issue because I personally have a low pain tolerance and I get tired of people treating me like I'm just a baby. It's not a choice – nobody WANTS to feel pain acutely. My personal theory is that it is somewhat related to sensory systems – just like some people have sensory processing disorder and/or are hyper or hyposensitive to senses – pain is one of those senses where some people feel it more acutely than others. It's not a choice. It's congenital.

I'm not dealing with the issues surrounding painkiller addicts or anything here – I know some people complain of horrible pain just for painkillers – but in GENERAL – LEGITIMATELY – I think people's perceived level of pain needs to be respected. Who cares if their eight is your three? They have a differently wired nervous system.

Oct 10, 2008 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

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