Rate Your Pain On A Scale of 1-10…
I would like to address the topic of pain today. I would be happier if I could write about it without having to experience it, but I have Sjogren’s Syndrome so that’s not realistic. How many times through the years have we Sjoggies been asked to rate our pain on a scale of 1 – 10…one being no pain and ten being the worst pain you have ever had in your life? Countless right. We have all been asked that question multiple times by multiple doctors over a period of multiple years.
To be honest, it seems as if the question carries little weight to both doctors and patients. I mean after all pain is subjective. I always feel like asking if the doc would like me to take all of the different pain site ratings for my entire body and give he/she the average pain level? For many of us, there are several chronically painful areas of our bodies.
Is It Just Me?
The reason I think that the pain question carries little value..is because I think that there is a well-entrenched skepticism about ‘patient’s perceptions‘ of their pain. Think about it. Doctors have been trained to almost assume a drug-seeker status first, rather than a patient giving an honest answer about their level of pain or at least that has been my experience with a number of doctors through the years. And I have heard that same story over and over from other Sjoggies and chronically ill people that I know. I would never generalize that all doctors, address chronic pain issues with their patients in this manner. But a great majority of them do.
According to a recent article released on September 24, 2015, by the Pain News Network, opioid guidelines are being updated, and will soon make it even more challenging for patients with chronic pain to get or continue to receive the pain treatment they need to function.
I get that it is a balancing act for the prescribing doctor. However, I also think that patients with chronic pain can be managed in a pain management/rehabilitation setting. I know this because this is how I manage my pain. And yes, the process is not fun. I stopped by a recent lab I had never been to; to take a urine drug test (which chronic pain patients who are managed in a pain clinic must do). The nurse asked to keep my purse while I was in the restroom & turned off the running water in the bathroom. I was totally perplexed. It did not occur to me until I left, that she must have thought I brought someone else’s urine with me? Heck, I’m still not sure. This is the reality for patients with chronic pain. If this is the demeaning way we have to be treated just to have pain relief, we are forced to endure it or suffer a great deal of debilitating pain. I know that the first thing people do is to tout drug addiction statistics and pain med abuse, but what is the statistic for patients who are in so much pain they take their own lives, because they cannot live with the pain anymore?
Surely, there is a happy medium that can be found somewhere. It seems that the doctors who truly understand chronic pain and how it really feels to be us on a daily basis are physicians who have themselves, become ill. When one has to live with chronic pain every day and have a severely affected quality of life, the perspective quickly changes.
What Is The Answer?
I don’t know what the answer is, but I think the dialogue should start with a level of trust and true assumptions based on facts. Bring all of the stakeholders to the table to illuminate the big picture, instead of highlighting only the parts in which some wish to address.
Until then..our subjective pain is just one aspect of the many Sjogren’s and chronically ill battles that we face each day.
Here’s hoping that your pain is being managed effectively.