The Concept of Pain

The Happy Face Pain Measurement Scale

About one week ago I sent this email to my sister Anne Marie

Leave tomorrow to go to Florida to get my throat cut. Just in time – I am starting to understand the concept of pain which I more or less rejected since football at age 12. This is beginning to piss me off as it is far more bothersome than getting shot at age 14. Broke down the other night because my standard bottle of wine was not enough to put me to sleep so I actually got up and took 4 aspirin.

That’s probably the first step to Oxycontin addiction.

Hope I can get the doctor to prescribe wine in the hospital. I have excellent tolerance to that pain killer over a lifetime of experience and it seems to have muted all physical and even mental pain in my life.

When the doctors do all my strength and blood tests and liver function tests they kind of don’t accept that I drink my bottle a day because I am very well preserved and one doctor even said” it must be red wine.”

Love John

Well I did not get myself a disc fusion because I was worried about pain, I was worried about the thing moving more than the 1/8 inch it had already wandered out of place, crushing my spinal cord and making me a paraplegic. The doctor suggested that with my lifestyle an accidental whiplash was a high probability event. I can stand and live with the concept of pain, I cannot stand the idea of being paralyzed.

I guess that most people who get back operations need them to mitigate pain because that is all the doctors and nurses are trained to talk to you about and I simply wasn’t interested. They give you a pain manual with a happy face chart to define your pain level, the manual describes all the pain medications that you will get including a self administered drug pump to pump pain medicine into your vein until you pass out and wake up in enough pain that you want to do it again. In addition to the injection pump medicines, you can get needles and pills including narcotics.

I told them I wanted none of it and all I wanted was wine and aspirin but couldn’t have the aspirin because of bleeding. Most wanted to know why I wanted the operation if it wasn’t for pain and so I explained the floating disc which didn’t really bother me except for the fear of paralysis. They asked about how I found out and I told them about my ill defined stroke with no know cause that I walked off in an hour and they told me I would need pain medication afterwords, I said not.

On the actual chart that was used on me, the ranges were 0-1, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10. I told them that since 1995 I have never had a pain free day, I just stopped worrying about it because the pain medicines I tried killed my libido and appetite and also gave me nightmares. I decided that sex, food and sleep were three things I needed so I gave up on pills and drank wine and it worked for years.

After my neck was diagnosed as possibly crippling I was told to start thinking about pain and the warning signals I was getting from it. With fear in the picture and listening to the pain signals, I began to feel pain at what I described to be the five to six level prior to the operation.

Just Woke Up to Dagny and My Class 3 Happy Face

I woke up knowing the operation was a success and even had my little 3-4 happy smiley face in place. I refused all pain medicine as I told them I was leaving the next day – no drug pump, no alcohol withdrawal pill, no pain pills, no nothing.

Getting Ready to Dance a Little Irish Jig

The next day I got out of bed alone and the picture of my class 3 happy face was actually pensive as I stood up and did a little Irish jig for my daughter and the nurse to convince them I was fit to go and besides if I hung around the hospital and tripped all over those hoses and wires I would be a liability hazard.

I was disconnect from the wires and hoses and sent upstairs to be checked by the Internist, nurses, physical therapist and every resident and 4th year med student who was curious to see the guy who was insisting on leaving drug free and out of pain the day after his surgery so he could start exercising and get back in shape. The only comment came from the professor who had checked me in and allowed the procedure despite the moderate risk and he told me that perhaps I had understated my pre-operative pain because he thought I looked like I was at the 7-8 level.

I told him I doubted it as when they had pulled the catheter from my penis, I had screamed “Holy F#@*ing – opps, sorry” and accidentally slammed my arm with bandages on the bed rail as I was blinded by pain and swore in front of the nurse and bled about a pint of blood all over the place as it spurted out my vein. I gave that a nine which was at least 4 to 5 hinger than what I was used to and if I was really at 7-8 that would have had to be a 13 which was off the scale.

I guess my every day pain tolerance is different from others and I am glad for that. If I really felt a temporary 9-10 and others live with a daily 7-8, I don’t know how they can stand it and no wonder many resort to pain killers. I hope I never feel a 9-10 pain level again even on a temporary basis.

The sweet nurse forgave me and even apologized even though I was the one who lost it and swore and she was just doing her job.

You just have to love the wonderful staff of Largo Medical Center.

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2 Responses to “The Concept of Pain”

  1. Can moderate canal cervical stenosis get worse? Please help? | Herniated Cervical Disc Says:

    [...] T&#1211&#1077 Concept &#959f Pain « T&#959&#959 Young T&#959 B&#1077 O&#406&#1281! [...]

  2. mmontegut Says:

    John,

    I am sorry you have gone through this. I have had 2 C-Spine surgeries and ended up with a 4 level fusion C3-C7. I live with chronic pain, but it is not nearly as bad as the pain before the surgery, which as you pointed out, can be unimaginable.

    I do hope you are recovering and finding a better quality of life. I will leave the link here to my site on Chronic pain.

    http://livewithchronicpain.com/

    All My Best,

    Michael Montegut

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